The most recommended books about cadavers

Who picked these books? Meet our 14 experts.

14 authors created a book list connected to cadavers, and here are their favorite cadaver books.
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Book cover of How to Be a Movie Star

Jude Tresswell Author Of A Right To Know

From my list on M/M for asexuals.

Why am I passionate about this?

I chose the ‘Best’ title with trepidation: there are many sorts of aces and reading tastes will differ. I’m a cis-gender female, sex averse, verging on sex-repulsed. So, why M/M? Firstly, because reading about other females is too much like being involved myself. Secondly, because I’m het-romantic so I like my MCs to be male. And sex? I can take sex on the page as long as it isn’t gratuitous; it must be meaningful. I’ve chosen five very different books, but they all have gay protagonists and they meet my ace-based needs. In case it’s an issue, I’ve commented on the flame count.   

Jude's book list on M/M for asexuals

Jude Tresswell Why did Jude love this book?

Finally, a story that’s M/M and has an asexual character. It isn’t easy to write ace M/M protagonists. For obvious reasons, some of the tropes are excluded. However, TJ Klune gets around this, perhaps because the man who wants to be a movie star, Josiah (Josy) Erickson, is probably demisexual and demiromantic. That is, sex and romance aren’t impossible for Josy, but he needs a lengthy emotional connection with another man before he desires either. The story is funny, charming, touching, and validates people who don’t see enough of themselves in print. 

By TJ Klune,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Be a Movie Star as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Josiah Erickson wants to be a movie star. The problem with that is so does half of Los Angeles. But he's on his way, what with memorable roles as a TV show background cadaver and a guy in a commercial for herpes medication. All he needs is his big break. And that break may come in the form of a novelist who goes by the enigmatic name of Q-Bert. Q-Bert, who is ready to make his directorial debut in a film Josy would be perfect for. Q-Bert, who Josy may or may not have a friend-crush on, and potentially something…

Book cover of The Twisted Ones

Tammy Salyer Author Of Gnome on the Range: Otherworld Outlaws 1

From my list on necromancy and communing with cadavers.

Why am I passionate about this?

Being a lifelong fan of fantasy and horror, I've always embraced stories of creepy monsters and vainglorious gods, especially novels that mash-up genres, like Stephen King's Gunslinger, Neil Gaiman's American Gods, and Mary Doria Russell's The Sparrow. But my fascination always circles back to the supernatural, especially sorcerers who raise the dead. After writing my dark fantasy Shackled Verities series, I decided to venture into the Old West with a twist—monsters, magic, and mayhem, featuring, of course, a necromancer gnome. So let me present a spellbinding list of stories about these doers of the dark arts that span genres, from spine-chilling to lighthearted—because who says raising the dead has to be serious?

Tammy's book list on necromancy and communing with cadavers

Tammy Salyer Why did Tammy love this book?

T. Kingfisher could write stereo instructions and I’d read them. Her prose is straightforward and absolutely refreshing, but she does creepy in ways that will make you keep your lights on at night.

While The Twisted Ones isn’t the typical necromancer story, there’s some raising-the-dead shenanigans in it that will make your skin crawl—and also maybe pull on your heartstrings a little. In this novel, a young woman discovers dark secrets in her recently-deceased grandmother’s rural home that shed new and horrific light on what might have really happened to her dead loved ones.

Focusing more on psychological scares than action, Kingfisher imbues her characters with a surprising amount of empathy amidst the creeping unease. And once you’ve finished The Twisted Ones, like me, you won’t be able to stop yourself from buying her whole marvelous oeuvre.

By T Kingfisher,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Twisted Ones as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Mouse's dad asks her to clean out her dead grandmother's house, she says yes. After all, how bad could it be?

Answer: pretty bad. Grandma was a hoarder, and her house is stuffed with useless rubbish. That would be horrific enough, but there's more-Mouse stumbles across her step-grandfather's journal, which at first seems to be filled with nonsensical rants...until Mouse encounters some of the terrifying things he described for herself.

Alone in the woods with her dog, Mouse finds herself face to face with a series of impossible terrors-because sometimes the things that go bump in the night are…

Book cover of Human Anatomy for Artists: The Elements of Form

Uldis Zarins Author Of Anatomy For Sculptors: Understanding the Human Figure

From my list on human anatomy for artists.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a traditional sculptor with more than 25 years of experience. Being a dyslectic student in the 2000s, I developed a systematic approach to translating medical anatomy texts into visual information that I could use while sculpting.  All the anatomy books for artists at the time were text-centered. My reference sketches became quite popular among colleagues. It was clear that visual artists perceive information best when it’s visual, and that is how I got the idea for my first book. Now the Anatomy for Sculptors handbooks are bestsellers among visual artists striving to better understand the human form.

Uldis' book list on human anatomy for artists

Uldis Zarins Why did Uldis love this book?

Eliot Goldfinger’s book is very precise, reliable, and not too lengthy. Its systematic approach reminds me of a medical anatomy book, but it has been adapted for artists. The book is consistent in its depictions of human anatomy, and you will find each anatomical structure depicted from set angles: front, side, top, etc. It’s not always easy to find reliable human anatomy references, but this is one of them.

