Did you know that carrots cause blindness and bananas are radioactive? That too many candlelight dinners can cause cancer? And not only is bottled water a veritable petri dish of biohazards (so is tap water, by the way) but riding a bicycle might destroy your sex life?
In Encyclopedia Paranoiaca, master satirists Henry Beard and Christopher Cerf have assembled an authoritative, disturbingly comprehensive, and utterly debilitating inventory of things poised to harm, maim, or kill you—all of them based on actual research about the perils of everyday life. Painstakingly alphabetized, cross-referenced, and thoroughly sourced for easy reference, this book just might save your life. (Apologies in advance if it doesn’t.) Beard and Cerf cite convincing evidence that everyday things we consider healthy—eating leafy greens, flossing, washing our hands—are actually harmful, and items we thought were innocuous— drinking straws, flip-flops, neckties, skinny jeans— pose life-threatening dangers. Did you know that nearly ten thousand people are sent to the emergency room each year because of escalator accidents, and, despite what you’ve heard, farmers’ markets may actually be less safe than grocery stores? And if you’re crossing your legs right now, you’re definitely at serious risk.
Hilarious, insightful, and, at times, downright terrifying, Encyclopedia Paranoiaca brings to light a whole host of hidden threats and looming dooms that make asteroid impacts, planetary pandemics, and global warming look like a walk in the park (which is also emphatically not recommended).
The Definitive Compendium of Things You Absolutely, Positively Must Not Eat, Drink, Wear, Take, Grow, Make, Buy, Use, Do, Permit, Believe, or Let Yourself Be Exposed to, Including an Awful Lot of Toxic, Lethal, Horrible Stuff That You Thought Was Safe, Good, or Healthy; All Sorts of Really Bad People Who Are Out to Get, Cheat, Steal from, or Otherwise Take Advantage of You; and a Whole Host of Existential Threats and Looming Dooms That Make Global Warming, Giant Meteors, and Planetary Pandemics Look Like a Walk in the Park (with Its High Risk of Skin Cancer, Broken Bones, Bee Stings, Allergic Seizures, Animal Attacks, Criminal Assaults, and Lightning Strikes)
Henry Beard attended Harvard University and was a member of the Harvard Lampoon. He went on to found the National Lampoon with Douglas Kenney and served as its editor during the magazine’s heyday in the 1970s. He has written numerous bestselling humor books, including Miss Piggy’s Guide to Life and (with Christopher Cerf) The Official Politically Correct Dictionary and Handbook.
Christopher Cerf is an Emmy and Grammy award-winning author, composer, and producer. A charter contributingeditor of the National Lampoon, Cerf has written more than 300 songs for Sesame Street and co-edited the celebrated newspaper parody Not The New York Times.
“Be afraid: Henry Beard and Christopher Cerf’s Encyclopedia Paranoiaca is deadly to the humor averse.”
– Vanity Fair
“Encyclopedia Paranoiaca . . . [is] the only guide to super-paranoia that you’ll ever need. . . .While the authors’ tongues couldn’t be more firmly in cheek from first entry to last, Encyclopedia Paranoiaca is written and compiled with scrupulous attention and extensive research. . . . Start worrying now.”
– The Scientific American
“An amusing and cruelly accurate cultural critique, offering a “comprehensive and authoritative inventory of the perils, menaces, threats, blights, banes, and other assorted pieces of Damoclean cutlery” that hover over our collective head. . . . Beard and Cerf gleefully fan the flames of our paranoia”
– The Wall Street Journal
“A humorous look at all of the ways, obvious and not, that humans have of doing harm to themselves. . . . The writing is witty and verbose, almost Monty Python-ish, but the science is good enough that hypochondriacs should be shielded from this book at all costs.”
– The Daily Beast
“The madcap brainchild of National Lampoon alums Henry Beard and Christopher Cerf, Encyclopedia Paranoiaca comprises a smartly researched, apocalyptic alphabet of exotic and everyday dangers and dreads—from bananas to fracking to sleeping on your back—that is scary, amusing, and informative.”
– Details magazine (No. 1 in "Five Things We Emphatically Endorse")
“What we think is healthful and harmless may well be deadly, or at least harmful, say the humorists. They’ve compiled a long list of everyday foods (cherries, carrots), clothing (skinny jeans, flip-flops) and items (drinking straws) that we can now worry about like never before. Thanks, guys.”
– The Sacramento Bee
“Despite its presentation of contemporary dangers, the book is charmingly old-fashioned, with a structure and format that pay tribute to the reference books that lined the shelves of academics and nerds before the Internet reshaped the personal library. . . . Beard and Cerf write with wit in this ironic take on a world where we live in constant fear of dairy products, lemon wedges, shopping carts, and vitamins.”