A Reader’s View

Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (10/09)

About Jenga: The Remarkable Business of Creating a Game that Became a Household Name

I have to start this review with a confession. I had never heard of Jenga before I started reading Leslie Scott’s “About Jenga,” so I had no real idea what to expect. Even after reading the first few pages, I still did not know exactly what kind of a game Ms. Scott was talking about, yet by that point it simply did not matter any more. I was enthralled by the unfolding story and thoroughly entertained throughout it.

If I had to classify “About Jenga,” I would find it really hard to decide whether to call it a memoir, a business manual, a story of a journey or simply a grandly entertaining and truly intriguing tale of a brilliant mind. The account of one woman’s idea about a new, outwardly very simple, yet greatly addictive game and the path this idea took was simply fascinating. It mattered little whether Ms. Scott was talking directly about Jenga or about any of thereto sometimes loosely connected ideas, events and influences – I wanted to know more. I found myself running to my computer to delve deeper into some of the facts and ideas she mentioned in her book, I found myself stopping and thinking, “Oh, that’s why!” and more often than not, I simply found myself admiring the brilliant and witty writing style.

English by definition, but born and raised in Africa, Leslie Scott developed a challenging and very competitive game of Jenga from some simple wooden blocks that were made for her family while they were still living in Africa. Her quest to market and properly protect her invention was not easy and straightforward, and anybody trying to launch a new idea or a new product could greatly benefit from reading “About Jenga.” Ms. Scott’s narrative deftly presents a great number of valuable insights into business concepts and practices, but does not simply stop there. The parts that I found particularly astute were those dealing with protection of intellectual property and the intricacies of branding.

“About Jenga” by Leslie Scott is a book that can and should be enjoyed on many levels. If you simply read it as an account of a beguiling mission to profitably market an idea, I am convinced you will enjoy it greatly. If you take it as a handy manual on how to proceed with your business venture, it should help you avoid countless snares that one usually encounters while doing that. Even if you have no interest whatsoever in the business side of it, I am certain that the ease and grace with which Ms. Scott writes will enchant and delight you. Fresh, engaging and endlessly intellectually stimulating, this book will without a doubt delight a vast circle of very different readers.