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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for Scrabble lover - Great book for anyone
I'm 25, and I can count the number of books I've read since High School on one hand. And this is one of them. Given to me by my sister-in-law (who knows I play scrabble online) I was hesitant. When I started reading I found I could not put the book down. Even when i was done with it I bookmarked certain sections (tricks the author or players use) to read them at a...
Published on Nov. 23 2003 by zenenigma

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Turned me off to Scrabble
The acquaintance who recommended this book told me it would renew my interest in and excitement about playing Scrabble. Wrong! The message I took away from this read is renewed belief that human beings can pervert just about anything.
Another reviewer mentioned her offense at the author's denegration of "blue hairs," as he likes to call female senior citizens. He...
Published on Jan. 2 2004 by Tricia


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4.0 out of 5 stars Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive ScrabblePlayers, Oct. 17 2012
This review is from: Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive ScrabblePlayers (Paperback)
Stefan Fatsis does an excellent job of describing the characters he meets.
His own Scrabble games are less interesting. Many of his plays are bluffs, so the strategy is not enhanced by knowledge.
The book convinced me that I will never enter a tournament, but it would be fun to go and watch!
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4.0 out of 5 stars great insider's look, June 17 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive ScrabblePlayers (Paperback)
Now a documentary film, this book will make most casual hobbyists who consider themselves pretty good at Scrabble reevaluate their definition of "good." An insider's look at the quirky, eccentric and colorful world of competitive Scrabble, amateur wordsmiths' jealousy and awe may be tempered after the players' lives are described. Many are mono-maniacs who put themselves on elaborate regimens of herbal and energy-boosting supplements, but not all are so focused. Some have other interests, some spend most of their time inside poring over word lists and memorizing strategies. While it is tempting to label these players crazy, we should remember that all passions to some extent lead to madness, if you pursue them to the highest level.
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4.0 out of 5 stars We Have Met The Enigmatic... And He Is Us, April 25 2004
By 
Dallas B. Koehn "Sneeze7x" (Tulsa, OK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
"For a moment I wonder, like Roz, what my obsession is proving. Maybe nothing. Maybe more than I care to admit. With the board and tiles and word books splayed across my living room, and my regular circuit of tournaments, and leaving work early on Thursdays to get to the club on time, I have managed to reorder my life so that I can play a board game. This doesn't seem healthy, especially because I still suck. But it doesn't seem avoidable, either. I entered this world because it was a curiosity, a good story. Then it became an infatuation. I'm having trouble typing these words, but right now Scrabble is the most important thing in my life."
Stefan Fatsis sets out to report on the world of competitive Scrabble and ends up getting sucked in beyond what he'd intended for his story. As expected, this book is very much about the game, and between the stories of the people he meets, the strange drama of the national and international tournament systems, and the history of the game itself, Fatsis has put together an intriguing little story. A strange story, to be sure, about strange people, but an interesting little diversion--if that's all he'd managed.
But somehow, in examining this quirky subculture of which he becomes a part (and himself as he becomes a part of it), Fatsis exposes far more universal truths about personal validation, self-identity, and the realities we create around ourselves. I'm not even sure he means to, so absorbed is he in his quest for 'the total game.' Sometimes he's a bit tedious about this or that anagram or the possibilities for such and such word combination--but that's what 'those people' do. I'm left haunted by the uncomfortable suspicion, though, that most of the rest of us are similarly off-center, almost as unbalanced, and just as desperate for validation in our own misfit little portions of the world.
Fortunately the individuals portrayed are sympathetic characters more than pathetic ones, and it's not so bad to feel connected to most of them. I'm pretty sure there's a lesson implicit in Word Freak about life involving luck side by side with choices and skill, and being all you can be, and even something about how you play being more important than how you rank against others. But seeing as how such sentimental melodrama makes me sick, I think I'll just stick with "Great book! It's about these people who are REALLY into Scrabble."
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3.0 out of 5 stars Turned me off to Scrabble, Jan. 2 2004
By 
Tricia (Minden, NV) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive ScrabblePlayers (Paperback)
The acquaintance who recommended this book told me it would renew my interest in and excitement about playing Scrabble. Wrong! The message I took away from this read is renewed belief that human beings can pervert just about anything.
Another reviewer mentioned her offense at the author's denegration of "blue hairs," as he likes to call female senior citizens. He also seems to disdain "fat middle aged women," whom he refers to several times and whom he is humiliated to lose to. Later in the book, he deigns to devote a couple of pages to female Scrabble players and explains that, although they outnumber male players in tournaments, they are not competitive at the highest levels -- mostly because they have lives apart from Scrabble (like jobs, family, friends) -- unlike the obsessive male Scrabble players who dominate the book, several of whom seem to be genuinely mentally ill.
