10 books like Necromanticism

By Paul Westover,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Necromanticism. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Dominion of the Dead

By Robert Pogue Harrison,

Book cover of The Dominion of the Dead

This was one of the first books that got me thinking critically about ‘dark tourism’. Harrison inspired me to look at how the dead maintain their relations with the living. In turn, the book galvanized my thinking of the many touristic places where the dead cohabit the world of the living. These range from graves, monuments, and memorials, and made me think about how we give the dead a memorialized afterlife. Drawing upon philosophy, history, and poetry, Harrison teaches us that as we follow in the footsteps of the dead, we are not self-authored. Instead, the thought of death shapes the communion of the living. Within the ‘Dominion of the Dead’, the dead become our guardians where we give them a future so that they may give us a past. 

The Dominion of the Dead

By Robert Pogue Harrison,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In The Dominion of the Dead, Robert Pogue Harrison explores the many places where the dead cohabit the world of the living - the graves, images, literature, architecture, and monuments that house the dead in their afterlife among us. This elegantly conceived work devotes particular attention to the practice of burial. Harrison contends that we bury our dead to humanize the lands where we build our present and imagine our future. Through inspired readings of major writers and thinkers such as Vico, Virgil, Dante, Pater, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Rilke, he argues that the buried dead form an essential foundation where…


Assassination Vacation

By Sarah Vowell,

Book cover of Assassination Vacation

With a healthy dose of gallows humour, Sarah Vowell explores glorious conundrums of American history, politics, and culture. As such, the book provoked me to appreciate how visiting sites of the significant dead has long been in the touristic imagination. The book takes you on a journey – part history lesson, part travelogue – through the black spots of American political violence. Through a bizarre road trip to places where American politicians met a bloody end, I found Vowell’s own thoughts on the American character both witty and quirky. I also love how she explodes myths and, consequently, exposes a profound level of hypocrisy in the quest for (American) political and cultural advantage.  

Assassination Vacation

By Sarah Vowell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Transporting us from Buffalo to Alaska, Washington to Key West, Vowell has crafted a narrative that is much more than a historical travelogue - it is the disturbing and mesmerising story of how American death has been manipulated by popular culture, including film, literature, and - the author's favourite - historical tourism. Skilfully belying the undercurrents of loss and violence that course through her journey, Vowell injects a range of lighter detours along the way, including mummies, show tunes, mean-spirited totem poles, a nineteenth-century biblical sex cult - and exactly how Lincoln's Republican Party became Bush's Republican Party. Assassination Vacation…


Holidays in Heck

By P. J. O'Rourke,

Book cover of Holidays in Heck

P.J. O’Rourke, a former war correspondent cum travel author of Holidays in Hell, informs us that there are rules about travelling for fun. One of those rules is that tourists must find the most crowded airplane and be treated as self-loading freight! However, O’Rourke does not travel for fun. Yet, I discovered in this book that his travels to places associated with the odd or macabre are fun – and indeed funny. O’Rourke travels with his wife and young family and we accompany them as he reveals witty and irrelevant perspectives on the places he visits. In his concluding thoughts, when he asks what is the point of the Washington Memorial, it was then I realised I had chuckled all the way through this droll travelogue as a backseat passenger.  

Holidays in Heck

By P. J. O'Rourke,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Humorous essays from the #1 New York Times–bestselling author on travel, late-life parenting, and other perils.
 
P. J. O’Rourke, hailed as “one of America’s most hilarious writers” by Time, is the author of the classic travelogue Holidays in Hell, in which he traversed the globe on a fun-finding mission to what were then some of the most desperate places on the planet, including Warsaw, Managua, and Belfast.
 
