Accountant Holds One of the Weirdest World Records

Italy's Michele Santelia has typed 81 books backward
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 16, 2023 11:13 AM CST
To Read His Books, You'll Need a Mirror
Stock photo.   (Getty/Nadya So)

An Italian accountant has become famous in a small-scale way for the books he types. To be clear, Michele Santelia is not the author of these books. He retypes the works of others, usually famous works in history. But as Lit Hub notes, it's the way he does so that's so unusual: He types them backward. Meaning, if you looked at one of the pages, it would be the mirror image of the original, as Guinness World Records explains. Guinness is involved because the 63-year-old Santelia holds the world record for such books—his mark is at 81 and counting.

"Not only does Michele type books [backward], but he types them using four completely blank keyboards simultaneously, and without ever looking up at the screen to double-check his work," per Guinness. What's more, he types them in their original language with his custom-built keyboards. The "custom-built" detail is necessary because he must type a mirrored version of each letter, in its particular alphabet, and such keys don't exist on the keyboards of mere mortals.

Among the works he has so far completed: the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the Code of Hammurabi, the Bible, and Guinness World Records 2002. Santelia also has completed the written works of Leonardo da Vinci, who used mirror writing in his day, possibly to keep people from snooping at his notes. "It is to his enlightened mind that I, with great humility, attempt to compare [myself] in order to try to understand his mysteries, his secrets and ancient virtues," says Santelia. (Read more Guinness World Records stories.)

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