Dallas Ft. Worth - Washington D.C. - Seattle - New Orleans
Why does SPI review books on the paranormal / ghosts and hauntings? One of the most common questions from the public is "How do I get into ghost hunting?" and the best answer I can give is to read some or all of the books in the Top Recommended List below. You can find reader reviews for many of the more popular books posted at online book buying sites such as Amazon.Com, but some of the more obscure publications may not have a review listed yet. Also, a professional organization such as SPI is one of the better sources to trust for this sort of thing, and it is more convenient to have all relevant books on the subject listed on one site.
Due to the volume of reviews I have done (43 at last count) and long page scrolls required to find what you are looking for, I have broken it down into six sections plus a selection of books from Atriad Press and magazines - you are currently in the Top Recommended Ghost Book Section.
PARANORMAL BOOK REVIEW GUIDELINES
TOP RECOMMENDED GHOST BOOK LIST
Shadow's Edge eBook from SPI
Advanced Ghost Gear for Paranormal Investigation
NOTE: This is an eBook, which means that it comes in electronic format ONLY at this time. You can print it off yourself if you like, but you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader (FREE) to open it.
The Ghost Hunter's Survival Guide by Michelle Belanger - Protection Techniques for Encounters with the Paranormal
by Michelle Belanger ISBN 9780738718705 271 pages $16.95 Llewellyn Worldwide Oct 2009
It has been several months since I have posted a review and this will probably be one of the longer ones because of the timely synchronicity in which this publication appeared.
To sum it up briefly, this is a MUST HAVE for any paranormal investigator or individual suffering from or dealing with nearly any kind of haunting. While there are a plethora of books on ghost tales, how to ghost hunt and some more professional works which explore specific types of activity, this is the first and most complete volume I have ever read giving a number of suggestions from multiple angles on how to actually mitigate any type of spirit issue.
Also, this book very closely resembles the idea I pitched to another Llewellyn author one day before Halloween in 2009 which was eerily the very same month and publishing house this work of Ms. Belanger's appeared. In other words, this is the book I planned to write, but THANK GOD, Michelle saved me the trouble and in my opinion did a better job than I would have. This may seem like a peculiar attitude, but bear in mind that I already have my bandwidth well accounted for with engineering school and consulting work and while I saw a great need for this sort of publication, I didn't see how in the hell I could fit it into my schedule. It is frustrating to see so many people requiring assistance, but being unable to dedicate enough time to actually help them. Now at last I have an easy and inexpensive option to offer them, and it benefits a fine author as well.
But enough of the prologue; I have been a fan of Ms. Belanger's writing for some time and I have been impressed by the modest and yet experienced smoothness with which her voice flows. It even occurred to me that she would make a fine fiction writer given her wordsmithing ability and gift for dialog; and sho' nuf, she actually writes that as well. A shame I don't have time to read them.
The book has an excellent premise as well; the author takes us through a challenging real life case with a climax unlike any other I have read ( no spoilers here) while laying down the foundation, fundamentals and exercises for the reader to build on gradually while intercutting with the case progress. Michelle's experience really shows in the breadth of modalities she is able to employ (everything from Hoodoo to Feng Shui, Tibetan Buddhism and ceremonial magick) while also respecting a variety of belief systems including those of skeptics.
The organization is well executed with appropriate chapters, subheadings, asides and summaries that reinforce the basics while empowering the reader. That is the great thing that this book teaches: appropriate boundaries with spirits can be employed by anyone and you don't have a to be a high level meta magician or priestess to do it. The accessibility of the reading, clear illustrations of the concepts and common sense tactics place this guide well above the rest and I consider it a prerequisite to learning how to ghost hunt or be a paranormal investigator.
Finally, I agree with virtually everything she says, especially the fact that different types of hauntings require different tactics and she is the FIRST author I have found who has put in writing what I have long believed; sending spirits into the light is a rude, pretentious, and egotistical manner of dealing with the unseen.
