Published by W. W. Norton Company on 2003
Challenge Theme: A book about science
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Stiff is an oddly compelling, often hilarious exploration of the strange lives of our bodies postmortem. For two thousand years, cadavers—some willingly, some unwittingly—have been involved in science’s boldest strides and weirdest undertakings. In this fascinating account, Mary Roach visits the good deeds of cadavers over the centuries and tells the engrossing story of our bodies when we are no longer with them.
When I saw I had to read a book about science for my challenge I was NOT excited. It just isn’t my thing. I picked this book because it sounded interesting and I definitely was not disappointed. First off I love the way Roach writes. She was clearly very informed on the subject and she writes with humor that makes something that may seem macabre, or at times boring, very enjoyable. She not only wrote about the different things that cadavers are used for in present day, she also talked about the history of each topic. I learned a lot that I never knew and while it didn’t make me want to donate my body to science, I definitely now want to donate my organs. I would be interested in checking out other books she has written and for me to want to read more books about science that shows how much this book kept my attention.
“The way I see it, being dead is not terribly far off from being on a cruise ship. Most of your time is spent lying on your back. The brain has shut down. The flesh begins to soften. Nothing much new happens, and nothing is expected of you.”
“It is astounding to me, and achingly sad, that with eighty thousand people on the waiting list for donated hearts and livers and kidneys, with sixteen a day dying there on that list, that more then half of the people in the position H’s family was in will say no, will choose to burn those organs or let them rot. We abide the surgeon’s scalpel to save our own lives, out loved ones’ lives, but not to save a stranger’s life. H has no heart, but heartless is the last thing you’d call her.”
“The human head is of the same approximate size and weight as a roaster chicken. I have never before had occasion to make the comparison, for never before today have I seen a head in a roasting pan.”
“Death. It doesn’t have to be boring.”
“The point is that no matter what you choose to do with your body when you die, it won’t, ultimately, be very appealing. If you are inclined to donate yourself to science, you should not let images of dissection or dismemberment put you off. They are no more or less gruesome, in my opinion, than ordinary decay or the sewing shut of your jaws via your nostrils for a funeral viewing.”