Book Review: Stiff

STIFF | Mary Roach
04.17.2003 | W. W. Norton Company
Rating: 4/5 stars


Have you ever wondered what happens to our bodies if they’re donated to science? 

For years, the scientific field has been using cadavers, sometimes with or without approval, to make advances in many fields. This means those bodies are being used to test basically anything and everything. Mary Roach has undertaken an incredible deep-dive into the various uses and achievements cadavers have been able to accomplish throughout centuries inside the pages of STIFF.


Have you ever looked back at some of the books you’ve had on your TBR or Goodreads shelf to see what has been there the longest? I added STIFF to my to read list back in 2014 and finally got the motivation I needed to pick it up thanks to an Instagram read along (#bookishtruecrime). Over the last year I have actively been trying to incorporate more nonfiction into my reading life, which generally takes the form of true crime, one of my favorite addictions. While STIFF isn’t a book about true crime it has a related enough aspect that I quickly decided to take the leap to pick it up!

What did I find? I found an insanely detailed, yet uniquely funny and quirky collection of information within the pages of STIFF. Mary Roach took her writing and investigative process to great lengths, including traveling to very interesting places in order to give her readers a full picture of what happens to our bodies long after we leave them behind. The commitment to compiling this book is absolutely a feat that should be recognized. What I think deserves an even bigger nod is Mary Roach’s personality shining through in a book about what could be a very boring or mundane and even gross topic. Roach has an amazing sense of wit and isn’t afraid to crack a joke to lighten the mood. I couldn’t help but find myself laughing while listening to this book!


STIFF is definitely not going to be for everyone, but if you have even a small interest in the subject I highly recommend giving it a try! If you’re like me and struggle to stay focused when reading nonfiction, I cannot praise the narrator for the audiobook of this one enough. Shelly Frasier is an absolute gift and she brought such a great spirit to this book!

This book is available to buy from: Amazon | Book Depository

Disclosure: What Jess Reads is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This in no way influences my opinion of the above book.

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