My favorite books for contemplating your own mortality

Why am I passionate about this?

I wrote...

The Spirit Catchers

By Jessica Ingold,

Book cover of The Spirit Catchers

What is my book about?

The business of dying has always been a numbers game. From the moment she set foot in The Establishment, Sarah Galloway has never questioned her purpose. She is a Spirit Catcher, a supernatural being tasked with escorting human souls to the hereafter. Only after she has met a predefined collection quota will she be considered for regeneration— the last step on her journey toward the next iteration of her life.

Despite her immortality, her job is not without its hazards. Chief among these threats are malevolents, corrupt entities with a hankering for world domination. Condemned to an eternity in The Establishment's basement, these powerful spirits must remain under lock and key to safeguard the future of humanity... until the day they are set free.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The First Time I Died

Jessica Ingold Why did I love this book?

In my book, the character learns that death is not a permanent phenomenon, but something more cyclical – so it’s no surprise that The First Time I Died sits at the top of my list. The novel centers around Garnet McGee, who returns home for the holidays and gets swept away in a cold case involving the death of her boyfriend. That is, until she falls into a frozen pond and drowns. This story is a dark roast coffee with just the right sprinkle of sugar – a tragic death interwoven with memories of a once-in-a-lifetime love. 

By Jo Macgregor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The First Time I Died as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first time I died, I didn’t come back alone.

When Garnet McGee returns to her small Vermont hometown for the holidays, she vows to solve the mystery of the murder which shattered her life ten years ago. Then she dies.

After she's resuscitated, she starts hearing voices, seeing visions and experiencing strange sensations. Are these merely symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and an over-active imagination, or is she getting messages from a paranormal presence?

Garnet has always prided herself on being logical and rational, but trying to catch a killer without embracing her shadow self is getting increasingly difficult.…

Book cover of I'm Glad My Mom Died

Jessica Ingold Why did I love this book?

Written by a former child actress, I’m Glad My Mom Died takes readers on the gut-wrenching rollercoaster that is having a parent with cancer (I’ll admit, I’ve been on this ride myself). The author recounts her early acting career, her brief foray into the music industry, and her ongoing battle with disordered eating, all while praying that her above-and-beyond people-pleasing proclivities will be enough to deter her mother’s cancer from returning. This book is so raw, it practically bleeds.  

By Jennette McCurdy,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked I'm Glad My Mom Died as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A heartbreaking and hilarious memoir by iCarly and Sam & Cat star Jennette McCurdy about her struggles as a former child actor-including eating disorders, addiction, and a complicated relationship with her overbearing mother-and how she retook control of her life.

Jennette McCurdy was six years old when she had her first acting audition. Her mother's dream was for her only daughter to become a star, and Jennette would do anything to make her mother happy. So she went along with what Mom called "calorie restriction," eating little and weighing herself five times a day. She endured extensive at-home makeovers while…

Book cover of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Jessica Ingold Why did I love this book?

This is a book I’ve read more than once. It features a strained mother-daughter relationship made more complicated by a drawn-out battle with cancer. After the death of her mother, author Cheryl Strayed sets out on a 1,100-mile solo hike that begins in Mojave, California and concludes at the Bridge of the Gods in Oregon. This book perfectly balances the fragility of life with the resilience of the human spirit (no catching required). 

By Cheryl Strayed,

Why should I read it?

24 authors picked Wild as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe—and built her back up again.

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the…

Book cover of Unsaid

Jessica Ingold Why did I love this book?

Told from the perspective of Helena, a veterinarian whose career was cut short by—you guessed it!—cancer, this book explores the ethical implications of testing on animals while unpacking the messy reality of grief. As Helena’s husband, David, struggles to care for his late wife’s houseful of beloved animals, ghost-Helena reflects on the meaninglessness of her existence. I think we all like to believe we leave some kind of impact on the world, but what if we don’t? And who are we to call ourselves superior beings when other creatures are forced to suffer at our expense?

By Neil Abramson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Unsaid as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

UNSAID is told from the perspective of Helena Colden, a veterinarian who has just died of breast cancer. Helena is forced to witness the rapid emotional deterioration of her husband David. With Helena's passing, David, a successful Manhattan attorney, loses the only connection that made his life full. He tries to carry on the life that Helena had created for them, but he is too grief stricken, too angry, and too quickly reabsorbed into the demands of his career. Helena's animals likewise struggle with the loss of their understanding and compassionate human companion. Because of Helena, David becomes involved in…

Book cover of One of Us Is Lying

Jessica Ingold Why did I love this book?

Described as The Breakfast Club with murder, this book is overflowing with scandal and juicy secrets. When Simon, the mastermind behind Bayview High’s notorious gossip app, drops dead during detention, suspicion falls on four of his fellow classmates: Bronwyn, Addy, Nate, and Cooper. In the ensuing chaos, the suspects form an unlikely alliance that proves death has a transformative effect on the living. I found myself flying through this book, questioning everything, and, of course, trying to crack the case (alas, I was unsuccessful). 

By Karen M. McManus,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked One of Us Is Lying as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

NOW A MAJOR NETFLIX SERIES. This stunning collector's edition of the internationally bestselling YA smash hit, ONE OF US IS LYING, contains a thrilling BONUS chapter!

Five students go to detention. Only four leave alive.

Yale hopeful Bronwyn has never publicly broken a rule.

Sports star Cooper only knows what he's doing in the baseball diamond.

Bad boy Nate is one misstep away from a life of crime.

Prom queen Addy is holding together the cracks in her perfect life.

And outsider Simon, creator of the notorious gossip app at Bayview High, won't ever talk about any of them again.…

You might also like...

Bailey and the CEO: A Corporate Love Story

By Amy Q. Barker,

Book cover of Bailey and the CEO: A Corporate Love Story

Amy Q. Barker Author Of Lap Baby

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Avid reader Nature lover Park ranger wanna be Best Nana ever

Amy's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

A contemporary romance novel about second chances, love in the workplace, and balancing single parenthood with a career. Bailey Grant and Fox Goodman have given up on love. They’re working hard, they’re raising kids—romance is the last thing on their minds. Until they get seated next to each other on a flight and realize they have more in common than just the company where they work.

But can a VP date the CEO? How will they make it work? Wait and see how sparks fly in this uplifting, feel-good, dual-narrative romantic read!

Bailey and the CEO: A Corporate Love Story

By Amy Q. Barker,

What is this book about?

Even from afar, you could feel it: the man's ever-present, effortless charm, looks, and for lack of a better word, swagger.
Everyone—and by everyone, I meant every female at Havelin—had speculated about his personal life. We all knew he had two sons, but what about a wife?
Not that I cared.
I was VP of Quality, a widow, and a mother raising two teenage daughters. Love was the last thing on my mind.

She was staggeringly beautiful.
And she didn’t know it. Not even in the slightest. Not a clue.
I’d never felt like this before.
Even more…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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