7 August 2014
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
Students tend to moan and groan about summer assignments, and I was doing just that when I discovered that I had to read a nonfiction book this summer. Originally, I pictured the books on the list as tedious and boring textbooks. To my surprise, the book descriptions intrigued me, especially Mary Roach’s Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, a book about the various scenarios for human bodies after people pass away. I mainly selected this particular book because I got my instructional permit recently and I checked the “Organ Donor” box on my form without fully understanding the implications of my decision. I was curious to learn about all the possible paths that human bodies travel on after death. While I mostly enjoyed Roach’s style of writing because she writes in a simple way that is easy to understand. For example, Roach breaks down the basics of being brain-dead and organ harvesting procedures (167 – 170) in a way that even middle schoolers can comprehend. Focusing on learning new material is already difficult enough without the added burden of deciphering sentences riddled with challenging words. Additionally, I liked how Roach includes so much research and facts in Stiff because it proves to me that the material in this book is solid. I enjoyed the numerous historical pieces she included in the book, such as several people simulated crucifixions with both live and dead bodies to prove the Shroud of Turin’s authenticity (160). One of the few complaints I have about Stiff is Roach’s unsuccessful attempts at lightening the mood. The topic of death is already depressing enough without someone attempting to compare being dead to being on a cruise ship because “most of your time is spent lying on your back” (19). Her predictable jokes failed to make me smile, but made me grimace in discomfort instead. Another thing I disliked about this book is the...
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