The best-selling author of Stiff and Bonk trains her considerable wit and curiosity on the human soul.
"What happens when we die? Does the light just go out and that's that—the million-year nap? Or will some part of my personality, my me-ness persist? What will that feel like? What will I do all day? Is there a place to plug in my lap-top?" In an attempt to find out, Mary Roach brings her tireless curiosity to bear on an array of contemporary and historical soul-searchers: scientists, schemers, engineers, mediums, all trying to prove (or disprove) that life goes on after we die.
Roach made an exceptional debut two years ago with Stiff it might seem a hard act to follow. Yet she has done it again: after her study of what becomes of our mortal coil after death, she now presents an equally smart, quirky, hilarious look at whether there is a soul that survives our physical demise. Roach perfectly balances her skepticism and her boundless curiosity with a sincere desire to know. She ranges into the oddest nooks and crannies of both science and belief (and scientists who believe), regaling the reader with tales of Duncan Macdougall, a respected surgeon who weighed consumptives at their moment of death to see if the escaping soul could be measured in ounces, and of female mediums who, during s ances, extruded a substance called ectoplasm from their private parts (she even examines a piece of alleged ectoplasm archived at Cambridge University). She goes to school to learn to be a medium, subjects her brain to electromagnetic waves to see if they induce the experience of seeing ghosts and joins a group trying to record sounds made by the spirits of the Donner party. The text is littered with footnotes: tangential but delicious tidbits that Roach clearly couldn't bear to leave out. She is an original who can enliven any subject with wit, keen reporting and a sly intelligence.
Mary Roach's Spook is great...the iBook version a huge disappointment
I loved Mary Roach's book Spook. I read it first in hardcover, and due to loaning out and not getting the book returned, decided to repurchase it on Apple's iBooks. What a letdown. Mildly annoying are the lack of all the book's photos and graphics (apparently due to copyright infringements). Of much greater concern, and VERY damaging to the experience of reading the book, is that all the footnotes have been moved to the end of the book, and all coded with a single asterisk. So you finish the 291 page book, and then are presented with about 20 pages of asterisked footnotes it is impossible to relate to the text that they should accompany. Incredibly frustrating.
Four stars for the book.
One star for the terrible e-book version.
Buy it conventionally!!!
iBook version of Spook is Terrible
Mary Roach is an excellent, talented, and funny writer. She is by far my favorite author and I have read all 5 of her books, Spook most recently. However, the iBook version of Spook is crap. It should be advertised as "Spook-Lite", or "Kinda Like Spook But Not Really", or "Hey We Got Another Sucker to Buy What They Thought Was Spook". Mary Roach's insightful and clever footnotes at the bottom of many pages in all of her books aren't formatted that way in iBooks. Rather, they are all grouped together at the end with no correlation to the text and no way to easily switch back and forth…which is a pain anyway. Images are absent also. Buy a print version or skip it.
Entertaining and enlightening.
Well written and informative book.