The analogy I give is this: How would you like to be in a therapist's office trying to deal with some difficult issue and the some sanctimonious jerkoff bursts into the room and tells you that you are done, time is up, everything is better, you have to go NOW? As Ms. Belanger states: "I don't think I have the right to judge whether or not they are ready to move on."
You go, girl.
Paranormal Technology: Understanding the Science of Ghost Hunting by David M. Rountree
ISBN 9781450253567 - 265 pages $21.95 Published 2010 http://www.spinvestigations.org/
Hauntings and Poltergeists: Multidisciplinary Perspectives Edited by James Houran & Rense Lange
This book is a collection of essays by experts in various fields and explores parapsychological, sociocultural and scientific approaches to the paranormal. While admittedly one of the most expensive books on the subject, it is virtually a college level textbook and is not light reading. If you are a very serious investigator, it is well worth consideration. My gripes are that the book is slightly dated, (at over a decade old, the science is a bit behind certain cutting edge approaches) the subject material leans heavily towards poltergeist / RSPK which I don't feel is representative enough to explain all paranormal phenomena, and some of the authors come across as stuffy, boring and a bit pompous.
ISBN 9780786432493 - 330 pages $55 on Amazon Published 2001 Reprinted
Ghosts, Apparitions & Poltergeists - An Exploration of the Supernatural Through History by Brian Righi
It is always welcome and refreshing to find a paranormal volume with an original theme; this work details the history of the supernatural and ghost hunting. While most basic ghost hunting books only briefly touch on subjects like Harry Price and the Spiritualist movement, Mr. Righi has clearly done more extensive research and it really shows in the extra detail and context that constantly pepper this intriguing book. The flow is easy and well written, though throughout I was constantly muttering: "Huh!" and "I didn't know that!" as I kept encountering terms and concepts that I have not come across elsewhere. For instance, the most feared Norwegian ghost known as the utbrud, meaning the "child carried out" is a tale worthy of a very horrifying and original movie.
Mr. Righi also strikes an excellent balance in not showing a strong bias and respects the reader by allowing you to draw your own conclusions. And if I haven't mentioned this before, I have always given kudos to writers who begin a chapter with a timely quote.
ISBN 9780738713632 - 217 pages $15.95 Website http://brianrighi.net/
Ghost Hunter's Guidebook by Troy Taylor
A damn good book which details the history of paranormal investigation and gives some very good advice on the use of cameras and EMF equipment. A MUST READ in my estimation, but be warned. Mr. Taylor speaks his mind on proper research methodology and some may take offense to his standards. I happen to agree with them and he is pretty nice about it, but egos in this field can be easily bruised so I thought I would mention it.
ISBN 1892523043 - 212 pages $14.95 Published 2008
A Paranormal Casebook: Ghost Hunting in the New Millennium by Loyd Auerbach
Loyd Auerbach is one of the longest running veterans in the paranormal investigation field and his experience really shines through in this book. I like the extra detail and candor that he puts into his stories - you come away with the feeling that Mr. Auerbach is someone that you can trust. One of the most fascinating and original stories is about a pilot whose plane was seen, heard and cited by the FAA for exceeding noise levels. The problem is that the incident occurred six hours AFTER the pilot's death - and the plane was in a museum! The case files also begin with a summary prologue of the activity reported before the team went on site; which can aid in diagnosing phenomena of your own by comparing "symptoms". Mr. Auerbach also has some strong insights into the nature of ghosts and how investigations should be conducted.
ISBN 1933177047 254 pages Published 2005 $18.95
Psychic Protection by Ted Andrews available at most major online bookstores.
I actually found this in the local library and started thumbing through it. The more I read, the more I liked. He talks a lot about common sense approaches to applying "New Age" concepts and avoiding some of the fruitcake ideas out there. I include this selection because being involved with paranormal research means that you will soon be wading through a torrent of bullshit and it's important to discern what works and what is baloney.
