100 books like Body of Work

By Christine Montross,

Here are 100 books that Body of Work fans have personally recommended if you like Body of Work. 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 Dark Archives: A Librarian's Investigation Into the Science and History of Books Bound in Human Skin

Jenny Lawson Author Of Broken (in the Best Possible Way)

From my list on will creep you out in the best possible way.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer and a bookstore owner and a lover of all things dark and strange. I grew up reading books that I often had to put in the freezer at night so that they wouldn’t haunt my dreams and I never grew out of it.  I have a book club called The Fantastic Strangelings so I am constantly reading, and always looking for new and wonderful stories to share.

Jenny's book list on will creep you out in the best possible way

Jenny Lawson Why did Jenny love this book?

I know you’re probably expecting novels on my list but this is the true story of a librarian’s investigation into the science and history of books bound in human skin (for real). More fascinating than creepy, this book sucked me in from the very beginning. If you like Mary Roach (Stiff, Spooked) or Caitlin Doughty (Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?) then you will love Megan Rosenbloom

By Megan Rosenbloom,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In Dark Archives, Megan Rosenbloom, a medical librarian and a cofounder of the Death Salon, seeks out the historic and scientific truths behind this anthropodermic bibliopegy. Dozens of these books still sit on the shelves of the world's most famous libraries and museums. What are their stories? Dark Archives exhumes their origins and brings to life the doctors, murderers, mental patients, beautiful women, and indigents whose lives are bound together in this rare, scattered, and disquieting collection. It also tells the story of the scientists, curators, and librarians like Rosenbloom - interested in the full complicated histories behind these dark…

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 A Tomb With a View: The Stories and Glories of Graveyards

Loren Rhoads Author Of 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die

From my list on about cemeteries.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up down the road from the little graveyard where my grandfather was buried. By accident, I discovered the glorious Victorian-era Highgate Cemetery in 1991. A friend sent me to explore Paris’s Pere Lachaise Cemetery – and I was hooked. I’ve gone from stopping by cemeteries when I travel to building vacations around cemeteries I want to see. I’ve gone out of my way to visit cemeteries in the Czech Republic, Greece, Italy, Japan, Spain, Singapore, and across the United States. At the moment, I’m editing Death’s Garden Revisited, in which 40 contributors answer the question: “Why is it important to visit cemeteries?”

Loren's book list on about cemeteries

Loren Rhoads Why did Loren love this book?

Although Ross’s book appears to be a guide to visiting graveyards, its focus often turns toward the people who work there: gravediggers, tour guides, historians, and even memorial artists. One of my favorite essays in the book introduces a modern maker of death masks, whose work appears on three headstones in Highgate Cemetery. The eulogy for “the best-known guide at the most famous cemetery in Ireland” nearly brought me to tears.

A Tomb With A View tells the stories of the graveyards and their dead, true, but most of all Ross conveys how the relationships between the dead and those who remain behind deepen with time. A lovely, life-affirming book.

By Peter Ross,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Tomb With a View as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?



'In his absorbing book about the lost and the gone, Peter Ross takes us from Flanders Fields to Milltown to Kensal Green, to melancholy islands and surprisingly lively ossuaries . . . a considered and moving book on the timely subject of how the dead are remembered, and how they go on working below the surface of our lives.' - Hilary Mantel

'Ross is a wonderfully evocative writer, deftly capturing a sense of place and history, while bringing…

Book cover of This Party's Dead: Grief, Joy and Spilled Rum at the World's Death Festivals

Loren Rhoads Author Of This Morbid Life: Essays

From my list on death-positive memoirs.

Why am I passionate about this?

For 10 years, I edited Morbid Curiosity magazine. I believe that curiosity is the most important aspect of being human. More than the simple desire to know things, curiosity is a tool as powerful as a scalpel or a searchlight. Curiosity is a way to effect change, in our own lives and in the world. Morbid Curiosity magazine taught me to believe in the power of story, especially in the form of memoirs. Only by telling our own stories can we overcome our fears and find inspiration in death. Investigating my own relationship with death led me to write This Morbid Life. These books illuminated my search.

Loren's book list on death-positive memoirs

Loren Rhoads Why did Loren love this book?

After Erica Buist's father-in-law died at home, a week passed before she and her husband found the body. Grief -- and the realization that everyone she knew would someday die -- hit Buist so hard that she couldn't leave her apartment. As a way to heal, she decided to travel to seven festivals around the world where death is celebrated, where the dead are still treated as part of the family. Her subsequent adventures in Mexico, Nepal, Sicily, Thailand, Madagascar, Japan, Indonesia, and New Orleans are both poignant and heartening. Her sense of humor shines through her experiences and makes this book laugh-out-loud funny at points.

By Erica Buist,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked This Party's Dead as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What if we responded to death... by throwing a party?

By the time Erica Buist's father-in-law Chris was discovered, upstairs in his bed, his book resting on his chest, he had been dead for over a week. She searched for answers (the artery-clogging cheeses in his fridge?) and tried to reason with herself (does daughter-in-law even feature in the grief hierarchy?) and eventually landed on an inevitable, uncomfortable truth: everybody dies.

