How to Improve Your Brain During a #TubeStrike

Here we are, another week, another tube strike!

If, like me, your ‘alternative route’ last time was a disaster, and you found yourself on a packed-out bus, squashed against the window, thinking ‘whyyyy?’, then we have something that might make your journey a little better.

Whether your commute is no different, or your average travel time has increased ten-fold, why not use the time to improve your brain?

It’s known that brain performance is enhanced by regular mental exercises, including crosswords and sudoku. Packed with illuminating insights and dozens of witty, and often, perplexing puzzles, How Puzzles Improve Your Brain both helps to create a healthier brain, whilst explaining how the puzzles are changing it.

“These mind-training exercises will make you brighter than you’ve ever been.” – Mail on Sunday
How Puzzles Improve Your Brain


“Thoroughly well-researched…Very entertaining… It made me think and play in ways I had not done before and actually explained what my brain was doing whilst attempting these puzzles.” – Puzzlemad

Kim Scott, (puzzle master for Scientific America) has designed puzzles that can target, and improve, specific areas of the brain while Richard Restak, a leading neuroscientist, describes the science behind how they reshape and strengthen the brain.

So make the most of your journey and attempt to improve your brain with some of Kim Scott’s puzzles below….(answers will be at the end of the post – no cheating!)

  1. First things first, a test for your ‘Visual Thinking‘. How many squares of any size are in the figure below?


2. Next, something to test your ‘Mathematical Thinking‘….

3. For something a little more wordy, simply complete each analogram by choosing two words from the list below. For instance, ARM is to HAND as LEG is to FOOT, because the FOOT is attached to the end of the LEG in the same way that the HAND is attached to the end of the ARM. Each word is used only once.

ARCHERY                                  HEART                                 RUNNING
BOW                                            HOUSE                                 SHEET
BREAD                                        ICE                                        SWEATER
CHEDDAR                                  LEG                                       TARGET
CHEESE                                      PAPER                                 TIMES
CRUST                                        PEANUT                               VIOLIN
ELEPHANT                                PLUS                                     WATER
FOOT                                           ROOF                                    YARN

4. And finally, something to test your memory…(I think this is what I need to work on sometimes)
puzzles-4Puzzled out? We hope not! There are plenty more puzzles (282 pages of them to be exact) to be found in How Puzzles Improve Your BrainWhat’s more, the puzzles are divided into three sections devoted to different skills – memory, perception and cognition – so it’s easier for you to be able to target a particular area of the brain that you might want to improve.

“One of the world’s leading neurologists… A fascinating study of how to ‘stop the rot’ and have a lot of fun doing it.” – Avanti

So, if you find that you’re bored of the Evening Standard’s Quick Crossword, or asking yourself ‘what can I do to keep my brain working at its best?’, get yourself a copy of How Puzzles Improve Your Brain, and by the next #tubestrike, your brain will be on top form!



  1. There are 30 squares.
  2. The number of combinations is too big to imagine in your head. So ask a simpler question: How many nights can three people sit in a different combination of three chairs each night? It’s not hard to list all six combinations:
    – and this fact helps you to solve the larger puzzle. Consider the starred chair. If person A sits in the starred chair, there are six ways to seat the remaining three people in the remaining three chairs. Similarly, if B sits in the starred chair, there are six ways to seat the remaining three people. The 4 possible people in the starred chair times 6 ways to seat the remaining three people = 24 combinations.
  3. puzzles-3ARM is to HAND as LEG is to FOOT
    MOUNTAIN is to PEAK as HOUSE is to ROOF
    LOAF is to BREAD as SHEET is to PAPER
    EGG is to SHELL as BREAD is to CRUST
    SQUARE is to DIAMOND as PLUS is to TIMES
  4. puzzles-5

Puzzles Broaden The Mind…

It’s oft been said about our physical beings that you need to ‘use it or lose it’. And now it appears the same is true of our minds. A growing body of international research has concluded that exercising our brains on a regular basis, doesn’t just keep the cobwebs at bay, but has proven long term medical benefits.

Professor  Elmar Graessel’s recent study into Alzheimer’s published in BioMed Central Medicine, concluded that therapy sessions with patients involving puzzles, word jumbles, and pencil and paper exercises were “at least as good” at improving cognitive function as anti-dementia drugs.

In How Puzzles Improve Your Brain neuroscientist Richard Restak and puzzle master Scott Kim have collaborated to create a wealth of witty and perplexing puzzles to target specific areas of the brain, such as strengthening your memory, fine tuning your motor skills, and heightening your powers of observation, while Restak explains the science behind the changes to your grey matter.

‘Runs through everything from Sudoku to mazes to how pickpockets operate in order to explain the beneficial effects of puzzles on memory, perception, and cognition.’ —Wall Street Journal.

How Puzzles Improve Your Brain

So along with taking the stairs instead of the lift, cutting down on alcohol, and eating your five a day, why not add puzzles to your new year’s resolutions, starting with The Name Game

You’ll need a pencil and some paper. Good luck!

Another week, another set of wonderful reviews!

It’s been a busy week here in the Souvenir Press office. Monday-Wednesday was the London Book Fair, with meetings and events continuing throughout the week. But finally, on Friday afternoon, I’ve found a moment to bring you the round-up of all the wonderful reviews that have come in this week.

