100 books like Advice for Future Corpses (and Those Who Love Them)

By Sallie Tisdale,

Here are 100 books that Advice for Future Corpses (and Those Who Love Them) fans have personally recommended if you like Advice for Future Corpses (and Those Who Love Them). Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End

Sam Carr Author Of All the Lonely People: Conversations on Loneliness

From my list on the psychological challenges of being human.

Why am I passionate about this?

I guess we all have a "calling." Mine has always been to explore the deeper, darker, less palatable aspects of being human. I’m a bit like a space explorer of the human psyche. I’m lucky in the sense that my day job permits me to research, teach, and better understand things like love, death, and loneliness. I’ve been researching and writing about them for many years now. I always treasure books that help me to shed light on these themes. They are like shiny pebbles or jewels that I pick up and keep in my pocket. I hope you enjoy and learn from some of the treasures in my personal collection!  

Sam's book list on the psychological challenges of being human

Sam Carr Why did Sam love this book?

This book invited me to think about how we age and meet death in contemporary Western societies.

I have seen people close to me die. I watched as my grandma, then my grandpa, and then my father passed away. They each, in different ways, faced the brutal realities of growing old and they encountered a healthcare system that ultimately medicalized their death and the aging process–striving to ‘eek out’ more time, as though that was the only honorable thing to do.

Atul Gawande’s book really taught me to reflect critically on that.

By Atul Gawande,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked Being Mortal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER

'GAWANDE'S MOST POWERFUL, AND MOVING, BOOK' MALCOLM GLADWELL

'BEING MORTAL IS NOT ONLY WISE AND DEEPLY MOVING; IT IS AN ESSENTIAL AND INSIGHTFUL BOOK FOR OUR TIMES' OLIVER SACKS

For most of human history, death was a common, ever-present possibility. It didn't matter whether you were five or fifty - every day was a roll of the dice. But now, as medical advances push the boundaries of survival further each year, we have become increasingly detached from the reality of being mortal. So here is a book about the modern experience of mortality - about what it's…


Book cover of Modern Death: How Medicine Changed the End of Life

Elizabeth Anne Wood Author Of Bound: A Daughter, a Domme, and an End-of-Life Story

From my list on coping with the fact that we’re all going to die.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a little bit morbid since childhood. My father died when I was not quite 10 years old, and my mother was a huge fan of horror novels and scary movies. But I became seriously interested in death and dying when my mother got cancer and was facing the end of her own life. I acted as her medical advocate and participated in many aspects of her care. I'm also a sociologist who studies taboo elements of culture and I'm invested in creating a consciousness shift so that the United States is less death-phobic, allowing us all to live our lives more fully by addressing our mortality head-on!

Elizabeth's book list on coping with the fact that we’re all going to die

Elizabeth Anne Wood Why did Elizabeth love this book?

Before I read this book I hadn’t understood the many different ways that scientists have defined “death.” (Are you dead when your heart stops? When you stop breathing? When your brain function ends?)

Reading this gave me a much deeper understanding of the medical, legal, and ethical issues around declaring someone dead, while also helping me understand that the body is always dying even as it is healing itself and thriving.

I loved the historical view of death and the exploration of interventions like mechanical ventilation and CPR. I loved Warraich’s ability to make complicated medical or biological concepts understandable to me as a nonscientist and I loved that he wove in personal stories to bring the ideas to life. My copy has a ton of dog-eared pages!

By Haider Warraich,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Warraich's elegant and poignant book takes us on an unforgettable journey....He succeeds in humanizing a complex topic." ―Siddhartha Mukherjee, New York Times bestselling author of The Gene

There is no more universal truth in life than death. No matter who you are, it is certain that one day you will die, but the mechanics and understanding of that experience will differ greatly in today’s modern age. Dr. Haider Warraich is a young and brilliant new voice in the conversation about death and dying. Dr. Warraich takes a broader look at how we die today, from the cellular level up to…


Book cover of From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death

Ashby Kinch Author Of A Cultural History of Death

From my list on re-imagining death, dying, and grief.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a literary and cultural historian who has been studying death for three decades. But I am, first and foremost, a human who has suffered the loss of loved ones and grief and found my immediate culture an inhospitable place to experience, transform, and share those emotions. We have an urgent need to “re-imagine” the way we prepare for our own deaths, as well as experience the deaths of others. I hope my work, both as a scholar and a public citizen, will inspire people to form communities of conversation and action that will reshape the way we think about death, dying, and grief.

Ashby's book list on re-imagining death, dying, and grief

Ashby Kinch Why did Ashby love this book?

I am so impressed with Caitlin’s work on demystifying funeral practices (The Smoke Gets in Your Eyes) and opening up our eyes to new possibilities through her writing and her Order of the Good Death. With this book, I was so engaged with the sheer variety of the death and funeral practices that she details.

