Jennifer Brozek | Puzzle Puzzling

Puzzle Puzzling

One of the things I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older is that stereotypes exist for a reason. For me, the “little old lady” stereotype is coming true. I mean, I’m not that old nor that little, but I am falling into some of the tropes—I like my British murder mysteries, I like to watch my backyard birdfeeder, I prefer lemon or vanilla as a sweet flavor, and I really like my physical, analog puzzles. In specific, these days I like Ravensburger puzzles—500 or 750 pieces.

I discovered my love of analog puzzles because I needed something to occupy me…away from the computer…that I could spend some time working on but also get the dopamine hit for finishing the project. It’s one of the reasons I used to crochet. Unfortunately, I discovered that crocheting, along with typing, made my wrists hurt and that just wouldn’t do as a relaxing fill-the-well type of activity—and I needed one of those activities. Something to rest the brain while keeping the hands busy.

I never thought I would be one of those people who have a strong preference for the brand of puzzle I play with. I do. It started with the InGooooD brand of 1000 piece wooden jigsaw puzzles. Mostly because they were sturdy, beautiful, easily found on Amazon, and had a reference grid on the back, breaking up the puzzles into eight 125 piece sections. I would take the time to sort them by grid letter then put them together a single 125 piece section at a time. It would take me a week of casual play. I realized I like them because they were easy to put together, even though they were tedious to sort and not as fun or challenging as I like.

That’s why I dropped down from doing 1000 piece puzzles to 500 and 750 piece puzzles. They were easier to do but also allowed me to sort out the edges and to put together the puzzle in a more satisfying, challenging, and organic manner. I bought a bunch of cheap puzzles before I found a Ravensburger puzzle by accident. The quality and thickness of the cardboard makes a difference. More than I expected. So much so that I’ve now become a bit of a puzzle snob. Or at least, one with strong preferences on how the puzzle pieces feel and fit together.

However, puzzles can be expensive. Thus, I limited my buying of them. Then, about three weeks ago, I realized that, just like I can get my favorite Torrid jeans for cheap on eBay, people sell puzzles for cheap(er) prices on eBay, too. I’ve been buying some rare or out-of-print Ravensburger puzzles in lots of three or five. My mark of a decent find is to get the puzzle and shipping for $18-$20 per puzzle. Good is for $13-$17 per puzzle. Great is for less than $12 per puzzle. If we go over $20 for a puzzle, then I might as well buy it new and not risk a missing puzzle piece. Then again, I prefer the sustainability aspect of buying used puzzles.


Long story short…I’ve got a bunch of new-to-me Ravensburger puzzles to keep me happy for a while. By the time I’m done with them, I can try out one of my older 1000 piece InGooooD puzzles to see if I like them enough to keep…or if I should go ahead and eBay them for someone else to enjoy.

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