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Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife

By Mary Roach, ISBN 0393059626 (HC)
New York: W.W. Norton and Company, c2005
$24.95 List

· A New York Times Bestseller
· A New York Times Notable Books of 2005
· An October BookSense Pick
· Winner of the October 2005 Elle Reader's Prize

Spook is an irreverent look at the dusty corners of all-things parapsychology. Delivered with a healthy dose of hopeful sarcasm, author Mary Roach immediately wins the confidence and curiosity of the skeptical reader with her own admissions of doubt bolstered by an intense need-to-know. What Spook is not, is a road map to faith; but author Roach never promises that. Instead it is a down-to-earth, humor-filled and honest look at what humanity has historically done and continues to do in the name of science to understand the human soul and the faith that is the lifeblood of most religion. Spook is a book for those who find themselves haunted by relentless questions but who yearn for proof, for those filled with envy of others who seem to blindly believe or instinctively feel, for everyone who ever wished they could see a ghost for the simple evidence they think it would offer. It is the right book at the right time for someone just beginning to seek the answers to Life’s more difficult questions, and a handy reference for those who jumped ahead and now wonder at their own audacity. Spook is also not proof of life after death, it is not startling examples of those instances that might proffer belief in the afterlife; it is not scientific evidence of ghosts and the mystery of Something More. But it is a bemused look at our history of asking The Question and at those who claimed to know the truth and/or be its instrument.
Roach is that forgiving and enthusiastic traveling companion you need on just such a long journey; she does not sugarcoat the inevitable disappointments, or dismiss the promise of the inconclusive. For that reason, some readers may feel let down by the lack of a definitive answer to their own nagging questions. But if it is the reader’s intention to research spirituality and ponder our mystic roots, this is a good primer. This is an entertaining look at a subject that defies resolution, and as such can never fulfill the individual need for proof. Spook by Mary Roach is an overdue and healthy infusion of reality for a notoriously ambiguous subject; it is a reminder that there is absolutely nothing wrong with craving truth along with your religion and that there is perhaps a bit of a blessing in being born a skeptic.

KC Redding-Gonzalez

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