Wishlist Wednesday

And now, for this week’s Wishlist Wednesday…

The concept is to post about one book from our wish lists that we can’t wait to read. Want to play? Here’s how:

  • Follow Pen to Paper as host of the meme.
  • Please consider adding the blog hop button to your blog somewhere, so others can find it easily and join in too! Help spread the word! The code will be at the bottom of the post under the linky.
  • Pick a book from your wishlist that you are dying to get to put on your shelves.
  • Do a post telling your readers about the book and why it’s on your wishlist.
  • Add your blog to the linky at the bottom of the post at Pen to Paper.
  • Put a link back to pen to paper (http://vogue-pentopaper.blogspot.com) somewhere in your post.
  • Visit the other blogs and enjoy!

My Wishlist Wednesday book is actually a two-fer:

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers (2003)

Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife (2005)

by Mary Roach



From Amazon, about Stiff:

Stiff is an oddly compelling, often hilarious exploration of the strange lives of our bodies postmortem. For two thousand years, cadavers—some willingly, some unwittingly—have been involved in science’s boldest strides and weirdest undertakings. They’ve tested France’s first guillotines, ridden the NASA Space Shuttle, been crucified in a Parisian laboratory to test the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin, and helped solve the mystery of TWA Flight 800. For every new surgical procedure, from heart transplants to gender reassignment surgery, cadavers have been there alongside surgeons, making history in their quiet way.

In this fascinating, ennobling account, Mary Roach visits the good deeds of cadavers over the centuries—from the anatomy labs and human-sourced pharmacies of medieval and nineteenth-century Europe to a human decay research facility in Tennessee, to a plastic surgery practice lab, to a Scandinavian funeral directors’ conference on human composting. In her droll, inimitable voice, Roach tells the engrossing story of our bodies when we are no longer with them.

Also from Amazon, about Spook:

The best-selling author of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers now trains her considerable wit and curiosity on the human soul. “What happens when we die? Does the light just go out and that’s that—the million-year nap? Or will some part of my personality, my me-ness persist? What will that feel like? What will I do all day? Is there a place to plug in my lap-top?” In an attempt to find out, Mary Roach brings her tireless curiosity to bear on an array of contemporary and historical soul-searchers: scientists, schemers, engineers, mediums, all trying to prove (or disprove) that life goes on after we die. She begins the journey in rural India with a reincarnation researcher and ends up in a University of Virginia operating room where cardiologists have installed equipment near the ceiling to study out-of-body near-death experiences. Along the way, she enrolls in an English medium school, gets electromagnetically haunted at a university in Ontario, and visits a Duke University professor with a plan to weigh the consciousness of a leech. Her historical wanderings unearth soul-seeking philosophers who rummaged through cadavers and calves’ heads, a North Carolina lawsuit that established legal precedence for ghosts, and the last surviving sample of “ectoplasm” in a Cambridge University archive.

Why do I want to read these two books?

Plain and simple, Mary Roach cracks me up. I have never laughed so hard over a science book as I did reading Roach’s Packing for Mars. (Come to think of it, I’m not sure that I’ve ever laughed while reading a science book, but my point remains.)

Mary Roach takes on a subject and then examines it from every possible angle, looking for all the scientific oddities that bring her subject to life. In Bonk, her subject was sex, and while some parts were particularly cringe-inducing (there are certain experiments that I just didn’t need to know about!), it was certainly never boring. Packing for Mars is a look at the science of human space travel, and it was hilarious. Plus, I learned a lot, such as the arduous process of inventing effective space toilets and what position to assume in order to increase the odds of surviving an elevator crash. (Answer: Lie flat on your back. There, maybe I’ve actually saved a life today!)

Stiff and Spook were Mary Roach’s first two books, and they’ve been on my shelf for years now. I don’t deviate from the fiction world very often, but I think these two books are a good reason to veer off a bit.

I leave you with a quote from Stiff: “Death. It doesn’t have to be boring.”



8 thoughts on “Wishlist Wednesday

  1. Roach sounds like a great author. i would never have picked either book up based on their covers. Great wishlists 🙂

    I’ve acutally linked to my own book. It’s on my wish list because I wish it was published. Right now it is just a free blog project. So if you feel like a ya fantasy read check it out and let me know what you think 🙂


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