Upcoming Event

Adrienne Raphel [CANCELED]

presents

Thinking Inside the Box:
Adventures with Crosswords and the Puzzling People Who Can't Live Without Them

Please Note: This event has been canceled

Date

Apr
17
Friday
April 17, 2020
7:00 PM

Location

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Tickets

This event is free; no tickets are required.

Update

This event has been canceled. We apologize for any inconvenience.


Harvard Book Store welcomes ADRIENNE RAPHEL—author of the award-winning poetry collection, What Was It For—for a discussion of her latest book, Thinking Inside the Box: Adventures with Crosswords and the Puzzling People Who Can't Live Without Them.

About Thinking Inside the Box

The crossword is a feature of the modern world, inspiring daily devotion and obsession from not just everyday citizens looking to pass the time but icons of American life, such as Bill Clinton, Yo-Yo Ma, and Martha Stewart. It was invented in 1913, almost by accident, when a newspaper editor at the New York World was casting around for something to fill some empty column space for that year's Christmas edition. Practically overnight, it became a roaring commercial success, and ever since then has been an essential ingredient of any newspaper worth its salt. Indeed, paradoxically, its popularity has never been greater, even as the world of media and newspapers, its natural habitat, has undergone a perilous digital transformation. But why, exactly, are its satisfactions so sweet that over the decades has it become a fixture of breakfast tables, nightstands, and commutes, and even given rise to competitive crossword tournaments?

Blending first-person reporting from the world of crosswords with a delightful telling of its rich literary history, Adrienne Raphel dives into the secrets of this classic pastime. At the annual American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, she rubs shoulders with elite solvers of the world, doing her level best to hold her own; aboard a crossword themed cruise, she picks the brains of the enthusiasts whose idea of a good time is a week on the high seas with nothing but crosswords to do; and, visiting the home and office of Will Shortz, New York Times crossword puzzle editor and NPR's official "Puzzlemaster," she goes behind the scenes to see for herself how the world's gold standard of puzzles is made.

Equal parts ingenious and fun, Thinking Inside the Box is a love letter to the infinite joys and playful possibilities of language, and will be a treat for die-hard cruciverbalists and first-time solvers alike.

Praise for Thinking Inside the Box

“For crossword puzzlers of every ilk, from solvers of the Monday-edition no-brainer to pencil-chewing addicts of the cryptic, Thinking Inside The Box is a gold mine of revelations. If there is a pantheon of cruciverbalist scholars, Adrienne Raphel has established herself squarely within it.” —Mary Norris, bestselling author of Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen and Greek to Me: Adventures of the Comma Queen

Thinking Inside the Box is a witty, wise, and wonderfully weird journey that will change the way you think. Raphel is an insatiably curious and infectiously passionate guide who plunges headfirst into the rich world of puzzles and the people who love them to reveal the fascinating acrobatics of language and the inner life of words. This book is a delight.” —Bianca Bosker, bestselling author of Cork Dork: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste

“If you remember precisely where you were when you first encountered the words ETUI and ONER, I suspect you’ll be enchanted by Adrienne Raphel’s Thinking Inside the Box. This delightfully engrossing, charmingly and enthusiastically well-written history of the crossword puzzle tells you everything you need to know, and any number of things you couldn’t have imagined, about the invention and eventual world domination of the thing that daily scratches a particular human itch: ‘the yearning to solve a riddle, the desire to fill in a blank space, the obsession with perfection.’” —Benjamin Dreyer, bestselling author of Dreyer's English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style

Adrienne Raphel
Adrienne Raphel

Adrienne Raphel

Adrienne Raphel has written for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New Republic, Slate, and Poetry, among other publications. Her debut poetry collection, What Was It For, won the Rescue Press Black Box Poetry Prize. Born in southern New Jersey and raised in northern Vermont, she holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a PhD from Harvard.

Photo credit: Randy H. Goodman

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes

As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.

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