Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife – Mary Roach – 320 pages
What, scientifically speaking, happens to our souls when we die? Mary Roach, who has tackled physical death and the decay of the body, now turns to the afterlife with a scientific eye. From ectoplasm to infrasound, she examines a multitude of scientific and pseudo-scientific interpretations of the soul and its post-life journey.
I’ve been eyeing Bonk for a while, and tried to read Stiff but couldn’t handle the talk of decay without feeling ill, so when Spook came up as an option for a ghost-themed book club, I was all for it. I have to say, as someone who tries to be open minded and allow for any possibility, including ghosts, I found your examination of the afterlife to be pleasantly skeptical but not offensive to the believer side of the coin. I can’t speak for the science-minded, but I’m betting that you didn’t offend them either.
Which makes it sound like I want all books to be inoffensive…that’s not what I mean. I’m trying to say that I think you walked a fine line with this book, and remained both hilariously curious and surprisingly objective throughout. I love your fearless voice–you’re the kind of author I want to have coffee with and talk about bizarre things like how much fake ectoplasm a woman could possibly hide in her…private sector. Because these are things I thoroughly enjoy speculating about.
I was a little disappointed that you spent so much time on scientists trying to prove the existence of the soul, and relatively little time talking about ghost sightings and ghost hunting. Still, everything you wrote about was informative, fascinating, and delightfully explained. I particularly enjoyed the brief discussion of infrasound, and the link you provided to sound bytes of tigers roaring–it scared the ectoplasm out of me, just as you said it might, and I gleefully played it at high volume for my fellow book clubbers (as well as a collection of supposed ghost occurrences I culled from YouTube that I think you would enjoy). Infected with your curiosity, and some of us with your skepticism, we even got out my old Ouiji board and spoke at length with a Bostonian man whose name was possibly Z, who died from a melanoma on his eye a few years ago. He did in fact spell out melanoma–that took a while, lemme tell you.
I”m rambling, as usual. To sum up, you wrote an awesome book, and I wish I could have gotten through Stiff as well, and I plan to read Bonk very soon. Four ghostly stars for you on this one!
Books this year: 87
Pages this year: 16,635