With Mexico's Day of the Dead festivities as a starting point, Erica decided to confront death head-on by visiting seven death festivals around the world - one for every…

Book cover of The Lady and Her Monsters: A Tale of Dissections, Real-Life Dr. Frankensteins, and the Creation of Mary Shelley's Masterpiece

Michael Mullin Author Of Gothic Revival

From my list on books that bring us closer to Frankenstein’s monster.

Why am I passionate about this?

Most people think of Mary Shelley’s masterpiece as horror, but the truth is – and I love this fact! – Frankenstein is widely considered to be the first science fiction novel. I’ve always been fascinated with the origin story of the novel: Lord Byron’s ghost-story writing competition proposed among friends at Geneva’s Villa Diodati in 1816. I’ve watched every movie version of that iconic gathering. (Most are bad. Oh well.) As a college professor, I taught Frankenstein in a writing class. (I was also a preschool teacher. Honest! Those kids read other books.)

Michael's book list on books that bring us closer to Frankenstein’s monster

Michael Mullin Why did Michael love this book?

This is such a fascinatingly researched book about the science during the time Mary Shelley created Frankenstein. I was surprised and enthralled to learn how many real-life Victor Frankensteins there were in Victorian England, all trying to be the first to reanimate a dead corpse. The accounts of grave robbery and, yes, even murder (The fresher the corpse, the better the experiment!) had me hooked throughout.

Also intriguing was how this macabre practice was deemed by many to be the cutting edge of science. I feel the theme is especially resonant today as we face our own life-creating hubris with Artificial Intelligence.

By Roseanne Montillo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Lady and Her Monsters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Lady and Her Monsters by Roseanne Motillo brings to life the fascinating times, startling science, and real-life horrors behind Mary Shelley’s gothic masterpiece, Frankenstein.

Montillo recounts how—at the intersection of the Romantic Age and the Industrial Revolution—Shelley’s Victor Frankenstein was inspired by actual scientists of the period: curious and daring iconoclasts who were obsessed with the inner workings of the human body and how it might be reanimated after death.

With true-life tales of grave robbers, ghoulish experiments, and the ultimate in macabre research—human reanimation—The Lady and Her Monsters is a brilliant exploration of the creation of Frankenstein, Mary…

Book cover of Secrets of Women: Gender, Generation, and the Origins of Human Dissection

Celeste McNamara Author Of The Bishop's Burden: Reforming the Catholic Church in Early Modern Italy

From my list on Renaissance Italy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I teach medieval and early modern European history at Dublin City University, with a particular interest in 16th-18th century Italian history. My own research focuses on the religious, legal, and popular culture of northern Italy, particularly Venice and the Veneto region. I became fascinated with Renaissance Italian history as an undergraduate at the College of William and Mary, and then went on to do a masters and a PhD at Northwestern University. I have taught at Northwestern, the College of William and Mary, the University of Warwick/Warwick in Venice, and the State University of New York at Cortland.

Celeste's book list on Renaissance Italy

Celeste McNamara Why did Celeste love this book?

In spite of the impressive intellectual and scientific achievements of the Renaissance era, doctors and anatomists still had a very limited understanding of “women’s secrets,” that is, how the female body functioned. This era saw an increasing number of human dissections for medical study, but the vast majority of medical specimens were male, leading to an imbalance of knowledge.

In this captivating book, Park focuses on dissections of female bodies and the development of knowledge about the titular “secrets of women.” By expanding her study beyond university dissections to include those done in religious and domestic settings, she finds not only dissections of women’s bodies, but also dissections performed by women. The argument and analysis are sharp and incisive, it expands our understanding of early modern medicine, and the case studies of individual dissections are fascinating.

By Katherine Park,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Toward the end of the Middle Ages, medical writers and philosophers began to devote increasing attention to what they called “women’s secrets,” by which they meant female sexuality and generation. At the same time, Italian physicians and surgeons began to open human bodies in order to study their functions and the illnesses that afflicted them, culminating in the great illustrated anatomical treatise of Andreas Vesalius, in 1543.

Katharine Park traces these two closely related developments through a series of case studies of women whose bodies were dissected after their deaths: an abbess, a lactating virgin, several patrician wives and mothers,…

Book cover of The Silent Teacher: The Gift of Body Donation

Janet Philp Author Of Burke - Now and Then

From my list on the supply of cadavers and what they can teach us.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an anatomy educator and doctoral researcher looking at the use of human material in anatomy education. My historical research into the antics of body suppliers has caused me to explore many publications on what we do with the remains of our relatives. This is a subject that can be fascinating but also requires compassionate handling and sometimes asks us questions that we often do not want to ponder.

Janet's book list on the supply of cadavers and what they can teach us

Janet Philp Why did Janet love this book?

Right up to date with a book written by an anatomist detailing how cadavers are used in a modern teaching facility in the UK. In an unusual break from the silence that usually surrounds the use of human cadavers, Dr. Smith talks us through the whole process from donation to disposal and the assistance they provide to medical teaching.

