BookBin2013: Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife


I enjoyed Mary Roach’s first appearance here at the lair so much that…rather than read the book of hers that I have owned for almost a decade and still have not read, I found the other book of hers that our local library had in stock and borrowed that instead!

I probably should have gone with the book I already own. I suspect that it would have been more entertaining. That’s not to say that there is nothing enjoyable about Roach’s second book, Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife. There are several interesting, strange, funny, and disgusting portions of this book that amused (or traumatized) me greatly. Holistically, though, it’s quite an uneven read with a painfully slow start. I think it took me a full four chapters before I finally started enjoy the read. It’s also painfully obvious that Roach doesn’t really believe in any of the things about which she’s writing.

I can’t completely fault her for this outlook. Tackling aspects of the afterlife when there’s not really anything that you can do to prove anything pertaining to the topic…it can be a hard pill to swallow, for sure. But that doesn’t mean that you have to be so…patronizing about it all. Her obvious “Scully” stance on this subject infiltrates every chapter.

To be fair, I have somewhat set thoughts on the “afterlife,” but I’m still not 100-percent certain what I believe (which is why books like this appeal to me in theory). After reading this book, I’m quite certain I know how Roach feels about it all. However, that wasn’t my interest in this book and it wasn’t my hope when I decided to read it. I simply wanted to learn more about other cultures’ views as well as some of the experiments performed in the hopes of applying science to faith. I got that, but I definitely could have done without the accompanying patina of Roach’s incredulity concerning everything she discussed.

Still, there are some interesting portions, as I mentioned. You simply have to suss out the interesting from the supercilious.

Final Verdict: I do believe I shall pass on adding this book to my library. I also really do need to read Stiff at some point in 2014…along with all the other books in my library that I’ve still not tackled. No, seriously. STOP LAUGHING.