I’ve been reading Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach this week. I can’t say that I heart this book as much as Packing for Mars, but it is absorbing. I will admit up front that I don’t put much thought in the afterlife, which may or may not be the reason behind my not getting so sucked into this book. (Oddly, I think this was also true of the author in certain chapters.) I did find the chapter on reincarnation enlightening (Oh, indulge me. :-)) especially in the context of Indian society. Granted, Roach was investigating a report of a reincarnation with a doctor in a poor Indian village where death is a common occurrence but it was the attitude toward death that struck me — and I’m paraphrasing here — why worry so much about death since there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be coming back and rather soon. I thought it was defining in terms of how we, all societies and cultures, mourn and deal with death.
The chapter on fake mediums and what they went through to defraud clients/patrons/etc. was fascinating but then again seeing something debunked is a favorite of mine. Ghost Hunters anyone? “No, the bathroom isn’t haunted. The seal on the faucet needs to be replaced that’s why it drips,” state Grant and Jay. No Ghost Hunters, Myth Busters then. You get where I’m going right? I like bad television. Well, that much maybe true, but no, point was that I like seeing fake things shown the light of day. Anyway, the chapter on machines to register ectoplasm and the weight of the soul were a bit dry but considering the science around both of these topics is a little thin, you can tell the author is not so much impressed either with some of the things she’s shown, but both proved to be necessary to the book. You can’t talk about death without soul involvement, and well, ectoplasm and ghosts go hand in hand. Ghostbusters anyone? OK, OK, I’m done with ghost references.
Roach has a very approachable reading style, especially for non-fiction which can sometimes lean toward the dry, and I enjoy the humorous banter she infuses in the footnotes. If you ever find yourself reading one of her books, and you should, make sure you read the footnotes.