Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

“We are biology. We are reminded of this at the beginning and the end, at birth and at death. In between we do what we can to forget.”
― Mary Roach, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach is non-fiction work first published in 2003. It details the unique scientific contributions of the deceased.

Yeah. . Umm…This was a really strange book and I really liked it although I wouldn’t recommend reading my review with a cup of coffee…or anything edible.

Opening line of the book: “The way I see it, being dead is not terribly far off from being on a cruise ship. Most of your time is spent lying on your back.The brain has shut down. The flesh begins to soften. Nothing much new happens, and nothing is expected of you.” is probably what got me into this book. Roach has a very different approach to the topic and she’s very humorous about that approach.

Stiff covers a wide set of topics. Starting from the beginning of dissecting bodies and how body snatching occurred. Before the Anatomy Act of 1832, the only legal supply of corpses for anatomical purposes in the UK were those condemned to death and dissection by the courts. And this was considered fate worse than death because how can you get to heaven if you’re all chopped up? So they had to steal bodies from cemeteries. Renowned doctors would criticize this in public and support it monetarily in private… I’m glad how times have changed and how doctors and surgeons don’t have to go in blind.

“The human head is of the same approximate size and weight as a roaster chicken. I have never before had occasion to make the comparison, for never before today have I seen a head in a roasting pan.”
― Mary Roach, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

Then, we move onto how cadavers for used as crash test dummies. You could use normal dummies but then you wouldn’t know which bones are most likely to crush in a car accident. And then all the other interesting topics like: crucifixion experiments, beating heart cadavers, decapitation, cannibalism and alternative ways to burying and cremation…

This is a terribly important book. And I think it’s good to get out of your comfort zone (very much so with this one) and to think differently about some issue. I think for so many years, this was exactly the reason why dissecting humans was not allowed. Because people found it unmoral. But is it worse than letting people die? And they tried to learn by using pigs or primates and obviously unsuccessfully. Even if the dead feet here are quite disgusting…in the end, they’re just feet.

Stiff was very entertaining read. I never would have expected to like this book this much.
4/5 stars

How-To Read Stiff
1.
It’s great nonfiction. But you kind of need to stomach the topic first. Stop thinking of corpses and start thinking about cadavers who have a lot to tell us. Stop thinking about all the reasons why they are now what they are…
2. Then you will start wonder why things like dead bodies are funny. Or maybe it’s Roach’s storytelling. Either way, it’s ok. It happens.
3. I liked the audio version. Maybe reading all the “cadaver” words wasn’t as gross as hearing them?

“Death. It doesn’t have to be boring.”
― Mary Roach, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

Featured image: In the morgue by Allsha Vargas (link)

Eragon

“First, let no one rule your mind or body. Take special care that your thoughts remain unfettered… . Give men your ear, but not your heart. Show respect for those in power, but don’t follow them blindly. Judge with logic and reason, but comment not. Consider none your superior whatever their rank or station in life. Treat all fairly, or they will seek revenge. Be careful with your money. Hold fast to your beliefs and others will listen.”
― Christopher Paolini, Eragon

Eragon is the first novel in the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. Shortly about the plot, the book tells the story of a farm boy named Eragon who lives in a small village in the kingdom of Alagaësia. In the very beginning of the book, Eragon finds a mysterious stone. Or so it appears until Eragon realizes it’s not a stone but an egg. A dragon egg which should not be possible as dragons have long disappeared from Alagaësia. The reason for their extinction is a dragon rider Galbatorix who killed all the dragon riders and their dragons and crowned himself king. Of course, Galbatorix soon finds out about Eragon and Saphira and wants to hunt them down.

“The greatest enemy is one that has nothing to lose.”
― Christopher Paolini, Eragon

I first read Eragon when I was 13 and back then I was immediately hooked by this story and it’s just impossible not to adore Saphira. I was so enamored with her, that I used her name + some characters as my first nickname in various internet pages. Reading and reviewing Eragon now, ten years later, is harder than I expected. There are issues with Eragon and you have to keep in mind that Christopher was only 15 when he wrote Eragon (I was so jealous of that fact). Sometimes the pace of the book is very fast and sometimes one event seems to go on for tens of pages. Writing is a bit clumsy and there are grammatical errors.

“It’s amazing that a man who is dead can talk to people through these pages. As long as this books survives, his ideas live.”
― Christopher Paolini, Eragon

Where the magic of Eragon lies, is the interaction between Eragon and Saphira.  Their relationship is everything you want a creature and a human to have. And I love how they’re similar, yet different in many aspects and how they grow in the story.

5/5 stars

How-To Read Eragon
1.
If you love Lord of the Rings, Dragonlance or Earthsea series, I’m sure you’ll adore the Inheritance Cycle. There are similarities between this one and LotR that may annoy some readers, yet I think that if you read enough of books, you’ll see that there are nothing but similarities everywhere. 
2.
This is a wonderful read for fantasy lovers and especially for dragon lovers. Though the length of the book is not very easy.
3.
You can read a sample chapter of the book by clicking here.
4.
There’s a movie adaptation yay. The movie got mostly unfavorable reviews. I just don’t get why they always fail with movie adaptations of great books like this.
5.
 Eragon is the first part of the Inheritance Cycle, so if you liked this, you’ll have 3 more books to go.

“Books are my friends, my companions. They make me laugh and cry and find meaning in life.”
― Christopher Paolini, Eragon

Have you read Eragon? Who is your favorite dragon in literature?

