Spook by Mary Roach

Title: Spook
Author: Mary Roach

Genre: Nonfiction / pop science

Rating: 3 / 5


The last time I was visiting my mom’s, I saw this on her shelf, and I decided to borrow it and give it a read. I was in a reading lull and it looked promising. I had enjoyed Roach’s first book, Stiff, when I read it several years back.

And we were off to a good start. Part way through the book, I look at its Goodreads page and wondered to myself why the ratings were so low, because I was enjoying it quite a bit. But by the end, I got it. Roach relays a lot of stories about the history of afterlife research, and she can be quite funny. But after a while, I wanted something more than disparate lines of inquiry, and her humor either wasn’t as funny after a while or she got more mean-spirited and sarcastic as time went on.

There’s a chapter on seance-y stuff, a chapter on weighing people and animals as they die, a chapter on EMF, etc. The organization of the book makes sense on one level–these are the various ways people have tried to answer the question about the personality or soul or what have you surviving death–but on another level it didn’t seem cohesive or hold together all that well.

The book was well done for what it was, and it was entertaining as well.  I’m not sorry I read it, but I was reminded why I usually stay away from pop science, as alluring as it can seem at times. It seemed like a superficial treatment of the subject that didn’t hang together all that well. Nonetheless, there is some fascinating stuff in here and some good chuckles as well.


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