Over the Christmas holiday, Audible.com was having a killer sale on audio books, and I picked up Stiff by Mary Roach. The title in and of itself is rather intriguing – Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers.
Okay, so I know what you're thinking – isn't that a bid morbid, not to mention disgusting? Well, in some parts – YES (I will spare the gory details). I found the book fascinating. The author's passion and pursuit of how medical science uses cadavers to help shape future doctors or figure out the best embalming practices or to study the decomposition of human flesh (sorry) or how clothes affect the decay process is quite fascinating.
My favorite part was hearing how the guillotine was used and how the brain could possibly restart, even after separation from the body, before 7 minutes was up. After 7 minutes, you were really dead – not to mention you didn't have a body to go along with that head – small minor detail.
Every body – cadaver – has a story. Some students name their cadavers, it helps humanize the process of dissection – it helps future doctors connect, if you will, in some strange way with their patient. They touch their cadavers, almost a gentle caress as if to say "it will be alright" – of course the bodies don't talk back (that would just be weird.)
I highly recommend this book in audio form, because the author reads it and you get all the curious inflections about what she thought was important. It is a fascinating listen or read. Enjoy!
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