9 Great Puzzles to Celebrate National Puzzle Day

iStock.com/Kuzmichstudio
iStock.com/Kuzmichstudio

January 29 marks National Puzzle Day, and there's no better way to celebrate than to get your hands on a brand new puzzle. Below are just a few of the great options available on Amazon and elsewhere on the web, from one of the biggest jigsaws in the world to a galactic puzzle that can go on forever. Happy puzzling! And for more ideas, check out our gift guide for puzzle fanatics.

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1. 3D Crystal Puzzle, Saturn

A 3D transluscent puzzle in the shape of Saturn
Bepuzzled, Amazon

Bepuzzled's 3D puzzles provide thought-provoking fun in 42 different shapes. We think this translucent Saturn puzzle is out of this world (and many Mental Floss readers seem to agree), but Bepuzzled also offers puzzles in the likeness of birds, animals, fruit, vehicles, and other common objects, in case assembling a noble snowy owl or a bunch of purple grapes is more your speed.

Get it on Amazon for $13 and at these other retailers:

2. 33,600-Piece Wildlife Puzzle

A wildlife-themed jigsaw puzzle
Educa, Amazon

For true puzzle experts, 500- or 1000-piece puzzles are just the warm up. Designed to be one of the world's biggest commercially available puzzles, Educa's wildlife-themed puzzle has a mind-boggling 33,600 pieces and measures almost 19 feet by 5 feet when complete. It's so big that it comes in a suitcase-sized wooden box on wheels for easy transport. (With that many pieces, you may be worried about misplacing one or two, preventing you from fully completing the image, but fear not—Educa has a policy of replacing any individual pieces that go missing from its puzzles.)

Get it on Amazon for $325 or at these other retailers:

3. 1000 Colors Puzzle

Design aficionados will love this CMYK-themed puzzle that features a slightly different color on each piece to create a color gradient. This fan favorite is so popular that it regularly sells out, but it's due back in stock within the next few weeks, and trust us, it's worth the wait.

Get it on UncommonGoods for $48 or from the Colossal shop.

4. Escher's Mirrorkal Brainteaser Puzzle

An M.C. Escher 3D puzzle game
Recent Toys, Amazon

M.C. Escher's mind-bending visuals make for an equally challenging puzzle experience in the Mirrorkal Brainteaser Puzzle. Developed by puzzle designer Ivan Moscovich after he met Escher in 1964, the set contains five different 3D puzzles based on the artist's sketches. "Made beautifully with slanted mirrors, this puzzle is a joy to work with and to display on the coffee table for guests to admire," the product description promises.

Get it on Amazon for $25.

5. Game of Thrones 9-inch 3D Globe Puzzle

A 3D puzzle shaped like a globe
4D Cityscape, Amazon

Bring Westeros and Essos to life with this Game of Thrones-themed puzzle from 4D Cityscape. Its 540 slightly curved pieces come together to form a globe that, with the included display stand, is the perfect addition to any fan's house. It comes in 3-inch, 6-inch, and 9-inch sizes, but as puzzle fanatics ourselves, we obviously recommend getting the biggest version.

Get it for $42 on Amazon.

6. Bob Ross The Joy of Puzzles

A Bob Ross landscape painting featuring a snowy mountain and a lake
Wellspring, Amazon

Piece together some happy little trees with this jigsaw puzzle inspired by one of Bob Ross's famous landscape paintings. The 500-piece puzzle will give you time to chill out without requiring you to break out the paint brushes. Just try to remain as calm as Ross himself if you encounter any happy little accidents along the way.

Get it for $17 on Amazon.

7. Pop Art 500-Piece Puzzle

Showcase your love of art with this 500-piece Pop Art puzzle. At just 18-by-18 inches, it's designed for people who don't have massive table space in their apartment to work—perhaps because their coffee table is already filled with art books.

Get it from W&P Design for $20.

8. Pencil Collage 1000-Piece Puzzle

An image of dozens of pencils laid side by side
White Mountain, Amazon

White Mountain Puzzles's 24-by-30-inch pencil collage provides a true challenge in the form of an image of dozens of different pencils in different sizes, colors, and conditions. According to White Mountain, "This incredible collection of advertising pencils was created by artist Maureen Rupprecht, who literally glued hundreds of pencils into a frame. Talk about a challenge!"

