The best books for convincing you there is probably an afterlife

Who am I?

I’m an award-winning author of fiction that always explored existential questions but in a ruminating sort of way. After the loss of my only child, I turned to memoir and wrote Little Matches: A Memoir of Finding Light in the Dark, to tell the story of my search for satisfying answers to the big life questions. I spent months reading the philosophers and visiting people who claimed psi abilities. I sought out books on the paranormal written by critical thinkers, books by people who possessed real-world credentials, and/or had been tested and certified by groups I respected. They opened the door to a fascinating world of ideas and beliefs.

I wrote...

Little Matches: A Memoir of Finding Light in the Dark

By Maryanne O'Hara,

Book cover of Little Matches: A Memoir of Finding Light in the Dark

What is my book about?

After losing my only child, I looked for answers to the big life questions. Where is she? Is she? Is there more to life than this life? Does consciousness survive death? Does my existence serve any real purpose? Does anyone's? 

Little Matches is my recounting of my search and the surprising, affirming answers I discovered.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Many Lives, Many Masters

Maryanne O'Hara Why did I love this book?

I grew up thinking that an afterlife was a pretty enough idea, but I was an agnostic who leaned toward skepticism. This book only caught my attention because the author had real-world credentials. Brian Weiss is a psychiatrist, an MD and PhD with degrees from Columbia and Yale, and the former head of psychiatry at Miami’s Mount Sinai, who arrived very reluctantly and unexpectedly to a practice of past life regression. I found his book intelligent and compelling, and there’s one detail that’s simply astounding –– If you’ve read the book, you know what I’m talking about! If he’s genuine, and I think he is, his message is kind of irrefutable: that we are essentially souls who live many lifetimes.

By Brian L. Weiss,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Many Lives, Many Masters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From author and psychotherapist Dr. Brian Weiss comes the classic New York Times bestseller on the true case of the past-life therapy that changed the lives of both the prominent psychiatrist and young patient involved-now featuring a new afterword by the author.

As a traditional psychotherapist, Dr. Brian Weiss was astonished and skeptical when one of his patients began recalling past-life traumas that seemed to hold the key to her recurring nightmares and anxiety attacks. His skepticism was eroded, however, when she began to channel messages from the "space between lives," which contained remarkable revelations about Dr. Weiss' family and…

Book cover of Signs: The Secret Language of the Universe

Maryanne O'Hara Why did I love this book?

Laura Lynne Jackson is a blind-tested, certified, respected medium who has had her brain mapped while performing readings and who often donates her services to the bereaved. She seems to me to be as genuine as a medium can be proven to be. Signs is a collection of page-turning stories from her readings archive, and they are entertaining to read, yes, but she has a bigger message: we can all do this. We can all develop our intuition and communicate with our departed loved ones. She showed me that it’s true. Now, instead of calling all the signs and meaningful synchronicities I receive, over and over, “just coincidences,” I accept them as gifts from the universe. 

By Laura Lynne Jackson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A renowned psychic medium teaches us how to recognize and interpret the life-changing messages from loved ones and spirit guides on the Other Side.

“A collection of incredible stories . . . that speak to the universe’s endless capacity for magical moments.”—Goop 

Laura Lynne Jackson is a psychic medium and the author of the New York Times bestseller The Light Between Us. She possesses an incredible gift: the ability to communicate with loved ones who have passed, convey messages of love and healing, and impart a greater understanding of our interconnectedness. Though her abilities are…

Book cover of Surviving Death: A Journalist Investigates Evidence for an Afterlife

Maryanne O'Hara Why did I love this book?

A science teacher who knew that my interest in enduring consciousness was tempered with skepticism recommended I read this book after I lost Caitlin. The author is an investigative journalist, and her essays are dense with in-depth, picked-apart examinations of claims of paranormal phenomena. A good chunk of its pages are devoted to over 400 end-notes. Leslie Kean is a smart and down-to-earth narrator, equipped with an objective yet curious sensibility, and I found Surviving Death to be an addicting read that spoke to my skepticism.

