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Ghosts from Our Past: Both Literally and…

Ghosts from Our Past: Both Literally and Figuratively: The Study of the…

by Erin Gilbert, Andrew Shaffer, Abby L. Yates

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**This book was reviewed for the Manhattan and Seattle Book Reviews**

Yates' and Gilbert’s Ghosts from Our Past is a collaboration of love from two young physicists in training. The book is (now) organised into three broad parts.

'Our Stories’ focused on the authors’ histories and how they became interested in the paranormal, their meeting and subsequent friendship, and how they came to write the book.

'Our Research' took a look at ghost accounts through history, from the earliest known accounts from Mesopotamia, and the biblical story of the Witch of Endor, through to Greco-Roman accounts, Medieval accounts, and early modern accounts. The Spiritualist era is covered in greater detail, followed by a brief look at the present. Historical paranormal groups, and investigators are looked at, along with the history of spirit classification, and the classification system they use. You learn how to tell the difference between a Class IV free-floating full-torso apparition and a Class VI free-roaming T3 corporeal. Very important stuff! Examples are given of the various classes of spectral beings. My favourite part was the scientific section, which brought into play theoretical physics and quantum mechanics.

'Our Methods’ covered practical aspects of ghost hunting, from the tools of the trade (with a new section on PKE meters, proton packs, and ghost traps), to choosing a location, and carrying out the investigation, including debriefing and evaluating evidence. In the tools section, things that are not necessary are covered as well. Like guns. No one needs a gun at a ghost hunt. They make sure to stress the importance of researching the property first, so you have an idea of the history of both the land and the building, which may give clues as to any hauntings. Also looked at are things to rule out, such as animals, or possibility of a hoax. The history of several famous hauntings are recounted in brief for your reading pleasure. While their passion for ghost hunting, and the paranormal is clear, they are scientists first and foremost, and not quick to believe until they rule out more mundane possibilities.

Okay, I loved this book. I loved the in-text banter between them as the computer was passed back and forth, and the overall cheekiness of it. The original Ghostbusters movie was the first movie I can remember seeing, and it's still one of my most favourite, along with Jurassic Park. And, I adore the new movie, especially since it's an all women team. Little girls need more movie heroines they can look to. So, back to this book. It's great to be able to read the book they wrote, mentioned in the movie 😆. Like reading Richard Castle's police procedural novels. There’s actually a good deal of pretty nifty historical information, as well as practical information for the fledgling ghost hunter.

🎻🎻🎻🎻🎻 Highly recommended if you like ghosty stuff, or love Ghostbusters. ( )
  PardaMustang | Nov 22, 2016 |
Most of the time I get a chance to read a book with ties to a movie, it’s because I’m reading the actual book that the film is being adapted from. Which is why Ghosts from Our Past is such a welcome addition to my library. Ghosts from Our Past is what one would call an in-universe book as it is the published edition of the book that appears in the newest Ghostbusters. “Written” by Erin Gilbert and Abby Yates, with Andrew Shaffer, the book explores many of the ideas presented in the movie. It was cool to get more of a backstory about Erin’s encounter with the ghost that haunted her and detail about the types of ghosts that the movie couldn’t go into. But not just the movie, the book stands pretty well on its own as a piece of comedy and actual science and paranormal exploration.

Disclosure: I received this book from Bloggingforbooks.com in exchange for this review. ( )
  Terence_Johnson | Sep 6, 2016 |
This is a great read for anyone who loves the paranormal AND Ghostbusters AND entertainment. It seamlessly ties in to the latest Ghostbusters movie and in such a fun way. I would recommend to anyone who loves a good, funny, read and who is interested in the subject matter and the movie.

Thanks to Blogging for Books for a review copy! ( )
  CynthiaMR | Aug 31, 2016 |
Now ruining your childhood in print format.

(Full disclosure: I received a free book for review through Blogging for Books.)

The great Carl Sagan said that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Who are we to argue with him (or his ghost)? We are unquestionably proposing some extraordinary concepts here. At the same time, it's one friggin extraordinary book.


Humanoids, vapors, several dozen more
Free-roaming, anchored, are you keeping score?
Possessing, repeating, alone or in swarms
Powerful metaspecters changing forms


The author photos from the original (left) and revised editions.

-- 3.5 stars --

If you've seen the Ghostbusters reboot, then you know that Erin (Kristen Wiig) and Abby (Melissa McCarthy) co-wrote a book on the paranormal while in college - and that, years later, Abby's decision to resell all those extra copies, unceremoniously crammed into storage, is what brought the estranged friends back together. In the vein of Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America by Leslie Knope and John Winchester's Journal - fictional books pulled from screens both large and small and manifested right here, in the real world - Three Rivers Press brings us Ghosts from Our Past: Both Literally and Figuratively: The Study of the Paranormal. Revised and updated, with bonus content from Jillian Holtzmann, Patty Tolan, and Kevin the secretary.

Ghosts from Our Past is a cute little book; Shaffer captures the characters' voices reasonably well, and the contributions from the other members of the team are a nice touch. The book's divided into three parts: Our Stories (Erin, Abby, and the Metaphysical Examination Society; membership: 2); Our Research (basically the history of paranormal investigation, Erin and Abby's spectral field theory, and supernatural taxonomies and case studies); and Our Methods (how to study the paranormal your own bad self).

