Skip to main content

“Spook” by Mary Roach

Years ago, maybe 20 (though I hate to admit that), there was a wonderful medicine magazine written for laypeople--Hippocrates. It later became Health magazine and just another woman’s magazine with a purported focus on health (like Self was at the beginning and Woman’s Health is today). Hippocrates, though, was different. It explained health and medical issues (affecting men and women) in a way that was easy to understand but not at all dumbed down. I can remember reading every issue from cover to cover.

One reason Hippocrates was so good was due to the reporting, writing, and wry humor of Mary Roach. Ms. Roach has written lots of magazine articles since then and four books: Stiff: The Curious Life of Human Cadavers; Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife; Bonk: The Coupling of Science and Sex; and Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void.

Stiff was quite good and I bought a copy for my cousin, who is working on his master’s and PhD in oncology research (he liked it too). It described how human remains are used for research and what materials are sometimes substituted for some real dead people (as anyone who watches “Mythbusters” knows... ballistics gel). I hope to read Bonk and Packing for Mars soon. But I was slightly disappointed with Spook.

I guess I read it hoping to find that Ms. Roach made contact with spirits or found that there is an afterlife. Instead she found nothing. Still, Ms. Roach writes so well, it was fun to read and thoroughly researched. Read it to find out why some scientists thought they had found out how much a soul weighed or why some ghost hunters try to record the sounds of the long-departed. But resist it if you want to believe in an afterlife.


Popular posts from this blog

What I Haven't Read in 2017

I made an odd sort of promise to myself this year: Read fewer books. The past few years, I been reading at a pace of about 100 books per year – a mix of children’s (but not counting picture books), young adult, and adult – and I felt as if I was reading too quickly and perhaps forgetting what I was reading. (Thank goodness for Goodreads.)
However, I consider it a very important part of my job as a librarian to keep up with what’s published, even if it’s a daunting task. Hundreds of thousands books are published each year in this country, so obviously it’s beyond even a superhero librarian (and I’m not one of those) to keep all those titles straight. But I try to at least know something about some books. We have two public-facing desks in my library – one is called the information desk; the other, reference. If you are working at the information desk, you will be asked for book recommendations. You will be asked, have you read this book? You will be asked to help select a book for a r…

"Hillbilly Elegy" by J.D. Vance

I rarely get angry at a book or an author, but I found myself getting increasingly angry at J.D. Vance and his book Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. Angry enough to blog (so you know it must be bad.) This book is filled with contradictions and in several places is downright crazy because of people making really poor decisions. I am disappointed that so many people I know love it and so many book reviews rated it as one of the best books of 2016. I thought it would be a story that would teach me something about Republican/conservative voters, so I wanted to read it. It did not do that.
A graduate of Ohio State and Yale Law School, and a veteran (marine), J.D. Vance is from Kentucky and Ohio (his family is originally from Kentucky but they moved to Ohio and the author spends much time traveling back and forth), so he grew up in a family of hillbillies. Most of them were very poor and didn't work and often moved to larger cities in Ohio to …