Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Big Book Read #16

Paranormal State – My Journey Into the Unknown

By Ryan Buell

The show Paranormal State is one of my guilty pleasures. I am easily scared but for some reason that does not deter me from watching shows about ghosts and other nasties that go bump in the night. Every now and then you need a book like this.

Buell created PRS (The Paranormal Research Society) in his college days at Penn State (hence the title ‘Paranormal State’) and has continued to travel around the country with his team to investigate, and often shout at, the noises and shadows that torment the homeowners.

Buell’s book chronicles the first year of making the show. He goes into detail on many of their cases and succeeded very well in making me jump at the slightest noise while reading this in my living room. But, Buell also talks about his use of psychics on cases (he’s very skeptical) as well as addressing the criticisms of his use of religious language and imagery (Buell is a devout Roman Catholic) on cases.

What drew me to the show was the emphasis on helping the families deal with their problems and not just simple ghost hunting. This distinction is made often in the book and you can tell Buell is very sensitive to families dealing with the paranormal due to his childhood experiences. His skepticism is not always apparent on the show but is discussed at length in the book, which was nice. Not every noise or shadow is a ghoul out to get you!

I read this book to get a good scare, and I was not disappointed. What I did not expect was a deeper look at Buell’s life, which as it turns out has not been all that easy. His terrifying paranormal experiences as a child, largely ignored by his family, has greatly influenced how he approaches cases. He also discusses the backlash he received by members of the clergy after he came out as bisexual. It was an interesting read and satisfied my creepy desire to be frightened.

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