For as long as we've gathered by campfires to tell ghost stories, humans have always loved a good scare. From the splatter flicks of the 70s, to Japan's obsession with drowned girls, to creepy modern experiences like the overnight ghost hunt at the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, the horror industry has thrived across time and cultures. Our obsession with getting scared is obvious to anyone who visits ScareHouse, a haunted house in Pittsburgh that is annually ranked among the scariest in the country, and has become a booming attraction with nearly 150 employees and lines wrapping around the block. It even has its own sociologist, who conducts surveys and observations to make its performances ever more terrifying. Her name is Margee Kerr.
In this surprising, scary, entertaining audiobook, Kerr puts her expertise to the test. Not merely content to observe others' fear, she confronts it in the form of things like skydiving, paranormal investigations, and a visit to Japan's infamous "suicide forest." In her willingness to explore the world's scariest attractions, Kerr shows why we seek out terror even when there is plenty to fear in everyday life. Whether she's dangling by a cable from a 116-story tower or experiencing New York City's "Extreme Haunt," BlackOut, in which participants are handcuffed, forced to crawl through dark tunnels, and given a gun and told to shoot someone, Kerr parses the elements of fear with humor and the precision of an expert.
Along the way, she takes a personal journey that leads to valuable insights about what we fear - and what it says about who we are.
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Science and entertaining anecdotes
fun pop science
This book was an entertaining look at fear: why we like being scared or thrilled, what's going on with our brains while we experience fear, and what that all means. Margee Kerr takes us around the world to the scariest "haunts" (haunted houses), roller coasters, high buildings, creepy forests, and dangerous cities. Throughout her journeys, she tries to explain our desire for thrilling experiences and what that says about us (through anecdotes of her own adventures and evidence gathering). The final part brings all that came before together: drawing on her research and the brain measuring skills of another scientist, she creates an "extreme haunt", designed to test the limits of fear and human experience of it in a safe, controlled experiment designed to collect data while entertaining.
I learned a little bit about the brain and why we enjoy scary things, but I mostly enjoyed Kerr's anecdotes about her travels. It was fun to go with her on her journeys. Usually authors who narrate their own books fall a bit flat, but Kerr was a solid reader with good pace and tone.