Stiff by Mary Roach: Book Review

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4 Stars

Chalk this up to a win for the GoodReads friends.

I would never have picked this up on my own. A book about cadavers? How morbid can you be? Not to mention the heebie-jeebies that would be sure to haunt me throughout the book.

But so many people have read this and raved about it that I decided to go ahead and give it a try.

It’s somehow hilarious. But not disrespectful. And odd. And hilarious. And hard to describe.

With chapters ranging from human decay, to body snatching, live burial, and new ways to “dispose” of human remains, I never realized that there were so many aspects of death to think about.

I can’t say that I was completely comfortable with all the topics covered (I really don’t need to know exactly what happens to a decomposing body), but neither did anything give me too bad a case of the heebie jeebies.

I was surprised by how interesting I found most of the topics to be. There’s a lot of history, anecdotes, trivia, and science crammed into this book.

If you think you can handle it, and most people probably can, I recommend this for an upfront look at a topic most of us avoid.

Read an excerpt.

Find author Mary Roach on her website, her blog, and Twitter.

I read this for my own Dewey Decimal Challenge.

Buy Stiff at

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop’s, my local independent bookstore, and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site.

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  1. I read two of her other books and loved them. I didn't pick this one up because I was worried it might be a little too high on the gross meter for me. Sounds like I can handle it as long as I stay away from it at lunch. 🙂

  2. I've been meaning to pick this one up for a while. A friend of mine once considered a career as a coroner and the topic still interests her to this day. She read this about a year ago and said that it was amazing and that I needed to read it. Can't say it's something that I'm all that interested in but it really does sound like it would be a, uh, unique read.

  3. Mary Roach is just an awesome writer. I read her Packing For Mars recently and loved it. Her other books Bonk about sex and Spook about the paranormal are equally exciting and interesting! Great review!

  4. I wouldn't have picked this one up either but like you and others, I've seen so many positive reviews that I'll just have to give it a try…

  5. I liked this one quite a bit too. It was a fascinating look at a subject most people would never bother to study with such depth and I did like Roach's sense of humor throughout. Great review!

  6. This has been on my TBR pile for awhile, largely for the same reason you decided to give it a try! Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for a great review!

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