The enthralling 50-year history of the Guinness World Records is a story of phenomenal success, equally compelling failures, and extreme oddities. People all over the world strive to get into the book, often in the most unbelievable ways. Olmsted chronicles some of the funniest and most interesting Guinness record holders from a uniquely insider perspective: he himself is one of them.
It all began with a gentleman's wager over which was the fastest game bird in Europe, the golden plover or the grouse. The attempt to answer this question has sold more than 100 million books in dozens of languages and every corner of the globe. Today, there is heated competition for the record to hold the most records (currently held by Ashrita Furman, 114 records and counting), as well as classic curiosities that have lasted for decades (the tallest man in history is still Robert Wadlow, at 8' 11"). Interwoven into all of this is Olmsted's account of his own two successful recordsetting attempts, the first involving traveling halfway around the world with his golf shoes—"Greatest Distance Between Two Rounds of Golf on the Same Day"—and the second causing him to nearly lose his mind while playing the world's longest poker session.
Why do people devote so much energy to get into the record book, often at great risk? Why do the most extreme fans devote their entire lives to this pursuit? Why is society so obsessed with records and record breaking? Why do Americans alone buy a million and a half copies of the famous book every year, propelling it to the top of the bestseller lists decade after decade? Why do readers of all generations remember the same record holding icons, the fattest twins, the longest fingernails, and the tallest man? After his own journey inside the world of record breaking, these are the questions Olmsted attempts to answer.
In the tradition of the bestselling Word Freak—a mélange of travelogue, memoir, investigative journalism, and history—Getting Into Guinness is a must-read for anyone who has ever read Guinness World Records and wondered why someone would grow their fingernails for an entire lifetime.
“The world is full of delicious, lovingly crafted foods that embody the terrain, weather, and culture of their origins. Unfortunately, it’s also full of brazen impostors. In this entertaining and important book, Olmsted helps us fall in love with the real stuff and steer clear of the fraudsters.” —Kirk Kardashian, author of Milk Money: Cash, Cows, and the Death of the American Dairy Farm
You’ve seen the headlines: Parmesan cheese made from wood pulp. Lobster rolls containing no lobster at all. Extra-virgin olive oil that isn’t. So many fake foods are in our supermarkets, our restaurants, and our kitchen cabinets that it’s hard to know what we’re eating anymore. In Real Food / Fake Food, award-winning journalist Larry Olmsted convinces us why real food matters and empowers consumers to make smarter choices.
Olmsted brings readers into the unregulated food industry, revealing the shocking deception that extends from high-end foods like olive oil, wine, and Kobe beef to everyday staples such as coffee, honey, juice, and cheese. It’s a massive bait and switch in which counterfeiting is rampant and in which the consumer ultimately pays the price.
But Olmsted does more than show us what foods to avoid. A bona fide gourmand, he travels to the sources of the real stuff to help us recognize what to look for, eat, and savor: genuine Parmigiano-Reggiano from Italy, fresh-caught grouper from Florida, authentic port from Portugal. Real foods that are grown, raised, produced, and prepared with care by masters of their craft. Part cautionary tale, part culinary crusade, Real Food / Fake Food is addictively readable, mouthwateringly enjoyable, and utterly relevant.