How Puzzles Improve Your Brain by Richard Restak and Scott Kim

“[The] puzzles were beautifully designed and a nice progression to help keep your thought processes working… It made me think and play in ways I had not done before and actually explained what my brain was doing whilst attempting these puzzles.” – Kevin on the PuzzleMad blog

“A very readable look at thinking and an excellent selection of puzzles to enhance brain function.” – The Book Bag

Bum Fodder by Richard Smyth

“Quite apart from the sheer entertainment provided by the book, I can say that I have actually learnt a considerable amount… The thinking person’s toilet library should now begin with three core acquisitions: Sale, Nohain/Caradec, and now Smyth.” – Jonathan Pinnock

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards

“The latest edition includes updated research, better quality reproductions of the Old Master paintings and also work by recent students who followed the course. Their drawings certainly make a compelling case for how successful the approach is.” – Artists & Illustrators magazine, May 2013

Leisure Painter magazine, May 2013, featured the book as part of their article ‘How do I draw that?’

If you’re interested in finding out more about any of our titles at Souvenir Press, feel free to email me asking for a copy of our latest catalogue.

Competitions and reviews galore!

It’s all go here at Souvenir HQ. With two new books published next week, and the London Book Fair the week after, I think it’s fair to say that we’re keeping busy in our Great Russell Street office. But somehow we’ve still found time to bring you info on a couple of exciting competitions happening at the minute, as well as a bumper round-up of reviews we’ve found on the web this week.

First up, it’s competition time!

If you’re into everything equine, we suggest you head over to where you can win copies of two of our horse training guides:

The Art and Science of Clicker Training for Horses by Ben Hart is a clear, concise and accessible guide that will help you develop a positive approach to horse training.

Talking with Horses by Henry Blake was the first book of its kind, and a pioneer in the field of horse communication. Learn to communicate with your horse in his own language and you will learn to work together with your horse, moving and thinking as one animal.

Or, if you or a close friend or relative is expecting, take a look at are giving ten lucky mums (or dads)-to-be the chance to win a copy of Jena Pincott’s new book. The competition closes on 30th April:

Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies? answers a whole host of questions about pregnancy. Rather than being a how-to guide, this fascinating book covers the why, the QI of maternity books.

While we’re on the subject of Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies, this week brought us our first reader review over on The Garden Window blog:

“Clearly written in a lucid and highly engaging way, Jena Pincott has masterfully turned extremely complex scientific research into an easily understandable and always enjoyable book… this is an utterly absorbing book” – The Garden Window blog

Jena Pincott’s new book was also featured in the Daily Express this week, and you can read their extract from the book here.

We have also had a flurry of reviews arrive (with yesterday’s April snow, perhaps) for a variety of titles, old and new.

One of our Autumn 2012 titles, Jessica Thom’s wonderful Welcome To Biscuit Land, which features a foreword by Stephen Fry and which has done wonders raising awareness and understanding of Tourettes Syndrome, was reviewed by the wonderful Jo who runs the book blog Jaffareadstoo:

“Jessica has with great wit and charm completely overturned my thinking about Tourette’s syndrome, and those whose lives are affected bit it.” – Jaffareadstoo blog

We’ve had yet more praise for Brain Games for your Child by Robert Fisher, which top parent bloggers have been loving recently. You can read previous reviews here, and be sure to check out the whole review by Mummy Lion.

“If you’re sitting at home… wondering what you will do to entertain your children while they’re off school for two long cold weeks then I think I have found the solution… I thoroughly recommend this book and will be using it lots this snowy Easter of 2013 and beyond.” – Mummy Lion blog

I also found this very detailed, in-depth review of How Puzzles Improve Your Brain by Richard Restak and Scott Kim, over on

“The more you read this book, the more you’ll become aware of the different memory aspects you have. Knowing what your strengths and weaknesses are with these, not to mention how to exercise them, should enhance your own memory.” – SFcrowsnest

Over the Easter weekend, How Puzzles Improve Your Brain was also featured in the Mail on Sunday, but the feature isn’t available online.

That’s all for this week. We’ll be back on Monday bringing you our latest newsletter (you can sign up here), and information on our new books.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Coming soon: How Puzzles Improve Your Brain

This blog post marks the start of a series of posts to introduce you to all of the new forthcoming Souvenir Press Spring 2013 titles. As ever we’ve got an exciting and eclectic line-up, and we look forward to sharing these with you over the coming months.

First up is How Puzzles Improve Your Brain: The Surprising Science of the Playful Brain by Richard Restak, and featuring puzzles by Scott Kim. Perhaps you love your Sudoku, or you do the crossword every day. Or maybe, like my mother, you lay claim to the paper as soon as it’s delivered, and don’t let anyone else read it until you’ve completed all of the puzzle pages. Whatever your approach, it’s clear that we’ve gone puzzle crazy. They’re fun to solve, and it’s great to feel like you’re stretching your brain muscles during your tea break.

Richard Restak, neuroscientist and one of America’s most popular science writers, explores the science behind the puzzles in his new book. Do puzzles really change the way your brain works, and why? Richard Restak looks at different brain functions, including memory, visual thinking, your concept of time, and logic. He explains how different types of puzzles can be used to improve these mental skills, and using puzzles by Scott Kim, allows the reader to work through the book (answers included!) giving themselves a brain-boost as they read!

How Puzzles Improve Your Brain isn’t published until mid-March, but we do have some exclusive early review copies in the office. If you’re a blogger with a love for puzzles, drop me an email (emily[at] and I’ll see if I can send a copy your way.

Stay tuned next week – we might have some puzzling fun for you to try!


For more information take a look at the How Puzzles Improve Your Brain page on the Souvenir Press website.