April 1, 2021

Adrienne Raphel

Harvard Book Store's virtual event series welcomes prize-winning writer and poet ADRIENNE RAPHEL for the paperback release of her acclaimed book Thinking Inside the Box: Adventures with Crosswords and the Puzzling People Who Can't Live Without Them. She will be joined in conversation by novelist and essayist EVAN JAMES, author of Cheer Up, Mr. Widdicombe and I've Been Wrong Before.


Almost as soon as it appeared, the crossword puzzle became indispensable to our lives. Invented practically by accident in 1913, when a newspaper editor at the New York World was casting around for something to fill empty column space, it became a roaring commercial success almost overnight. Ever since then, the humble puzzle has been an essential ingredient of any newspaper worth its salt. But why, exactly, are the crossword’s satisfactions so sweet?

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. Thinking Inside the Box is an ingenious love letter not just to the abiding power of the crossword but to the infinite joys and playful possibilities of language itself.

About Author(s)

Adrienne Raphel has written for The New YorkerThe AtlanticThe New RepublicSlate, 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.

Evan James is the author of I've Been Wrong Before: Essays, and Cheer Up, Mr. Widdicombe: A Novel. He lives in New York.