Sunday, September 06, 2009

Book: Spook -- Science Tackles The Afterlife

(I'm not feeling great today so forgive the less-than-stellar writing... because, you know, usually the stuff in this blog is Pulitzer quality. I mean, we all know that, right?)

Oh, I love Mary Roach. She is so funny, witty and upfront. I like a girl who knows what she doesn't know and isn't ashamed to flaunt her ignorance in front of highly respected experts. Gotta love it.

So, I chose this for my first RIP book because we already had it in the house, and because, hey, afterlife! It was great, but if you're looking for chills and spookiness (title aside), you'd do well to look elsewhere. However, if you are completely fascinated by what science is doing to prove (or disprove) whether the soul lives on after death (or whether we have a soul at all), then this is a great read.

Mary Roach approaches her books in an extremely straightforward manner. She is not afraid to go there. She asks the questions we all want to ask (but don't): Do those ghost-detector thingies really work? If you take a class on how to be a medium -- well, how is that? Is the ectoplasm seen in photos of Spiritualist mediums really ectoplasm, or is it... you know, gauze? (or worse yet, sheep omentum!) Was that 21 Grams movie full of BS or does the soul really weigh 21 grams?

She fearlessly travels around the world asking these questions, accompanying researchers on their quests for proof. She goes to a small village in India to talk to children who are "actually" reincarnated adults. She goes to Donner Pass to listen for ghosts. She inspects operating-room setups designed to help prove or disprove out-of-body near-death experiences. And she does it all with such snappy writing. I love her!

So what does she think of all this life-after-death stuff after all this research? Well, you'll have to read the book to find out, but she ends the book with her opinion altered. I'll give you that much.

I personally love ghost stories and my favorite show is Ghost Hunters. I'm like Mulder -- I want to believe. I really, really want to believe. Unfortunately my nature is more like Scully -- I kinda need proof. But I still want to believe, so I keep hope alive. Our house was (probably, maybe) slightly haunted when we were kids. My brother and I both have stories. I don't think the Ghost Hunters would find anything there, but there's definitely a feeling in the house still. I wish she'd been able to go along with that crew.

I don't really know what I believe about life after death. I think it's one of those unknowable things -- we'll find out when we get there. I'm okay with that. I'd rather not know, actually. However, I'd still like to see a ghost some day. Preferably in a nice, gloomy cemetery, or an old house. Yes, please!


Tammie said...

im not much for horror and scary stuff but im intrigued by this book. ive heard good things about the author.

Barefoot_Mommy said...

That sounds like a really good read. If you enjoyed it then you now really have to read Will Storr Vs. The Supernatural. It kind of has the same theme going. He's a real life reporter who end ups travelling around will all sorts of "demonologists" and ghost hunters and visiting haunted places to try and find proof of whether or not ghosts are real. It's very good, very funny, all actual events that he experienced but the difference between Spook and this book is that it actually has some really spooky moments in there. Will definitely check this one out.

Nymeth said...

Mary Roach sounds awesome, and I really want to read this! I'm a bit of a Scully myself, but I like the fact that she's willing to go there and ask the questions. I mean, who doesn't wonder about it?

Stefanie said...

This sounds like a good book. My sister has it and has been meaning to read it for ages but hasn't gotten around to it and I've been waiting for her to read it and tell me about it so I am glad you read it. I'm definitely a Scully too, though if I see something weird I don't immediately come up with a scientific explanation to rationalize it away. Still, I like good, solid proof.

Kate said...

Ooo, your cover is different from mine! I like it.

I find the more I try to read about the supernatural or the afterlife, the more burning questions I have. I think I'm about one good book and one eerie experience away from being the sort with her own EMF detector.

Barefoot Mommy, I LOVE the Will Storr book!

Daphne said...

Tammie: Ooh, it's good. And not scary at all. you would like it. Mary Roach is great.

Barefoot Mommy: I read Will Storr last year and loved it!! It was spookier than this book. This book had just about zero spook-factor.

Ana: Totally! It's fun to see the answers she digs up.

Stefanie -- you would like this. Totally up your alley. It's all about the Scully-proof proof, if you know what I mean.

Kate: I know. I'm watching Ghost Hunters right now. I totally want an EMF detector and a K2 meter. Geek alert!