I have had some background in mythology, energetics and spirituality, and what Mr. Andrews says is dead on the money about a helluva lot of things and it's related in a very down to earth, stone cold sober fashion. Some investigators may be a little twitchy about certain aspects of ceremonial magic, (and I say let your personal belief system be your guide) but some of the protection tools he advocates sound pretty good to me and I mention them on my Spiritual Safety page. I was blown away by his spirit classification chapter and I applaud his advocating of personal responsibility. Another must read for investigators who need to know the risks of what they are getting themselves into.
ISBN1888767308 - 358 pages $12.95
Monsters - An Investigator's Guide To Magical Beings by John Michael Greer available almost anywhere.
An INCREDIBLE book which provides some very fresh insight into the nature of a great many creatures of legend and horror. Very well researched and written, it cuts through the BS factor very well and gives a lot of practical, sound advice in a field normally thought to be populated by nut cases. Mr. Greer is also a ceremonial magician, and while some of the techniques and methods in here may not be for those of a fundamentalist bent, they sure make for some interesting reading.
ISBN 0738700509 - 282 pages $19.95
Field Guide To Spirit Photography by Dale Kaczmarek available on Troy Taylor's website at https://www.prairieghosts.com/detector2.html
This is a welcome resource for ghost hunting photography as there few books which even deal with this subject at all, and much of the information you find on the web ranges from thin to unreliable. Mr. Kaczmarek's insight is based on common sense and long years of experience in the investigation of the paranormal and I highly recommend it for any serious hunter. He gives a unique look into the history of spirit photography and a primer in basic Photography 101. (something most of us could use)
The downside of the book is in it's organization and actual photography depiction. While the book is fascinating reading, I really would have liked headings and subheadings to better define different topics and to break up the text a little. Illustrations and tables would have been nice as well to help readers visualize and remember certain concepts. But the worst thing about this book, ironically, is the photos themselves. Pick up ANY other book on photography and you get high quality full color plate glossy clay paper 3-D hyper real shots that as they say, speak a thousand words.
The photos in this book are tiny black & white representations little better than newsprint. This may sound harsh, but in many cases Mr. K describes a figure or feature of a certain photo, and I literally cannot see what the hell he's talking about. I know that this was a publishing decision made to keep the book more affordable, but believe me; if you are passionate enough about the field to get a book on this specific a subject, you WILL be glad to fork over an extra $5-15 for something with clearer presentation. I am not panning the book, but I am saying if he comes out with a revised 2nd Edition, please give me a large hardback option with better pictures.
ISBN 1892523248 $14.95 152 pages
Poltergeist - A Study in Destructive Hauntings by Colin Wilson
Excellent book on the study of this phenomena! Well researched, documented and thought out, it is the de facto bible and must read for this particular sub-specialty.
ISBN 1840672846 Prices vary depending on if new or used 384 pages
On The Track Of The Poltergeist by D. Scott Rogo
While this is an older book, I feel this is the BEST I have found so far dealing on the subject of poltergeists. Rogo was an investigator with many years of experience and his detailed case studies in this book are a must read for understanding the diagnosis of RSPK in all it's forms. Valuable for presenting some of the occupational hazards that investigators face when dealing with the public.
ISBN 0136344372 $7.95 206 pages Published in 1986 (out of print) so look in used bookstores.
Ghost Hunter's Bible by Trent Brandon available at Amazon or through www.zerotime.com .
This is no longer the required handbook by A.G.H.O.S.T as I have been told that author/webmaster Trent Brandon's communicativeness leaves something to be desired . (I have also had this experience, as he is yet to return any of my emails) Good resource, so good in fact that I wish it were longer. I like the various types of hauntings described and there are some excellent thoughts on conducting a hunt.
ISBN 0970310056 - 175 pages $19.95
Speak With the Dead by Konstantinos
Excellent book on EVP from a technical standpoint and metaphysical interpretation / approaches.
