The best puzzle books for adults to test your brain

We've rounded up the best puzzle books for adults, so grab a cuppa, and get ready for some brain training.

Best puzzle books

by Clare Howcutt-Kelly |

From word searches to picture puzzles, puzzle books are an easy way to keep the brain sharp and get a little of that competitive spirit going (even if you’re competing with yourself).

Whether you're a fan of sudoku or mind-boggling codebreakers, there’s a puzzle book to suit everyone from the very young to the very old.

Related: Keep your brain sharp with Fit Mind 50

How to choose the right puzzle book?

Our friends behind Britain’s favourite crossword magazine, Take a Crossword, as well as 30 other puzzle-packed titles and a selection of free online games, have shared some top tips with us on how to pick the puzzles which are right for you:

Tea break or off on holiday?

If you’re fitting a puzzle in when you have five minutes to spare, you’ll want something small which doesn’t require too much pondering. Perhaps a mini Arrowword, which you can tackle between tasks would fit the bill. If time’s not a problem, then the possibilities are endless…

That’s a tough one

What sort of challenge are you looking for? Many books will highlight whether they’re aimed at beginners or experts, and some contain puzzles with different ratings - choose the level of difficulty. Make sure to select one which is fun rather than frustrating.

Shared interests

You might want to consider puzzles which relate to another of your hobbies. Some crosswords will focus on a single theme, like television or travel. This can be a great way to test your understanding or learn more about a subject that interests you.

The more the merrier

Puzzles provide a brilliant way to unwind by yourself, but you could also team up to tackle some teasers. Why not share Wordsearch-solving responsibilities with younger members of the family? Alternatively, pick something with plenty of quiz questions if you’ve got the next game’s night in mind.

And the category is…

There is a variety of puzzle types. Some will only require deduction and patience to crack them, while others expect the solver to have an impressive vocabulary or plenty of general knowledge. Think about whether a word, number or logic-based puzzle is likely to keep you engaged.

The best puzzle books for adults

Keep your brain sharp with this great selection of puzzle books for adults. From codebreakers to quizzes, there's something for everyone.

And let’s face it, everyone loves a bit of Where’s Wally...

Coronation Street Puzzle Book

Best puzzle book for British soap fans
Coronation Street Puzzle Book
Amazon

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Attend your very own Rover's pub quiz with this Coronation Street Puzzle Book. Available to pre-order now - come October, you can test your knowledge of TV's longest-running soap.

Alan Turing Codebreaker Puzzle Book

Best codebreaker's puzzle book
Alan Turing Codebreaker Puzzle Book
Amazon

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The puzzles in this testing book become progressively harder, but if you are in need of a little help, thereu2019s a special hints section, and the solutions lead you step-by-step through the logic of every puzzle. One reviewer said: 'Really imaginative. Not just the usual word searches - they actually were about films, books and really cleverly written.'

The AA British Road Map Puzzle Book

Best road map puzzle book
The AA British Road Map Puzzle Book
Amazon

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Test your word-puzzling, map-reading, general knowledge and problem-solving skills with 400 mind-stretching questions. One reviewer said: 'Bought this for my grandpa who is obsessed with maps, brings one out at every family visit. He's enjoying it so much my dad has even joined in regular quizzing!'

Related: 15 of the best audiobooks you should listen to

The Ultimate Mathematical Challenge

Best mathematical puzzle book
The Ultimate Mathematical Challenge
Amazon

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Full of mathematical puzzles that will test your number knowledge to help keep the cogs turning. One reviewer said: 'A superb collection of puzzles from the UK Mathematics Trust. This book includes over 350 puzzles, problems and challenges which aim to stir the imagination and spark the interest of children and adults alike. Taken from the panoply of competitions the UKMT organises, the book takes the reader on a guided tour through interesting and increasingly challenging problems. Anyone working through these pages cannot fail to enjoy the sense of achievement it will bring.'

RHS Gardeners Quiz and Puzzle Book

Best gardening puzzle book
RHS Gardeners Quiz and Puzzle Book
Amazon

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Think you're a green-fingered god/goddess? Test your plant knowledge and grow your gardening skills. One reviewer said: 'I bought this as a Christmas present for my wife, a keen gardener. It is a well-produced book with beautiful plant illustrations. The expected standard of knowledge is very high! Unless you are a real geek on Latin names, etc. you should expect to use it as a source of knowledge by looking up most of the answers. Some of the puzzles are doable, however, so don't give up.'

A-Z Puzzle Book - Have you got the Knowledge?

Best London route puzzle book
A-Z Puzzle Book u2013 Have you got the Knowledge?
Amazon

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London cab drivers have no need for sat navs, they have to learn all the routes to get where you need to go in the Capital. But can you? One review said: 'As I love both maps and puzzles, I couldn't resist this book and I'm really enjoying the challenge of the puzzles as well as the factual information which precedes each map. The quality of the book is very good. It's proving to be a good test of my newly acquired reading glasses and a magnifying glass also comes in useful for some of the London maps.'

Bletchley Park Brainteasers

Best brainteaser puzzle book
adult-puzzle-books
Amazon

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The brains at Bletchley Park cracked one of the biggest puzzles of all time. With puzzles in a range of difficulty levels, let's see how you get on! One review said: 'Bought this for Christmas for my dad who loves stuff like this. He's enjoyed it so much that he's also lent it to one of his friends to challenge him with the puzzles. The history of what they did at Bletchley was also intriguing and interesting.'

