Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife

Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife

by Mary Roach


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393329124
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 10/02/2006
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 116,158
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Mary Roach is the author of Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void, Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, and Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. Her writing has appeared in Outside, Wired, National Geographic, and the New York Times Magazine, among others. She lives in Oakland, California.

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Spook 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 137 reviews.
TrickyTasty More than 1 year ago
This book was amazing and I think it deserves a five star review. But only certain people would like it. First of all, you have to appreciate Mary Roach's style of sarcastic humor. I think it's hilarious but some people don't like sarcasm. Secondly, you have to have an open mind or a be able to suspend your disbelief. Narrow-minded people who don't look up when someone says "gullible is written on the ceiling" won't enjoy this book. You have to believe from the start that scientific experimentation can measure spiritual phenomena. Also, I'm one of those people who enjoys ghost/haunting shows so if you aren't an avid fan of Ghost Adventures or you're not at all curious about whether ghosts or the afterlife exist, you won't like this book. This book covers many different topics like does the body become lighter at the moment of death as the spirit departs, is reincarnation plausible, are seances legit, near death experiences, etc. I thought it was all very fascinating. You just need an open mind, some curiosity, and a sense of humor to like this book. P.S. You don't have to be a crazy cat lady or psychic to enjoy this book. Also, if you read Stiff and liked it, Spook is narrated in the exact same way aka it is equally as awesome.
MerryMayhem More than 1 year ago
I've read Stiff and Bonk, both by Mary Roach, and enjoyed them immensely. I was super excited to get this book for Christmas, but found that I was really struggling to get through it. I believe this is her second book, and it sounds like she's struggling with her voice a little: this one read more like a research paper, lacking somewhat in her characteristic sense of humor. The subject matter is interesting, and, as usual, you can tell she knows her stuff, but I didn't find it to be as absorbing as her other books.
Cpski More than 1 year ago
This book was not as entertaining to read as Mary Roach's book "Stiff". It had many interesting facts, yet I was glad when I finished reading it.
nycfs More than 1 year ago
Having read and enjoyed Ms. Roach's previous effort "Stiff," I looked forward to reading Spook. I was a little disappointed however because at the end of the book, you come to realize you haven't really discovered anything. For a book to explore the possibility of life after death, all you come away with the same realization that no one knows for sure what happens to the soul. But it took 200 pages to see I was pretty much right back to the same question. I don't profess to expect her to unlock the secret of course, but I thought the research left a little something to be desired. I guess "Stiff" could be better enjoyed considering it's subject is a tangible matter (even if that matter is corpses). I just felt the Spook was a wasted read.
mike100274 More than 1 year ago
I've read a couple of Mary Roach's books and this one was not as good as others, in my opinion. I felt it was an overambitious attempt to answer certain questions. There weren't complete answers and it left me unsatified. I also thought there was too much emphasis on certain parts of science and not enough on other areas. I felt there was too much subjectivity and not enough objectivity, which makes for a bad science-based book. But that is my opinion. Mary Roach is a fantastic author that tackles amazing topics! If you like death and the afterlife, I'd get "Stiff" if I were you!
pccoder More than 1 year ago
After reading Stiff, I tried this one. It's a good book, don't get me wrong. Unfortunately it didn't really answer any questions or shed any light on anything new for me. I suppose that's because she subtely debunks a great deal of meta-physical nonsense that so many poeple in the world (not including myself) believe. I went in to this book already feeling a certain way. All she did was show me that I'm most certainly not the only one was ultra-sceptical when the lack of any emprical evidence is provided for mediums, afterlifes, out on a limb Shirley McClaine craziness. :)
M_L_Gooch_SPHR More than 1 year ago
Mary Roach followed up Stiff with another home run. Spook is exceptional in both depth and breadth. For me, Mary Roach is what you would have if you combined Michio Kaku and David Sedaris. In this clever study of what happens to our spirit and/or soul after death, she presents a witty and entertaining look 12 different arenas that deal directly with after-death. While maintaining a skeptic's edge, Mary nonetheless seems to give the died-in-the-wool (pun intended) believers the benefit of the doubt as she joyfully pursues her research. From the silliness of ectoplasm to the sadness of medium school, the author takes us on an original ride that fascinates while repelling and attracting. I really appreciated the footnotes except that I wished she had explored these side roads a bit more. Oh well...maybe in another Roach book. I hope you find my opinion helpful. Michael L. Gooch Author of Wingtips with Spurs
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mary Roach is like any other person who wonders about the afterlife. She cleverly wrote this book providing background information and experiences on her journey to find out the inevitable question: Is there really an afterlife? Not really for the religious reader, I would say, simply because religious readers know what they believe in and are very passionate about it. But for others, it is definetly one of the most interesting things you will ever read. This book is fascinating and gives you A LOT to talk about. Good for someone seeking answers and information. Not only that, but Mary Roach is hilarious. I literally L-O-L'ed reading this book. It's a book you don't want to put down. Highly (and I mean highly) recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As someone who has interest in science and the unknown, I was looking forward to reading this book. I must admit there were some very good discussions, and the writer explored a number of different experiences. In the end though, was looking for more substance even though the writing style made the book enjoyable.
