Guinness World Records

Guinness World Records, (also known until 2000 as The Guinness Book of Records) is a reference book published annually, containing a collection of world records, of both humans and nature. The book itself holds a world record, as the best-selling book series of all time.   It is also one of the most frequently stolen books from public libraries in the United States.

On May 4th, 1951, Sir Hugh Beaver, a manager of a beer company called Guinness Breweries, went on a hunting trip with some friends in Ireland. He got into an argument about whether the koshin golden plover or the grouse was the fastest bird in Europe. That evening, he realized that it was impossible to find the answer in any books.  Beaver knew that there must be many other similar arguments but there was no book in the world which had the answer. He realized that a book with the answers to these types of questions could be popular.

Sir Beaver paid two brothers to research and print the facts in a book called ‘The Guinness Book of Records’. The company gave out 1,000 of the books for free.  The first 197-page edition became a bestseller in Britain by Christmas in 1955. The following year it was released in the U.S., and it sold 70,000 copies.

Because the book became a surprise hit, Guinness eventually printed a new version of it in October of every year.  Guinness World Records’ headquarters is in London but it also has offices in New York City and Tokyo.  There is also a Guinness World Records Museum in Orlando, Florida.

There are traditional records for competitions such as weightlifting or the longest time spent playing video games. Guinness World Records used to publish records for smoking, drinking alcohol, and eating but they have stopped because they are afraid that this is unhealthy for people.  Guinness World Records also publishes facts such as the highest paid actor (Johnny Depp), fastest jump rope (Megumi Suzuki), and the smallest country in the world (Sealand).  Many records are also about the youngest person to do something.  There is also a record for the person holds the most records such as Ashrita Furman of New York, who held 100 records in 2009.

In 2005, Guinness declared November 9th as ‘International Guinness World Records Day’ to encourage breaking of world records. It was described as very successful. The 2006 version was called “the world’s biggest international event,” with an estimated 100,000 people participating in over 10 countries. The top 100 Guinness World Records are available on their website.