Penguin (2012) €9.99
Proof of Heaven: A Neuro-surgeon's Journey into the Afterlife
by Dr Eben Alexander
Piatkus (2012) €18.60
Given that we all survived 2012, you have to wonder what was the whole point of all that palaver and panic.
As with the Y2K virus, many had prepared for an event of apocalyptic proportions, and may actually feel disappointed that nothing bad happened. We're all still here; what's it all for? Two books, written by two very different men, give us their personal answers to that question.
Joe Cassidy is a working man from Co Kildare; Dr Eben Alexander is an academic neurosurgeon whose CV runs up one arm and down the next.
In many ways they are more similar than not: one might not expect either of them, the salt-of-the-earth manual labourer and the high-flying medical man, to have any metaphysical leanings at all.
But both have come to believe not only in a power greater than themselves, but in the power that all of us have to heal, and to hope.
Cassidy's tale recounts his childhood up to the present moment, in which he works as a healer for all: people, animals and places. He came to working with his gifts only after many physical ailments left him unable to retain conventional jobs, and hasn't looked back since.
Alexander's book tells the story of his near-death experience: in a coma for seven days due to an aggressive strain of the Ebola virus. The man really ought to be dead.
Instead, he brought back the story of an experience of higher consciousness that is both moving and hopeful.
Cassidy's tone reflects his humble roots, and the book is simple and straightforward. The flow of the story would have benefitted from some pruning, as he seems to refer to the same biographical anecdotes more than once, but really hits its stride once he begins to recount the stories of healings.
By contrast, Alexander's tome is as polished and articulate as an extremely educated man's book is expected to be, but he tends to struggle somewhat trying to describe exactly what the afterlife looks and sounds like.
What both men do well is to give us heartfelt, moving, and optimistic views on our place in the universe. The message that each have to share is that we're not powerless, and we're not alone.
By frankly and proudly writing about subject matter that may frighten or anger those who would rather believe in the old man with the beard who sits in judgment of us all, Cassidy and Alexander take an admirable risk.
The fact that both are such different men, and yet are both coming from a similar philosophy, is food for thought for the cynics among us.
Embraced by the Light: What Happens When You Die?
by Betty J Eadie
Bantam (1992) ) €10
The defining book of the genre; indeed, Eadie's book is arguably the thin edge of the wedge that opened up the publishing world to stories of this nature.
After having died on the operating table, Eadie returned to her beloved family with a precise and fully detailed account of her journey beyond the physical body, and back again.
Eadie's message is meant to be nondenominational, but she does fall into referencing specific elements of belief systems that may not resonate with everyone.
It's a shame, but her essential message of hope and healing rings true.
Invisible Acts of Power: personal choices that create miracles
by Carolyn Myss
Free Press (2005) €12.99
Sure, it's one thing to die and go to heaven, and then come back to tell the tale, but it is another to consciously make decisions that change the quality of your life.
Myss believes that we are all connected and, as such, can perform the acts of power of the title for ourselves and for one another.
While it may seem to err on the side of co-dependency -- putting other's well-being before our own -- a deeper reading renders several beautiful and simple ways to enhance one's own well-being.
Hidden Messages In Water
by Masuru Emoto
Atria Books (2004) €11.50
Still want proof? Emoto is a Japanese scientist who has investigated the effects of human thinking and emotion on the structure of water. What's the point, you wonder?
Well, think about how much of our physical bodies are made of water, and how much our thoughts may be affecting our health and well-being, and you've got an interesting area of investigation.
Chock full of photographic evidence, the book could use a higher standard of scientific explanation -- but then I suppose I'd just be complaining that the text was too dense.
This is very cool food for thought, nevertheless.