Written by Jason Rich
Published by F+W Publications, Inc.
Anyone who wants to can become a ghost hunter. Just look around at any book store. There are literally thousands of books written by “experts” about the methodology of tracking down those things that go bump in the night. Wouldn’t it be nice if, for once, someone would write a book that broke everything about the paranormal down into normal language, left out all the religious talk, and concentrated on what ghosts were instead of trying to impress and frighten? Such a book does exist, in the form of The Everything Ghost Book.
Sure, every ghost hunter’s bible, manual, casebook and study guide claim to be “different” from the others, often offering recycled materials and half-baked theories as to the whys and wherefores of hauntings. However, The Everything Ghost Book actually delivers on that promise. Even from the cover, one can tell that it is in a class of its own. Gone are the clichéd and gee-aren’t-we-spooky graphics, and in their place are cartoons and clip-art that actually makes this book look like it should belong in the children’s section. Actually, that’s why I picked it up, because I was happy to see someone create a paranormal primer for kids. Inside, however, I found one of the most intelligently written and well-researched guides to ghosts I’ve ever encountered.
Chapter one gives the reader the basics. It introduces people to the language of paranormal enthusiasts without talking over their heads. It discusses and dispels myths perpetuated by movies and urban legends. There are sections concerning EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena), psychic encounters, parapsychology, and even where to find ghosts and apparitions, all without treating the reader like an idiot, and written in such a way that the reader wants to continue reading to find out more about this fascinating subject.
Chapter two is a collection of mini-biographies and philosophies of several ghost hunters, parapsychologists, and paranormal investigators. Many of the names on the list are those that paranormal enthusiasts will already know. However, differently than other ghost-guides, this one does not simply find two or three whose views tend to coincide. Contained here are eight experts whose views are sometimes in direct opposition. Names such as Loyd Auerbach and John Zaffis are among those discussed. The following chapter contains twenty-eight real-life tales of hauntings, as told by the people who experienced them. In some cases, the stories are moving. In other, they are terrifying. All the stories, however, accomplish the goal of making the reader think and question what they already know about the paranormal world.
Beginning with Chapter Four, this book begins to examine some of the more controversial aspects of paranormal investigation. Chapter Four deals exclusively with mediums and channelers. It discusses at length the concepts behind psychic phenomena, as well as understanding the gifts of those with the strange second sight. It also provides background information about four recognized psychics. It finishes up the chapter by talking about grief’s stages and how to cope, and how to recognize the difference between a reputable psychic and a charlatan.
The following three chapters deal with more controversy, with subjects such as past-life regression, spirit guides, and near-death experiences. It also discusses the less scientific tools such as ouija boards and automatic writing. With each section, the author brings up both sides to the arguments for and against each item. While it is obvious on which side of the fence the author sits, he never becomes preachy or pedantic about his point of view, preferring to leave the reader to form his own opinions.
The final chapter of The Everything Ghost Book deals with the skeptical point of view. Though a short chapter, Rich avoids making any sweeping claims or attempting to deride the skeptics. Instead, he provides, in an honest and straight-forward method, the facts about those whose mission it is to debunk the pseudo-science of paranormal investigation. Finally, this book provides a far-from-comprehensive, but adequate, list of haunted places in each state, as well as web sites for readers to visit.
Easily one of the largest paranormal guidebooks on the market, The Everything Ghost Book is one that should be on the shelf of every paranormal investigator, ghost hunter, or enthusiast of things that go bump in the night. Author Jason Rich succeeds where many others fail by speaking directly to the reader, and without attempting to come off as the ultimate ghost hunter. In fact, there’s quite a bit of humor in this book, one of the best selling points. Though there are many ghost hunting “manuals” on the market today, The Everything Ghost Book certainly lives up to its name, and is the best one on the market.