A few years back, someone recommended I read Stiff – The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, so I put it on my Amazon Wish List, where it sat for five long years. It wasn’t until Pa and I were at Bailey Coy, when I recognized its cover—a pair of feet adorned with a toe tag and attached to a sheet-draped body that I remembered the book. As I perused, most notably, through the pages where she interviews the forensics expert for the TWA Flight 800 crash, I had a feeling that Stiff would be the kind of book I wouldn’t want to put down until I finished.
Little did I know that Mary Roach has a knack for making one laugh out loud while reading about the dead. But she writes with a great deal of respect, as Stiff is more of a celebration of those who, in death, made vast contributions to science. Toward the end of the book, she discusses the relatively new and controversial, yet ecologically friendly method of human composting, and I thought, what a great way to ensure reincarnation. Die as a human, come back as a rose bush! It’s perfect.
Just a week after I finished Stiff, I learned that Mary Roach was going to be in town, promoting her new book, Bonk—The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex. So, last night, I made the trek to Town Hall to hear about her research for the book which, reading about in Stiff, was half the fun.
Mary had the audience laughing quite a bit, and she is as engaging in person as she is in her work. She admitted that Bonk was a difficult book to research because sex is difficult for scientists to research. It’s not like scores of people are willing to sign up and participate in studies, especially when the studies include having sex in front of one or more researchers. Mary figured this out, first hand, disclosing that she and her husband were participants in a study, which is discussed in a chapter of Bonk. You can also listen more about it during a recent interview on NPR.
If you have the chance to see Mary during her book tour, you should. I was bummed that there wasn't a book signing after her talk, but I intend to bypass my Amazon Wish List and pick up a copy of Bonk as soon as I can.