In Holidays in Heck, O’Rourke embarks on supposedly more comfortable and allegedly less dangerous travels—often with family in tow—which mostly leave him wishing he were under artillery fire again. The essays take O’Rourke…


The Darkness Echoing

By Gillian O'Brien,

Book cover of The Darkness Echoing: Exploring Ireland’s Places of Famine, Death and Rebellion

During a personal pilgrimage visiting Ireland’s dissonant heritage sites, Gillian O’Brien takes us on a dark tourism odyssey. This book should inspire all to embrace dark tourism and shine light on the recesses of troubled histories. What I love about this book is that O’Brien invites us to explore notions of nationhood by visiting sites of war, revolution, famine, death, emigration, and even diasporic ghosts. It is this strange allure of Ireland’s difficult past that creates a unique and unmistakable sense of ‘Irishness’. The book is not a scholarly monologue but an authoritative account of a dark quest. Witty and well-written, the book connected me to Irish landscapes, its places, and people, and most of all, to the strange enhancement I found in the island’s dark past. 

The Darkness Echoing

By Gillian O'Brien,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Irish Times Top 10 Bestseller!

From war to revolution, famine to emigration, The Darkness Echoing travels around Ireland bringing its dark past to life

Ireland is a nation obsessed with death. We find a thrill in the moribund, a strange enchantment in the drama of our dark past. It's everywhere we look and in all of our beloved myths, songs and stories that have helped to form our cultural identity. Our wakes and ballads, our plays and famine sites, all of them and more come together to tell ourselves and the world who we are and what we have…


Footsteps

By Richard Holmes,

Book cover of Footsteps: Adventures of a Romantic Biographer

I first read this many years ago and it has stayed with me. Every so often, I return to it in order to immerse myself in its wonderful prose and insights. It combines travelogue with biography, detective work with a probing inner exploration and is both an account of a physical journey and a remap of the writer’s imagination. He begins with his homage to Robert Louis Stevenson’s Travels with a Donkey and describes his own trek over the Cevennes. He starts out with the idea that he will be a poet and finishes his walk having been led "far away into the undiscovered land of other’s men and women’s lives. It led towards biography."

It is the turning point of his life and for the remainder of the book – as he hunts down his subjects which include Mary Wollstonecraft, Shelley, Gerard de Nerval, and Gautier – he goes…

Footsteps

By Richard Holmes,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Richard Holmes knew he had become a true biographer the day his bank bounced a check that he had inadvertently dated 1772. Because for the acclaimed chronicler of Shelley and Coleridge, biography is a physical pursuit, an ardent and arduous retracing of footsteps that may have vanished centuries before.
 
In this gripping book, Holmes takes us from France’s Massif Central, where he followed the route taken by Robert Louis Stevenson and a sweet-natured donkey, to Mary Wollstonecraft’s Revolutionary Paris, to the Italian villages where Percy Shelley tried to cast off the strictures of English morality and marriage. Footsteps is a…


The Story of the Country House

By Clive Aslet,

Book cover of The Story of the Country House: A History of Places and People

The country house is a subject that has always fascinated me, but I’ve often struggled to define it accurately. Clive Aslet, former editor of Country Life magazine does a brilliant job of refining the topic into very readable, succinct, chapters filled with plenty of anecdotes and charming illustrations. As soon as I finished it, I wanted to read it all over again. 

The Story of the Country House

By Clive Aslet,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Story of the Country House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The fascinating story of the evolution of the country house in Britain, from its Roman precursors to the present

The Story of the Country House is an authoritative and vivid account of the British country house, exploring how they have evolved with the changing political and economic landscape. Clive Aslet reveals the captivating stories behind individual houses, their architects, and occupants, and paints a vivid picture of the wider context in which the country house in Britain flourished and subsequently fell into decline before enjoying a renaissance in the twenty-first century. The genesis, style, and purpose of architectural masterpieces such…


Cavalier

By Lucy Worsley,

Book cover of Cavalier: A Tale of Chivalry, Passion, and Great Houses

Also not specifically set in Ireland, this book reveals in wonderful detail what life was like in the great manor houses of both England and Ireland. Such houses distinguished the 17th century from the age of castles and fortresses, and were lavishly constructed and furnished as tangible statements of power and wealth. You’ll learn what daily life was like from chambermaid to earl.

