Review: Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

Cover for Stiff The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

Title: Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers 

Author: Mary Roach

Narrator: Shelly Fraiser

Length: 8 hours

5 out of 5 stars
5 stars – I loved it!

“Death. It doesn’t have to be boring.”

In this informative and hilarious book, Mary Roach discusses the lives of cadavers from past to present. With detailed descriptions of experimentations, organ donation, and other options that can happen to cadavers, she takes us on a journey of the human body after death, but only if you choose that route. 

“We are biology. We are reminded of this at the beginning and the end, at birth and at death. In between we do what we can to forget.”

This was a fascinating and slightly disturbing book. It is not a comfortable read (or listen) but it is fascinating and informative. I never knew there were so many possibilities for cadavers. I loved Roach’s blend of information and humor because it makes learning about an uncomfortable topic fun. 

“When you get right down to it, there is no dignified way to go, be it decomposition, incineration, dissection, tissue digestion, or composting. They’re all, bottom line, a little disagreeable. It takes the careful application of a well-considered euphemism—burial, cremation, anatomical gift-giving, water reduction, ecological funeral—to bring it to the point of acceptance.”

This book has changed my perspective on donation and it makes me consider even more what I want to do with my body when I die. I know I don’t want to be embalmed but this might be a viable option, and it would help others.  I highly recommend this book, especially if you want to learn about other options for your dead body. 

Trigger Warnings: graphic experimentations on animals (both live and dead) and cadavers

Goodreads / Amazon

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