April 10, 2011

Stiff

I've had this on my TBR pile for a while.  I don't know what took me so long to read it.  It's right up my alley.  I love a breezy, fun non-fiction book in which the author is just indulging in satisfying her curiosity and taking us along for the ride.

Of course, Mary Roach was curious about what happens to dead bodies after they are donated to science so it's probably an either love it or hate it proposition as to whether you want to read this.

Subject matter aside, I love her style and will be reading her other books for sure. She does for scientific curiosity (and curiosities) what Sara Vowell does for American history.

Now I know you're wondering about the mix of her funny writing and the subject matter of dead people.  Is she disrespectful?  I didn't think so.  She often talked about if she would be comfortable or not either being the subject or having a family member be the subject of any given experiment.  She also discusses the great lengths many of the researchers go to keep everything as dignified as possible.

Then of course, beyond the humor and the interesting subject matter there's the scientific knowledge we're continually gaining from our dead fellow humans.  It's all amazing and worthwhile.  Safer car crashes, better body armor, better footwear for land mine sweepers, along with much, much more.

You don't have to donate your body to science, of course.  I'd be happy to, but that's an entirely personal decision.  I do, however, heartily wish everyone was at least an organ donor as a matter of course.  There's really no good reason not to and it's so needed.