Essays, History, Nonfiction, Sociology

Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs by Caitlin Doughty

After reading From Here to Eternity for my nonfiction book club, I was really excited to discover that Caitlin had a new book coming in the fall and our W. W. Norton sales rep very kindly sent me an advance reader copy. Oddly enough, my coworkers have now dubbed this “Sarah’s Death Book Summer” after reading 2 books by Caitlin as well as Stiff by Mary Roach.


From the Inside Flap:
Everyday, funeral director Caitlin Doughty receives dozens of questions about death. The best questions come from kids. What would happen to an astronaut’s body if it were pushed out of a space shuttle? Do people poop when they die? Can Grandma have a Viking Funeral?

In Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?, doughty blends her mortician’s knowledge of the body and the intriguing history behind common misconceptions about corpses to offer factual, hilarious, and candid answers to thirty-five distinctive questions posed by her youngest fans. In her inimitable voice, Doughty details lore and science of what happens to, and inside, our bodies after we die. Why do corpses groan? What causes bodies to turn colors during decomposition? And why do hair and nails appear longer after death? Readers will learn the best soil for mummifying your body, whether you can preserve your best friend’s skull as a keepsake, and what happens when you die on a plane.


And so continues on Sarah’s Summer of Death Books. As some of you will know, if you’ve followed me for awhile, I lost my grandmother just shy of a year ago. And to say I didn’t handle it well would be an understatement. As such, I’ve been trying to adopt a more death-positive outlook by trying to separate the physical change and act of grieving. And in that attempt, I have been reading more books about the subject of death, from Caitlin’s From Here to Eternity to Mary Roach’s Stiff.

This particular book is fascinating in that it is a collection of questions and answers about the physical changes that take place to a body during and after death, asked to mortician Caitlin Doughty by children and their infinite curiosity. Never have I laughed so heartily while reading a book about a topic I formerly found incredibly depressing. It’s a quick read, the format lends itself well to picking it up and putting it down, reading “chapters” as one finds oneself curious about a particular area, and all of the questions are intriguing and engaging.

Rating: 9 out of 10 stars

Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? is the perfect gift for…
Anyone with an inquisitive mind who wants to learn more about how our bodies change after we die. Anyone with a morbid sense of curiosity or dark humor will also love Caitlin’s practical approach to the mechanics of death (the mourning is a different story). Also, if you know they’ve loved either of her other works, you should be pretty safe with this one!

Where to buy
In the USA, I recommend purchasing through IndieBound or your local independent (most of us received signed copies from the publisher!), in the UK, and many other parts of the world, I recommend Blackwell’s, and if neither of those cover where you live, I recommend checking out your local booksellers! Independent bookstores are vital parts of every local community and I wholly endorse supporting your local stores versus Amazon.

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