Monday, 15 February 2016

Working Stiff by Judy Melinek & TJ Mitchell

Impossible! Has it really been this long since I posted? A change of life, scene, EVERYTHING, can have that effect. I seriously have not been able to get in front of my computer for too long, and in fact, most of my friends will be under the impression I'm writing posthumously...

I guess it's only fitting I publish this at long last, and that it's on death.

It's been about seven months since I was able to review a book here, so there's a spot of catching up to do. I've decided to break the drought with something a little different - this book by Judy Melinek and TJ Mitchell, Working Stiff.

One of the benefits of working in a bookshop is picking up damaged copies of books to take home and read that you might not otherwise have picked up because 1) you've already burnt the budget with buying too many books, or 2) you have time to peruse it during lunch hour when the pace slows down and realise that closer inspection reveals more than you bargained for. Taking home Working Stiff was so worth it.

I read this while moving house and really liked it. If you want to perk up your book club, grab a copy of this one. It is many things (poignant, touching, funny) but never dull. Judy's firsthand point of view takes you straight into where the action happens, and I never felt queasy once (the only times I've felt yuck around blood is in year 5 when Brad Byrne showed me his HUGE skin flap when he bit his tongue playing soccer, and when my eldest lost her first tooth and showed me while I was meeting with a client. Gross). I honestly think just about anyone could read this.

Judy forms a sincere connection with those she talks about, and for better or for worse, conveys her tales with deep respect, right down to dealing with the tiniest remains from 9/11, which makes for very sad, astonishing reading. I loved the medical side to the stories and if you have a natural curiosity about the human body, don't shy away from it in death.

"To confront death every day, to see it for yourself, you have to love the living."

It's always difficult to know what to write in a review without giving everything away, but the above statement sums it up. Facing death not only lets you know you're alive, but you get a chance to marvel at the intricacies of the human body. For as Scripture says, we are "fearfully and wonderfully made". For me, this book thoroughly proved that, and it's lovely to have books that show just how amazing the body is, especially how it behaves in death.

Don't buy it on e-book. Grip the pages as they turn, live the smell of the written word, use a bookmark, AND be alive. This is one for the collection.


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