Download Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife Audiobook

Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife Audiobook, by Mary Roach Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Mary Roach Narrator: Bernadette Quigley Publisher: Brilliance Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2005 ISBN: 9781597378857
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“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 laptop?”

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. She begins the journey in rural India with a reincarnation researcher and ends up in a University of Virginia operating room where cardiologists have installed equipment near the ceiling to study out-of-body near-death experiences. Along the way, she enrolls in an English medium school, gets electromagnetically haunted at a university in Ontario, and visits a Duke University professor with a plan to weigh the consciousness of a leech. Her historical wanderings unearth soul-seeking philosophers who rummaged through cadavers and calves’ heads, a North Carolina lawsuit that established legal precedence for ghosts, and the last surviving sample of “ectoplasm” in a Cambridge University archive.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Roach is a wonderfully vivid writer and most fun when she is exploring the world of the modern soul-searchers…Roach has a keen eye for the perfect detail, an ear for the zinging quotation, and a finely tuned sense of the preposterous…A celebration of the wide, occasionally crazy spectrum of human pursuit.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Science writing doesn’t get funnier or more human than this.”

    Detroit Free Press

  • Spook is nothing if not amusing. Roach heads into a mire of ghostly and laboratory episodes with robust humor.”

    Houston Chronicle

  • “Investigative reporting has no lighter, more irreverent spirit than Mary Roach…What lets Spook rise above the dry survey of (mostly inconclusive) scientific investigations it could have been is Mary Roach—her lively and distinctive style, or perhaps more accurately put, her attitude…Roach is funny, fair-minded, impartial, and endlessly curious…Spook is enormous fun.”

    Pittsburgh Union-Tribune

  • “Funny, inquisitive, and uncowed by experts, [Roach is] the general reader’s ideal emissary to the arcana of serious science…Roach’s writing has what science has so far failed to find: a divine spark.”


  • “Roach is a self-described skeptic, but one with an open mind, a sense of adventure, and a ready quip. All of this makes her an amiable and entertaining guide as she traverses several continents to look for scientific proof for the great beyond.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “A sharp-eyed supernatural history.”

    O, The Oprah Magazine

  • “As fascinating and thorough as her research may be, the greater tale lies in the people: the mediums, the mystics, the I-want-to-believers, the scientists, pseudo and for-real. Roach has a genius for portraiture, and she can bring the oddest people to hilarious life without a hint of condescension…Her oddball, incandescent personality radiates from her prose.”

    San Diego Union-Tribune

  • “First, there’s her wit and stylistic brio. From the clever dedication…to her gift for terse summation…to her genuine humility…Roach is a clear and versatile writer. She has a sharp eye for detail that demonstrates her traditional journalistic skills…but she delivers her findings in ultra-contemporary tones…She has a huge heart, a strong sense of empathy for the oddball, and she’s willing to go to great lengths to find and report stories from the hinterlands of understanding.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • “Roach brings to Spook a lightness and sense of humor that happily, smooth the morbid edges of the proceedings she describes…The most refreshing thing about Spook is that Roach herself is a skeptic, guiding a skeptic’s tour…What evidence she does come across, therefore, becomes all the more compelling.”


  • “Sly…irreverent…and downright witty…Roach wields the scientific method and her skeptical mind like surgical tools, cutting away at myth, pseudo-theory, and madness until all that remains is fact. In the end, believers and nonbelievers will be satisfied by Roach’s conclusions…Spook is like attending a lecture by a professor who is equal parts Groucho Marx and Stephen Jay Gould, both enlightening and entertaining. Roach makes learning about anything, be it decomposing bodies or the possibility of a verifiable afterlife, pleasurable.”

    Sunday Denver Post & Rocky Mountain News

  • “Both a comic and serious investigation of the history of séances, mediums, spirits, and discarnate voices…All of a sudden, with Spook, the field of the paranormal is bust-a-gut funny…Spook is a comic romp through a mix of history and the current practices of a particular culture.”

    Sunday Oregonian

  • “Funny and smart…Since she’s a scientist at heart, she also lasers through the smoke and mirrors.”


  • “Alas, she doesn’t find the answers. But Roach is such a smart and breezy companion that it’s enough to watch her realize that in the end she might not need them.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “For all Roach’s skeptical and often hilarious accounts, she is an eager volunteer and ready to accept evidence if evidence there be…Throughout, she is critical and witty [and] truly deft handling of the (mostly) daft.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Roach is an original who can enliven any subject with wit, keen reporting, and a sly intelligence.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Roach is dogged in her approach…Gripping…Roach’s witty asides liven up an already interesting and unusual read.”


  • One of the 2005 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Nonfiction
  • A 2006 Macavity Award Finalist for Best Nonfiction

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About the Author

Mary Roach is the author of several books, including Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary CanalPacking for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void, Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, and Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. Her writing has appeared in Outside, Wired, National Geographic, and the New York Times Magazine, among other publications. She lives in Oakland, California.