Haunted Houses: Guide to Spooky, Creepy, and Strange Places Across the USA - Daniel Diehl, Mark P. Donnelly I used to live in this fairly run-down shack in the mid San Fernando valley. The area used to be a horse ranch and the three old houses on a acre of land were left-overs from the hired hands' housing. Every month or so a glass or dish would fall from the kitchen shelf and break when no one was in the kitchen. I didn't pay it much attention as I was known to be a little careless in placing the wares on the shelf. Although the one time a glass platter smashed while I was watching TV and was found 12 feet across the room from where it was originally placed was a little unnerving.

So one day I was in the kitchen preparing a meal. I placed a spoon on the table and approximately two minutes after I left it, I watched it slide by itself about 6 inches then stopped. Now that got my attention.

But was it a poltergeist? I doubt it. There are just too many things that have understandable explanations, even if we do not have that explanation at the time. I'm not going to believe a dead cowpoke is prone to rearrange table settings just because I don't know any other cause.

Daniel Diehl's guide on haunted houses does have its purpose. If you have an interest in hauntings...and I do find them very interesting...this will be a helpful book. With a few exceptions he lists only those that can be visited and only those that are or were actual residences. The obvious ones are here; The Winchester House in California, Lizzie Borden's house, The White House, etc. But there are also more obscure ones. Diehl provides a way too brief description of events that give the house its reputation. I especially liked the story about the doomed bride who fell down a staircase during her wedding only to die at her prospective husband's feet. And I thought totaling my car on my honeymoon was a bummer.

Yet if you are looking for a book with more detail or one that actually examines the hauntings, you will be severely disappointed. This is a travel guide only. Plus Diehl appears to be a true believer. He questions none of the tales and offers no explanation other than implying "Wow! There's a ghost!".

I'm probably dissing this book more than I should. To be fair, Diehl clearly wanted nothing more than a guide and wasn't interested in examination. In that way, this book is successful. Yet in our day and age, this type of non-questionable faith in the supernatural is frankly abhorrent. We seem to be losing our healthy ability to doubt and question.

One more story. A friend told me about the time his family went on a tour of The Winchester House in San Jose. His wife had their 6 month old infant with them. Once they started the tour, the baby started crying and didn't stop until they left the house. This to him was clear proof that there were ghosts in the house. It didn't help that the tour guides agreed with him and supported the conclusion. I suggested more mundane answers, Perhaps the baby was tired after a long trip and didn't like the large crowd in the tour. Perhaps it stopped crying when she was placed in her car seat because she was in a known and safe environment. Any other explanation aside from the supernatural was met with scorn. It had to be a ghost. This is the mindset that troubles me and I see it settling in with more than issues of the supernatural. Whether it is religious or political, we as a people seem to be closing our minds. Now THAT is scary.