Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Book Review: "Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife" by Mary Roach (All Lady July)

We're kicking off All Lady July with a  hilarious and great author: Mary Roach. You may remember her from the review of her book about dead bodies: "Stiff" or the review of her book about space travel: "Packing for Mars". I'm going to be honest, out of these 3 books, "Spook" is probably my least favorite. It's not bad, I just didn't love it as much as the other two. Let's get to the review!

So, like in her other books, Mary takes kind of an all encompassing topic and then picks out little pieces to elaborate on. So in part she deals with: souls, reincarnation, near death experiences, ghosts (obv), mediumship, and more. Some of my favorite parts of Mary's books are the footnotes that are always interesting little tidbits that kind of having something to do with what she's talking about but not really. It's like a little funny get off track moment.

Like before with other books I will post some random little sections that I liked.

-Mary goes with a group of ghost hunters to the spot where the Donner Party cannibal dinner party took place. Everyone is using EVP devices to try to pick up ghost voices of the people who died.Some curious hiker come across Mary standing silently with her recording thrust into the air and gets asked by a stranger"are you recording bird calls?". Mary goes "....yes?" Technically that's all she got on her tape. A lot of the incidents where people think they are hearing voices from the "other side" can be explained by something mechanical: radio towers crossing signals, gaps in wiring etc. There was an East German woman whose roasting oven would talk to her everytime she opened it's door. Turns out it was just pieces of the American sector's nightly news report coming through due to faulty wiring.

That cracked me up. If every time I opened my oven to make brownies and got chunks of a newscast it's be long as I knew what it was.

- There's a lot of questions regarding when we actually get our souls. Is it at conception? Is it at birth? If a woman is pregnant with twins are the twins sharing one soul, each getting 2 halves? A lot of studies were done in ancient and not so ancient times about this with very mixed results.

-Mary goes to a conference in England where she's supposed to be able to tap into "her known psychic abilities and become a medium". Despite her best efforts, she gets nothing. The instructors basically just keep telling her things like "open your mind", "send out your energy", "absorb your subjects energy". She gets pretty pissed about the whole thing. I don't really blame her.

- The section I found the most interesting was the near death experiences chapter (NDE to those in the field). There were all kinds of stories about people who were dying seeing things there's no way they should have been able to. I think I believe in these now...

As I said previously, this was not one of my favorite Mary Roach books but it is by no means bad. I just didn't find it,overall,as entertaining and interesting as some of her others.She has one more book, "Gulp", which I'm sure will appear on the blog at some point as well. 3 out of 5 stars from me!

I do very much like the cover though


  1. I've read Stiff and Bonk as well as Spook, and I'd agree that Spook is the weakest of those three. It's maybe not a focused and maybe a little safer on the humor end. The afterlife is a touchier subject than death and sex, I guess. I still haven't read Packing for Mars!

    1. Bonk and Gulp are still on my to-read list (haha, Bonk and Gulp). I hadn't thought about it, but I bet you're right about the humor being safer because of death. Mars is super funny, I was laughing a lot! Highly recommended!

  2. I loved Stiff, but I did really struggle with Spook. I'm hoping for the best from Gulp!

    1. I'm kind of relieved I'm not the only one who struggled with this one. I'm excited for Gulp too!


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