It's this last section in particular that makes Ghosts from Our Past a nice gift idea for kids who are either fans of the franchise, or interested in the paranormal more generally. The book's got a participatory bent, and budding (pseudo)scientists can play at being a Ghostbuster: included in the back matter are liability waivers, interview forms, even a stakeout journal. I can just picture some adorable little geek girl making her own EMF Meter using a needle compass and asking the neighbors if she can check their homes for spectral activity. All the feels!

While the book doesn't offer a whole ton of new background information beyond that found in the movie, I enjoyed Erin and Abby's stories, as well as that of the genesis of the Metaphysical Examination Society. I skimmed the other sections, off and on; the case studies are surprisingly interesting, and I devoured the bios of paranormal investigators as well. There's a bit of crushing on The X-Files - which debuted during Erin and Abby's freshman year of high school - which is fun, and a sketch of "Spooky" Mulder, which isn't as awful as you'd think.

The book's pretty heavy on photos, diagrams, and illustrations - even after they lost the 200 pages of photos of "spectral orbs" that turned out to be nothing but dust on Erin's lens - so it's a fairly quick read. Like I said, this would be a fun "activity" book for younger fans of the film.


Or adults. No judgments here, Ed Begley Jr.



New Forward by Martin Hess * 11

Introduction to Revised Edition * 15

Part 1 - At a Glance * 21
Chapter 1: Ghost Girl: That One Time I Saw a Ghost (For Real) - Erin's Story * 22
Chapter 2: Curious Georgina: Portrait of a Young Supernatural Scientist - Abby's Story * 32
Chapter 3: The Metaphysical Examination Society - Our Story * 42

Part 2 - At a Glance * 57
Chapter 4: Ghosts Throughout History: Pondering the Preponderance of Paranormal Activity * 58
Chapter 5: Paranormal Investigators: A Look Back * 70
Chapter 6: A Scientific Exploration: Introducing the Spectral Field Theory * 84
Chapter 7: Unnatural Anthropology: The Evolution of Supernatural Taxonomy * 96
Chapter 8: Vengeful Spirits and the Dangers of Their Return to Our World: Case Studies of Malevolent Entities * 104

Part 3 - At a Glance * 125
Chapter 9: Paratechnology: A Primer * 126
Chapter 10: Preparing for the Metaphysical Examination: Choosing a Location * 140
Chapter 11: Conducting the Metaphysical Examination: A Methodical Examination * 148
Chapter 12: Attracting the Paranormal: Luring Spirits from the Other Side * 158

New Afterward: Anyone Can Be a Scientist * 169

Epitaph to the Revised Edition by Kevin * 173

Ghostbusting Resources * 175
Paranormal Quickstarter Guide * 177
Sample Waiver of Liability for Metaphysical Examinations * 178
Is It a Ghost? A Handy Quiz * 179
Kemp's Spectral Classification Table * 182
Parapercipient Interview Form * 185
Supernatural Stakeout Journal * 188
The Devil's Dictionary: Paraterminology You Need to Know * 191

Bibliography * 211

Acknowledgements * 215

Photography Credits * 217

About the Authors * 219

Excerpt from Erin and Abby's Forthcoming Book, A Glimpse into the Unknown * 221

http://www.easyvegan.info/2016/09/01/ghosts-from-our-past-by-andrew-shaffer/ ( )
  smiteme | Aug 23, 2016 |
I loved this book. I laughed on the bus. I laughed on the subway. I may have even snorted in glee. Often. The way it combined our world and the Ghostbusters world was spot on. See, at work, I've got this project, The Penguin Book of the Undead. I was reading stories about early hauntings in both books. Well-researched, "ghostwriter!" Much applause. It makes people like me appreciate the entire thing so much more. The voices of Erin and Abby are captured perfectly. And the bits by Holtzmann, Patty, and Kevin--oh, the thing by Kevin--are also fantastic.

If you loved the movie, you will no doubt enjoy this book. ( )
  PirateJenny | Aug 21, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Erin Gilbertprimary authorall editionscalculated
Shaffer, Andrewmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Yates, Abby L.main authorall editionsconfirmed

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"As seen in the upcoming Sony Pictures 2016 film Ghostbusters, the ultimate guide to identifying, understanding, and engaging with any paranormal activity that plagues you Years before they made headlines with the Ghostbusters, Erin Gilbert and Abby L. Yates, published the groundbreaking study of the paranormal, Ghosts From Our Past. This criminally underappreciated book is now back in print, revised and somewhat updated for the new century. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Whether you're a believer or a skeptic, you'll find the information you're seeking right here in this extraordinary book, including: The frightening childhood experiences that inspired Erin and Abby's lifelong passion for the paranormal; The history and science behind ghosts and other supernatural entities; An illustrated guide to Class I through Class VII ghosts; Helpful sidebars like Is It a Ghost? A Handy Quiz, Ectoplasm Cleanup Tips, and more. With this official Ghostbusters guide in hand, you'll be prepared for almost any spirit, spook, or spectre that comes your way. For the rest, you know who to call".… (more)

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