The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up

“Dreams do come true, if only we wish hard enough. You can have anything in life if you will sacrifice everything else for it.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Peter Pan; or, the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up or Peter and Wendy is J. M. Barrie’s most famous work, in the form of a 1904 play and a 1911 novel. It tells the story of Peter Pan, a mischievous little boy who can fly, and has many adventures on the island of Neverland that is inhabited by mermaids, fairies, Native Americans, and pirates.

“Second star to the right and straight on ’til morning. ”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

I think Peter Pan was something that I first learned about through Disney’s film adaptation many years ago. I think no matter in what format you first learned about this story, it will always be a story of making the impossible possible by believing. And that one must believe in fairies.

“When the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

There are many magical things about Peter Pan’s story. The story is wonderful. Something magical happens and three ordinary kids are taken to a magical land. The Neverland and to find it you must find the second star to the right and straight on ’til morning. And there they encounter many different kinds of adventures.

“Stars are beautiful, but they may not take part in anything, they must just look on forever.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Characters are one of a kind, I think. There’s the one and only boy who would not grow up, Peter Pan, a young boy dressed in leaves and the only one able to fly without the help of Tinker Bell’s golden fairy dust. And Tinker Bell. I understand very well why she became the messenger of Disney’s magic. She’s no fancy fairy, she mends pots and kettles and even though she’s usually helpful and kind to Peter, from time to time she’s also ill-behaved and vindictive.

“Tink was not all bad: or, rather, she was all bad just now, but, on the other hand, sometimes she was all good. Fairies have to be one thing or the other, because being so small they unfortunately have room for one feeling only at a time. They are, however, allowed to change, only it must be a complete change.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Then there’s The Darling Family and the children: John, Michael & Wendy Darling. The lattest one is the eldest one of the children who likes the idea of homemaking and wants to be a mother which she sort of also becomes for the Lost Boys. I never liked Wendy’s character for some reason. & The Lost Boys, sad but fascinating idea about how they turned up in Neverland. And then also one of my all-time favorite villains: Captain James Hook. Who wants to kill Peter Pan. Not so much because Peter cut off his right hand but because Peter drives him to madness. Oh and the ticking crocodile.

“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

I really adore Peter Pan, however, I can’t quite bring myself to give it 5 stars review as there were a couple of things that I did not like: Wendy was really annoying and the last chapter of the story was also rather annoying. I think perhaps the book would have been better without it. And then the background of this story is a sad one.

“To live will be an awfully big adventure.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

4/5 stars

How-To Read Peter Pan
1.
A dear child has many names. This novel goes by different titles such as: Peter Pan or Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up or Peter and Wendy. If you’re looking for one with illustrations you might want to look for Peter & Wendy.
2.
There are two prequels to Peter Pan’s story called: Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens: “Before he flew away to Neverland, the little boy who wouldn’t grow up dwelt in the heart of London, with birds and fairies as his companions.” and  The Little White Bird where only few chapters are about Peter Pan and the rest focus on Barrie’s ponderings. I think only Peter Pan’s story matters but if you’re a fan, I warmly recommend the first part too.
3.
You can read and download Peter Pan and all the other works by J.M. Barrie for free at Project Gutenberg: https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/16
4.
Don’t get me started about Disney’s adaptation. I love it. And it’s nice to read the story after you’ve seen the film. The novel is a bit darker.
5. Clap your hands and say, ‘I believe in fairies!’

“Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Thoughts? Did you first read Peter Pan or see the Disney adaptation of it?

Top Ten Folio Society Covers

As always, Top Ten Tuesday meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is: “Cover Theme Freebie: literally anyyyything about covers….top ten covers that scream Spring, ten books with ice cream on the cover, ten books with blue covers, etc. etc.” I decided to show you all my favorite Folio Society covers….now I still have to save enough of money to buy all these pretty babies.

1.  Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Illustrated by Illustrated by Andrew Davidson

“The impossible could not have happened, therefore the impossible must be possible in spite of appearances.”
― Agatha Christie, Murder on the Orient Express

2. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll
Illustrated by John Tenniel

“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

3. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Illustrated by Dave McKean

“Hey,” said Shadow. “Huginn or Muninn, or whoever you are.”
The bird turned, head tipped, suspiciously, on one side, and it stared at him with bright eyes.
“Say ‘Nevermore,'” said Shadow.
“Fuck you,” said the raven.”
― Neil Gaiman, American Gods

4. The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
Illustrated by Maurice and Edward J. Detmold

“Now, don’t be angry after you’ve been afraid. That’s the worst kind of cowardice.”
― Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book

5. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Illustrated by Anna and Elena Balbusso

“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”
― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

6.  The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Illustrated by Sam Wolfe Connelly

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

7. The Shining by Stephen King
Illustrated by Edward Kinsella

 “Wendy? Darling? Light, of my life. I’m not gonna hurt ya. I’m just going to bash your brains in.”
― Stephen King, The Shining

8.  A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
Illustrated by Ben Jones

“The important thing is moral choice. Evil has to exist along with good, in order that moral choice may operate. Life is sustained by the grinding opposition of moral entities.”
― Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange

9. Mort by Terry Pratchett
Illustrated by Omar Rayyan

“Albert grunted. “Do you know what happens to lads who ask too many questions?”
Mort thought for a moment.
“No,” he said eventually, “what?”
There was silence.
Then Albert straightened up and said, “Damned if I know. Probably they get answers, and serve ’em right.”
― Terry Pratchett, Mort

10. The Narrative  of Arthur Gordon Pym by Edgar Allan Poe
Illustrated by David Lupton

“Sensations are the great things, after all. Should you ever be drowned or hung, be sure and make a note of your sensations; they will be worth to you ten guineas a sheet.”
― Edgar Allan Poe, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket and Related Tales

All pictures from Folio Society website.
Happy TTT!