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Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach
Mary Roach's first book, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, dealt with the human body after death. She's now followed that with Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, where she investigates scientific and non-scientific research on the soul, ghosts, and paranormal activity. She goes to India to study reincarnation, tells the story of Duncan Macdougall who, in the mid-1800s, weighed people just before and after death to determine the weight of their souls, enrolls in an English medium school, spends time in a "haunt box" at the Consciousness Research Lab in Ontario, and visits a University of Virginia operating room where cardiologists have installed equipment near the ceiling to study out-of-body near-death experiences. Mary Roach employs her wit, skewed sense of humor, and insatiable curiousity and Spook has received mostly positive reviews. The San Jose Mercury News says, "The author herself -- her skepticism, her scientific probing, and yes, even her willingness to be wowed by the sound of a police siren -- is what makes this book shine. As in her previous book, she takes us into areas we might not go on our own. With her, we cover our eyes at the scary stuff, but then peek eagerly through our fingers."