Get it on Amazon for $17 or at these other retailers:

9. The Infinite Galaxy Puzzle

The Infinite Galaxy Puzzle provides the ultimate puzzle experience: a puzzle you can never truly finish. Featuring a NASA image of the Milky Way’s galactic center, it has no fixed shape or edges, and the pieces are double-sided so that users can flip them and rearrange them in any configuration. "Topologically, the Infinite Galaxy Puzzle maps to a Klein bottle, an impossible 3D shape where the inside and outside are mathematically indistinguishable,” its creators write. "Just like a Mobius strip has only one surface, the puzzle has no up or down side. You can start the puzzle anywhere on any side, making it extra challenging." There are currently two versions of the puzzle you can work on, in case you get tired of the endless options of the original puzzle and need yet another infinite challenge.

Get it at Nervous System for $120.

Plus: Ravensburger Giant Stow and Go

Hands rolling up a puzzle in a puzzle-stowing sheet
Ravensburger, Amazon

Working on a massive puzzle might take days, and you can't always leave your unfinished work in the same place. Whether you need your table back for non-puzzle uses or want to take your partially finished puzzle on the road with you, the puzzle experts at Ravensburger have your back. The company's Giant Stow and Go system lets you roll up and transport both unfinished and finished jigsaw puzzles safely so that you don't undo any of your hard work.

Get it on Amazon for $21.

This Portable Gadget Washes Delicate Clothing Without Detergent

Washwow, Kickstarter
Washwow, Kickstarter

Keeping delicate items of clothing clean often means subjecting them to the abuse of your washing machine. After several washes, garments like bras, underwear, and formal wear can lose their shape and color. Hand washing is one alternative, but it can take a lot of effort and often produces underwhelming results. The WASHWOW 3.0, now raising money on Kickstarter, offers a different solution.

The WASHWOW is a portable gadget that washes clothes without the need for scrubbing, detergent, or aggressive spin cycles. Just fill a tub, sink, or bowl with water and submerge the WASHWOW with the item you need to clean. Using the electrolysis of water, the product breaks the liquid down into its hydrogen and oxygen components, disinfecting the garment and decomposing any stubborn organic stains. Unlike conventional washing methods, this product won't leave soapy residues on your fabrics, and if there are any leftover chemicals on your clothes from their last wash, WASHWOW will wipe them away, too. According the Kickstarter page, WASHWOW eliminates 99.98 percent of germs, viruses, and bacteria.

The gadget is a great way to disinfect clothing that requires a gentle touch, but its usefulness extends to other chores beyond laundry. The product's technology can be used on toys, produce, kitchen items, and anything else that needs to be sanitized. And since it weighs less than a quarter of a pound, it's perfect for frequent travelers.

With over a month left to go in its Kickstarter campaign, WASHWOW has already exceeded its $12,739 funding goal. You can pledge $55 or more to receive a WASHWOW of your own this July.

Washwow gadget in tub with bra.
Washwow, Kickstarter

25 Famous Authors' Favorite Books

David Cheskin-Pool/Getty Images
David Cheskin-Pool/Getty Images

One key to being a good writer is to always keep reading—and that doesn't stop after you've been published. Here are 25 authors' favorite reads. Who knows, one of these books might become your new favorite.

1. ERNEST HEMINGWAY

American writer Ernest Hemingway
Central Press/Getty Images

Papa Hemingway once said "there is no friend as loyal as a book," and in a 1935 piece published in Esquire, he laid out a list of a few friends he said he would "rather read again for the first time ... than have an assured income of a million dollars a year." They included, he wrote, "Anna Karenina, Far Away and Long Ago, Buddenbrooks, Wuthering Heights, Madame Bovary, War and Peace, A Sportsman's Sketches, The Brothers Karamazov, Hail and Farewell, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Winesburg, Ohio, La Reine Margot, The Maison Tellier, Le Rouge et le Noir, La Chartreuse de Parme, Dubliners, Yeats's Autobiographies, and a few others."

It wasn't the first reading list he'd made; just a year earlier, Hemingway had dashed off a list of 14 books for an aspiring writer who had hitchhiked to Florida to meet him. It included a few of the same books above, plus two short stories by Stephen Crane.

2. JOAN DIDION

Joan Didion
Jemal Countess/Getty Images

In an interview with The Paris Review in 2006, novelist and creative nonfiction scribe Joan Didion called Joseph Conrad's Victory "maybe my favorite book in the world ... I have never started a novel ... without rereading Victory. It opens up the possibilities of a novel. It makes it seem worth doing."

