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What I’m Reading: Stiff

The first book I finished in 2019 was Stiff: The Curious Life of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach and I have to say it was slightly disappointing. I was so excited to read this one as I’ve been lucky enough to benefit from cadavers in my anatomy lab and it didn’t live up to my expectations. This was the non-fiction book I selected for my book club and luckily they picked Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine instead, I may not have been allowed to choose another book.

Before I get into the book itself, I’ll explain what I was looking for. Retrospectively, my expectations are kind of unrealistic. I was looking for the backstory to Gail, Ruth, Richard, or Robert- the cadavers we see in class. I wanted a book that gave me the backstory of how a librarian becomes a cadaver. The story of how the charter boat captain with PAD found his way into my anatomy lab. I wanted the biography of someone who I don’t even know their real name (we only use first names to protect their identity). I wanted to learn how they were embalmed, wound up at the medical school and then transported to my school. Although I have asked my anatomy professor and she said the two bodies that are new this semester were dropped off while we were all in class his summer! So you see, my expectations were slightly unrealistic and now I’ll get into the actual book.

There were parts that really intrigued me but there were parts that I wanted to skip over completely.

Here are the topics that fascinated me:

  • The first chapter started out really strong: the use of cadavers so that surgeons can practice their skills. I found this section particularly interesting because it surrounded plastic surgery and using cadaver heads. This was particularly interesting to me because we cover the head all year. I love anatomy lab but I think I would feel very differently if we dissected this part.
  • Later in the book it talked about crucifixion experiments. I found this chapter intriguing because it talked about the physics and physiology of crucifixion. There have been multiple people that have studied the nail placement and this chapter was a quick look into the research that has been done using cadaver arms as well as the living.

The topics that were interesting but went on for too long:

  • The use of cadavers as crash test dummies. The Test Track dummies you find in Epcot are used along with cadavers to make sure your car has a high vehicle safety rating. I’m not even going to hide the fact that Test Track is the reason I was interested in this section at all. I imagined all of the impact testing that use to be featured in the queue line and replaced the dummies with cadavers.
  • This is another one that had never crossed my mind: using cadavers to analyze a crash site. The bodies at the site of a wreck can give you as much information as the black box can. The most interesting thing from this section in my opinion: bodies found in the water.

The topics that I really could have lived without:

  • Army tests in cadavers. Don’t get me wrong I think this is very important research that needs to be done but even though I read this chapter yesterday I couldn’t tell you too much about it. This is another thing I didn’t even know you could use cadavers for and although it’s an interesting concept I didn’t retain anything.
  • Cannibalism for wellness. I don’t even think I need to expand on this one.

So if you’re looking for the story of Gail, Ruth, Richard, or Robert… this isn’t the book for you. There are still six topics left to be discovered in this book and I suggest you go for the topics that interest you. I personally felt that this book took me forever to get through and I would have enjoyed it more if I read the parts that intrigued me and skipped over the extra ten pages on crash test dummies.

While this wasn’t one of my favorite reads I am glad I read it as it expanded my view of cadavers. Going into this read my only knowledge of them was being wheeled out of a freezer and peeling the skin back to pin muscles but now I can appreciate more areas of science that I didn’t know existed.

A question you may be asking is will I do it? This is a question that Roach answered in her book and I thought it would be fitting to share my point of view. Nope. Probably not. Once you donate your body to science there are a number of places you could end up. While I’ve benefitted from dissection in anatomy lab and plasticized brain tissues in my neuro lab, I wouldn’t want the Mark Sloan’s of the world practicing their Botox skills on me. And I’ve learned from this book that while I could mark off certain things I wouldn’t want to end up doing there’s no guarantee some future PT would learn about the origins and insertions of all the muscles from me and that’s the thing I would want the most. But sign me up for organ donation… in fact I just donated blood today!

Happy reading! Let me know what’s on your to be read shelf in the comments!

xox,

Marissa

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Uncategorized, What I'm Reading

What I’m Reading: The Dinner List

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle

I discovered The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle from @between2covers_ on Instagram. I’ve discovered so many bookstagrams recently and I’ve made a bad habit out of adding these snaps to my saved list… it’s only bad because my reading list had at least quadrupled. 

I’ll admit what drew me to this book was Audrey Hepburn on the cover but I was reeled in after learning more about it. The Dinner List is about Sabrina who gets to live out the age old icebreaker question of having 5 people, living or dead, with her for dinner. 

