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Holy Ghosts: Or How a (Not-So) Good Catholic Boy Became a Believer in Things That Go Bump in the Night Hardcover – September 16, 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 96 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Holy Ghosts took me into a completely convincing but very different version of reality from the one we live in. It serves as a forceful and fascinating reminder that we do not see the world that is, but only the part we have chosen to see. There are dangers and wonders in the dark, and Holy Ghosts affirms that they are very real." -Whitley Strieber, author of Communion

"I have always believed in ghosts, paranormal phenomena, and miracles. But I've never read a book that tells of chills and ghosts in the house from a Catholic perspective. I read the book in a sitting. There are more than a few spine- tingling scares here, offered in such a benign, even life-affirming way, that we end up enlightened, entertained, and charmed." -Beverly Donofrio, author of Looking for Mary and Riding in Cars with Boys

"Gary Jansen will both creep you out and educate you on the nature of 'earthbound spirits.' His tale of the spirits haunting his family home, and of helping them cross over to the next world, is a thrilling treat that I couldn't put down. Jansen tells the best kind of ghost story-the true kind!" -Julia Scheeres, author of Jesus Land

"Gary Jansen's Holy Ghosts is a haunting memoir of both the paranormal and the heartbreakingly down-to-earth. By turns scholarly, comic, and creepy, Jansen shows us the ghosts in his house as well as his heart. Spellbinding and wise, this trip to the supernatural eventually returns us home, providing a deeper understanding of our faith, our fears, and the people we love." Jennifer Finney Boylan, author of She's Not There and Falcon Quinn and the Black Mirror

"If you think ghosts might exist, you will thoroughly enjoy this startling personal account of things that go bump in the night. If you don't think they exist, do not read this book after midnight. You have been warned." -Dean Radin, author of Supernormal and The Conscious Universe

 "[A]n eerie, well-told ghost story." -Library Journal

“Holy Ghosts is more than just a gripping true story about ghosts haunting his family’s home and how he got them to leave. I thoroughly enjoyed the fascinating history that Jansen, an editor at Doubleday Religion, incorporates into the story about the Catholic Church and its beliefs in spirits, angels, and demons...His writing style is engaging and informative; I couldn’t stop reading..” -Publishers Weekly


--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Gary Jansen is the senior editor of religion and spirituality at the Crown Publishing Group/Random House. He is the author of The Rosary: A Journey to the Beloved and Exercising Your Soul: Fifteen Minutes a Day to a Spiritual Life. A frequent lecturer, he has appeared on  National Public Radio, The Huffington Post, CNN.com, Coast to Coast AM, A&E, the Sundance Channel and the Travel Channel, among others. His website is www.garyjansen.com.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Tarcher; First Edition edition (September 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781585428199
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585428199
  • ASIN: 1585428191
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 6.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,048,767 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Gary Jansen's book is an exceptional story of an ordinary everyman who is confronted with the extraordinary. I think most folks have encounters with unexplainable events, whether or not they go so far as to call them "ghosts". But whether or not you believe, this book is well worth the read. Gary approaches the occurrences in his house from a pragmatist's vantage, and as the events escalate in ways both minute and major (and some very frightening!) he realizes there's not always an easy explanation for the things that happen around us and to us. This is more than just a ghost story - yes, it's very creepy and very scary in parts, but it also digs into the subject of ghosts and faith with perseverance, attempting to gain perspective on a situation as it spirals out of control. I have to say, too, that while I enjoyed the juicy, creepy, bits... Jansen's exploration of faith and the supernatural was so heartfelt and so passionate that it made me (a lapsed Methodist) reconsider my own beliefs. This is an extraordinary book that is impossible to pigeonhole as either a ghost story or a book on the Catholic faith, which is why I would thoroughly recommend it for any curious soul.
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Format: Hardcover
It is rare for a book to capture my attention, I am somewhat of a lazy reader. I prefer the story to do most of the work. Gary Jansen weaves together history, theology and the mysteries of the spiritual realm in Holy Ghosts. My attention was certainly captured. He tells of growing up in Rockville Cenre, NY and relates the experiences of the supernatural and bizarre occurances in his childhood home. Gary ties his childhood emotions, and his relationship with religion as an adult into a a beautiful story of personal discovery. I appreciated the respectful way in which he enters this journey, searching for answers and akcnowledging the wisdom of those who have gone before in the books of the saints and spiritual forefathers. Gary does not take this journey lightly, as he begins to sense that something is going on beneath the surface. The possibility of spiritual activity in his home does not sway him, but seems to ignite a passionate insistance on finding the truth. This is not your ordinary ghost story, more a glimpse into the soul of one who sought with reverance, and found the answers just beyond the veil.
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By maypugs on October 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
i love, love, love HOLY GHOSTS. it's on this year's list as a holiday gift for many, because there's really just something in here for everyone. the book isnt even just a creepy, goosebump-producing ghost story but something more--Jansen's exploration of himself and his relationships with the things and people around him (both seen and unseen). as someone who struggles with not even just Catholicism (i too grew up Catholic), but religion in general, it made me want to turn off my sarcastic, skeptic side and just really have the courage and faith to face a relationship with God and the otherworld--whatever that will end up entailing for me--and realize that these sorts of lessons go beyond the walls of any church.

Jansen approaches the strange things going on in his home in different ways: a protective father & husband, a curious Catholic, and not just a terrified man, but an angry one too. his exploration goes beyond just wanting these strange things to stop: he really tries to understand what exactly it was that was happening--if there was anything really going on at all--and solve the problem. what we end up with is an incredibly vivid memoir, from Jansen's upbringing with his Catholic family, his early marriage and the birth of his children (his asides about his family are especially touching) up until the present-day haunting.

I was pleasantly surprised by a cameo from Mary-Anne Winkowski (her experiences are the base for the TV series THE GHOST WHISPERER) and am still shocked at her role in the mystery.

in the end, i felt like it's just a lovely, creepy, multi-layered book you have to read to experience. i highly suggest picking one up!
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Format: Hardcover
I've never really believed in ghosts. Movies like The Sixth Sense and The Ring scared the living daylights out of me, but I never considered them to be serious pictures of reality. I've long had a strong belief in the supernatural, but I've always believed that "hauntings" and "mysterious events" could each be chalked up to rational causes.

However, Holy Ghosts, a new book by Gary Jansen, has made me question some of my prior assumptions. The book is somewhat of a spiritual memoir, describing a year-long haunting Jansen experienced and the religious journey that resulted.

A good Catholic, Jansen was unsure whether to consider his haunting to be legitimate. But as he was researching a book on Catholic spirituality, he stumbled across some writings on ghosts from theologian Fr. John Hardon. Surprisingly, he found that the Church doesn't outright reject ghosts. In fact, he discovered quite the opposite: the Church not only accepts the existence of ghosts, but has a rich history of ghostly phenomena.

Jansen learns how St. John Bosco encountered the ghost of his best friend, who visited Bosco to assure him that he had been saved. Many other Saints, like Alphonsus Liguori--bi-location--and Teresa of Avila--levitation--exhibited mystical events unexplainable by natural causes.

Jansen also brushes upon St. Ignatius of Loyola and his "discernment of spirits", which helped him determine whether his supernatural encounters were good, harmless, or evil.

Holy Ghosts is an engaging story from cover to cover, in part because Jansen is such a gifted writer. He writes very descriptively, and he's also a master of suspense, ending most chapters with some kind of shocking cliff-hanger.
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