3. RAY BRADBURY

US science fiction writer Ray Bradbury
Evening Standard/Getty Images

Sci-fi author Ray Bradbury's favorite books, which he discussed during a 2003 interview with Barnes & Noble when he was 83, are somewhat unexpected. Among them, Bradbury said, were "The collected essays of George Bernard Shaw, which contain all of the intelligence of humanity during the last hundred years and perhaps more," books written by Loren Eisley, "who is our greatest poet/essayist of the last 40 years," and Herman Melville's Moby-Dick: "Quite obviously its impact on my life has lasted for more than 50 years."

The books that most influenced his career—and are presumably favorites as well—were those in Edgar Rice Burroughs's John Carter: Warlord of Mars series. "[They] entered my life when I was 10 and caused me to go out on the lawns of summer, put up my hands, and ask for Mars to take me home," Bradbury said. "Within a short time I began to write and have continued that process ever since, all because of Mr. Burroughs."

4. GEORGE R.R. MARTIN

George R.R. Martin
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

It's probably not surprising that Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin has said that J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, which he first read in junior high, is "still a book I admire vastly." But he recently found inspiration in a newer book, which he recommended in a Live Journal entry: "I won't soon forget Station Eleven," he wrote. Emily St. John Mandel's book about a group of actors in a recently post-apocalyptic society, he said, is "a deeply melancholy novel, but beautifully written, and wonderfully elegiac … a book that I will long remember, and return to."

5. AYN RAND

The Atlas statue in New York City seen from below
Sean P. Anderson, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

"The very best I've ever read, my favorite thing in all world literature (and that includes all the heavy classics) is a novelette called Calumet K by Merwin-Webster," Rand wrote in 1945. The book was famous then, but if you haven't heard of it, allow Chicago magazine to outline the plot: "Calumet K is a quaint, endearingly Midwestern novel about the building of a grain elevator ... It's a procedural about large-scale agricultural production." If that sounds like something you'd want to check out, you can read it for free here.

6. GILLIAN FLYNN

Author Gillian Flynn
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

When Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn was asked about her favorite books in a 2014 Reddit AMA, she called out her "comfort food" books—the kind "you grab when you're feeling cranky and nothing sounds good to read"—which included Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None and Norman Mailer's The Executioner's Song.

7. VLADIMIR NABOKOV

Russian writer Vladimir Nabokov
Keystone/Getty Images

During an interview with a French television station in the 1950s, the Lolita author—who wrote all of his own books on note cards, which were "gradually copied, expanded, and rearranged until they [became his novels]," according to The Paris Review—shared a list of what he considered to be great literature: James Joyce's Ulysses, Kafka's The Metamorphosis, Andrei Bely's Petersburg, and "the first half of Proust's fairy tale, In Search of Lost Time."

8. JANE AUSTEN

English novelist Jane Austen
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The author of classics like Pride and Prejudice and Emma was herself a voracious reader of books, poetry, and plays, including The Corsair by Lord Byron, Madame de Genlis's Olimpe and Theophile, and The Mysteries of Udolpho by Anne Radcliffe. A clear favorite, though, was Samuel Richardson's book Sir Charles Grandison.

9. MARK TWAIN

Mark Twain
Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

In 1887, Twain responded to a letter from Reverend Charles D. Crane, a pastor in Maine, which likely asked for Twain's recommendations for both young boys and girls as well as the authors' favorite books (Crane's letter, unfortunately, is lost). Among his favorites, Twain said, were Thomas Carlyle "(The French Revolution only)," Sir Thomas Malory's King Arthur, and Arabian Nights, among others. He also included his own B.B., which he said was "a book which I wrote some years ago, not for publication but just for my own private reading."

10. MEG WOLITZER

Meg Wolitzer
Rich Polk/Getty Images for Sony Pictures Entertainment

The Interestings author loves the novel Old Filth by Jane Gardam. "It's a thrilling, bold and witty book by a British writer whom I discovered rather late," she told Elle in 2014. "I can't say I've read anything else like Old Filth, which stands out for me as a singular, opalescent novel, a thing of beauty that gives immense gratification to its lucky readers."

