So, about 6 months ago, I was in Barnes and Noble taking a look around through the business/marketing section and stumbled across this book. From the title to the chapter names to the example provided on the back of the book, I just knew this book was for me.
I thought I would be met with "hundreds of ... puzzles," but was disappointed to find that out of "hundreds of hints, tricks, tips, tales, and puzzles," the puzzles took a back seat (I shouldn't be surprised, considering they threw "puzzles" on the end of that short list). Instead, I found myself constantly met with psychological and philosophical "tips" on everything from how to transform my negative thoughts so as to view myself in a positive light to rather child-like suggestions for thinking "outside of the box." I suppose my preconceived definition of "Thinker Toys" was a bit too complex. I expected to be mentally challenged, not consulted by Dr. Phil or have it feel assumed that there was NO WAY I could have possibly come up with the answers the author has given for various puzzles (which is how it seems when he explains to you why you couldn't see or think what you "should have" seen or thought).
Not to mention, I was frustrated by particular puzzles in which an over-thinker (such as myself) could have EASILY solved a problem had it not been posited/imaged as it was. One shining example, if you have the book, is on page 29. There's a guy in a room with two ropes extending down from the ceiling. The challenge is to tie the ropes together, but the problem is that they're hanging down far enough apart that you can't grab one while holding on to the other. "The room is bare, and you have only the things with you that you have in your pocket today. How do you solve the problem?"
The authors solution? Tie a small object to one of the ropes and set it in motion so that it will swing to you while you're holding the other rope. Sounds decent, right? Well, not only did I have nothing in my pockets the day I read that puzzle, but the problem here is that the illustrations show the ropes so close to the walls and so far apart from one another that there's no way you could swing one to build up enough momentum to get to you! As soon as it hit the wall, bye-bye momentum. Now, you might say, "well, the illustrations were just that -- illustrations. The question didn't specify that the walls of the room were the same as what you see in the pictures!" Good point! And if that's the case, then what the illustrations ALSO don't show you is the door leading to the staircase OUTSIDE the room where you can go climb up it, get on the roof, pull both ropes up to you one at a time, then stretch them out along the roof and tie them together! Voila!
Now, I realize that may seem petty or downright ludicrous, but breaking "the rules" to solve a problem only creates a new rule. If you're going to present problems and have someone try to envision a particular correct scenario (instead of every POSSIBLE scenario) based on what the problem does and doesn't specify, then please be more accurate in the portrayal of said problem. Here again, petty it may seem, but once I started viewing the author's puzzles in THAT light, the solutions to them were limitless (some, downright ridiculous) and I found myself more frustrated when my answers didn't match up to his because something was not specified or things were assumed.
Frustration aside, the book may well be a great starting point for people with a very rigid train of thought. The one thing to remember, which I suppose the author is trying to promote, is to do away with expecting a set of rules that will define the limitations you're to work within. If you're a logical thinker, then get ready to start thinking that 0 + 1 = 2. How is that possible? Easy! '0' and '1' are numbers. How many numbers do you see in the equation 0 + 1? That's right, 2! The answer is 2!
Now, don't bother telling me how many levels that's wrong on, because it will do you no good. The one all-encompassing caveat which allows the author to get away with similar scenarios is that anything is possible when thinking "outside of the box." Creative, mind-melting stuff that will change your life or pointless exercise in frustration that in no way enriches your approach to problems? You decide.
I am both creative and logical in my world view, so my frustrations have to do with trying to approach this book from both trains of thought. Having said everything that I have up to this point, there is certainly some good material to be found and I can't pretend that I walked away having learned nothing... but life-changing stuff? Not for me. I suppose I'm still waiting for the revelation I initially hoped for when first picking up this book.
Overall, 2-stars for me but 4-stars for thinking of the numerous non-over-thinkers this book could possibly be enjoyable to. Final result? An average of 3-stars... unless, of course, you didn't automatically assume an averaging of the two, in which case your answer may have been 2, 6, or 8 stars! Care to figure out how I came up with those creative numbers? ;)