Title: Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
Author: Mary Roach
Narrator: Shelly Frasier
Published: 2003 Pages: 304
Audio Duration: 7 hrs; 59 min
In Short: Everything you wanted to know about what happens to the body after death. Also a look at how cadavers and various parts of cadavers are used in science and research.
Why I Listened: I don’t remember whose blog I first saw this on–maybe it was Chris’s? Anyway, let’s just chalk it up to Blogger Influence.
Thoughts in General: Who knew that dead bodies could be so fascinating? In Stiff, Mary Roach provides more information on cadavers than you could shake a stick at. She explores the way that cadavers have been used in research from airplane and automobile crashes to gunshot wounds. Readers will learn about grave robbers and ancient methods of preserving a body, different methods of disposal of bodies after death and where the soul truly resides. The entire book is absolutely fascinating and while some of it did make me a bit squeamish (I’ll never be able to listen to the sound of Rice Krispies the same), Stiff was too interesting for me to turn away.
Bottom Line: What kind of person willingly wants to read about dead people? I don’t know. I have been trying to convince my brother, who is interested in forensics, to read this one, but he just looks at me like “What the hell kind of book are you listening to?” But Stiff is seriously fascinating stuff! And had I paid a bit more attention (see note below about distracted listening), I would have been able to repeat all sorts of “Did you know?” tidbits in random conversation. And while Stiff is a bit of an information overload, Roach’s style is never dry and dull. Readers (or listeners) of Stiff will be entertained and informed. What more can you ask for?
A Note on the Audio: My friend asked how I’m currently listening to audiobooks. In a word: slowly. Most days Evie and I take a morning walk and I listen to my audio on my phone. At first I was listening without any headphones but it was too difficult to hear the audio when a car drove by. Now I listen with one earbud in so I can still hear Evie. It’s very distracted listening but I can’t figure out when else to listen without compromising my ears. Oh yes, the actual audio. I enjoyed Shelly Frasier’s narration of Stiff. Her voice is soft which makes the narration about dead bits seem a bit more personal rather than textbook.
Have you read Stiff or anything else by Mary Roach? What do you recommend?