We need this kind of writing: engaging, funny, and grounded while teaching us that we are not as bound as we might think we are. I left this book more resolved than ever that we can die differently, and especially if we can use our imaginations better to explore alternatives. The world is wide and beautiful: this book teaches us that we can see that beauty even in—maybe especially in—death. 

By Caitlin Doughty,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked From Here to Eternity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fascinated by our pervasive fear of dead bodies, mortician Caitlin Doughty embarks on a global expedition to discover how other cultures care for the dead. From Zoroastrian sky burials to wish-granting Bolivian skulls, she investigates the world's funerary customs and expands our sense of what it means to treat the dead with dignity. Her account questions the rituals of the American funeral industry-especially chemical embalming-and suggests that the most effective traditions are those that allow mourners to personally attend to the body of the deceased. Exquisitely illustrated by artist Landis Blair, From Here to Eternity is an adventure into the…


Book cover of The Green Burial Guidebook: Everything You Need to Plan an Affordable, Environmentally Friendly Burial

Mallory McDuff Author Of Our Last Best Act: Planning for the End of Our Lives to Protect the People and Places We Love

From my list on change your relationship with death and heal Earth.

Why am I passionate about this?

I teach environmental education at Warren Wilson College outside Asheville, North Carolina, where I’ve raised my two daughters in a 900-square-foot campus rental with an expansive view of the Appalachian mountains. My students work in jobs ranging from managing the herd of cattle to growing vegetables for the cafeteria. After the sudden deaths of my parents, I decided to take this one-year journey to revise my final wishes with climate change and community in mind as a legacy to my children and my students. I’ve written five books, including the forthcoming Love Your Mother: 50 states, 50 stories, & 50 women united for climate justice (April 2023). 

Mallory's book list on change your relationship with death and heal Earth

Mallory McDuff Why did Mallory love this book?

I placed at least 30 post-it notes in this book as every page includes practical and compassionate advice for planning an affordable and sustainable green burial. This book’s pragmatic step-by-step suggestions were especially useful as I took my one-year journey to revise my own final wishes with climate and community in mind. The author operates the first green funeral home in the Portland, Oregon area, and she draws on her experiences to help you avoid exorbitant funeral expenses while helping the Earth and your community. 

By Elizabeth Fournier,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Green Burial Guidebook as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Funeral expenses in the United States average more than $10,000. And every year conventional funerals bury millions of tons of wood, concrete, and metals, as well as millions of gallons of carcinogenic embalming fluid. There is a better way, and Elizabeth Fournier, affectionately dubbed the “Green Reaper,” walks you through it, step-by-step. She provides comprehensive and compassionate guidance, covering everything from green burial planning and home funeral basics to legal guidelines and outside-the-box options, such as burials at sea. Fournier points the way to green burial practices that consider both the environmental well-being of the planet and the economic well-being…


Book cover of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory

Elizabeth Anne Wood Author Of Bound: A Daughter, a Domme, and an End-of-Life Story

From my list on coping with the fact that we’re all going to die.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a little bit morbid since childhood. My father died when I was not quite 10 years old, and my mother was a huge fan of horror novels and scary movies. But I became seriously interested in death and dying when my mother got cancer and was facing the end of her own life. I acted as her medical advocate and participated in many aspects of her care. I'm also a sociologist who studies taboo elements of culture and I'm invested in creating a consciousness shift so that the United States is less death-phobic, allowing us all to live our lives more fully by addressing our mortality head-on!

Elizabeth's book list on coping with the fact that we’re all going to die

Elizabeth Anne Wood Why did Elizabeth love this book?

I could not resist this book partly because I was already familiar with Doughty’s, “Ask a Mortician” YouTube series. I loved the way that she used her own experience as a young crematory operator, weaving in details of her personal life along the way, to show us all the different things that happen to bodies after they die.

I loved the dark humor she brought to subjects like embalming, cremation, and funeral directing. The poignant stories about collecting bodies from the places where they died, cremating bodies, and talking to family members or loved ones, helped me see the deeply human side of death care, and I certainly came away understanding a lot more about the realities of different body preparation and disposition options!

