Thinning the Herd: Tales of the Weirdly Departed (The Lyons Press, 320 pages, $13.95) by Cynthia Ceilan is one of those quirky little books you see in book stores, pick it up, page through it and say to yourself, "Who would buy this?"
The thing is, it's full of stories, true facts and observations about death. Sounds a little grim, I agree, but much of it is pretty amusing. Here's a random sampling ...
* Anthony Casey fell 60 feet from a balcony to his death during a drug-fueled orgy in London in 2006, in an apartment owned by Count Gottfried von Bismarck. The coroner listed the cause of death as "Misadventure."
* For one German tourist in 2006, "The Happiest Place on Earth" turned out to be the deadliest. A blood vessel burst in the 49-year-old woman's head while she was riding Mission: SPACE at Epcot, Walt Disney World, Florida. She died the following day in (of all places) Celebration Hospital.
* Albert Einstein spoke his last words on his deathbed, but we will never know what they were. His nurse didn't speak German.
* Ancient Greek dramatist Aeschylus, who once wrote, "O Death the Healer, scorn thou not ... Pain lays not its touch upon a corpse," was killed when a vulture-like bird dropped a turtle on his head.
* In August 2005, a German man was killed by the fish he was trying to catch. The fish latched onto the fishing pole and fought ferociously for control of it. The man lost his balance, fell into the water, and drowned. Police described the fish as "ordinary."
See what I mean? It's a book chock-full of snippets like this, some a little longer, but still, perfect for bathroom reading.