Getting Into Guinness
Pages 1-110 (Introduction xv-xxi)
"What madness compelled me to risk my physical and mental health? Why would I-or anyone-think playing poker for days without a break was a good idea? The answer is simple: to set Guinness World Record" (xvii).
The book Getting Into Guinness by Larry Olmsted describes the mission of the author and others to break several world records, along with the history of craziness of the book itself. The book tells several stories and give a wealth of information about the Guinness Book of World Records, which is the world's best selling book, according to the author. One of these stories involves Olmsted attempting to break the record for the longest continuous game of poker. He stayed awake for over 72 hours straight in a casino, playing poker the whole time. He only stopped to go to the bathroom. This is incredible commitment for something that seems so insignificant. However, for many people these types of records are anything but that, especially for those who hold and attempt to break the records. To answer Olmsted's question in the above quotation, people put their lives at risk to be famous. They do if for the glory of having their names in a world wide publication that sells millions of copies every year.
The Record Book actually has an amazing history. The book was started in 1955 by two British Olympians, and was originally owned by the Guinness Brewing Company. Yes, the same company that makes beer also published the first copy of the Guinness Book of World Records. This is where the book got it's name. The rights to the book have been sold and resold to many companies and publishers, and is now owned by Guinness World Records Ltd., a London-based company. Its odd to think that anyone would want to sell the rights to the best selling book of all time, and likely the second most read book in the world behind the Bible. I suppose people just wanted it badly enough, just like the ones in the Book who really want to break records.
This is an excellent book. Olmsted does a great job of recounting the history of the book and used great descriptions, like when he described what staying awake for 72 hours straight felt like. I really got the feeling that he knew what he was talking about. The stories he tells are fascinating. Both his own, and of others who have broken records. I feel like I really understand the Book and it's history, as well as why someone would work so hard to break records like the ones in the Book. They do it for the glory, the pride, and the ability to see their names in the best selling book of all time, alongside other incredible people.