11. ERIK LARSON

Author Erik Larson
Jemal Countess/Getty Images

The acclaimed author of The Devil in the White City calls The Maltese Falcon his "all-time personal favorite":

"I love this book, all of it: the plot, the characters, the dialogue, much of which was lifted verbatim by John Huston for his screenplay for the beloved movie of the same name. The single best monologue in fiction appears toward the end, when Sam Spade tells Brigid O'Shaughnessy why he's giving her to the police."

12. F. SCOTT FITZGERALD

A studio portrait of American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald (
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

In 1936—four years before his death—Fitzgerald was living at the Grove Park Inn in North Carolina. After he fired a gun as a suicide threat, the inn insisted that he be supervised by a nurse. While under Dorothy Richardson's care, he provided her with a list of 22 books that he deemed "essential reading." It included Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser, The Life of Jesus by Ernest Renan, Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House, and Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson.

13. EDWIDGE DANTICAT

Award winning writer Edwidge Danticat visits Capitol Hill, October 21, 2015.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

This MacArthur Fellow and award-winning author of Claire of the Sea Light, The Dew Breaker, and Brother, I'm Dying told Time.com that her favorite summer read is Love, Anger, Madness, by the Haitian writer Marie Vieux-Chauvet. "I have read and reread that book, both in French and in its English translation, for many years now," she said. "And each time I stumble into something new and eye-opening that makes me want to keep reading it over and over again."

14. SAMUEL BECKETT

Irish playwright and author Samuel Beckett
Reg Lancaster/Express/Getty Images

Winner of the 1969 Nobel Prize for Literature and author of Waiting for Godot, Beckett was always a private individual, even after garnering acclaim for his writing. In 2011, a volume of the author's letters from 1941 to 1956 was published, giving the world a glimpse into his friendships and reading habits. Beckett wrote about many books in his correspondence: He described Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne as "lively stuff," wrote that his fourth reading of Effi Briest by Theodor Fontane caused "the same old tears in the same old places," and that he liked The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger "more than anything for a long time."

15. R.L. STINE

R.L. Stine
Andy Kropa/Getty Images

In a 2012 piece for The Washington Post, Goosebumps and Fear Street author R.L. Stine praised Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine, calling it "one of the most underrated books ever. Bradbury's lyrical depiction of growing up in the Midwest in a long-ago time, a time that probably never even existed, is the kind of beautiful nostalgia few authors have achieved."

16. AMY TAN

Author Amy Tan
Will Ragozzino/Getty Images

The Joy Luck Club author Amy Tan's favorite piece of classic Chinese literature is Jing Ping Mei (The Plum in the Golden Vase), penned by an anonymous scribe. "I would describe it as a book of manners for the debauched," she said in a 2013 interview with The New York Times. "Its readers in the late Ming period likely hid it under their bedcovers, because it was banned as pornographic. It has a fairly modern, naturalistic style—'Show, don't tell'—and there are a lot of sex scenes shown. For years, I didn't know I had the expurgated edition that provided only elliptical hints of what went on between falling into bed and waking up refreshed. The unexpurgated edition is instructional."

17. J.K. ROWLING

Author J.K. Rowling
John Phillips/Getty Images

For her favorite book, Harry Potter and The Silkworm author J.K. Rowling (she wrote the latter under a pseudonym) went with a classic: Jane Austen's Emma. "Virginia Woolf said of Austen, 'For a great writer, she was the most difficult to catch in the act of greatness,' which is a fantastic line," Rowling said, according to Oprah.com. "You're drawn into the story, and you come out the other end, and you know you've seen something great in action. But you can't see the pyrotechnics; there's nothing flashy."

One of her favorite books as a child was The Story of the Treasure Seekers by E. Nesbit, whom Rowling called "the children's writer with whom I most identify … The Story of the Treasure Seekers was a breakthrough children's book. Oswald is such a very real narrator, at a time when most people were writing morality plays for children."

18. MAYA ANGELOU

Maya Angelou
Steve Exum/Getty Images

The poet and author had a number of favorite books, including Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities, the Bible, Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe, Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, and Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. "When I read Alcott, I knew that these girls she was talking about were all white," Angelou told The Week in 2013. "But they were nice girls and I understood them. I felt like I was almost there with them in their living room and their kitchen."

19. LYDIA DAVIS

US author Lydia Davis
Will Oliver/AFP/Getty Images

Reading John Dos Passos's Orient Express was "a turning point for me," award winning novelist Lydia Davis said in 1997. "That was one of the first 'grown up' books that made me excited about the language."

