Book Club Books / Karen / Nonfiction / Nonfiction Book Club / Science

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

Stiff_The_Curious_Lives_of_Human_Cadavers_coverThis title was discussed at the Bartlett Library’s non-fiction book discussion on February 22, 2016.

Stiff is, simply put, a book about dead bodies and how we, in this country, treat and feel about them.  Reading about such taboo subjects as decomposition and dissection made for a lively discussion!

Highlights included:

Whether or not you would consider leaving your body to science after reading this book and knowing what could potentially happen to your remains. The participants had mixed feelings, with religion being at the forefront regarding burial of remains.

How well did you handle the “gory” parts? How well did the author explain these not-very-often spoken-about subjects? All in all, Mary Roach did a good job of describing various situations without grossing out the reader too much.

Did you know the various ways in which cadavers are now used? Most of the participants did not. It was interesting to find out that the military uses cadavers to test out not only weapons but protective items as well. And how sometimes there is not much left of a cadaver for a family to bury.

What surprised you the most out of everything you learned? The participants seemed surprised at how much respect the cadavers were given.

Was there a specific area for the book that you liked the most?  Definitely the history of grave robbing and death rituals were high on everyone’s list.


Were you glad you read it? Would you read this author again? Yes and yes to both answers by all those that attended.


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