The best quirkiest books about life after death

Who am I?

If my parents are to be believed, then my longest held obsession has been with vampires; which could explain my interest in stories about life after death. But with age my definitions for things got a little blurry, death is no longer restricted to ‘shuffling off of this mortal coil’. The catalyst for so many great stories is the death of a character, and there are so many options for how that death takes place. In a traditional sense, it could be murder mysteries. In horror, we could follow the path of destruction left by vampires, zombies, or ghosts. Lately, however, I’ve been into the concept of a metaphorical death which ultimately leads a character to growth.

I wrote...

An Idiot's Guide to Getting By

By Ana Neimus,

Book cover of An Idiot's Guide to Getting By

What is my book about?

I wrote this book at a time I felt my life wasn’t heading anywhere. Like I made a series of wrong turns that led me to a dead end. So naturally, I did what I always do: I made a joke. Only this time, I took it too far and wrote a whole damn book.

An Idiot’s Guide to Getting By is a dark comedy centered around the optimistic desperation of wanting to change your life but having no idea how to start. The characters in this satirical guide ignore federal laws and common sense as they try to get by.

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is readers supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

The Historian

By Elizabeth Kostova,

Book cover of The Historian

Why this book?

Can’t really start a “life after death" list without a vampire story, can I?

While old Dracula has a special place in my heart, this book led me on a tour through eastern Europe I can only hope to someday trace. Through her brilliant descriptions and suspenseful storytelling, the author has demonstrated why vampire stories will never go out of fashion.

Hope: A Tragedy

By Shalom Auslander,

Book cover of Hope: A Tragedy

Why this book?

There are two reasons I picked up this book. Firstly, that title. I’m a happy sucker for oxymorons. Secondly, and embarrassingly, more importantly, someone I really fancied recommended this book to me. And I have no regrets. 

Anyone with a more sensitive constitution is easily offended and can’t find humour in darker subject matters is kindly invited to stay away. This book hilariously tackles the moral quandary of how to deal with someone you -- and the world -- thought dead. Worse still when they are an awful roommate who you desperately want out of your house.

Going Postal

By Terry Pratchett,

Book cover of Going Postal

Why this book?

Hell is a 9-5 and this book proves it. If your choices for the afterlife were a dark void of nothingness or working in customer service, you may need some time to ponder your options. There is no need to wax poetic about Terry Pratchett; his volumes stand for themselves. However, I can’t think of another author who could write a ‘dying giving the main character a new lease on life’ story that doesn’t make me want to roll my eyes. 

The Midnight Library

By Matt Haig,

Book cover of The Midnight Library

Why this book?

Okay, I’m teetering right on the edge of the description of this category with this one, but it’s okay as this whole story takes place with someone walking the thin line between life and death. Matt Haig has a wonderful way of drifting between heartbreaking and heartwarming in his books, and this one is no exception. It really is no wonder that this book was posted everywhere, so it’s making my list. 

Poison for Breakfast

By Lemony Snicket,

Book cover of Poison for Breakfast

Why this book?

I did not see a way for me to make a list about books that did not include at least one vampire novel (see number 1) and a reference to Lemony Snicket. So here we are. 

The narrator finishes his morning routine to find a note informing him that he has been poisoned. What a concept! When your school teacher told you about starting your essays with a hook, this is what they meant. Lemony Snicket is a masterful storyteller, and this book is just one more example of that. Following a dead man walking as he investigates his impending mortality while engaging in a discussion of philosophy, rife with references to books and music and art, did not take me at all where I thought it would and I couldn’t be happier. If libraries could talk, I imagine conversations would flow very much as this book did.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the afterlife, Holocaust survivors, and decision making?

5,215 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the afterlife, Holocaust survivors, and decision making.

The Afterlife Explore 43 books about the afterlife
Holocaust Survivors Explore 30 books about Holocaust survivors
Decision Making Explore 36 books about decision making

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Rust: One, The World of Mamoko in the Year 3000, and Malice if you like this list.