20. HENRY MILLER

HENRY MILLER
Central Press/Getty Images

The Tropic of Cancer author wrote an entire book that, he explained in the preface, "[dealt] with books as a vital experience." The Books in My Life included an appendix titled "100 Books Which Influenced Me Most." Classics like Wuthering Heights, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Les Miserables, and Leaves of Grass all made the cut.

21. JOHN STEINBECK

US novelist John Steinbeck
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

One of the Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden author's favorite books later in life was Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio, but his first favorite book was Le Morte d'Arthur, a collection of Arthurian tales by Sir Thomas Malory, which Steinbeck received as a gift when he was 9. It was a major influence on the author's writing, and ultimately led to The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights, which Steinbeck hoped would be "the best work of my life and the most satisfying." He had completed just seven chapters of the book when he died in 1968; it was published posthumously eight years later.

22. CHERYL STRAYED

Wild author Cheryl Strayed
Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for American Lung Association

When the author of the bestselling memoir Wild set off on her journey up the Pacific Coast Trail, she only had room to take two books. One was a book of Adrienne Rich's poetry, The Dream of a Common Language. She had already read it enough times to almost memorize it in its entirety. Explaining in Wild the choice to bring along the extra weight in her pack, she writes:

"In the previous few years, certain lines had become like incantations to me, words I'd chanted to myself through my sorrow and confusion. That book was a consolation, an old friend, and when I held it in my hands on my first night on the trail, I didn't regret carrying it one iota—even though carrying it meant that I could do no more than hunch beneath its weight. It was true that The Pacific Crest Trail, Volume 1: California was now my bible, but The Dream of a Common Language was my religion."

At one point during her arduous hike, she considers burning the book to save weight in her pack, as she did with other books she read along the trail. "There was no reason not to burn this book too," she writes. "Instead, I only hugged it to my chest."

23. JOYCE CAROL OATES

Author Joyce Carol Oates speaks onstage
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for The Norman Mailer Center

In a 2013 interview with The Boston Globe, the prolific author Joyce Carol Oates revealed Dostoevsky as one of her favorite authors. When asked for her all-time favorite book, she said:

"I would say Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment, which had an enormous effect on me. I think young people today might not realize how readable that novel is. The other book that I worry no one reads anymore is James Joyce's Ulysses. It's not easy, but every page is wonderful and repays the effort."

In honor of the publication of her latest book, Dis Mem Ber in June 2017, Oates also shared her current reading list with The Week. It included Anthony Marra's books A Constellation of Vital Phenomena and The Tsar of Love and Techno, Atticus Lish's award-winning Preparation for the Next Life, Whitney Terrell's Iraq War novel The Good Lieutenant, T. Geronimo Johnson's satirical Welcome to Braggsville, and the time-travel sci-fi novel Version Control by Dexter Palmer.

24. GEORGE SAUNDERS

George Saunders speaks at The 2009 New Yorker Festival
Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for The New Yorker

In 2014, Saunders—one of the most famous short story writers of our time—detailed some of his favorite books for Oprah Winfrey's O magazine. On the favorites list for the author of bestsellers like Tenth of December and Lincoln in the Bardo?

Tobias Wolff's In the Garden of the North American Martyrs (a book that convinced Saunders to study with Wolff at Syracuse University, where Saunders still works today), Michael Herr's Vietnam memoir Dispatches, Stuart Dybek's short story collection The Coast of Chicago, Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye, and several classics of Russian literature—Isaac Babel's The Red Calvary, The Portable Chekhov, and Nicolai Gogol's Dead Souls.

25. JUDY BLUME

Author/activist Judy Blume
Evan Agostini/Getty Images

In 2016, beloved author Judy Bloom shared some of her favorite books with The Strand, a bookstore in New York City. Madeline, the classic children's book by Ludwig Bemelmans, she explained, was "the first book I fell in love with at the Elizabeth [New Jersey] public library." She wrote:

"I loved it so much I hid it so my mother would not be able to return it to the library. I thought it was the only copy in the world. To this day I feel guilty. It was the first book I bought for my daughter's library when she was born."

For professional inspiration, she turns to Philip Roth's Pulitzer Prize-winning American Pastoral. "It never fails to amaze me," she writes.

This article first ran in 2015.

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