If you recall how, a few months ago, I gushed over my initial exposure to Roach’s writing, the intriguing Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, you will appreciate how thrilled I was when the RO located a copy of Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife in our local library.
It was well worth the overdue fines.
In Stiff, Roach touched briefly upon the search for the human soul, primarily upon historical attempts to pinpoint the anatomical home of the immortal spirit. In Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, she expands vastly upon the initial inquiry. She hearkens back to her mother’s attempt to instill religious faith in her as a child, and how those catechism classes were eventually bested by her need to understand how those bible stories were scientifically possible.
Mary Roach approaches her investigations into gathering evidence for the presence of a spirit that continues its existence after the body has shaken off its earthy presence, with an open mind and scientific detachment. She is not a debunker, nor is she one of the faithful; rather, she is an impartial scientist with a sense of wonder, who admits that she would like to believe in the afterlife, but that for her, belief requires evidence.
In Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, Roach travels to
I admit that I found the subject matter in Stiff more compelling than that in Spook, but that is a reflection of my fascination with all things physiological, as opposed to the strengths of Roach’s respective books. The first chance I get I will grab copies of Mary Roach’s other books, the charmingly entitled Bonk: the Curious Coupling of Science and Sex and her new book Packing for Mars: the Curious Science of Life in the Void.
You may enjoy this video on Mary Roach's website, chronicling the issue of minimal personal hygiene examined in Packing for Mars.