The main character, Sabrina, chose four people she knew and Audrey Hepburn to join her for dinner in an old school assignment. Little did she know, that school assignment would come to life on her birthday years later. The book alternates between the present, the dinner party, and the past, her life surrounding her boyfriend Tobias. I really enjoyed the premise of the book and I loved that the chapters alternated between “reality” and Sabrina’s past because you got to understand the way her mind worked better. But, about halfway through the book I was over it. I was left feeling like Sabrina’s friend Jessica and I was ready to kick Tobias out of the party myself. To me it felt like Sabrina was so infatuated with the idea of him rather than in love with him. 

I have to say, although I was over it halfway through, I would have to recommend this to anyone looking for something to read because isn’t that what a book is meant to do? To make you feel something? Serle did such a great job creating unique and frustratingly-wonderful characters that I was moved and truly felt like I was the seventh person at this birthday dinner. 

I was so immersed in this book, if I hadn’t read it in the middle of my semester I would have finished it in a day. It may be practically winter but this would make the perfect beach read!

Happy reading!

xox, 

Marissa

Uncategorized, What I'm Reading

What I’m Reading: Crazy Rich Asians

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Happy What I’m Reading Wednesday! My newest read was Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan. I picked this one up on the Vineyard when I got Hope Never Dies a few weeks ago. I saw this on the shelf and knew I needed it. I really wanted to see the movie once I saw the commercials with Ken Jeong in them!

I absolutely adored this book! It brought me back to middle school when I was reading the Clique books but on a whole new level! Massie Block’s chauffeur has nothing on the Young family’s Gurkhas, lady’s maids, and private jets. The characters in this book really are crazy rich and it transports you into a whole new world. It also feels slightly Gatsby-esque being centered around the biggest wedding of the century- sorry Will & Kate and Harry & Meghan!

This book follows Rachel Chu (not of the Taiwanese Chus) to Singapore where she meets her boyfriend, Nick Young’s family. While they’ve been dating for awhile, Rachel does not know too much about Nick’s family. She’s in for quite the shock when she finds out just how crazy rich the Youngs are. Rachel then navigates how she can fit into this world that seems a lot farther away than NYC.

My favorite part of this book was towards the end, it seems like the story is wrapping up but Kwan throws in a few more plot twists before he ends it. With the way the story ended I cannot wait to get started on China Rich Girlfriend. 

Just a warning, at first the book can be a little much. You are introduced to a whirlwind of characters and there are several narrators. Personally I think that just adds to the story, it truly feels like you are Rachel, being thrown into this complicated family. You learn more about the inner workings of the clan by being able to learn about Nick Your and his many cousins, aunts, and childhood friends.

The Young’s world is very intriguing and I promise if you pick this book up you won’t want to put it down!

Happy reading!

xox,

Marissa

Uncategorized, What I'm Reading

What I’m Reading: Hope Never Dies

I found this book in Bunch of Grapes in Vineyard Haven and the “An Obama Biden Mystery” that pulled me to pick it up. Once I picked it up I was hooked. I needed to know what happens. It was just published in July of this year and I think it’s bound to be a hit. In an NPR interview with Shaffer, the author, he says he’s working on a sequel that takes place in Chicago, I’ll be counting down the days. Personally, I’m hoping for a movie with Obama and Biden playing themselves in 2020. I couldn’t imagine a better way to spend the election year.

This book actually had me laughing out loud. It doesn’t matter if you’re an elephant, a donkey, or something in between you’ll either be laughing at the BROTUS (Bromance of the U.S.) or at how he appears like he doesn’t know what’s happening. The Bidenisms in this book are endless and I think I spoiled all of the funny parts for my mom when I kept sharing every line that was eve the slightest bit funny.

The story starts with regular Joe, “Amtrak Joe”, in his house following the 2016 election. He’s been living low-key since he left the office while Obama is having the adventure of a lifetime partying with the most high profile celebrities. A death brings Obama to Wilmington and then the two find themselves as the next Sherlock and Watson.

This is a thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat while taking you through the bad parts of Wilmington. It is full of bromance, motorcycle gangs, and even the Presidential Medal of Freedom. What more could you ask for?

If you’re looking for a light hearted murder mystery go pick up Hope Never Dies, you won’t regret it!

Up next on my reading list: Crazy Rich Asians

xox,

Marissa