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Book Puzzles!

There seems to be quite a bit of crossover between the puzzling community and avid readers. While scrolling through Puzzlegram, I often see folks’ stories about books – especially audiobooks. For the most part, I’ve always been a reader myself, but during the worst days of the pandemic, when the daily news was so bleak, I found it difficult somehow to escape into a book. 

It’s taken until this year for me to get back to my pre-pandemic reading levels, but I’m taking the opportunity this month to celebrate National Book Lovers Day – August 9th – by tackling two particularly bookish puzzles that caught my eye as being super-fun crossovers between these two hobbies that have so enriched my life.

Bibliophile 500 piece puzzle


First, I was excited to put together this 500-piece puzzle by Chronicle Books, Bibliophile Diverse Spines. I love a puzzle with lots of text on it, and I’ve read a few of the books pictured on this one (and have a few others on my to-be-read list), so this seemed like a great choice to piece together and pass an afternoon.

Bibliophile puzzle in progress

I loved that the puzzle came in a book-shaped box and even had a faux deckled-edge side that made it look really unique. I think it would look great on a shelf! Once I laid out the pieces, I could tell they were somewhat glossy but fairly sturdy. The puzzle also came with a folded card with the titles and authors of each of the books, which was a nice touch.

puzzle in progress

Usually I like to do a more granular sort when I’m putting together a larger puzzle, but for a puzzle with 500 pieces like this one I don’t always feel the need. For this one, I sorted out the edge pieces, which had a diamond-shaped checkerboard pattern, as well as pieces that were entirely (or almost entirely) white, and I laid out the other pieces randomly, flipping them all so they were right-side-up. Because there were so many distinct colors and fonts, and so many of the titles were familiar to me, it was quite easy to piece together a lot of the book spines.

puzzle in progress again


Before long, all of the spines were done and I was left with mostly white pieces, and the edges. Typically the edge pieces would be the first ones I would tackle, but because the borders of this puzzle were so “samey,” I knew it would be easier to leave them till the end, when the pattern of “ins” and “outs” on the edges would help to guide the process.

puzzle with only sides to finish

When there are a lot of very similar pieces left, I often find it helps to lay them out and re-sort as best I can. That way the subtle differences between the pieces become more apparent. For example, for these remaining white pieces, there were some which were entirely white, and I assumed those would fit into the gaps on the right-hand side of the puzzle. Amongst the white pieces that had bits of border, some were taller and some were wider, which helped with placing them.

bibliophile puzzle

Next, I filled in the gaps in the center of the puzzle and on the right-hand side.

bibliophile puzzle

And then it was easy enough to slot in the edge pieces and complete the puzzle. Because the edges looked so similar, I ended up sorting the edge pieces based on which direction the “knobs” faced, so that when I was looking for a specific type of piece, I could more easily find sides of pieces that would match up.

Bibliophile puzzle zoom

I love how great this puzzle looks completed. I know they say “don’t judge a book by its cover,” but I quite love the design element that goes into creating a perfect cover. And what really made this puzzle stand out, I think, is that instead of simply using a photograph of the book spines in question, the puzzle features illustrations of the covers by Jamise Harper and Jane Mount, which add character and dimension to the image as a whole. Putting this puzzle together made me want to choose a few more of the books from the puzzle to read, and I think that’s the exact intended effect.

Now, I love alternating between puzzles of different sizes, so once I’d finished with this smaller 500-piece puzzle, I felt ready to tackle this larger, 1,000-piece one, Book Club: Charles Dickens by Gibsons. I have a few puzzles by Gibsons on my stack to be done, but this is the first one that I’ve completed.

Charles Dickens Museum Desk


A few years back, in 2018, I was lucky enough to visit the Charles Dickens Museum in London, which is the house Dickens lived in from 1837-1839, around the time he was writing The Pickwick Papers and Oliver Twist. They even have one of his writing desks on display (pictured here)! 

book club Charles Dicken's puzzle in progress


I’ve long been a fan of Charles Dickens’s writing. Even though his novels can be quite large in size, the fact that they were originally serialized in newspapers (meaning, they were published chapter by chapter), it means that each individual slice of the novel has bits of excitement, and there are ample cliffhangers to keep you reading on. Plus, he includes many memorable characters and plot points, a number of which are featured in the delightful image of this puzzle, which was illustrated by Tim Stringer. The bottom right-hand side of the puzzle is devoted to A Christmas Carol, perhaps his most famous story, which means this puzzle – which can certainly be done any time of year – could also double as a seasonal puzzle around the holidays.

Charles Dicken's puzzle in progress


I was really impressed with the quality of pieces in this Gibsons puzzle. The backs of the pieces were a standard gray cardboard, and the fronts were semi-glossy, as you can see in this photo. But the pieces had a real substance and heft to them that made them a joy to handle. This puzzle also had a lot of really distinct colors and textures in it that made it simple to sort and construct. For example, in addition to the edges, I sorted out pieces with gold circular frames, pieces with chains, pieces with the gold flourishes, and pieces with bits of writing. Depicted here is the puzzle almost complete, with only pieces with bits of red-and-green holly ready to go into the Christmas Carol section.

Dicken's puzzle complete


Here’s the finished puzzle! I absolutely loved putting this one together. It’s possible that there are elements I’m not recognizing, but to my eye the puzzle features scenes from Oliver Twist (top left), A Tale of Two Cities (top right), A Christmas Carol (bottom right), and Great Expectations (bottom left). I’ve read three out of four of these, but I’ve never read Oliver Twist, and doing this puzzle makes me want to pick up that book and finally read it. 

Having experienced this Gibsons puzzle, I would now be interested in trying out others from this brand, as I loved the feel and the fit of it so much. I tried picking up the finished puzzle, and it did pass the pick-up test.

If you’re a fan of books and reading but perhaps these two puzzles aren’t exactly your style, Puzzle Warehouse also has an entire page devoted to puzzles about Books & Reading.

This same series from Gibsons also has some other entries, including:

Book Club Gothics puzzle


Book Club: Gothics (1,000 pieces)


Book Club Jane Austen puzzle


And Book Club: Jane Austen (also 1,000) pieces

Whichever book or book-themed puzzle you choose, I hope you have a fantastic month of reading and puzzling! Signing off until next time, when I’ll be taking a look at various New York puzzles.


-Richard (@piecebypiecepuzzler / YouTube channel: Piece By Piece Puzzler)


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