Challenging puzzles and brain teasers for when you’re bored of Sudoku

Pass the time and train your brain.

euclidean puzzle cube
A bit of mental fitness.Amazon

Do you ever wonder how you’d fare if solving a puzzle had the kind of high stakes you see in thrillers or video games? One way to find out is to break away from popular games like crosswords and Sudoku. Do things like manipulate metal and magnets to sharpen your ability to separate interlocking shapes and mentally rotate objects. Use your new brainpower everywhere from boardrooms to escape rooms.

269 Cryptoquote Puzzles from History's Most Influential People
It’s all about pattern recognition. Amazon

This straightforward codebook is full of substitution ciphers for you to crack. Each letter in the encrypted messages replaces another letter in the alphabet—for example, the letter “X” could replace the letter “P”. It’s a simple principle that gets harder to solve depending on the snippet of code you’re given. Knowledge of the English language and an ability to spot repetitive sequences is all that is required to figure these out. Hints and answers are on the back to thwart spoilers, and there is room above each line of code to pencil in your guesses.

Of Course!: The Greatest Collection of Riddles & Brain Teasers For Expanding Your Mind
A wolf, a duck, a bag of seeds—and you. Amazon

Classic riddles and the kind of minimum-information logic problems you might remember from school fill the pages of this collection, which builds your reasoning skills. Will you be able to win gold from King Arthur, appease a hungry camel, or escape from prison? Have fun stumping your friends using the underlying principles to update the old-school scenarios to real life. The print version keeps you from impulsively clicking your way to an answer before you’re ready, but it’s also available for Kindle.

Euclidean Cube Fidget Block
Harness your restlessness. Amazon

Fidget spinners and cubes are marketed with many unproven claims that the tools to help people focus or relax. Data or no data, you probably already know if disassembling and reassembling magnetic blocks will be soothing or frustrating for you. You might think of Euclidean cubes as low-key Rubik’s cubes; the goal is to figure out how to create different shapes rather than focus on a single solution. The colorful designs are made up of stickers, making it the best choice for adults and kids who will handle the cubes with care.

Bepuzzled ENIGMA Hanayama Cast Metal Brain Teaser
No, melting it in a foundry is not an acceptable answer.Amazon

Fidgeting with objects meets deep concentration in this type of deceptively simple metal puzzle. The Enigma is rated six on high IQ society Mensa’s scale of difficulty—as in most difficult. Your job: take it apart and put it back together. If you’re flummoxed and end up peeking at the solution, you’ll still learn something about mechanics—and can bequeath the struggle to a brave colleague. No matter how many hours it takes, if you solve it all by yourself, you’ll feel like a genius.