By Caitlin Doughty,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Smoke Gets in Your Eyes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Armed with a degree in medieval history and a flair for the macabre, Caitlin Doughty took a job at a crematory and turned morbid curiosity into her life's work. She cared for bodies of every color, shape, and affliction, and became an intrepid explorer in the world of the dead. In this best-selling memoir, brimming with gallows humor and vivid characters, she marvels at the gruesome history of undertaking and relates her unique coming-of-age story with bold curiosity and mordant wit. By turns hilarious, dark, and uplifting, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes reveals how the fear of dying warps our…


Book cover of Reimagining Death: Stories and Practical Wisdom for Home Funerals and Green Burials

Ashby Kinch Author Of A Cultural History of Death

From my list on re-imagining death, dying, and grief.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a literary and cultural historian who has been studying death for three decades. But I am, first and foremost, a human who has suffered the loss of loved ones and grief and found my immediate culture an inhospitable place to experience, transform, and share those emotions. We have an urgent need to “re-imagine” the way we prepare for our own deaths, as well as experience the deaths of others. I hope my work, both as a scholar and a public citizen, will inspire people to form communities of conversation and action that will reshape the way we think about death, dying, and grief.

Ashby's book list on re-imagining death, dying, and grief

Ashby Kinch Why did Ashby love this book?

I am so humbled and grateful for the death professionals of all stripes who help families with the transition of their loved one, whether it’s the hospice care doctors, nurses, and staff who think about the right cues and context or, as explored in this book, the folks re-thinking funerals and burial practices.

I have been to several in the last few years—a home funeral and a green burial stand out in particular—that have really deepened my sense of what we can do better. Reading this book opened up my imagination of what is possible for this crucial community experience. It triggered deep emotions from my personal experience, but in a way that helped me imagine a new path forward. 

By Lucinda Herring,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Honor your loved ones and the earth by choosing practical, spiritual, and eco-friendly after-death care

Natural, legal, and innovative after-death care options are transforming the paradigm of the existing funeral industry, helping families and communities recover their instinctive capacity to care for a loved one after death and do so in creative and healing ways. Reimagining Death offers stories and guidance for home funeral vigils, advance after-death care directives, green burials, and conscious dying. When we bring art and beauty, meaningful ritual, and joy to ease our loss and sorrow, we are greening the gateway of death and returning home…


Book cover of Learning to Die: Wisdom in the Age of Climate Crisis

Mallory McDuff Author Of Our Last Best Act: Planning for the End of Our Lives to Protect the People and Places We Love

From my list on change your relationship with death and heal Earth.

Why am I passionate about this?

I teach environmental education at Warren Wilson College outside Asheville, North Carolina, where I’ve raised my two daughters in a 900-square-foot campus rental with an expansive view of the Appalachian mountains. My students work in jobs ranging from managing the herd of cattle to growing vegetables for the cafeteria. After the sudden deaths of my parents, I decided to take this one-year journey to revise my final wishes with climate change and community in mind as a legacy to my children and my students. I’ve written five books, including the forthcoming Love Your Mother: 50 states, 50 stories, & 50 women united for climate justice (April 2023). 

Mallory's book list on change your relationship with death and heal Earth

Mallory McDuff Why did Mallory love this book?

A friend recommended this slim book of 100 pages that poses a profound and direct question: How should we live in the end times when the climate crisis threatens our very existence? How can we garner the moral courage to live with the responsibility our times demand of us—as individuals and in collective? These are heavy queries but the philosophical and poetic lens of the authors opens that space to approach the challenge with more grace than fear. Plus, it’s a book that can fit in your back pocket, perfect for walks outside when you’re thinking about life and death in uncertain times. 

By Robert Bringhurst, Jan Zwicky,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Truth-filled meditations about grace in the face of mortality." -MargaretAtwood In this powerful little book, two leading intellectuals illuminate the truth about where our environmental crisis is taking us. Writing from an island on Canada's Northwest coast, Robert Bringhurst and Jan Zwicky weigh in on the death of the planet versus the death of the individual. For Zwicky, awareness and humility are the foundation of the equanimity with which Socrates faced his death: he makes a good model when facing the death of the planet, as well as facing our own mortality. Bringhurst urges readers to tune their minds to…


Book cover of Cultivating the Doula Heart: Essentials of Compassionate Care

Elizabeth Anne Wood Author Of Bound: A Daughter, a Domme, and an End-of-Life Story

From my list on coping with the fact that we’re all going to die.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a little bit morbid since childhood. My father died when I was not quite 10 years old, and my mother was a huge fan of horror novels and scary movies. But I became seriously interested in death and dying when my mother got cancer and was facing the end of her own life. I acted as her medical advocate and participated in many aspects of her care. I'm also a sociologist who studies taboo elements of culture and I'm invested in creating a consciousness shift so that the United States is less death-phobic, allowing us all to live our lives more fully by addressing our mortality head-on!

Elizabeth's book list on coping with the fact that we’re all going to die

Elizabeth Anne Wood Why did Elizabeth love this book?

This book is deceptively short for something as deep and thoughtful. I loved this because of its focus on nonjudgmental, openhearted caregiving.

