We asked, you answered and we listened. We received so many book recommendations after our last article, More Books About Death and Dying that we decided to publish a third list. Even More Books About Death and Dying features philosophical musings, touching obituaries, explorations of what it means to have a good death, experiences of dying, and a lot more. As always, leave us a comment below if you know of a book missing from our list.
*Just so you know, all of the books were selected by the TalkDeath team. We are not receiving compensation from any of the authors or publishers to promote their products. TalkDeath may however collect a share of sales through the affiliate links used – which is a great way to support us, and we appreciate it!
The Good Death: An Exploration of Dying in America – Ann Neumann
Ann Neumann discovered that death in America is a complicated affair. Our age, race, economic status, culture, and beliefs will determine what kind of death we will have. Definitions of a good death and medical death are contested spaces. Neumann shares stories from the frontline of dying, including her own experiences caring from her father.
Over Your Dead Body – Robert Connolly
“Over Your Dead Body is about the history and future of how we deal with the dead: everything about death, funerals and what happens to the body afterwards.” Connolly’s book is full of interesting facts on history, science, the death profession, and more. More than a look into the past, Over Your Dead Body is a clear-eyed look to the future of death.
Life Beside Itself – Lisa Stevenson
How should we handle the growing crisis of suicide in the Canadian Arctic? In Life Beside Itself, anthropologist Lisa Stevenson explores the history of care in the North, and the ways in which white colonial time has restructured life for Canada’s Inuit populations. With harrowing accounts of Canada’s response to the tuberculosis epidemic in the 1940s, and the suicide epidemic today, Life Beside Itself is a distressing but important book.
Confessions of a Funeral Director – Caleb Wilde
Caleb Wilde’s blog is insightful, honest, funny and dark. There is no reason to expect any less from his book Confessions of a Funeral Director. Caleb reflects on mortality and the powerful lessons death holds for every one of us in this compassionate and thoughtful spiritual memoir.
Reimagining Death: Stories and Practical Wisdom for Home Funerals and Green Burials – Lucinda Herring
Reimagining Death by Lucinda Herring “offers stories and guidance for home funeral vigils, advance after-death care directives, green burials, and conscious dying.” People are becoming more aware of their funerary and burial alternatives, but lack the guidance to make informed decisions. This book is a great place to start.
The Denial of Death – Ernest Becker
Winner of the Pulitzer prize in 1974 and the culmination of a life’s work, The Denial of Death is Ernest Becker’s brilliant and impassioned answer to the “why” of human existence and how we seek to avoid of our own mortality from the moment we are born. A brilliant philosophical treatise, and a great read.
The Worm at the Core: On the Role of Death in Life – Sheldon Solomon et al.
Sheldon Solomon, Jeff Greenberg, and Tom Pyszczynski argue in their book The Worm at the Core, that knowledge of death lies at the center of human consciousness. Pulling from 25 years of research, they examine all the ways that we run away from death and how fear can lead to unhealthy and sometimes dangerous consequences. Fear not, however, as they also offer suggestions of leading a better, more death positive life.
The Book of Dead Philosophers – Simon Critchley
The stories all come together in a profound book on meaning, life and death. “From the self-mocking haikus of Zen masters on their deathbeds, to the last words of Christian saints and modern-day sages, this irresistible book contains much to inspire both amusement and reflection.” The Book of Dead Philosophers is a collection of the life and work of over 200 philosophers.
Dying, A Memoir – Cory Taylor
Written over the course of several weeks, Dying: A Memoir, is an honest description of the act of dying. Cory Taylor was diagnosed at age 60 with melanoma-related brain cancer. Her book is full of lessons for life and death, and will leave you with new perspectives on both.
The Work of Mourning – Jacques Derrida
You’ve heard the name, and maybe even tried to read one of his books (good luck!). The Work of Mourning – a collection that honors his friendships in the wake of passing – is perhaps one of Jacques Derrida’s most accessible books. The Work of Mourning includes letters of condolence, memorial essays, eulogies, and funeral orations. These are written after the deaths of Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault, Louis Althusser, Gilles Deleuze, Emmanuel Levinas, Jean-François Lyotard, and many others, and speaks to the uniqueness of friendship, and the pain of death.
With the End in Mind: Dying, Death, and Wisdom in an Age of Denial – Kathryn Mannix
Why is it that modern humans try and shield themselves from death? What changes account for the shifting nature of death and dying? Palliative care practitioner Dr. Kathryn Mannix makes a compelling case for creating new relationships to death in With the End in Mind. This book is full of inspiring and touching stories, as well as insightful meditations on life and death.