The Mindfulness Puzzle Book

Best mindful puzzle book
The Mindfulness Puzzle Book

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This is the perfect book for those who prefer a gentle cerebral stretch rather than a full-on high-intensity brain workout. You can find more mindfulness colouring books here. One reviewer said: 'This is a great book for anyone who enjoys puzzles but nothing too taxing. It's got a good variety but does become repetitive in the type of puzzle as the book goes on. Would make a good gift as is very pretty. I did find it helped me relax but would have been better if there was mindfulness exercises included as it is called The Mindfulness Puzzle Book'

Blockbusters

Best retro puzzle book
Blockbusters

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Test your knowledge with this nostalgic TV quiz favourite, perfect for the whole family. One reviewer said: 'Simple to play, questions challenging enough for it to be competitive and still fun. My 9 year old enjoyed asking the questions while I played versus my husband and teenage stepson.'

Sudoku Pantone Puzzle Book

Best sudoku puzzle book
Sudoku Pantone Puzzle Book

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A gorgeous gift for someone who loves a Sudoku challenge. With over 200 puzzles to try, this will keep your mind occupied and relaxed for hours. And to make this book even better, all sales will benefit Cancer Research UK, too.

Where's Wally

Best childhood puzzle book
Whereu2019s Wally
Amazon

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A classic puzzle book of Sudoku for everyone to enjoy - you might need to find your glasses for this one! One reviewer said: 'Where's Wally!!! What's not to love? Brings back fantastic childhood memories for me personally and now does the same for my own children. Of course, the books have also developed over the years so now not only do you have to find Wally you can also find Wenda, Odlaw, Woof, Wizard Whitebeard, etc. as well as a variety of other things and people. Provides hours of entertainment and comes back off the bookshelf time after time!'

The Ordnance Survey Puzzle Book

Best national mapping puzzle book
The Ordnance Survey Puzzle Book
Amazon

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Even if you can't get out as much as you'd like to, you can explore our green and pleasant land virtually. A great gift for the walkers in your life. One reviewer said: 'My wife and I love this book, the quiz is a nice mix of easier and more challenging questions. Should keep most people going for a good few days. Makes a great gift for people that love books and quizzes... I'd recommend it.'

The Penguin Book Quiz

Best literature puzzle book
The Penguin Book Quiz
Amazon

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Book worms rejoice! Indulge your passion for literature with these fun quizzes and discover how much you really know about your favourite characters. One review said: 'A very fun and sublimely informative book. Great to leaf through randomly and a great party game.'

Little Children's Puzzle Pad

Best children's puzzle book
Little Childrenu2019s Puzzle Pad
Amazon

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Keep little ones busy (and out of trouble) with a puzzle pad that will help their educational development. One review said: 'Amazing book for my 5-year-old. Worth its weight in gold when we were travelling. Not too hard but enough to keep him interested. I had to read the instructions though. Bought more like this in the same series of books.'

Take A Break Codebreakers Collection Subscription

Best puzzle book subscription
Take A Break Codebreakers Collection Subscription

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Need a new puzzle every month? Why not sign up for a subscription? All puzzles and brain teasers are in large print, bold type making them ideal, easy to read, puzzles for adults. With puzzles including crossword puzzles, brain games, logic puzzles and more puzzle types, this is your one stop game book.

The Guardian Killer Sudoku 1

Recommended sudoku puzzle book
The Guardian Killer Sudoku 1
Amazon

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Are you new to puzzle books? Do you want to learn how to master sudoku? If the answer is yes, this Guardian special is the one for you. One review said, "Others have mentioned that a lot of these puzzles are fairly basic, so here's the thing: If you're new to killer sudoku, get this book, it's right for you. If you've done a few and want to improve your speed, technique, confidence, this book will likely help with that. If you've been doing killer sudoku for some time and like a complex technical challenge, you might want to look elsewhere, you'll likely find most of the puzzles in this book a little below your current standard."

Like to relax while you challenge your brain? Don't forget to buy a book holder to make life easier and a comfy reading chair.

Looking for a different kind of puzzle? Try these 3D puzzles!

What are the types of puzzles?

The world of puzzles has grown exponentially in recent years, so there are literally hundreds available. Here are some of the most popular:

• Word puzzles

• Logic puzzles

• Maths puzzles

• Crossword puzzles

• Codebreaker puzzles

• Trivia puzzles

• Picture puzzles

• Sudoku

• Word search puzzles

What are the most challenging puzzles?

The most challenging puzzles for each person will vary, as we each have our own strengths and weaknesses. If you find that maths is a weak point for you, opting for a maths puzzle book would be a real challenge. On the other side, if words take a little more brainpower, give word puzzles, crosswords or anagrams a try. That's why we've made it our mission to find the best puzzle books for adults.

Related: The best self-care books to help guide and inspire your life

Do puzzles help your brain?

Puzzles actually increase the brain's production of dopamine, which is responsible for regulating mood and optimism. Every time you get an answer right, you get that feeling of satisfaction, and a little dopamine hit.

They're also great for memory, concentration, and focus, requiring patience to make it all the way to the end. Along with this, they can help us to react differently to life experiences, improving our problem-solving skills.

Do puzzles help with anxiety?

Many people who suffer with anxiety turn to puzzles in times of need. Not only do they distract us for a little while from our problems and help to slow down our breathing rate, but as we mentioned previously, they can help the brain produce dopamine.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us