Every Page of This Wooden Book Is a Fiendish Puzzle
You know about puzzle books—books of puzzles, or books that are themselves puzzles. But then there’s Codex Silenda—a gorgeous, wooden book of brainteasers that is itself a multi-part mystery. As page-turners go, Codex Silenda is a special case. You have to solve the mechanical riddle that comprises each of its five pages before you can flip to the next. Naturally, we’re obsessed.
Compared to most puzzles, cracking Codex Silenda is a distinctly physical experience. “I never was a fan of jigsaw puzzles,” says Brady Whitney, who created the book for his senior thesis project at Iowa State University and is currently obliterating fundraising goals for a limited production run on Kickstarter. “You get a really cool picture out of the deal, but it doesn’t have that satisfying solution or process to me.”
Whitney built Codex Silenda from more than 100 pieces of laser-cut maple and birchwood, hiding gears and guts inside the book’s inch-thick pages. He designed most of the puzzle mechanisms to move along the x- and y-axes so they’d be thin, and reverse-engineered each riddle from its answer. “You’re almost working your way backwards from all the different solutions to the problem,” he says.
Codex Silenda: CoverBrady Whitney
Codex Silenda: Geneva GearsBrady Whitney
Codex Silenda: CryptexBrady Whitney
Codex Silenda: Paradox SliderBrady Whitney
Codex Silenda: Rotating MazeBrady Whitney
The book opens with what Whitney calls a “Mechanical Iris”—a series of levers that you have to activate in the right order to unlock the next page. Then you get a rotating maze, which which you navigate with a dial and peg. After that … well, we don’t want to spoil it. It’s awesome.
On a scale of easy to mind-numbing, Whitney says the puzzles range from moderate to very difficult. “Some puzzles have the most simplistic solution but they appear very, very complex,” he says. “You have to see through the enigma of the solution, which requires a shift in perception in order to to solve.”
Once you solve the book’s puzzles (which happen to come with a clever story inscribed on the backside of the pages), the book won’t be as much of a challenge, of course. But re-reading a book is always a separate pleasure from encountering it for the first time. Every book becomes a new kind of puzzle the second time around.