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Exercise your mind with Brain Candy.

“BRAIN SCIENCE IS EXPLODING,” writes Garth Sundem in his introduction to Brain Candy: Science, Paradoxes, Puzzles, Logic, and Illogic to Nourish Your Neurons (Three Rivers Press, $14), a paperback filled with snippets of information, quizzes, puzzles, riddles, self-tests and more.

Brain Candy is designed both to teach about the brain and to give readers’ own brains a workout. As Sundem — who also wrote Geek Logik: 50 Foolproof Equations for Everyday Life and The Geeks’ Guide to World Domination — explains, simply doing crosswords or Sudoku isn’t enough to keep the brain agile; after a while, the mental movements required become repetitive, and just as with weight training, the workout becomes less effective. You need to keep upping the ante by adding new exercises. Enter this book and its 250-plus pages of brainteasers interspersed with bits of brain science.

Sundem also points out that new neurons develop in the hippocampus region of the brain every second, but that those neurons need to be fed new information in order to remain vital. With brief entries on everything from game theory to pigeons’ appreciation of art (they can recognize the work of Monet and Picasso, a 1995 study showed) to the test used to allow or deny an immigrant’s entry at Ellis Island in the 1900s, this volume offers an opportunity to do just that. Want to give it a shot? See if you can solve the Brain Candy brainteaser below.

Bridge and Torch

Four people come to a narrow bridge at night. Between them, they have one torch, which has to be carried in order for anyone to cross. Only two people can cross the bridge at a time. Person A can cross the bridge in 1 minute, B in 2 minutes, C in 5 minutes, and D in 8 minutes. When two people cross the bridge together, they go at the slower person’s pace. How can they all cross the bridge in 15 minutes or less?

  • View Answer Here
    • Solution: A takes B and then returns the torch: 3 minutes. C and D cross together and then B returns the torch: 10 minutes. A and B sprint across together: 2 minutes, for a total of 15 minutes.

Kidding Around

With his new book, the late Larry Harmon — better known as Bozo the Clown — joins the annals of our favorite children’s-show stars turned authors. By Kristin Baird Rattini

The late Larry Harmon was no bozo; he was the Bozo — the famous Bozo the Clown, whose hearty “yuk-yuk-yuk” became the laugh heard round the world. As Harmon and co-author Thomas Scott McKenzie describe in this newly released, posthumous memoir, The Man Behind the Nose: Assassins, Astronauts, Cannibals and Other Stupendous Tales (Igniter Books, $26), Bozo’s size 83AAA shoes took him — and children’s entertainment — to places he had never imagined when he fi rst donned that red yak-hair wig in 1956.

Bozo, of course, has had plenty of company over the years in bringing joy to children. Check out these memoirs from other stars of the under-7 set.

Growing Up Happy: Captain Kangaroo Tells Yesterday’s Children How to Nurture Their Own

(Doubleday, $19)
Drawing on 30 years of wisdom and memories from his Treasure House, Captain Kangaroo shares his thoughts on how every day in your home can also start with a sincere “Good morning!”

The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember

(Hyperion, $17)

TV’s Mr. Rogers refl ects on how love, trust and an acceptance of yourself and others can make your neighborhood — and the world —a happier place to be.

My Life as a Furry Red Monster: What Being Elmo Has Taught Me About Life, Love, and Laughing Out Loud
(Broadway Books, $20)

Puppeteer Clash’s charming lessons about optimism, curiosity and courage make it easy to see why little Elmo is a big man on Sesame Street.