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Fire Watch
Connie Willis
Lonely Planet: Southeast Asia on a shoestring
China Williams, Greg Bloom, Celeste Brash, Andrew Burke
Fodor's See It Thailand 2008
Fodor's Travel Publications Inc.
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers - Mary Roach This was the first Mary Roach book I read, but now I'm interested in picking up some of her other nonfiction. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers was very informative and covered a vast number of topics having to do with what happens to human bodies after death: she tours a "body farm", where scientists study rates of decomposition in various environments, sits in on a plastic surgery class where students practice procedures on severed heads, and visits an automotive testing facility where cadavers are used when crash test dummies aren't enough to provide reliable data, among others. She also explores the history of body-snatching as well as "cannibalism" in early eastern medicine and the modern western world (such as the trend of new mothers eating placenta for the purported health benefits).

There are some serious gross-out sections, of course. I have a very strong stomach, but there were moments when I sat up and went "Ew, ew, ew!" In addition to being informative and easily understandable by the layperson, Roach tackles the subject matter with humor while still maintaining respect for the dead - a difficult undertaking. For the most part, I appreciated the humor, as it made what could potentially be a depressing and academic text into quite a light read, but at times it felt like the jokes were a bit forced. She was like that girl at the party who just keeps cracking jokes, with less material each time - the first few are funny, but then it gets grating. You shouldn't have to keep reassuring your readers that you are, in fact, funny. We get it. And don't even get me started on the number of times she referred to herself as "quirky" or similar.

Despite that, I enjoyed this book quite a bit and will definitely read more of the author's work.