I wish I’d had this book when my mother was dying and I was acting both as her emotional supporter and her medical advocate. I frequently erred on the side of being her advocate and neglected my role as emotional supporter. This tiny little incredibly powerful book would have helped me tremendously! I will revisit it often.

By Francesca Lynn Arnoldy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cultivating the Doula Heart as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Loss is difficult...and universal. What do we say? What do we do?

Part how-to guide, part hopeful manifesto, Cultivating the Doula Heart provides a clear framework for supporting those facing hardship, grief, and loss. Succinct and straightforward, this "work of heart" covers: Components of Doula Care, Aspects of Loss, Ways of Being/Ways of Doing, Grief Support, and Contemplative Exercises. 

Readers will feel empowered to move from sympathy to empathy to compassion. The doula heart can be readily infused into all work and into any relationship.


Book cover of The Art of Dying Well: A Practical Guide to a Good End of Life

Lisa J. Shultz Author Of A Chance to Say Goodbye: Reflections on Losing a Parent

From my list on end-of-life planning.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an advocate for end-of-life planning. When my dad entered his eighties, and while still raising my own children, I found myself unprepared for my father’s steady health decline. Suddenly, I was thrust into the role of overseeing his care and making hard decisions. Our difficulties were exacerbated by a western medical system that fell short to prepare us for the end of his life. After my dad’s death, I began researching end-of-life issues to educate myself and plan for my own senior years. I have a goal to support others who face losing a parent and to facilitate healing for those who have already lost one. I also strive to inform and inspire the next generation to learn and plan early to guide themselves and their families to minimize avoidable problems and enhance quality elder years.


Lisa's book list on end-of-life planning

Lisa J. Shultz Why did Lisa love this book?

This book was helpful for me to navigate the finale of my parent’s lives. But The Art of Dying Well isn't just about one's parents. Many baby boomers are unprepared for dealing with their own aging. I suggest reading it well before you need it. Knowledge is power, and Butler's book gave me the gift of learning more now, while things are relatively calm. A crisis visit to an ER isn't the time to cram in education and research. You may need to be an advocate for yourself or someone you love sooner than later. I have suggested the book to my siblings and friends, which will hopefully lead to meaningful conversation and planning to support each other through our elder years. I am grateful for Butler's practical guide, which is filled with wisdom and resources. I anticipate referring to it again and again as I age. 

By Katy Butler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Art of Dying Well as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This "comforting...thoughtful" (The Washington Post) guide to maintaining a high quality of life-from resilient old age to the first inklings of a serious illness to the final breath-by the New York Times bestselling author of Knocking on Heaven's Door is a "roadmap to the end that combines medical, practical, and spiritual guidance" (The Boston Globe).

"A common sense path to define what a 'good' death looks like" (USA TODAY), The Art of Dying Well is about living as well as possible for as long as possible and adapting successfully to change. Packed with extraordinarily helpful insights and inspiring true stories,…


Book cover of And a Time to Die: How American Hospitals Shape the End of Life

Ed Cohen Author Of On Learning to Heal: or, What Medicine Doesn't Know

From my list on learning to heal.

Why am I passionate about this?

I earned a Ph.D. in Modern Thought from Stanford and have been an award-winning professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies for over three decades. I've also lived with Crohn’s Disease for more than 50 years. At the intersection of these two experiences, I developed a therapeutic practice oriented towards those with chronic and life-threatening illnesses called Healing Counsel. As both a teacher and a counsellor, I ask people to reconsider the ways they make sense of their experiences. I try to assist people to open up new possibilities for healing, not only as individuals, but also as societies, maybe even as a species, or perhaps even as planetary beings.

Ed's book list on learning to heal

Ed Cohen Why did Ed love this book?

Many people imagine that healing and dying are antithetical. However, this is not necessarily so. Sometimes, in the right circumstances, death can be healing not just for the person whose life is ending but for those who love them. 

Unfortunately, American hospital care does not usually facilitate such graceful transitions.  Kaufman, a medical anthropologist, compiles case histories of end-of-life care in medical facilities in order to help us understand the complexities that face us in these contexts. Since most Americans now die in some kind of medical institution, this book should be required reading for everyone—before it happens to us.

By Sharon R. Kaufman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked And a Time to Die as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Over the past thirty years, the way Americans experience death has been dramatically altered. The advent of medical technology capable of sustaining life without restoring health has changed where, when, and how we die. In this revelatory study, medical anthropologist Sharon R. Kaufman examines the powerful center of those changes: the hospital, where most Americans die today. She deftly links the experiences of patients and families, the work of hospital staff, and the ramifications of institutional bureaucracy to show the invisible power of the hospital system in shaping death and our individual experience of it. In doing so, Kaufman also…


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