Encyclopedia Paranoiaca

( 4 )

Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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. Thoroughly sourced and conveniently alphabetized for easy reference, this book just might save your life. (But it probably won’t.)

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
National Lampoon luminaries Beard and Cerf have created a guide to all the common nightmares, with a few hundred new ones tossed in. Their alphabetized, intensively cross-referenced tome confirms the great truth of modern life: everything is bad for you. The list includes the big (global warming), the small (bed bugs), the innocuous (blueberries), the unusual (zombification), and the ubiquitous (sitting on the toilet). Life, it seems, is inevitably fatal, especially on a postindustrial globe filled with pesticides, radiation, superbugs, and random accidents. 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 (“cybersex” earns an entry in an age when “over 15 million Americans are using cybersex in ways that are risky and showing signs of compulsivity”). In another nod to outmoded fashions, 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. (Nov.)
Kirkus Reviews
From National Lampoon co-conspirators Beard (Golf: An Unofficial and Unauthorized History of the World's Most Preposterous Sport, 2012, etc.) and Cerf (co-author: Mission Accomplished! Or How We Won the War in Iraq: The Experts Speak, 2008, etc.), a whimsical collection of the sometimes-scary, sometimes-silly things that threaten our modern-day lives. Considering such things as French fries and fracking as dangerous are no-brainers. But other entries in this compendium of assorted life-threatening perils seem downright ludicrous. The shock value of having fresh fruit and fish oil on the same list as skin cancer and radiation is undeniably high--until you read deeper and find that the "danger" of whole fruits is eating them to excess and flooding your system with sugar. The horrors of fish oil? Fish breath. Chewing gum is also on the list of things to fret. Why? Wrinkles around the lips. As the late Gilda Radner once said, "It's always something." Other entries, however, are genuinely shocking and fittingly disturbing--e.g., brown rice. Who'd have thought that the macrobiotic mainstay was so potentially devastating thanks to its nasty habit of absorbing arsenic? The dusty encyclopedic format is also problematic and feels a little awkward deep in the digital age, requiring readers to constantly cross-reference. Beard and Cerf too often mute their many dire warnings, dour cautions and grim advisories with qualifying language. Much more effective are the brief discussions of lesser-understood topics like doom loops and portfolio diversification. Similarly, descriptions of the seething volcano that exists underneath Yellowstone National Park and the fast-approaching Asteroid 99942 Apophis hurtling toward the Earth are truly frightening and fascinating. The book works best as a leisurely joke book rather than a real research tool. Amusing in short spurts--an entertaining way to pass the time in between worrying about the real issues in your life.
Vanity Fair
“Be afraid: Henry Beard and Christopher Cerf’s Encyclopedia Paranoiaca is deadly to the humor averse.”
Details
“Perversely enjoyable.”
The Sacramento Bee
“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 Scientific American
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 Wall Street Journal
“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 Daily Beast
“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.”
Elle
“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")
“Perversely enjoyable.”
B&N Review
“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.”
From the Publisher
“Be afraid: Henry Beard and Christopher Cerf’s Encyclopedia Paranoiaca is deadly to the humor averse.”

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.”

“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”

“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 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.”

“Perversely enjoyable.”

“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.”

“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.”

“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.”

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781439199558
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 11/20/2012
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 9.34 (h) x 1.17 (d)

Meet 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.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 28, 2013

    Hilarious compendium of just how rotten, dangerous, unhealthy, o

    Hilarious compendium of just how rotten, dangerous, unhealthy, or perilous EVERYTHING is...and here we all thought we'd live forever.  The cross-referencing takes artfully funny leaps, from peaches to arsenic to polka-dancing.  Everything is authentically documented, which makes the book into a cautionary tale about the perils of believing in authority.  Family favorites include the recommendation that tennis balls be tied to one's back to prevent snoring; wouldn't a witness to that run, frightened, into another county?  Written with a bright, tongue-in-cheek energy.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 26, 2013

    This is a delightful book. It covers a number of subjects dear

    This is a delightful book. It covers a number of subjects dear to my heart. It even mentions HAARP, albeit in the context of a discussion Fukushima. I'd give a lot to know what HAARP is all about.

    While some reviewers of the book seem to think it was intended to be tongue in cheek, it covers some very serious threats to our general well being, of both the kind we can control and and the kind we cannot. E.g.:

    --the inevitable recurrence of a solar flare of the intensity of the
    one that occurred in the mid 1800s, with much greater adverse effects
    on our electronic infrastructure than occurred then;

    --the expected recurrence of the January, 1700 megathrust earthquake
    in the Cascadia subduction zone, and the resulting tsunami that will
    devastate areas of the Pacific northwest; and, of course,

    --the inevitable havoc throughout the world that will be caused by the
    next eruption of the Yellowstone caldera.

    But there is a lot more in this book to remind us that we are the helpless prey of a world where little is certain but uncertainty.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2013

    Oooh,oooh,radioactive,bananawanas rule!!!!!!

    I imagine how you came up with radioactive bannas

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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