Saturday, July 25, 2015

Book Reviews III: Seeking Spirits

As many of you may know Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson are the founders of TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society), but they also wrote Seeking Spirits (Pocket Books, 2009), along with Michael Jan Friedman.

(Note: I am not affiliated with Jason Hawes, Grant Wilson, Michael Jan Friedman, TAPS, Ghost Hunters, or Pocket Books. Seriously, I don't think I even have a TAPS forum membership, though I'm now wondering why I don't, I've certainly have come up with some questions I'd like to ask the good folks there. I might go sign-up after this. Anyways, this review is the result of reading the book via a local[ish] library, and I am not being commissioned or compensated in any way. I just like to read.)

This is my third book review, and the third time I feel the book deserves 4 out of 5 stars. This could have something to do with me still working on actually reading books I suspect I won't rate as high (though one of my current books might rate higher). Anyways, onto the review!

This book is another good casual read. The language was kept simple, and it was well edited (I only noticed a single typo). There's not a lot of evidence, public locations, or technical information provided (though there are some ghost hunting tips and explanations at the end of many chapters), but rather a series of mostly private resident cases, presented in an easily accessible story format. The chapters alternate between being told by Jason and Grant, and read slightly differently.

The book takes on a catering to Christian audiences feel at times, despite the reference to Reiki and the suggestion that the type of brief doesn't matter in blessing/exorcisms, as much as just having a someone do an blessing/exorcism. I always find this religion blind views of dealing with the dead interesting, in so much as what does it actually mean for the dead? Why would they respect a multitude of priest/practitioners, with opposing beliefs?

Back to the tips and explanations, they were a nice touch, and a good place for amateur ghost hunters to take notes, though a lot of it is opinion or common sense. There's a few loosely related pictures thrown into the middle of the book as well, but none of them are particularly convincing, or well explained. They could really have benefited from the authors having spent a few more minutes on captions.

One of the most interesting things in this book, is that they expand on the debunking side of ghost hunting. While almost every episode of the show features some sort of paranormal activity, reality is that in 80% of cases (at least when they're doing house calls), they don't find anything paranormal. The actual causes for such cases can be anything from rodent infestations and loose pipes to menopause and dementia.

There's also a good variety of explanations for the cases where they do find activity, not all paranormal events are caused by ghosts and demons. . . I found their interpretation of döppelgangers as soulless particularly interesting, so I will be attempting to find out more about their opinions on döppelgangers.