bITS 'N CHUNKS
Ghostland by Colin Dickey is a fantastic book for those of you that like your skepticism neat and your sociology weird. It's not about anything occult, but like James Randi's Flim-Flam! it is a good guide on looking at superstition and religion objectively and asking for evidence of Things Unknown. Ghostland isn't malicious and doesn't really seek to discredit anything, but rather explain why we create ghost stories and hauntings and what those stories tend to mean from a cultural and regional basis. It reminds me a lot of Cassell's Dictionary of Superstitions, another neat text that I think everyone interested in the supernatural should read.
Curiously enough, there is also another Ghostland. Or rather, Ghost Land (PDF) as written by Emma Hardinge Britten. Britten was a prominent member of the Spiritualist movement as we'd recognize it today. Like Manly P Hall, Britten is an interesting figure and very influential, but a lot of her life is shadowed in mystery and much of what we know about her stems from her work. What's best to note about Britten is the company she kept (notable women of various occult groups like Helen Blavatsky) and not only was she a prominent member of Modern Spiritualism, but she help lay the ground work for its current principles.
So Britten's Ghost Land actually deals with her research into the occult centering around one Chevalier Louis de B, an eccentric nobleman that comes off a little St. Germaine. I'm pretty sure he's a composite figure. She details his initiation into occult mysteries, séances, mysticism, all that…like, you know, a documentarian. How much of it is true and factual? Who knows. I trust Britten, but she has a much different focus with her information. An agenda, if you will!
But in any case, both books do some pretty good things like identifying primary sources, build upon information, and don't expect you to just take their word for it just because they said so. They also aid in deciphering information by providing commentary backed up with knowledge. Any good investigative text should give you that much. And quips! Oh, the quips.
Ia! If you've come this far, you're either looking for weird or you know you've found it...