Encyclopedia Paranoiaca: A reader's guide to your fears


Dirty hands carry dangerous germs, but frequent hand-washing can cause itchy and painful dermatitis - and alcohol-based hand sanitisers can strip skin of its natural oils, increasing the risk of exposure to pathogens.

What's a body to do?

This dilemma, and countless others, are described in the Encyclopedia Paranoiaca by New York humourists Henry Beard and Christopher Cerf. It is a semi-serious cross-referenced compendium of hundreds of household items, activities and illnesses that - the authors say - could seriously ruin your day.

From Abdominal Cramping to Zombification, the book hopes to enlighten and entertain curious readers - just ahead of this month's "Mayan apocalypse".

"Every day you read on the internet or in the paper that something you thought was safe is really bad for you," says Cerf, an Emmy- and Grammy-winning song writer.

"I don't know what to do anymore. I've been paralysed since we wrote this book."

Produced by Matthew Danzico and Daniel Nasaw

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