By Claire F. Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One single body donation could affect the lives of around ten million patients. Body donation is an amazing gift which enables doctors and healthcare professionals to understand the human body. Surgeons can refine existing surgical skills and develop new procedures to create better treatment for you. Dr Claire Smith goes through every aspect of donating a body, clearly describing what happens to a body once it has been donated, how it is used, how bodies are reassembled and then placed in coffins before cremation.

This is the fascinating journey into the untold story of the Silent Teacher.

Book cover of Stiff

R.B. Thorne Author Of Listen: The Sound of Fear

From my list on when the body is dead, but the book goes on.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a fan of horror—specifically, supernatural horror—for as long as I can remember. Though the topic of life after death is perhaps one of the most long-standing debates in existence, almost every family has a story or two about things that can’t be explained. I’ve turned my lifelong interest in death, the occult, and how the two can coexist, into slow-burn horror stories for people who like a little weird with their fear. Stories that explore the beautiful complexity of queer people. Stories for the strange at heart.

R.B.'s book list on when the body is dead, but the book goes on

R.B. Thorne Why did R.B. love this book?

This book is a must-read for all horror writers, horror fans, and those who love to find humor in the strangest, most unexpected places. It’s nonfiction, and Roach will take you on a journey across time and cultures that’ll have you gasping, gagging, and rolling with laughter. Beware the snap, crackle, pop.

By Mary Roach,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Stiff is an oddly compelling, often hilarious exploration of the strange lives of our bodies postmortem. For two thousand years, cadavers-some willingly, some unwittingly-have been involved in science's boldest strides and weirdest undertakings. In this fascinating account, Mary Roach visits the good deeds of cadavers over the centuries and tells the engrossing story of our bodies when we are no longer with them.

Book cover of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

Jawahara Saidullah Author Of We are...Warrior Queens

From my list on transporting you across time and place.

Why am I passionate about this?

Travel and writing are my two great passions. Since I was a child, I escaped reality by escaping into my own mind. I had relied on my stories of the warrior queens ever since I learned about them as a child. It was only a few years ago, when I lived in Geneva, that I had a memory flash at me of the statue of Queen Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi on a rearing horse with a curved sword held in one hand. I knew then that it was time to tell a story—my own story and that of my favorite warrior queens.

Jawahara's book list on transporting you across time and place

Jawahara Saidullah Why did Jawahara love this book?

This is a surprising book because while it is certainly macabre, it’s not morbid (at least not for me) and is strangely entertaining. It demystifies the human body and the process of death and dying. 

Even as the author delves into every aspect of dead bodies, she does so with compassion and humor. Rooted and backed up with science, this book held my interest from beginning to end, and I read it non-stop for over a day and a half. Despite its grave subject matter, this book is not dark or scary. It’s matter-of-fact and very educational.

By Mary Roach,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For two thousand years, cadavers - some willingly, some unwittingly - have been involved in science's boldest strides and weirdest undertakings. They've tested France's first guillotines, ridden the NASA Space Shuttle, been crucified in a Parisian laboratory to test the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin, and helped solve the mystery of TWA Flight 800. For every new surgical procedure, from heart transplants to gender confirmation surgery, cadavers have helped make history in their quiet way. "Delightful-though never disrespectful" (Les Simpson, Time Out New York), Stiff investigates the strange lives of our bodies postmortem and answers the question: What should…

Book cover of Not Even Bones

Erin Grammar Author Of Magic Mutant Nightmare Girl

From my list on YA fantasy with “unlikeable” heroines.

Why am I passionate about this?

I firmly believe that everyone, especially teenage girls, should own their right to pick and choose. Life guarantees you’ll run across the opportunity to make “bad” decisions, but these are so much more fun to read about than a path that’s straight and narrow. Cultivating radical empathy for my fellow humans, even those I don’t agree with, is a passion that makes me a kinder person and a more nuanced writer. Plus, I like shouting at books as much as the next reader. It makes my cats come running, which makes them tired, which makes them sit and cuddle. Diabolical, indeed.  

Erin's book list on YA fantasy with “unlikeable” heroines

Erin Grammar Why did Erin love this book?

An absolute must-read for everyone who looks at villains and goes “I want their story.” Nita dices up monsters and sells their magical parts on the black market with her narcissist mother. And that’s just the beginning. The real conflict starts when mommy dearest brings her a body that’s still alive. This is a book with propulsive, edge-of-your-seat energy. Raw, gory, morally ambiguous, and every other unsettling box YA fantasy should check more often. It’s even got a Webtoon adaptation for visually-inclined readers.

By Rebecca Schaeffer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Not Even Bones 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?

"Twisty, grisly, genre-bending and immersive, Not Even Bones will grab you by the throat and drag you along as it gleefully tramples all of your expectations." —Sara Holland, New York Times best-selling author of Everless Dexter meets This Savage Song in this dark fantasy about a girl who sells magical body parts on the black market—until she’s betrayed.

Nita doesn’t murder supernatural beings and sell their body parts on the internet—her mother does that. Nita just dissects the bodies after they’ve been “acquired.” Until her mom brings home a live specimen and Nita decides she wants out; dissecting a scared…

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