As the daughter and sister of puzzlers, I was raised on The New York Times crosswords and acrostics -- also diagramless, cryptic, puns & anagrams, and other varieties of word play. Imagine my delight on Sunday, November 2, when the acrostic (my favorite challenge) featured a passage from Galileo's Daughter. In fact, I found out the preceding Friday, by e-mail from a well meaning colleague who urged me, "You definitely must do this Sunday's NYT acrostic puzzle." As the sender was someone I knew only passing well, and to whom I had never disclosed my puzzle mania, the message spilled the surprise. It's finally happened, I realized. One of my books (I did not yet know which) had been singled out by acrostic authors Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon, and passed muster with puzzle editor Will Shortz.
I was stupid with excitement. At the same time, I wished I hadn't been forewarned. I would have experienced a much bigger, much better thrill by struggling part-way through the puzzle, then suddenly realizing I could fill in the first letter of every clue. But I felt no anger toward my unwitting tipster. Besides, I would not have attempted the acrostic before Monday night, by which time one of my students had already congratulated me on its content.
The following week, the answers to the previous week's puzzles appeared, and sent another small electric charge through the members of my family.