By Leslie Kean,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

THE INSPIRATION FOR THE NETFLIX ORIGINAL SERIES • An impeccably researched, page-turning investigation, revealing stunning and wide-ranging evidence suggesting that consciousness survives death, from New York Times bestselling author Leslie Kean
“An engaging, personal, and transformative journey that challenges the skeptic and informs us all.”—Harold E. Puthoff, Ph.D., director of the Institute for Advanced Studies at Austin
In this groundbreaking book, award-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author Leslie Kean investigates the unexplained continuity of the human psyche after death. Here, Kean explores the most compelling case studies of young children reporting verifiable details from past lives, contemporary mediums…

Book cover of Final Gifts: Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs, and Communications of the Dying

Maryanne O'Hara Why did I love this book?

Nurses who tend to the dying will tell you that end-of-life dreams and visions are part of the natural dying experience. The authors are hospice nurses who witnessed the over-and-over repeating patterns of a process that now has a name: Nearing Death Awareness. Our culture doesn’t like to talk about dying, and end-of-life behavior is an unknown. The authors show that NDA can be comforting: The lucid dad who says, “My mother’s here!” But NDA behavior can sometimes be alarming, too – I discovered this to be true when my own mom was dying – and the great thing about this book is that it’s a practical handbook for all of us who don’t know what to expect when death comes. Final Gifts illuminates, educates, and ultimately comforts. 

By Maggie Callanan, Patricia Kelley,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Final Gifts as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this moving and compassionate classic—now updated with new material from the authors—hospice nurses Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley share their intimate experiences with patients at the end of life, drawn from more than twenty years’ experience tending the terminally ill.

Through their stories we come to appreciate the near-miraculous ways in which the dying communicate their needs, reveal their feelings, and even choreograph their own final moments; we also discover the gifts—of wisdom, faith, and love—that the dying leave for the living to share.

Filled with practical advice on responding to the requests of the dying and helping them…

Book cover of After: A Doctor Explores What Near-Death Experiences Reveal about Life and Beyond

Maryanne O'Hara Why did I love this book?

The author, because of some eye-popping experiences early in his medical career, found himself compelled to question his orthodox assumptions and attempt to document, as scientifically as possible, the near-death events he witnessed. I really related to his descriptions of himself as a young physician who downplayed his research and professed more skepticism than he actually felt because he was terrified of ruining his career. “Studying things that fit our preconceived ideas helps us understand their fine points better,” he writes. “But studying things that don’t fit our preconceived ideas is what often drives breakthroughs in science.” This book offers provocative insights and a kind of comfort this mother was happy to discover.

By Bruce Greyson, MD,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The world's leading expert on near-death experiences reveals his journey toward rethinking the nature of death, life, and the continuity of consciousness.

Cases of remarkable experiences on the threshold of death have been reported since ancient times, and are described today by 10% of people whose hearts stop. The medical world has generally ignored these “near-death experiences,” dismissing them as “tricks of the brain” or wishful thinking. But after his patients started describing events that he could not just sweep under the rug, Dr. Bruce Greyson began to investigate.

As a physician without a religious belief system, he approached near-death…

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At What Cost, Silence?

By Karen Lynne Klink,

Book cover of At What Cost, Silence?

Karen Lynne Klink Author Of At What Cost, Silence?

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Who am I?

Author Child abuse survivor Reader Adventure traveler Animal lover

Karen's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Secrets, misunderstandings, and a plethora of family conflicts abound in this historical novel set along the Brazos River in antebellum Washington County, East Texas.

It is a compelling story of two neighboring plantation families and a few of the enslaved people who serve them. These two plantations are a microcosm of a country on the brink of war, encompassing a variety of issues: love and friendship between men, relationships between fathers and sons, sibling rivalry, slavery, and the position of women in society.

At What Cost, Silence?

By Karen Lynne Klink,

What is this book about?

Adrien Villere suspects he is not like other boys. For years, he desperately locks away his feelings and fears-but eventually, tragedy and loss drive him to seeking solace from his mentor, a young neighbor Jacob Hart. Jacob's betrayal of Adrien's trust, however, results in secret abuse, setting off a chain of actions from which neither Adrien's wise sister, Bernadette, nor his closest friend, Isaac, can turn him.

At What Cost, Silence presents two contrasting plantation families in a society where strict rules of belief and behavior are clear, and public opinion can shape an entire life. Centerstage are the Villeres,…

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9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the afterlife, reincarnation, and terminal illnesses.

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