032: Guinness World Records 2014
032: Guinness World Records 2014. New York: Bantam, 2014. 615 pp. ISBN 978-0-553-39055-1.
- 000: Computer science, knowledge, and general works
- 030: General encyclopedic works
- 032: General encyclopedic works in English
I remember when I was a kid and first read the Guinness Book of World Records. Seeing pictures of the person with the world’s longest fingernails and the largest dog and the oldest person on Earth was astounding. Here catalogued was the extremity of humanity. Back then, there were very few “zany” categories, but now people seem destined to hold records in very niche areas. In the 2014 edition, there are records for the fastest assembly a seven-layer chicken bucket pyramid (35.72 seconds), fastest downing of 200 mL of mustard (20.8 seconds), and most Rubik’s cubes solved while running a marathon (100).
While most of the book is jammed with useless (but still fun) trivia, there are interesting tidbits to discover. For instance, researchers are experimenting with the feasibility of zero-gravity surgery, performing the first one on September 27, 2006. Also, in 1803, Joseph Samuel survived three separate hanging due to equipment failure. Further back in history, Pliny the Younger gave the earliest known description of a volcanic eruption (Vesuvius in 79 CE). Slogging through the entries in the Guinness Book of World Records is all at once wondrous, insane, and revelatory. It’s basic a book of lists, so the writing is inherently monotone, but if you’ve got a free afternoon, give it a whirl. I guarantee you’ll find something fun.