If I had any ideas of joining a Scrabble club or doing anything more than playing occasionally with my sister, this book squelched those desires. And perhaps it's just as well. As a fat middle-aged women about 10 years short of a blue-hair, I am probably better off sticking with quilting and needlepoint where I can be with my own kind.
I have rated this book 3 stars because Fatsis does have a way of drawing me into the book. Just when I'm ready to set it aside, either because the technical detail is boring or because I'm offended by his treatment of women, he manages to recapture my attention. It's not a page turner, but I feel compelled to finish reading it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing look at the world of professional Scrabble, Dec 12 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive ScrabblePlayers (Paperback)
It's amazing to think that something like Scrabble could lead to an all-consuming obsession. I'd always been an avid amateur player and enjoyed the game, but I'd certainly never spent hours combing the dictionary for new words. Yet in Fatsis' book, we get an opportunity to take a brief glimpse into the worlds of those who do, and to witness Fatsis' own growing compulsion to reach the somewhat dubious goal of Scrabble perfection.
That said, I'll admit that I had a copy of the Official Scrabble Player's Dictionary (or the OSPD, as it's referred to among the hard-core players), some word lists, and a stack of flash cards by the time I was done reading the book. The intensity of the prose and the obvious enthusiasm of the people involved drew me into their world whether I had intended to go or not. After all, how could I not admire the foreign players that routinely play words that I'd never consider getting on the board, even though they have no clue what they mean? How could I not respect the acumen of those that pick typos out of the Oxford English Dictionary, or even notice that the older Scrabble boxes show tiles with the wrong point values, or anagram a paragraph of text at a time? From the first page to the last, the book offers a view of a unique subculture, in which it is impossible to escape the allure of the words. When I reached the appendix, in which Fastis lists all of the words in the book that were not Tournament-legal, I could tell how his report on this topic had drawn him in. When I went to verify some of the book's stranger words in my copy of the OSPD, I realized how successfully he had drawn me in as well.
An excellent read, but make sure you have some free time to deal with the inevitable obsession.
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4.0 out of 5 stars NOT A BLUE-HAIR, Oct. 17 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive ScrabblePlayers (Paperback)
I enjoyed Word Freak tremendously. It is not the kind of book that you have trouble putting down or can't wait to pick up again, but, nonetheless, informative and entertaining. While I do not have blue hair (although I'm probably in that age category), I took offense to his obvious abhorrence of blue-hairs (I don't think I've seen blue hair since the early '50s)and the connotation was used all through the book. I almost trashed it 20 times, but being such a good read, decided to finish it, and glad I did.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Well told., Oct. 10 2003
By 
Richard L. Pangburn (Bardstown, KY USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive ScrabblePlayers (Paperback)
This was about scrabble, but it could just have easily been about chess or horseracing or even golf. The portraits of personalities are fascinating. I hope that someday he'll write a follow-up book, a whatever-happened-to accounting of the participants. I don't play scrabble either; but I understand the universal compulsion toward obsession. A great read!
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5.0 out of 5 stars This is a real page turner, Hillarious,!, June 13 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive ScrabblePlayers (Paperback)
I am waiting for the sequel to this funny and engaging book portraying the world of scrabble. You can also hear Steven Fatsis on NPR about sports, I wish he would drop a word about how his scrabble career is going now!
See you online playing scrabble I hope!
Liz McBride
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4.0 out of 5 stars Uncovering Scrabble, April 17 2003
By 
Marie Baranda (Adrian, Michigan) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive ScrabblePlayers (Paperback)
ALOPRSTY. DJINNI. JINNEE. AVGOLEMONO. ZYZZYVA. Imagine a world in which these words have meaning. They have meaning in the sense that they are words that result in bingos, high scores, and the chance to beat out the opponent. Apparently, competitive Scrabble does exist, run by the National Scrabble Association. In Fatsis' quest to become an expert Scrabble player, he lets us in on the trials of his struggle. What brings Fatsis' quest to life are the experts of the game. No alias names. No lies. Their lifestyles, dreams, failures, quirks, and obsessions are uncovered. Fatsis informs readers that while the obsession with the game may become a detriment to their health and sanity, they are human-beings who have found their way to each other and have been able to bond, forming a social group when they have could not fit in another. The game makes them who they are and winning allows them to feel as if they too exist.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Boring book about boring people!!, March 27 2003
By 
Sue Slack "slacker2" (New York, NY United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive ScrabblePlayers (Paperback)
This book is about all the social and career underachievers who play Scrabble as an escape, so they do not have to deal with life. The author describes their medical and psychological "issues", ad nauseam! if you don't beleive that such one dimensional people exist with no obvious means of financial support,,,,,,, then read on, but I did not empathize or care about them by the second chapter. Besides, they all stared to resemble each other, I did not care to keep them staight in my mind. You might learn a few new Scrabble words, if you are a hobby player. But I did not find it worth the effort.
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Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive ScrabblePlayers
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