ISBN 0-7387-052205 - 203 pages $14.95
The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits by Rosemary Ellen Guiley Published in 1992
A self-explanatory and excellent reference tome, Guiley's guide to supernatural beings is well researched and thorough. There are entries for many subjects and stories that I guarantee you have never heard of before, and it covers a fairly broad scope. Makes an excellent coffee table book as well as a worthy addition to any researcher's library.
ISBN 081602846X $19.95 374 pages 1st Edition 2nd Edition 0816040869 $19.95 430 pages
Poltergeists & The Paranormal by Dr. Philip Stander and Dr. Paul Schmolling. Published in 1996 so probably out of print. I found this copy in my local library.
This is a newer book than the one by Rogo, but most of the accounts detailed are historical cases, many of which I have never heard of before. Does a slightly better job of categorizing, but the good doctors do not mention many of their own personal cases, which disappoints a little. A good book on the whole, but I recommend the Rogo book first, and then pick this one up if you can get it at a discount on the web.
ISBN 1567186823 $12.95 212 pages
The Paranormal Investigator's Handbook edited by Valerie Hope & Maurice Townsend
It is a British guide that I ran across in Half-Price Books. Covers a much wider range of phenomena (UFO's, crop circles, earth mysteries) than the books listed above, but the amount of text devoted to each area is rather brief. For pure ghost hunters, you will need other guides to supplement, but this book provides a nice overview and has some good tips and ideas that aren't in other publications. For the $5 I paid, it's a welcome edition to my library.
ISBN 1855857030 - 144 pages $14.95 Published in 1999
Ghost Hunting Handbook by Marc Tyler Nobleman
This delightful publication in the format of a notepad is geared towards children, though adults new to the field can glean salient points from it as well. I like Mr. Nobleman's straightforward style, and in covering even very basic points he often brings fresh and valid perspectives to the field. There are numerous form outlines and areas to write notes in, which makes it ideal for a beginner. The low price of $5 also makes it one of the least expensive books out there on the subject.
ISBN-10 1-4027-3123-X 96 pages $4.95 Published in 2007
How To Hunt Ghosts by Joshua P. Warren Published September 2003
Mr. Warren is a member of L.E.M.U.R and an experienced hunter. I am impressed by the breadth that the book covers, from aura colors to a section on the electromagnetic field. He suggests a wide variety of equipment, though I wish there were more details on operation and actual case histories utilizing the equipment, though many hunters claim this as proprietary information. He is obviously very intelligent and uses a wide variety of illustrations and metaphors to an effective degree. He is also the only other ghost hunter I have seen besides myself that believes in getting paid for his expertise.
Another bonus is that this volume is inexpensively priced and has a cool cover design.
ISBN 0743234936 256 pages $12.00 Reviewed December 2003
Ghost Tech: The Essential Guide by Vince Wilson Published 2005
This is one of the few books out there dealing mainly with paranormal equipment and Mr. Wilson does a decent overview of the gear and some of the pitfalls associated. I really agree with him on several points, particularly his stance on orbs and he gives very good guidelines and resource material which backs him up in this area. Also, he makes excellent points on how to organize an investigation professionally and even throws in some worthwhile sounding original ideas.
However, there are a number of quibbles I also have with this publication. His science, grammar and spelling are not always spot on, which damages credibility. Furthermore, I find his statement that you shouldn't trust groups that charge to be not only ludicrous, but a bit hypocritical since more than once he berates readers who only skim his book in Barnes & Nobles without purchasing it.
Hey Vince - you support your group financials your way, and I'll do it my way; let's just agree not to be so judgmental of each other, alright?
The book at this time is a bit dated (not Mr. Wilson's fault that I am finally reviewing it 5 years after publication) but video camera technology for one has moved on quite a bit from the days of Digital 8 tape. At only 116 pages (and small pages with large font at that) I do not consider this to be one of the better investments unless you purchase the LessEMF edition from the link below. Otherwise, it seems to be out of print (unless it is still being offered by the Whitechapel Press) and the Amazon prices are at this date $120 for new and $75 for used.
