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A Witch's Guide to Ghosts & The Supernatural by Gerina Dunwich   Published in August 2002

Ghost hunting from a Wiccan perspective. I basically liked this book, though not being a ceremonial magician myself, I cannot vouch for the safety or veracity of the methods outlined. Also, I am rather uncomfortable with her recommendations on using a Ouija board.

ISBN 1564146162   $14.99  239 pages

 

Ghosts: True Encounters With The World Beyond by Hans Holzer

This is without a doubt, one of the biggest and heaviest f*cking books on ghosts that I have ever seen. It covers a wide variety of hauntings that have marked the impressively long career of Mr. Holzer and is worth taking a look at after you have read nearly everything else in publication. It seems to be a useful resource if you want to do research on a well known haunting and get an advance perspective on what may lie ahead.

However, a word of caution is in order.

After reading through random chapters throughout, I began to get the feeling that Mr. Holzer is not as scientific an investigator as you might hope. There is very little true empirical data and he relies on psychics and sťances to an alarming degree. Also, I get the impression that Mr. Holzer is rather sure of himself and attached to his own, possibly dated theories on the supernatural. I checked Amazon books and found that this book got mixed reviews, with the detractors pointing out his lack of historical research, mixing up dates and spellings of place names as well as silly looking photos. I will read the book in it's entirety and try to ascertain the severity of these claims, but the size of the publication means that it will take some time.

ISBN 1884822649   $18.99    761 pages   Published in 1997

 

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Ghosts and Hauntings  by Tom Ogden with wide availability. 

Lots of stories and locations - with many not heard of before. But, I have learned to dislike the Dummies/Idiot's Guide series in general as they tend to be written out in a slightly cluttered fashion, and I do not like regarding myself as an idiot. But there is a little more on basic Ghost Hunting 101 and it makes a few good points. Also mentioned are some creatures that I haven't heard of before. (Radiant Boys, anyone?) But for the serious investigator, I definitely recommend getting the books listed under TOP RECOMMENDED first. 

ISBN 0028636597   $16.95   378 pages   Published in 1999 

 

Field Guide to North American Hauntings by Haden W. Blackman with availability as above.

I like the way that the hauntings are classified according to type and location and there are some interesting observations in here. But many of the stories are over dramatized and need to be taken with a grain of salt. The credentials of the author are almost non-existent and his present employment is working for a computer game company. I rest my case.

 

Unexplained Phenomena - A Rough Guide Special by Bob Rickard and John Michel

A decent book which reads like a series of In Search Of episodes (wasn't Leonard Nimoy perfect in that?) and covers a wide gamut of phenomena. None in great detail and not a vast amount about ghosts themselves, but it does make for a good overview of how weird things can get on the Planet Earth. (man eating trees and avian abductions to name a few) I find having some of the photos in monochrome purple kind of off-putting, but it's not supposed to be a book on photography technique. 

ISBN 1858285895  $19.95  390 pages

 

Ghost - Investigating the Other Side by Katherine Ramsland

There are a number of "personal diary" style investigator books on the market, and this is one of the first ones that I have tried to muddle through.  I have never cared for this style of non-fiction, as I far prefer a topical format for chapter development rather than a chronological one. I mention this so that you can take my bias into account. This is not a bad read, parts are interesting as Ms. Ramsland visits and talks to several well known places and people in the ghost hunting field.

The recurring motif about a ring that she inherits which is allegedly haunted by the ghost of a vampire, while an unusual plot device, also smacks of the romanticism that people like to attach to the supernatural. This is not inherently a bad thing as I can appreciate well done gothic tales and relationship stories. But it is a bias on her part that is good to be aware of and to take with a grain of salt, or halite mine as the case may be.

ISBN 0312261640   $25.95   Hardcover   322 pages

 

The X-Files Book of the Unexplained Volume 1 by Jane Goldman   Published in 1995

Another book on paranormal phenomena that cuts a fairly broad swath, this one is designed to appeal (not surprisingly) to fans of the famous series. The comments I see from other reviewers give this book a fairly high rating, primarily because of the pretty pictures and it shows the links between X-Files episodes and real life cases upon which they are based. 

While it is decently written, and has stories of unusual phenomena not mentioned in other books, I find the pros mentioned by the fans to be more of a con for me. The photographs from real life cases are mixed in with stills from the show, which is a somewhat distracting shift in gears. (fact vs. fantasy) Also the book is sprinkled with quotes from the show, many of which are fairly vacuous and mundane. 

While this may shock you, I have hardly ever watched the X-files, and if these snippets of dialogue are the best the writers could muster, I get the feeling I didn't miss much. 

"These are obviously not your typical bugs. To say the least."

And the writers for the show were getting paid to come up with low brow dreck like this? If this comes across as snotty, I've actually done some screenwriting in my time and know something about writing quality dialogue that shines a little better than that. Perhaps Ms. Goldman isn't very discriminating in her choice of lines either, but still...

At any rate, if you loved the show and paranormal phenomena, then pick up your copy online or at your local used bookstore. I've seen them on Amazon for $1 so it won't set you back too much. Again, the book has some merit for occult research; I just find the links to the show an irritating reminder to how paranormal phenomena is often packaged for lowest common denominator consumption.  

ISBN 0061053341  $18.95  330 pages

 

Supernatural Vanishings: Otherworldly Disappearances by Rodney Davies   Published in June 1996

This is a book which discusses an interesting paranormal niche. It is essentially well done and the final chapter organizing the conclusions is a big help.

ISBN 0806948965  $10.95  192 pages

 

 

Witches, Werewolves, and Fairies: Shapeshifters and Astral Doubles in the Middle Ages   by Claude Lecouteux   Published Sept. 2003

A scholarly work which is more of a mythological/folklore perspective on the subject, it is full of information, but the author's tendency to focus on bilocation as being an explanation for many things paranormal is a bit bothersome. However, the almost forgotten belief that everyone possesses three souls is discussed in detail not found elsewhere.  (though one might argue that there are different levels of the same soul)

ISBN 0892810963  224 pages  $16.95

 

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Chris looked at The Doctor doubtfully. 

'And I don't believe we just traveled hundred of light years,' he said accusingly. 'According to Einstein, you cannot travel faster than light.'

'You understand Einstein?' the Doctor asked innocently.

'Yes,' protested Chris.

'And quantum theory?' Chris nodded. 'And Planck?' Chris nodded again. 'And Newton? And Schoenberg?' 

Chris kept nodding.

The Doctor paused until Chrisís head had stopped bobbing up and down.

His eyebrows rose knowingly. 'Youíve got a lot to unlearn...' 

 

-Dr. Who

"Shada" episode