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Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers…

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers (2003)

by Mary Roach

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8,501399587 (4.1)556
  1. 121
    Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach (alaskabookworm)
  2. 31
    The Mummy Congress: Science, Obsession, and the Everlasting Dead by Heather Pringle (FFortuna)
  3. 31
    A Traffic of Dead Bodies: Anatomy and Embodied Social Identity in Nineteenth-Century America by Michael Sappol (meggyweg)
  4. 20
    Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: These engaging, unusual accounts deal with the human body after death. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes wittily relates the work of an assistant in a crematorium, while Stiff presents an entertaining account of what happens with cadavers.
  5. 21
    Lenin's Embalmers by Ilya Zbarsky (bertilak)
  6. 00
    Shocked : adventures in bringing back the recently dead by David Casarett M.D. (PuddinTame)
    PuddinTame: If you liked either on of these books, I recommend trying the other author. Both offer nitty-gritty medical details leavened with humor, which helps make the gross details more bearable. For my money, Mary Roach is funnier, but I thoroughly enjoyed both authors… (more)
  7. 00
    Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner by Judy Melinek (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  8. 11
    The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York by Deborah Blum (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  9. 00
    The Shadow King: The Bizarre Afterlife of King Tut's Mummy by Jo Marchant (sboyte)
  10. 11
    No Stone Unturned: The Story of Necrosearch International Investigators by Steve Jackson (grizzly.anderson)
  11. 22
    The Dead Janitors Club: Pathetically True Tales of a Crime Scene Cleanup King by Jeff Klima (infiniteletters)
  12. 01
    Never Suck A Dead Man's Hand: Curious Adventures of a CSI by Dana Kollmann (meggyweg)
  13. 01
    The Red Market: On the Trail of the World's Organ Brokers, Bone Thieves, Blood Farmers, and Child Traffickers by Scott Carney (meggyweg)
  14. 02
    The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean by Susan Casey (MyriadBooks)
  15. 14
    Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell (jbarry)

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» See also 556 mentions

English (394)  Italian (4)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (400)
Showing 1-5 of 394 (next | show all)
What can I say, the lives of cadavers are surprisingly curious! I was interested and amused right the way through, with the possible exception of parts of chapter 10 (human dumplings...gack!). Roach has a way of writing that is quite conversational with snippets of her humor infused throughout.

I always said that I wanted to be cremated and dumped somewhere cool, like the ocean, or off a cliff up the Columbia Gorge. It's cheaper, plus the thought of moldering away was rather gross. I know it won't be "me" anymore, but still, Night of the Living Dead face rot? No, thank you! This book made me see that there are WAY more options than I was considering.

I am an organ donor. After all I won't need any of it; I figure if any of my parts will help keep someone else going, have at it! That part hasn't changed (other than the fact that the older I get the less likely it is that anyone would want any of my bits). But, why not just donate the whole thing? Do you know that you can be plasticized and stay pretty much the way you were at death for about 50,000 years? You could teach legions of future doctors where the spleen is located! Alternately, you can just let them cut you up in anatomy class...I wasn't quite so keen on that. In the end I have decided I'd like to be composted, via the Swedish technique of being frozen in liquid nitrogen, shattered by sonic or ultrasound, freeze dried and then planted with a tree or shrub. I told my husband I'd like to be a weeping willow, I love those! One of y'all can have my liver first though.

If you're not overly squeamish, or a big baby about things that could be construed as "morbid", then I totally recommend this book. ( )
  Amelia1989 | Jun 10, 2019 |
Mary Roach does an admirable job covering a lot of ground (a lot of underground?) in this book. It's humorous in a dry way, not the laugh-out-loud funny I was led to expect...but it's a book about corpses so maybe that's a bit demanding.

Roach does a great job offering facts peppered with dark humor so it doesn't come across as text book clinical, but somehow you manage to learn something.

There's a coincidence worth mentioning *spoiler alert*: I had this as a car book, meaning I'd read a few pages when my wife ran into a store or I was waiting to pick up the kids, etc. So it was over the course of two months maybe that I read this. The very same day I read the chapter on composting bodies, where Roach interviewed people and they said it was unlikely to ever happen in the U.S., there was a news article that Washington state that talked about how they just legalized composting bodies. So...it took 15 years from the mention in this book, but it happened! ( )
  Sean191 | May 30, 2019 |
A great read even for someone who is not interested in the medical profession. Mary roach's writing style brings mirth into a topic which considered gross by many. She has put the history of using cadavers as a tool for development of medical sciences in the most informative and enjoyable way passible.

A good read and enjoyed every bit of it. ( )
  jaeger84 | May 26, 2019 |
highly recomend it! You have to have a strong stomache though. ( )
  ISCCSandy | Apr 9, 2019 |
highly recomend it! You have to have a strong stomache though. ( )
  ISCCSandy | Apr 9, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 394 (next | show all)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393324826, Paperback)

"One of the funniest and most unusual books of the year....Gross, educational, and unexpectedly sidesplitting."—Entertainment Weekly

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. They've tested France's first guillotines, ridden the NASA Space Shuttle, been crucified in a Parisian laboratory to test the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin, and helped solve the mystery of TWA Flight 800. For every new surgical procedure, from heart transplants to gender reassignment surgery, cadavers have been there alongside surgeons, making history in their quiet way.

In this fascinating, ennobling account, Mary Roach visits the good deeds of cadavers over the centuries—from the anatomy labs and human-sourced pharmacies of medieval and nineteenth-century Europe to a human decay research facility in Tennessee, to a plastic surgery practice lab, to a Scandinavian funeral directors' conference on human composting. In her droll, inimitable voice, Roach tells the engrossing story of our bodies when we are no longer with them.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:43 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

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.… (more)

» see all 6 descriptions

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W.W. Norton

2 editions of this book were published by W.W. Norton.

Editions: 0393324826, 0393050939

Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.

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