‘Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers’ by Mary Roach

You must be thinking, “What in the world possessed you to read a book about cadavers?” The simple answer: curiosity. You can’t read a title such as this and not think, what lives do cadavers have? They are dead people. Plus, my book club mentioned that they had read this book previously and I figured it must be interesting if it was discussed in such a setting.

Honestly, I thought I knew everything I needed to know about cadavers. People die and they either get buried or get cremated. Some donate their organs to science. But as Roach points out, in a very unexpected detailed way, cadavers actually do a lot more than just that.

In fact, now that I have read this book, I feel I know everything I need to know about cadavers and the curious lives they lead, from being test dummies to improve driver safety and being subjects for medical students to practice skills on, to helping understand the different stages of decay and being part of experiments to see if cadaver parts can be used for transplants.

This was a surprisingly easy book to read. Usually with books about science, a reader can get bogged down with trying to understand all the scientific terminology, or in this case, medical terminology, that often has words so long, they make you tongue tied. However, Roach breaks everything down in layman’s terms that is easy to understand and sometimes, a little too detailed.

With such a morbid topic, it is inevitable that parts of this book were going to get a bit gross. If you are squeamish or get grossed out easily, you may want to forgo this book or enter with caution, especially the chapter called Eat Me. That’s right, Roach even goes into the history of cannibalism. Let’s just say I made sure I wasn’t eating when I reached this chapter. I’m actually glad she names the chapters to provide some bit of a warning of what you are about to get.

Overall, I thought it was an interesting book to read and I did learn some stuff I didn’t know. However, I don’t think it is a book that I would return to over and over again. I’m glad I read it but honestly, it’s a one and done.


One thought on “‘Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers’ by Mary Roach

  1. […] Yes I did read a book about cadavers. Why? Because why not? Roach had me at the title. I mean how interesting could a cadaver be. It’s a dead person. But oh though they may be dead, they definitely have their own story to tell, from what happens when they are donated to science to the experiments and more. This was definitely an interesting read as you can see in my full review. […]


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