ISBN 11892523418 116 pages $12.95 from http://lessemf.com/ghost.html much higher on Amazon
How to be a Ghost Hunter by Richard Southall Published April 2003
This is a relatively small book, but very informative and organized. The author's kind and generous personality comes through and he even offers some good technical tips which many hunters don't know or mention.
ISBN 0738703125 216 pages $12.95 Reviewed December 2003
The Everything Ghost Book by Jason Rich available at Barnes and Nobles or on Amazon/Half.Com. Published in 2001.
A friendly, interesting and easy to read book for the more casual ghost hunter. Not geared as much towards the details of how to, but it does have a really good section where investigators are interviewed about their methods and experiences. It is also thankfully free of talking about the same old "classic" haunted locations that I see get mentioned ad nauseum in other ghost guides. ENOUGH of the Amityville Horror (it was a hoax anyway) and the Winchester House in California. That stuff bores me to tears; the story about Zaffis running into a demon in a haunted funeral home - now THAT'S truly frightening!
ISBN 1580625339 $12.95 289 pages
Confessions of a Ghost Hunter by Troy Taylor available from White Chapel Press as above. https://www.prairieghosts.com/detector2.html
A unique and informative book, this guide gives a first hand look at the trials of a modern day ghost hunter. Troy Taylor's style is easy to read and entertaining, while still sticking as closely to the facts as possible. His experience and research show through, while being seasoned with his own brand of slightly self-deprecating humor. While it doesn't go into the nitty gritty of Ghost Hunting 101, there are still a few chapters in here which cover additional territory and tips for those who bought his book Ghost Hunter's Guidebook.
ISBN 1892523280 $14.95 160 pages Published in 2002
Sex & the Paranormal by Dr. Paul Chambers available almost anywhere.
This is yet another British guide which gives a decidedly English treatment of a rather taboo aspect of the paranormal. It is a wealth of historical information on subjects which range from demon sex to alien abductions and "penis-snatching". (Yes, you read that right. Quit grinning, ladies, it's NOT funny) Dr. Chambers presents all of this in a no nonsense fashion and seems to lean towards the skeptical side of the town without completely dismissing or explaining everything away.
I can appreciate his objectivity of the subject as it would be easy for many writers and researchers to get carried away in the sensationalistic tide around these topics which often carries Western culture out to left field. (witness all the classic National Enquirer tag lines like "I Had Elvis's Baby With An Alien" which have practically become a cliché.) However, I feel that his dry treatment is a bit under whelming and I wish that someone with a little more guts and actual experience with the paranormal would take a swing at this.
The dryness is such that the book gets to be a little difficult to slog through at times and I can often only read a few pages before my mind starts wandering. This may sound ironic for a book dealing with such potentially volatile material, but I am reminded of the Monty Python skit wherein John Cleese is a British headmaster who teaches sex education by actually having his wife abed in front of the classroom. He begins the lesson by climbing on top of her and clinically describing foreplay, all the while kids are getting bored, throwing paper airplanes, etc.
Once you warm up to his style, however, it does get a little easier to read and he does provide some excellent perspectives on how religious belief systems strongly influence the perception and interpretation of the unknown.
ISBN 0713727632 $14.95 224 pages
Beyond the Grave by Troy Taylor available from White Chapel press as above. Published in 2001. https://www.prairieghosts.com/detector2.html
A fascinating and one of a kind book which not only details the history of cemeteries and graveyards in America, but also takes you on a tour of this country's most famous burial grounds and the haunting stories which surround them. Learn about Black Aggie, the vampire Mercy Brown, and The Flaming Tomb. These make really creepy tales to read at your next paranormal meeting, and you will learn a bit about the nature of ghost hunting and American history itself.
ISBN 1892523124 $18.95 240 pages
"I'm the latest apparition
I'm the tapping on your shoulder
"Raven In The Storm