I'm a costume designer, makeup artist, teacher, mom, knitter, baker, want-to-learn-how-to-do-it-all

My photo
I'm a costume designer, makeup artist, teacher, mom, sewer, knitter, baker, want-to-learn-how-to-do-it-all, blogging, Costumed Beagle enthusiast. I am not always pleasant, although through intensive cupcake therapy I have learned not to throw knives at people anymore.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Book Review: Stiff; The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

Firstly, before you judge me for reading this book and Ms. Roach for writing it, I have just one word to say.....FASCINATING.

I really really enjoyed this book.  Well researched, well written.  Not morbid or gross or really even disturbing...which you might, at first glance, think would be included in a book about dead bodies.

She goes into detail about the uses for cadavers; research, anatomy labs, organ donation...all the usual suspects, but there really is a lot more to it.  She touches on the history and restrictions of early anatomists and their quest for knowledge about the human body and the difficulties and dark side in obtaining them.
She talks about mortuaries, forensic science (did you know there was a research program in Tennessee dedicated to the various ways and means of body decomposition?!?).
She talks to surgeons, the car industry, ballistics experts...she is very thorough.

She expresses her own concerns and uncomfortable moments which lends a very personal voice to something that could have been presented very journalistic or clinical.

I loved it.  She has other books too, to which I will be adding to my Goodreads list: Bonk; The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, Spook; Science Tackles the Afterlife, and Packing for Mars; The Curious Science of Life in the Void.  All look extremely interesting too.

Here is her website.  I highly recommend it.


  1. Sounds fascinating. I actually did know about the decomposition research facility in Tennessee. Saw it on Dirty Jobs. Maybe you should watch more TV.

    1. Dirty Jobs??? I'm glad I do not know what that is...I'll bet there are a ton of interesting shows out there, but I do not need more distractions in my life...
      When I was home visiting my sister she was watching one about people with weird disorders...weird and horrifying. One woman was eating her husband's ashes. So bizarre. And equally bizarre that there is a TV show that people volunteer to be on and that other's watch.

  2. Found your blog from Megan Jones' link on fb :) I've wanted to read all of Mary's books since I finished reading Packing for Mars and I really really loved it. It was so well researched and funny too.

    1. I heard an interview with her for that book on NPR awhile back....but when it came time to decide I went for the one with the more titillating cover. It is on my list though. Welcome to my blog. I'm trying to get Megan to do a guest appearance post for me later this week...

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.