Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive Scrabble Players Paperback – July 30, 2002
See the Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Fatsis gives us all the facts about Scrabble--from the story of the down-on-his-luck architect who invented the game in the 1930s to the intricacies of individual international competitions and the corporate wars to control the world's favorite word game. He keeps the reader turning the pages as we get involved in the lives of the Scrabble obsessives: men and women who have a point to prove against the world and have chosen Scrabble as their playground and their pulpit. As Fatsis goes on his own quest to attain the coveted 1600 rating, we actually get obsessed with him as he lies awake at night pondering moves and memorizing lists of words. For anybody who is interested in words, Word Freak provides an entertaining and absorbing read. --Dwight Longenecker, Amazon.co.uk --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
I have to warn casual players (and readers) that parts of this book may appear to bog down in detailed explanations of how players study word lists and other apparent trivia. But when you reach one of those passages, please remember this is a work of non-fiction, and as such it has a duty to be informative at least part of the time. So skim past the slow passage, and you'll find more rewarding characterizations, beautifully chosen metaphors for the game and the author's struggle to master it, and narration that runs the gamut from poignant to weird to downright hilarious. The great majority of the book is as entertaining as it is informative, so don't stop til you reach the end -- I didn't, and I hadn't finished a book in years.
I watched with a bemused and frightened kind of admiration as he flew cross-country to play in tournaments and memorized world list after word list and his ranking improved. He'd come to visit and tell stories of racks, plays, opponents, wins and losses. None of which I really understood or cared about. But I nodded encouragingly like any good daughter ought to. When my friends talked about how dorky their fathers were, all I had to do was mention my dad plays Scrabble competively and is really pretty good at it. They resigned to my dorky dominance. I always realized my dad was part of some bizzare sunculture, but Word Freak made a few things clear: 1. My dad is execptionally normal in the grand scheme of Scrabble things. 2. He is nowhere near alone. 3. The subculture is much more bizzare and much more developed than I ever knew.
I don't read nonfiction, but I felt obliged to read this and I really, really liked it. These characters--these (real) people--are unbelievable and yet believably real. Fatsis does an amazing job of not only presenting them as real (obessed) players, but explaining the profile of a competitive games player. He even makes the history of Scrabble interesting. (How that's possible is beyond me.) It's chracter-driven, entertaining and well written. In short, I loved it.
With a fresh writing style, he shares a huge amount of information about the way the game is seriously (if not addictively) played without the reader feeling burdened. (Did you know that in any random selection of 7 tiles, there is a 12% chance of a seven letter word appearing?)
Fatsis delves in an anthropological way into the life styles of noted participants in the competitive game. Some of these people are poster children for the saying that you either succeed in art or in life but not in both. The author knows how to approach even the most difficult personalities with wit and compassion.
He takes the reader to visit lonely geniuses in ill-kept apartments, clubs in New york City which spawned top competitors, competitions in Reno and elsewhere. He recounts the tussles between player associations and the manufacturers as unhappy, comical scenes from a lifelong dysfunctional marriage.
Fatsis is, I take it, a sports writer for the Wall Street Journal, and you should take that as an indication he knows how to bridge chasms. Lurking underneath the surface of his prose, I sense a belief in the power of play to discover value in our lives, and what more exquisite play is there but with words? Is it coincidental that during the decades of scrabble's dominance as a pasttime, one of our leading poets, James Merrill, used a Ouija board to help compose poems?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book was mildly interesting to the self-made Scrabble fanatic that I've become. First, this book was written when times were different in the Scrabble world. Read morePublished 4 months ago by drfiddler1
This is an entertaining book about the underground and weird world of professional Scrabble. Well worth the read if you like the gamePublished 11 months ago by Gideon Weitzman
I'm a word freak,so I really liked this fascinating glimpse into the world of competitive Scrabble. I haven't dipped my toe into those particular waters, but understand the... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Sarah A. Saltus
I liked the book as an examination of obsessive behavior. It might even serve as a warning to players hellbent on becoming experts. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Kyle A.H.
It's an okay read, but a little outdated with respect to authorized words in the 5th edition of scrabble dictionary.Published 12 months ago by David
Very well crafted, informative and entertaining. I've read this book twice: first, as a very infrequent player; and more recently, as someone who's played a couple hundred games in... Read morePublished 14 months ago by JSG