One is about Presidential Assassination.
The other is about dead bodies.
Light, happy reads.
In actuality, both books are clever looks at the darker side of life.
Both are incredibly informative while at the same time being massively entertaining.
First, there’s Mary Roach’s “Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers.”
In this book, Roach travels around and meets with a variety of people who work with dead bodies. She talks to, and presents the history of, everything from decapitated heads used for plastic surgery training to a man whose job it is to piece together tragic events like plane crashes using the remains of people. We as humans are terrified and fascinated by death, and I think a read of this book would shed some light on what could happen to your body after you die.
The second book is “Assassination Vacation,” by Sarah Vowell.
Vowell, like Roach, travels around to explore and present the history of Presidential Assassinations. Mostly, she goes in depth over John Wilkes Booth and the murder of Abraham Lincoln, but decent coverage is given to Leon Czolgosz (who shot William McKinley) and Charles Guiteau (who killed James Garfield.) I’ve always had an interest in the history of Presidential Assassination (Blame Sondheim) and I found this book completely endearing. Vowell is unabashedly candid about her history-nerdiness, and it’s a joy to follow her on her vision quest of historical landmarks.
Admittedly, my heart belongs to fiction – but there’s really nothing like a well-written non-fiction book about a topic you’re interested in.
(On a somewhat downer of a note, after a few years of wanting to read it, I finally read Robin Gerber’s “Barbie and Ruth,” about the history of the Mattel Corporation. I’ve been a big Barbie fan my whole life, and love to hear all the rumors and backstory about the creation of the icon of all icons. However, the book was a bit dry, though definitely informative. I guess I just wanted it to be more salacious than it wound up being. Oh well C’est la vie.)
Read a book. Geez.