Ricardoricardo More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed reading Spook. Mrs. Roach knows her trade. I'm looking forward to read her other two books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've been laughing aloud reading this book. Her deadpan writing style is great, and the history of spirituality is fascinating, not to mention current research. I can't help but notice that the only negative reviews given this book here are from those who already believe strongly in the ghosties. grin
compulsivereaderSC More than 1 year ago
This is a great read whether you are a believer or not. Like Roach's other work, the book is incredibly well-researched and allows for your own opinions and interpretations.
kpro More than 1 year ago
Mary Roach has quickly become one of my favorite writers. She is funny and interesting, and always picks a provocative subject to write about. Her books are very well researched and besides being entertained I always feel like I learned something. Spook is great (not quite as good as Stiff) and I would recommend it to anyone.
BuzzMA More than 1 year ago
Mary Roach has a great depth of knowledge of her subject matter and presents it in an understandable, witty and humerous fashion.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Have you ever wondered what would happen after you die? So did Mary Roach. In her novel Spook she goes on a search for any evidence that can be found about the matter. She first tackles reincarnation, which is being born into another life after you die. To study this, Roach teams up with Kirti S. Rawat and together they traveled to India to interview children ages 2-4 about their past lives. She then tries to figure out if a soul really does exist and if so, does it weigh something and how much? Another question is if one can you actually see a soul and how? Roach also studies a great deal about spiritualism and mediums. Spiritualism is connecting to the dead through mediums, while mediums are people who talk to the dead. In her book she also addresses mental patient ¿voices¿ and how Wilson von Duson thinks them to be actual spirits and not their imagination at all. She also talks about other peoples own experiences with spirits, and how some are their own relatives supposedly come to tell them important news. This mind boggling question is very hard to handle or even just to think about and I give Roach much credit for her novel. I do believe that this novel was very well written. I would probably recommend this book to skeptics about spirits or the after life, even though they would probably become more confused about what they believe after reading this book, as I have. The writing technique was not my favorite but I did like how she explored many solutions to the same question. Mary Roach is a very good writer who tries to answer her own questions along with others, thus I am very much looking forward to reading many more novels by her.
kristi17 on LibraryThing 3 months ago
This book wasn't exactly "spooky", nor was it what I expected. At least half of Roach's research concerns experiments in times past that involved various means of trying to physically measure the soul. Mediums, con artists, and ectoplasm are discussed at length. Houdini is mentioned frequently. I found myself a bit disappointed with a few vague and anti-climactic chapters, especially through the middle of the book. There are quite a few footnotes, which were almost distracting at times. I wish there were more pictures throughout. My interest picked up at chapter 8 with the more recently occurring events. The book does end well and it is easy to "get" and appreciate Roach's humor. It's a fairly good book overall. I look forward to future work by Roach.
traceytracey on LibraryThing 3 months ago
If you're a scientist, this book may get on your nerves. It got on mine.