Cavalier

By Lucy Worsley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

William Cavendish was a gifted horseman, prolific womaniser and skilled diplomat. Famously defeated at the Battle of Marston Moor in 1644, he went into a long and miserable exile before returning to England in triumph on the restoration of King Charles II to the throne in 1660. But this is not just the story of that one remarkable man and the courtly world of King Charles I and his Cavaliers. More than that, Lucy Worsley brings to life the complex and fascinating household hierarchies of the seventeenth century, painting a picture of conspiracy, sexual intrigue, clandestine marriage and gossip. From…


Sea Room

By Adam Nicolson, Adam Nicolson,

Book cover of Sea Room

There’s been a proliferation of books in the last decade about wild and abandoned Scottish islands abundant in puffins and seals, but I have an affection for this, originally published twenty years ago, as it was the first I read and nudged me towards exploring the theme at the opposite extreme edge of Europe. Nicolson actually inherited the Shiant islands in the Hebrides who had bought them, so it’s no wonder he had them to himself, but he also was inspired by that connection and made it his serious mission to explore their nature and history, and uncovered in detail the haunting past of these abandoned islands. 

Sea Room

By Adam Nicolson, Adam Nicolson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Adam Nicolson's father had answered a newspaper advertisement in the 1930s: "Uninhabited islands for sale. Outer Hebrides. 600 acres. 500 ft basaltic cliffs. Puffins and seals. Cabin. Apply Col. Kenneth Macdonald, Portree, Skye." These were the Shiants, three of the loneliest of the British Isles, set in a dangerous sea, with no more than a stone-built, rat-ridden bothy as accommodation, five miles or so off the coast of Lewis. They cost #1400 and for that he bought one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Adam Nicolson inherited the islands when he was 21 - an astonishing gift -…


The Musical Life

By Helen Marquard,

Book cover of The Musical Life: Hedwig Stein: Emigree Pianist

Helen Marquard’s search for a piano teacher led her to Hedwig Stein who had fled Berlin in 1933 with her Russian Jewish husband, both concert pianists, to start again from nothing. A large, vivid woman, Hedwig freely shared her ideas on music, art, philosophy, literature. Later, Marquard discovered Hedwig had written a diary, and determined to bring us this story that would otherwise have been lost, enabling Hedwig and her husband to take their rightful place in the roll-call of émigrés who have contributed so much to UK cultural life. Hedwig put her husband’s career and her children first, yet she never gave up on her own career, which continued its own quiet flourishing after her husband’s sudden death. 

The Musical Life

By Helen Marquard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Hedwig Stein was starting to make her mark as a concert pianist in Germany in the early 1930s when she fell in love with a Russian emigre pianist, Iso Elinson. He was half-Jewish, and quickly the pair knew they had little choice but to flee, despite vehement family opposition to that and to their proposed marriage. They chose England as their destination although neither had visited the country or spoke the language. They arrived with just twelve bags, a very small amount of money, a recommendation about Iso from Albert Einstein, and a few letters of introduction. Bit by bit,…


Birds Britannica

By Mark Cocker, Richard Mabey,

Book cover of Birds Britannica

This is a glorious bird-by-bird book, filled with photographs and lots of information and first-hand accounts, including folklore and history, with copious endnotes and references. It was first published in 2005 and reissued in 2020. The book is divided into different bird families, starting with the Diver family, the Grebe family, and the Albatross family, so it can be read systematically or by dipping in and out. Birds Britannica perhaps deserves the name ‘coffee-table book’ – being so heavy, it is almost impossible to read unless seated (with a coffee) at a table. 

Birds Britannica

By Mark Cocker, Richard Mabey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The British love their birds, which are inextricably entwined with every aspect of their island life. British customs, more than 1,000 years of English literature, the very fabric of society, even the landscape itself, have all been enhanced by the presence of birds. Highly acclaimed on first publication, this superb book pays tribute to the remarkable relationship forged between a nation and its most treasured national heritage.

Birds Britannica is a unique publication of immense importance. Neither an identification guide nor a behavioural study (although both these subjects enter its field), it concentrates on our social history and on the…


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