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Encyclopedia Paranoiaca [Kindle Edition]

Henry Beard , Christopher Cerf
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $9.73
You Save: $5.27 (35%)
Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc

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What If? by Randall Munroe
From the creator of the wildly popular webcomic xkcd, find hilarious and informative answers to important questions you probably never thought to ask. Learn more

Book Description


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)

Editorial Reviews


“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.” (Elle)

“Perversely enjoyable.” (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)

“As two founders of the National Lampoon, Henry Beard and Christopher Cerf are responsible for some of the sharpest satirical humor of the past forty years. Their latest opus is a tongue-through-the-cheek encyclopedia of modern neuroses -- a work that will both confirm all your fears, then dispel them with fits of laughter.” (B&N Review)

“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.” (Publishers Weekly)

About the Author

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 contributing editor 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.

Product Details

  • File Size: 5744 KB
  • Print Length: 402 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B00D57IM3W
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (November 20, 2012)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006VG0980
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #694,439 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST in a dangerous world November 21, 2012
Encyclopedia Paranoiaca's brilliant cross referencing led me easily from the dangers of aspartame to the dangers of sugar which led to the dangers of exercise which referenced directly to the dangers of air purifiers then warned me of the dangers of air fresheners which in turn told me of the dangers of laser printers. In this world filled with danger Encyclopedia Paranoiaca is indispensable.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worry, Worry, Toil and Trouble - Must Read December 3, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
In my home state of Maine, if the tourists do not come every summer we know that our economy will collapse and we will starve. We also know that if the toursits do come, we will be miserable because our iconoclastic way of life will destroyed by these strangers who trample our shores.

The only way to reconcile ourselves to this conundrum - and to so many more - is to curl up in front of a wood stove (that is undoubtedly polluting my farmhouse air) on a too warm (global warming induced)December day and read this marvelous compendium of brilliantly cross referenced truths.

Reading the Encyclopedia Parandiaca is also a great way for me to recall my sweet mother who would have believed every single word had she lived. Of course, she didn't, and you might not either unless you memorize this book.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THIS BOOK SAVED MY LIFE! November 20, 2012
Reading the warning about poisonous arsenic in my brown rice is only one of the ways that THIS BOOK SAVED MY LIFE!!!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful book! December 23, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A delightful book backed by a wicked sense of humor. Not got enough to worry about? Read this book! It will soon have you reduced to a puddle of dreadful anxieties! *;-)#
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unusual book December 28, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Just as advertised. Alphabetical listing of hundreds of things to be concerned about AND the reasons why. Well written and appears to be politically neutral. Loaded with facts, reasons, conclusions, and warnings. Lots of stuff you would never think of by yourself. Great to read in small doses and open discussion topics with friends.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Gift October 6, 2013
By 1405
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I actually did not read this book yet, but I sent it to my best friend for her birthday. She, along with me, is a total paranoid/conspiracy freak, and SHE loved it - best present ever, she said. Now I want to order it for myself.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It has citations! Amazing for this kind of book. May 19, 2013
Does this kind of book appeal to you? Read others like it? Then I think you'll love this one. If you're reading it because you are actually worried about dangers in the world, you'll probably feel like some other reviewers whose reviews I have read -- What the heck? This book claims everything, even complete opposite actions, are dangerous.

Yes. Because that's true. If you find that amusing, though, this book is great.


Wow. Again an if statement... if you understand how amazing that fact is, you'll love this book.

LOVE it.
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