Need A Good Stiff Bonk?

Posted on December 15, 2010 by

The push to get a few more books read before January is an odd sort of end-year resolution, and it prompts me to wonder if any of you has a similar deadline looming December 31st… something that isn’t work related, so much. Most of us decide to embark upon Personal Improvement during the holidays, and have forgotten all about it by April, am I right? Anyway, this is my quest. And I’ve failed, so far, to plump up my numbers by striking gold in the graphic novel dept: I did like Grandville, but I didn’t love it, and have set aside a bunch of the other prospects after 2-3 pages.

Before I read So Cold the River, I read Mary Roach’s Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. Roach is a rockin’ fusion of science journalist and comedian, as evidenced by the following Very Not Safe for Work TED Talk on orgasms:

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers covers bases I expected–cadaver research in a variety of contexts. It examined the ethics surrounding how donated bodies are used, stuff about Body Worlds, and lots of material on forensics, including the examination of decomposition by leaving corpses lying around outside. (You may have encountered this in procedural novels like The Body Farm). It also had plenty of things I’d never thought of: using corpses to make crash-test dummies, the cannibalistic use of bodies in medicine, for example, and a discussion of how much mercury is released into the atmosphere during your average cremation.

Intriguing, frequently guffaw-worthy and occasionally gross beyond words, Stiff
is a great read. I am planning to absorb Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife
and Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex in the near future.

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