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Encyclopedia-ParanoiacaReviewed by Melanie Kline

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)

Fasten your seat belts for the most terrifying yet superbly hilarious book of a lifetime. A hypochondriac’s dream and a “normal” person’s nightmare, Encyclopedia Paranoiaca is both an awareness guide to not very well known facts about very common foods, household items, weather phenomena, etc. and practically bursting the spine with witty antics to help you “pick your poison”, so to speak.

“If you have a choice between licking a cutting board or toilet seat . . . pick the toilet seat,” advises famed University of Arizona microbe hunter Charles P. Gerba, Ph.D. Of course the book goes on to describe exactly why he has come to this conclusion and includes Notes in the back of the book stating where all of the information was obtained. If you think that your plastic cutting board is safer than a wooden one or that you are in the clear because you ran it through the dishwasher – think again!

Jam packed full of disturbing and comical data, you learn that apple seeds, apricots, cherries and peaches actually contain cyanide; you can develop hemorrhoids from reading on the toilet; a walk through Grand Central Terminal in New York will expose you to more radiation than a similar walk through a nuclear power plant; eating carrots can actually make your eyesight worse; you can contract mucormycosis from a splinter of decaying wood; one plain, dry bagel has enough calories that you would be better off eating two glazed Dunkin’ Donuts, and much more.

I would have to include this book in my top ten favorite books. I just couldn’t turn the pages quickly enough – both appalled and giggling wildly. Encyclopedia Paranoiaca is highly recommended to anyone with both a sense of humor and a lust for knowledge. You will be completely amused, but also provided with a “learning guide” of sorts – to weigh your options and make more educated decisions about everyday actions, meals, and pretty much anything else you can think of.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Simon & Schuster. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.