By Eliot Goldfinger,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Human Anatomy for Artists as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Eliot Goldfinger, a realistic sculptor and instructor of human and animal anatomy, has designed and written a reference work for artists and art students on the visual and descriptive components of human anatomy. The format is simple and accessible; all information about one aspect of a topic is set forth on facing pages. For example, the anterior leg muscle is illustrated in a series of precise anatomical drawings and well-lit photos, with text on origin,
insertion, action, structure, and how it relates to creating surface form directly opposite the pictures. Unique to this book are photographs of a series of…

Book cover of The Silent Teacher: The Gift of Body Donation

Janet Philp Author Of Burke - Now and Then

From my list on the supply of cadavers and what they can teach us.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an anatomy educator and doctoral researcher looking at the use of human material in anatomy education. My historical research into the antics of body suppliers has caused me to explore many publications on what we do with the remains of our relatives. This is a subject that can be fascinating but also requires compassionate handling and sometimes asks us questions that we often do not want to ponder.

Janet's book list on the supply of cadavers and what they can teach us

Janet Philp Why did Janet love this book?

Right up to date with a book written by an anatomist detailing how cadavers are used in a modern teaching facility in the UK. In an unusual break from the silence that usually surrounds the use of human cadavers, Dr. Smith talks us through the whole process from donation to disposal and the assistance they provide to medical teaching.

By Claire F. Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Silent Teacher as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One single body donation could affect the lives of around ten million patients. Body donation is an amazing gift which enables doctors and healthcare professionals to understand the human body. Surgeons can refine existing surgical skills and develop new procedures to create better treatment for you. Dr Claire Smith goes through every aspect of donating a body, clearly describing what happens to a body once it has been donated, how it is used, how bodies are reassembled and then placed in coffins before cremation.

This is the fascinating journey into the untold story of the Silent Teacher.

Book cover of Stiff

R.B. Thorne Author Of Listen: The Sound of Fear

From my list on when the body is dead, but the book goes on.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a fan of horror—specifically, supernatural horror—for as long as I can remember. Though the topic of life after death is perhaps one of the most long-standing debates in existence, almost every family has a story or two about things that can’t be explained. I’ve turned my lifelong interest in death, the occult, and how the two can coexist, into slow-burn horror stories for people who like a little weird with their fear. Stories that explore the beautiful complexity of queer people. Stories for the strange at heart.

R.B.'s book list on when the body is dead, but the book goes on

R.B. Thorne Why did R.B. love this book?

This book is a must-read for all horror writers, horror fans, and those who love to find humor in the strangest, most unexpected places. It’s nonfiction, and Roach will take you on a journey across time and cultures that’ll have you gasping, gagging, and rolling with laughter. Beware the snap, crackle, pop.

By Mary Roach,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Stiff as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

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. In this fascinating account, Mary Roach visits the good deeds of cadavers over the centuries and tells the engrossing story of our bodies when we are no longer with them.

Book cover of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

Jawahara Saidullah Author Of We are...Warrior Queens

From my list on transporting you across time and place.

Why am I passionate about this?

Travel and writing are my two great passions. Since I was a child, I escaped reality by escaping into my own mind. I had relied on my stories of the warrior queens ever since I learned about them as a child. It was only a few years ago, when I lived in Geneva, that I had a memory flash at me of the statue of Queen Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi on a rearing horse with a curved sword held in one hand. I knew then that it was time to tell a story—my own story and that of my favorite warrior queens.

Jawahara's book list on transporting you across time and place

Jawahara Saidullah Why did Jawahara love this book?

This is a surprising book because while it is certainly macabre, it’s not morbid (at least not for me) and is strangely entertaining. It demystifies the human body and the process of death and dying. 

Even as the author delves into every aspect of dead bodies, she does so with compassion and humor. Rooted and backed up with science, this book held my interest from beginning to end, and I read it non-stop for over a day and a half. Despite its grave subject matter, this book is not dark or scary. It’s matter-of-fact and very educational.

By Mary Roach,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Stiff as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

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 confirmation surgery, cadavers have helped make history in their quiet way. "Delightful-though never disrespectful" (Les Simpson, Time Out New York), Stiff investigates the strange lives of our bodies postmortem and answers the question: What should…

Book cover of From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death

Ashby Kinch Author Of A Cultural History of Death

From my list on re-imagining death, dying, and grief.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a literary and cultural historian who has been studying death for three decades. But I am, first and foremost, a human who has suffered the loss of loved ones and grief and found my immediate culture an inhospitable place to experience, transform, and share those emotions. We have an urgent need to “re-imagine” the way we prepare for our own deaths, as well as experience the deaths of others. I hope my work, both as a scholar and a public citizen, will inspire people to form communities of conversation and action that will reshape the way we think about death, dying, and grief.

Ashby's book list on re-imagining death, dying, and grief

Ashby Kinch Why did Ashby love this book?

I am so impressed with Caitlin’s work on demystifying funeral practices (The Smoke Gets in Your Eyes) and opening up our eyes to new possibilities through her writing and her Order of the Good Death. With this book, I was so engaged with the sheer variety of the death and funeral practices that she details.

We need this kind of writing: engaging, funny, and grounded while teaching us that we are not as bound as we might think we are. I left this book more resolved than ever that we can die differently, and especially if we can use our imaginations better to explore alternatives. The world is wide and beautiful: this book teaches us that we can see that beauty even in—maybe especially in—death. 

By Caitlin Doughty,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked From Here to Eternity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fascinated by our pervasive fear of dead bodies, mortician Caitlin Doughty embarks on a global expedition to discover how other cultures care for the dead. From Zoroastrian sky burials to wish-granting Bolivian skulls, she investigates the world's funerary customs and expands our sense of what it means to treat the dead with dignity. Her account questions the rituals of the American funeral industry-especially chemical embalming-and suggests that the most effective traditions are those that allow mourners to personally attend to the body of the deceased. Exquisitely illustrated by artist Landis Blair, From Here to Eternity is an adventure into the…