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Guinness gracious

Read records of literary proportions

Guinness World Records

December 7, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CST

It’s well known that the Bible is the best-selling book in the history of the world. But you might not know that Guinness World Records is the second best-selling book of all time. Read on to discover more surprising textual trivia.

Most published/most translated author

Amazing achievements

Not a writer? Not a problem. There are plenty of bizarre ways to earn a place in history. Here is a quick glance at three amazing, ridiculous and somewhat scary records.

Calorie consumption

Any mention of world record-holders would not be complete without Takeru “The Tsunami” Kobayashi, the hot dog- and hamburger-eating champion of the world. The muscular Japanese competitive eater makes a habit out of breaking his own records. In 2006, Kobayashi ate 53¾ hot dogs in 12 minutes at Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island. Also in 2006, he ate 97 Krystal hamburgers in eight minutes at the Krystal Square Off in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Kobayashi has only been defeated once. That was at an eating competition in 2003. His glory stealer? A 1,400-pound Kodiak bear that finished 50 bunless hot dogs in 2 minutes, 36 seconds. Kobayashi only finished 31. Still, it proves the man can only be beaten by another species.

To enter an eating competition, check out, the official Web site of the International Federation of Competitive Eating.

Sitting with snakes

Snakes in a bathtub — no, it’s not a new Samuel L. Jackson movie; it’s a world record held by Jackie Bibby and Rosie Reynolds-McCasland. In 1999, they each sat in separate bathtubs filled with 75 Western rattlesnakes. Bibby is best known by his stage name, “The Texas Snake Man,” and holds three other snake-related world records.

To learn snake-sitting from the master, check out

Backward book-typing

Ever think it would be fun to type several books backward on blank keyboards without looking at the screen? Apparently Michele Santelia of Italy thought so. In 2005, he typed 56 literary works (clocking in at 3,004,767 words) in their original languages, including the 2002 Guinness World Records book, Macbeth and The Odyssey.

Want to submit a record?

Check out:, the Guinness World Records page, where you can submit your own record.

Related Links

L. Ron Hubbard is typically referred to as the creator of Scientology. Although that’s some sort of achievement in Tom Cruise’s mind, Hubbard should be recognized first and foremost as an extremely productive adventure and science fiction author. He has published 1,084 fiction and non-fiction works that have been translated into 71 languages (that even one-ups Harry Potter).

In an essay titled “The Manuscript Factory,” Hubbard insists that writers are mere machines. He writes: “It is fully as vital that we know ourselves and our products as it is for a manufacturer to know his workmen and his plant.” His assembly-line mentality explains how the late author produced so much in his 74 years.

Best-selling fiction author

Agatha Christie published 78 crime novels, including Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile. Her books have sold more than two billion copies. Matthew Prichard, Christie’s only grandson, raves on “It is important to find ways of showing new audiences the continuing relevance of my grandmother’s timeless stories of moral corruption, murder and deceit, and the ease with which she can speak to modern society is evident in recent and forthcoming adaptations of her works.” One example is a computer game titled And Then There Were None, where the user tries to figure out the identity of a murderer before he or she strikes again, and more than 10 British made-for-TV movies.

Highest annual earnings for an author

Forget that plodding Tom Hanks movie. The Da Vinci Code book is what really matters. No one knows that more than author/mastermind Dan Brown, who earned $76.5 million in 2005. The Da Vinci Code became a massive success due to its page-turning suspense, academic intrigue and the controversy surrounding its challenging of widely held Christian beliefs.

In The New York Times, reviewer Janet Maslin commented about the novel: “Blockbuster perfection … Not since the advent of Harry Potter has an author so flagrantly delighted in leading readers on a breathless chase and coaxing them through hoops.” On Brown’s Web site,, Brown writes of his book’s success: “I worked very hard on this novel, and I certainly expected people would enjoy it, but I never imagined so many people would be enjoying it this much.” You might say Brown has more money than God, but that, like the book, would be blasphemous.

Fastest-selling nonfiction book

Bill Clinton’s memoir, My Life, sold more than 400,000 copies on its first day, according to publisher Knopf Publishing Group. The book, released June 22, 2004, topped the previous record-holder, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Living History. First, Bill cheats on his wife and then has the audacity to steal away her world record. What a guy, huh?

Youngest author

When you were 4 years old, what did you do with your time? Maybe paint with your hands, discover the strange power of boogers or dream up ways to fly to the moon using only rubber bands and tin foil.

Well, in 1962 Dorothy Straight was only 4 when she wrote How the World Began. Two years later the book was published and put on shelves by Pantheon Books. One can only imagine what the world would be like if all toddlers were so productive.

Oldest author to have a first book published

In 2005, at the ripe age of 100, Bertha Wood published her first novel, Fresh Air and Fun: The Story of a Blackpool Holiday Camp. The book details Wood’s life and the creation of a seaside holiday camp in Blackpool, England, in the 1930s. Good ol’ Bertha Wood clearly found shuffleboard and bingo to be beneath her.

Highest price paid for a first novel

When you hear the word “journalist,” the word “rich” is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. England native Paul Eddy, a (UK) Sunday Times investigative reporter, is an exception to that rule. Eddy was paid $2.6 million for his first fiction novel, Flint, which tells of the exploits of gritty undercover policewoman Grace Flint. For the record, “Vox reporters” and “rich” don’t go together, either.

Comments on this article


    Quote: "Most published/most translated author: L. Ron Hubbard

    He has published 1,084 fiction and non-fiction works that have been translated into 71 languages"

    What about The Bible...? Its in over 200 languages, and its the most printed book in existence. Must discuss with Guiness World Records...

    Posted by Andrew Thomas on Oct 31, 2009 at 2:52 a.m. (Report Comment)