Encyclopedia Paranoiaca

Encyclopedia Paranoiaca


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)
  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 400 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439199572 | 
  • November 2012
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Your Bathroom Can Kill You

An informative compendium of surprising ways you might die a horrible death at any moment from humor writers Henry Beard and Christopher Cerf.

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About the Authors

Henry Beard
Isabelle Selby

Henry Beard

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
Isabelle Selby

Christopher Cerf

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.