Books that should not exist #2: How to Solve Sudoku: A Step-by-Step Guide (52 Brilliant Ideas)


Even the name of this book shows that it doesn't know when to quit. The Title: Subtitle (another bit of Title) shows that this is an author for whom editing is something that happens to other people, because you don't get up to fifty-two sudoku ideas if you're even remotely prepared to cut unnecessary or pointless things. Even so they'd need to devote ten secrets to "How to pick up the pen" to get over half a hundred tips for this numerical equivalent of "square peg goes in square hole".

The problem with Sudoku was that they weren't a genuine puzzle, they were a single boring mathematical task repeated ten thousand times. Some scientists found that they'd already written a program that solved all known Sudoku as part of a scanner control system, thereby destroying the pretense of all those coffeetime pen-chewers who think they're smart because they outwitted the backpage of a daily newspaper: because any genuinely smart people faced with the task wanted no part in its boring tedium and ordered the computer to do it for them. Once you work out how to play them you either stop playing or have a tragic lack of other occupations in life. Getting 'good' at Sudoku is like getting good at walking upstairs - there's only one possible path and once you've done it there isn't much point in going back and starting again.

The real tragedy is those who worked out the pattern and thought themselves intelligent because they could solve hundreds more so quickly, when repeating a simple task over and over again is the opposite of intelligent (especially when you aren't even getting the four dollars an hour for it). Real mathematicians enjoy Sudoku about as much as structural engineers enjoy setting up a deckchair. There's no shame in not being able to do one, but the sort of person unable to solve one but willing to spend money for help is somebody who should be relieved of that money as quickly as possible. Their thick-headed stubbornness and the need for instructions for even the simplest task could lead them to give it to scientology.

The fact that this book has 52 great sudoku-solving secrets is terrifying: the implication that somebody might need a week per tip to digest the secret mysteries of number writing over the course of a year, and that this person might be wandering around bookshops loose and unsupervised until they find a car that looks interesting enough to walk out in front of. Plus the fact that if even one of the ideas was brilliant, it would "Let's find something more interesting to do than Sudoku."

Previous book: Winning the Lotto

1 comment:

David Curran said...

Thsi may be a cliche but it is fucking true. Why does everyone have to be a dummy? Can you not get books for normal people?
The books seem to be either
1. In appalling taste
Alzheimer's For Dummies
http://www.dummies.com/WileyCDA/DummiesTitle/productCd-0764538993.html

2. Unintentionally ironic.
Christianity For Dummies
http://www.dummies.com/WileyCDA/DummiesTitle/productCd-0764544829.html
3. Or involve the sort of things you really do not want dummies involved in Cosmetic Surgery For Dummies,