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Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers - Mary Roach

Just a quick review for this book.

You should really know what the book is about just from the title. Having said that, you should also know better than to eat while trying to read this book. I, however, did NOT know better. Trying to eat a turkey sandwich while reading about cannibalism and animal testing was an exercise in ultimate stupidity. But that's not really the point, is it?

I've read a couple of books about death, like The Lazarus Effect (but I have no idea who the author was or what the complete title was) and sure, of course they're morbid and a little scary but they're also really very interesting, and in the case of "Stiff", it was wonderfully humorous!

I know, so weird, right? A book about death being funny? But how else are we to examine something that literally means the end of everything for us? Besides, this isn't so much about death as it is about what happens AFTER we die.

Author Mary Roach interviews people and goes to places that I'd never even thought about. She attends a memorial ceremony that a California university medical students hold for their cadavers (you wouldn't believe how moving it was) and she interviews the people who work with cadavers in the automotive safety industry. She visits the famed Body Farm (you CSI devotees know what I'm talking about) and talks about scraping putrescence off of her shoes (Ewwww!) and then going to lunch afterwards (Double EWWWWW!). She details what happens when a body is cremated and what happens when they aren't. You find out how embalming helps and how it doesn't. She also looks at what the future choice we might have, other than simple burial.

There is SO much information in this book that even with all of the topics above, I've only scratched the surface of what the author covers.

I know that this is probably an unpalatable topic for a lot of people. But if you can get past your squeamishness, you'll be richly rewarded with a thoughtful, thoroughly researched and extremely funny treatise on what can happen after we die and how much control we can exert over that.

I would highly recommend this non-fiction book to anyone who has any kind of an interest in what happens after we die: whether you want to donate your body to science or just want to make things easy on your family. This book poses questions and gives answers but most importantly, makes us laugh about a subject that there is usually very little to laugh about.