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 NewRider.com 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 BabyWorld.co.ukThey 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 SFcrowsnet.org:

“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!

Try a brain-boosting puzzle!

Perhaps you’re reading this during a tea break at work, or on your lunch break. Or perhaps (shh!) you’re at your desk looking like you’re working hard, but actually you’re reading the latest offering on the Take Home a Souvenir blog.

Whatever you’re doing, hopefully you’ve got a few minutes free, and would like to try a fun sample puzzle, taken from our forthcoming book How Puzzles Improve Your Brain by Richard Restak and with puzzles by Scott Kim (published March 21st in paperback and as an ebook). Restak writes about how puzzles can boost different mental functions, and includes more than fifty puzzles accompanied by an explanation of how each puzzle can improve your brain.

This particular puzzle is specially designed to work on your long-term memory, but there are over fifty other puzzles in the book to improve thirteen other brain functions, including:

  • Concentration
  • Fine motor skills
  • Visual observation
  • Logic
  • Numbers
  • Vocabulary
  • Visual-spatial thinking
  • Imagination
  • Creativity.

This sample puzzle will be of particular interest to you if – like me – you struggle to remember names and faces, particularly if you’re meeting several new people at once.

The premise is simple: a grid of twelve faces, all labelled with their names. You take a couple of minutes to memorise these names and faces, and then move on to the next page, where you will see those faces again, but without the names. How many can you remember? Scott Kim then offers a couple of hints and tricks designed to help you remember these names and faces, and invites you to try again.

When I tried it, the first time I remembered seven out of the twelve faces pictured – not bad, I thought – and this increased to ten out of twelve on my second attempt, making use of the tips outlined in the puzzle. I’m looking forward to putting these tips into practise next time I’m at a party or a networking event – maybe I’ll be a little better with names and faces!

This is just one of over fifty puzzles that can improve your brain, and to highlight the full range of brain functions covered in this book you can take a look at the contents page of How Puzzles Improve Your Brain which clearly shows which mental functions can be boosted by the puzzles in this book.

Click here to view the puzzle, taken from How Puzzles Improve Your Brain by Richard Restak and Scott Kim.

Have you tried this puzzle? Let us know how you got on – either in the comments below, or by tweeting @SouvenirPress using the #puzzlingbrain hashtag.


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]souvenirpress.co.uk) 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.