So Much for the Afterlife
By Svetlana Gelman

Those who know what happens after they die are few and far in between. Many of them are deeply religious and believe they
have a soul. There are many more among us who purport to know what happens to everyone after they die. Many of them are
fanatics and scam artists and tend to give souls a bad reputation. Mary Roach (Stiff: the Curious Lives of Human Cadavers)
explores all the ideas and possibilities surrounding the soul according to literature, folklore, and scientific experiments. She
seeks proof and while trying to stray away from the anecdotal and philosophical, presents all these possibilities from the
point of view of science in her newest book, Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife.

The White Ham! The White Ham!
By Kate Shnur

The genre of humor based solely on random absurdities has a long and glorious history, ranging from the Marx
Brothers to Catch-22 to Monty Python. Comically entertaining inanities can even be seen in the classical characters
of Charles Dickens and Jane Austen. Gideon Defoe makes a feeble attempt to find for himself a place in this history
with his second installment of the Pirates’ adventures, who did not, unfortunately, drown sometime in between the
first adventure and its sequel.


I Sing the Body Cosmic
By Ezra Orlofsky

In her latest work, The Planets, Dava Sobel weaves an intricate narrative of science, poetry, Biblical allusions, and
music in order to describe our solar system. The result is compelling and mysterious, a fine web of creation myth and
contemporary discoveries amalgamating a millennia of human endeavors to peer into the universal recess. Sobel
begins aptly with Genesis, an overview of our solar system and its context.