Everybody needs a leisure activity. Most of the books I need for mine are downstairs, with none in the bedroom. But as I like to keep an eye on things I have this (unsorted) pile by my bed to remind me.

What's my hobby?

enter image description here Hint 1

Did you notice the hint in the question?

Hint 2

Don't worry too much about the knowledge tag. You don't need any external knowledge at all to work out the answer, and once you have it you should be able to validate it with minimal research.

Hint 3

No anagrams were used in the making of this puzzle. And it's nothing to do with beds or bedrooms.

  • 16
    $\begingroup$ Your hobby, clearly, is posting puzzles featuring photos of selections from your book collection. $\endgroup$
    – Rubio
    May 6, 2019 at 18:08
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I am finding all three of MM's recent book-picture puzzles completely baffling. Not that that's a problem -- but I'm wondering whether there's some common thread, or whether he's found three completely different baffling ways to encode information into piles of books. $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    May 6, 2019 at 22:58
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Gareth. No there’s no common thread - apart from the books, obviously. But I can say that none of them require any knowledge of the books’ contents. $\endgroup$ May 7, 2019 at 0:25
  • $\begingroup$ Your hobby is reading. :-) $\endgroup$
    – shoover
    May 7, 2019 at 4:35
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Okay thanks that helps. Hope my question didnt seem snarky.. when I read it a second time I realized it could seem disingenuous $\endgroup$ May 13, 2019 at 20:22

2 Answers 2


Your hobby is

birdwatching (hinted by the word "hobby" and the reference to "keeping an eye on things").

We have:

The Four Feathers
What is the name of this book? (published by Pelican)
Poems of Matthew Arnold -- "Arnold" means something like "strength of the eagle", etymologically.
The Annotated Snark edited by Martin Gardner
The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín -- "Colm" means "dove".
I have Landed by Stephen Jay Gould
Life ... by Robin Skynner and John Cleese
Lore & Language ... -- "lore", among several other meanings, means a particular portion of a bird's head
Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson

Explanations that I proposed, apparently aren't the intended ones, but seem worth recording:

Matthew Arnold: one poem is called Philomena (= nightingale), and the introduction in that edition is by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch (quiller = not-fully-fledged young bird).
Testament of Mary: I wondered whether it was the Penguin edition of that play.
Lore and language...: Opie (pie = magpie, near enough), Peter (first name of one of the two Opies who wrote the book; it denotes the call of certain birds), and Iona (first name of other author), the famous island sharing whose name is strongly associated with St Columba (meaning dove).

  • $\begingroup$ (Thanks @MichaelMaggs for editing my answer to clean up lots of little suboptimalities.) $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    May 14, 2019 at 23:57

I think your hobby might be



Take the first letter of the first author name, if shown, otherwise take the last letter of the last name. Then rearrage:

S tephen Jay Gould
C olm Tóibín
R aymond Smullyan
A EW Mason
M atthew Arnold
B ill Bryson
L ewis Carroll
E - Opie
R obin Skynner

Additional hint

I think there is an additional hint in the first paragraph where the OP says the pile is "unsorted". This suggests taking an anagram of some sort and that the intended word is actually scrambled

  • $\begingroup$ Wow, I'm most impressed that you've been able to extract a word like that! +1. Unfortunately this doesn't really fit with hint 2, and a 'scrambler' is an electronic device rather than a hobby. No anagrams were used in the making of this puzzle. $\endgroup$ May 13, 2019 at 12:05

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