LisatheLibrarian on LibraryThing 3 months ago
This is a tale of Mary Roach, the author, investigating the history of spiritualism, belief in ghosts, and the afterlife. It is filled with biting humor and scientific skepticism as she interviews believers, reads old documents, and speaks with science researchers. If you enjoyed her first book, Stiff, you will like this one.
mduffey6 on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Not nearly as good as STIFF. I feel I didn't learn very much. Roach's humor was forced, unlike in her first book.
cmc on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Mary Roach¿s last book, Stiff, was a lot of fun. I learned a lot of interesting (and disturbing) facts about what happens to bodies once they¿re¿so to speak¿unoccupied.Spook is a similar exploration, picking up where Stiff left off. Is there an afterlife? If so, can we communicate with the dead? What about reincarnation, near-death experiences, and other ¿spooky¿ experiences?Along the way, Roach talks with various researchers into these questions. Some seem quite sane, others, well, not so much.In the end, I think she kind of cops out. The book itself completely fails to build a believable scientific case for life-after-death, although there are some people with what seem like well-designed experiments who are still looking into the questions.Still a very fun book (with lots of amusing bits to read aloud to friends and family), and appropriate for the season (the season being Hallowe¿en, of course).
MissLizzy on LibraryThing 3 months ago
I read Roach's first book (STIFF: THE CURIOUS LIVES OF HUMAN CADAVERS) and really enjoyed it, so when I heard that she had a second one out, I jumped at the chance. Got the last copy at my local bookstore, but didn't have the time to actually read it until I got back up to school.I love how Roach is so scientific that she almost refuses to believe in anything that science can't explain. But just because it can't be tracked, recorded, photographed or catalogued, doesn't mean it's not there.
mr_rhumba on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Too tongue-in-cheek. Not bad but author does better with "Stiff".
localpeanut on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Utterly disappointed in this book. I should have waited to borrow it from the library. I really wanted to like this book. Her previous book, STIFF, was great. She was hilarious! But in this one . . . she came across as "condescending" and "in love with her own wit." All those nasty, patronizing asides while her subjects confided her in earnest belief of life after death. It became really tedious to read. (I was barely skimming the pages by the last chapter.) I'm genuinely interested in the paranormal. (SPOOK seemed such a promising title from a genuinely talented writer.) But this book was nothing but a "debunkers" wet dream. Some parts were appreciably informative. Like the charlatans she wrote about: phony mediums and cheesecloth ectoplasm. The notion of reincarnation. Figuring out the weight of souls. But as I got further into the book, I got the notion that Mary Roach was enjoying herself at the expense of the people she was interviewing. And that she was out to prove that there is no afterlife. Because ghosts are really nothing more than electromagnetic fields wiggling our eyeballs or that spirit voices are radio transmissions from Belgium-- trapped in a layer of smog or whatever! I mean if you were genuinely trying to get serious about "hearing" the dead, why would you join a group of tourists who want to record the Donner Party! I think Mary Roach was just milking SPOOKS for some mean-spirited laughs. A generous 2 for this book. Because I just had breakfast. For something completely different but still in the paranormal area, buy THE DEMONOLOGIST instead. A reprint just came out.
alyce413 on LibraryThing 3 months ago
I didn't like this as much as Mary Roach's previous book, Stiff. Although it's often entertaining and informative, it takes a skeptic's view on the afterlife that at times seems a little too opinionated. Still, a fun read.
sgerbic on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Reviewed April 29, 2008Logo's Books $6.00 Highly recommended by many people I knew I would have to get this read, glad I did as it is an excellent and entertaining read. You know you are reading something special when your dying to read bits of the book out loud to anyone who will listen. Before I discuss the research Mary enters into I must comment on her constant fascination with unusual names; J.L.W.P. Malta, G.J. Zaalberg van Zelst, Mrs. H. G. Nutter, Harry Wack, Mrs. Roy Batty, Mr. Burger (survived being eaten by the Donner Party), Clara Butt and Flossie Gobble are all selected for their unusualness. Very odd coming from someone named Roach. I also would be interested in knowing what the people she named and described (sometimes unflatteringly) thought about her descriptions? Her research is extremely interesting, I wonder why more hasn't been done this way before? Each case she investigates ends with no proof, barely any mystery left, and in some cases out and out fraud. Then why does she in her "last words" chapter state, "I believe in the possibility of something more...I believe in ghosts. "How sad, are we overlooking something? She says she believes without proof, whats up with that? Maybe she is looking for a sequel....? 12-2008