98 books like Soldier Dead

By Michael Sledge,

Here are 98 books that Soldier Dead fans have personally recommended if you like Soldier Dead. 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 The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade

Todd Harra Author Of Mortuary Confidential: Undertakers Spill the Dirt

From my list on aspiring funeral directors or with a morbid streak.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been in the funeral profession my entire professional career, and my family has deep roots in the profession too. My great-great-great grandfather was a cabinet maker, or “tradesman undertaker” in rural Milford, Delaware prior to the Civil War. In addition to being a funeral director and embalmer, I’m a certified post-mortem reconstructionist and cremationist, and the president of the Delaware State Funeral Directors Association. I’ve written five books on the subject of the funeral profession and am an associate editor for Southern Calls, “The Journal of the Funeral Profession.”

Todd's book list on aspiring funeral directors or with a morbid streak

Todd Harra Why did Todd love this book?

Thomas Lynch does a masterful job in The Undertaking offering a behind-the-scenes look at the funeral profession. Using beautiful, lyrical prose to present a topic (i.e., death) that is often ugly and hard to stomach, and rears its head at the most inopportune times, Lynch offers an unflinching look at what he calls the dismal trade. His deep connection with death and dying translates to the reader not only feeling connected with the subject matter, but empowering the reader to connect with the next death event in their life. Take it from me, someone in the profession, this book is as authentic as they come. A must-read. 

By Thomas Lynch,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Every year I bury a couple hundred of my townspeople." So opens this singular and wise testimony. Like all poets, inspired by death, Thomas Lynch is, unlike others, also hired to bury the dead or to cremate them and to tend to their families in a small Michigan town where he serves as the funeral director.

In the conduct of these duties he has kept his eyes open, his ear tuned to the indispensable vernaculars of love and grief. In these twelve pieces his is the voice of both witness and functionary. Here, Lynch, poet to the dying, names the…


Book cover of Confessions of a Funeral Director: How Death Saved My Life

Todd Harra Author Of Mortuary Confidential: Undertakers Spill the Dirt

From my list on aspiring funeral directors or with a morbid streak.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been in the funeral profession my entire professional career, and my family has deep roots in the profession too. My great-great-great grandfather was a cabinet maker, or “tradesman undertaker” in rural Milford, Delaware prior to the Civil War. In addition to being a funeral director and embalmer, I’m a certified post-mortem reconstructionist and cremationist, and the president of the Delaware State Funeral Directors Association. I’ve written five books on the subject of the funeral profession and am an associate editor for Southern Calls, “The Journal of the Funeral Profession.”

Todd's book list on aspiring funeral directors or with a morbid streak

Todd Harra Why did Todd love this book?

You might recognize Caleb Wilde from his prolific social media presence. And while Wilde’s funeral home is only about an hour from mine, that has nothing to do with the recommendation. What appealed to me about Confessions is Wilde’s naked honesty about the pervasiveness of death that many of us who work in the profession feel. Confessions is introspective, and at times funny, but my main takeaway is Wilde’s attempt to foster a more death-positive attitude with his text. Sure death is sad, and at times tragic, but there are life lessons to be learned and it doesn’t have to be a taboo subject in our culture.

By Caleb Wilde,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Confessions of a Funeral Director as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"I tremble to say there's good in death, because I've looked in the eyes of the grieving mother and I've seen the heartbreak of the stricken widow, but I've also seen something more in death, something good. Death's hands aren't all bony and cold."-from Confessions of a Funeral Director

We are a people who deeply fear death. While humans are biologically wired to evade death for as long as possible, we have become too adept at hiding from it, vilifying it, and-when it can be avoided no longer-letting the professionals take over.

Sixth-generation funeral director Caleb Wilde understands this reticence…


Book cover of Funeral Customs: Their Origin and Development

Todd Harra Author Of Mortuary Confidential: Undertakers Spill the Dirt

From my list on aspiring funeral directors or with a morbid streak.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been in the funeral profession my entire professional career, and my family has deep roots in the profession too. My great-great-great grandfather was a cabinet maker, or “tradesman undertaker” in rural Milford, Delaware prior to the Civil War. In addition to being a funeral director and embalmer, I’m a certified post-mortem reconstructionist and cremationist, and the president of the Delaware State Funeral Directors Association. I’ve written five books on the subject of the funeral profession and am an associate editor for Southern Calls, “The Journal of the Funeral Profession.”

Todd's book list on aspiring funeral directors or with a morbid streak

Todd Harra Why did Todd love this book?

As I said before, I love history, and Puckle’s book gives the reader a great look into the why of our funeral customs. As in: why do we send funeral flowers? (To which Puckle offers the glib answer, “the half sovereign he paid for it save him from the mental exercise of composing a suitable letter of condolence” before offering a serious explanation). Sure, the book was published almost a century ago, but that has no bearing on the contents. It’s an evergreen book and a highly recommended read for serious funereal scholars or those considering a career in funeral service.

By Bertram Puckle,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Puckle's "Funeral Customs" is one of the more in-depth looks at death ever penned. Created in the early 20th century, it casts a rational and skeptical glance at the superstitions of burial practices and cremation alike, and lists in some detail the customs of death over time and changes to them during the black death and then-modernity among other eras. Not just a European work, it delves into Hinduism as well as Egyptian and Zoroastrian practices from antiquity.

From the memento mori to funeral feasts, its pages are filled with interesting folklore, astonishing history, and more than a few bits…


Book cover of Good Mourning

Todd Harra Author Of Mortuary Confidential: Undertakers Spill the Dirt

From my list on aspiring funeral directors or with a morbid streak.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been in the funeral profession my entire professional career, and my family has deep roots in the profession too. My great-great-great grandfather was a cabinet maker, or “tradesman undertaker” in rural Milford, Delaware prior to the Civil War. In addition to being a funeral director and embalmer, I’m a certified post-mortem reconstructionist and cremationist, and the president of the Delaware State Funeral Directors Association. I’ve written five books on the subject of the funeral profession and am an associate editor for Southern Calls, “The Journal of the Funeral Profession.”

Todd's book list on aspiring funeral directors or with a morbid streak

Todd Harra Why did Todd love this book?

During the course of my work week, I get a lot of people telling me they currently are interested in the funeral profession, or if they are of retirement age, they were interested in their younger days. Which begs the question: how do you get started in the profession? Society-girl Meyer simply went in and asked for a job at an East-side funeral home after planning her own father’s funeral. The book details how she helped plan some amazing send-offs for the Big Apple’s rich and famous, and I think is a great how-to for “rolling your sleeves up and giving something a try.” I read somewhere that the experience motivated her to attend mortuary school. Fun read. 

By Elizabeth Meyer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Synopsis coming soon.......


Book cover of Anil's Ghost

Jeannee Sacken Author Of Behind the Lens

From my list on thrilling fiction with brave, gutsy, badass women.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like my main character, Annie Hawkins Green, I’m passionate about photojournalism, and we both love to travel the world capturing images that tell our stories. My training as a photographer has led me to write novels that are visual and cinematic, affording readers authentic and immersive experiences in the places Annie takes us—Afghanistan, Milwaukee, wherever. We’re both seriously committed to empowering girls through education and go to great lengths, and some risk, to make that happen. Readers tend to think Annie and I are brave and gutsy and, well, badass. Annie is, for sure—she goes to dangerous places. Okay, I admit that many of her adventures have an autobiographical twist.  

Jeannee's book list on thrilling fiction with brave, gutsy, badass women

Jeannee Sacken Why did Jeannee love this book?

In his most atmospheric and suspenseful novel, Anil’s Ghost, Michael Ondaatje transports readers into the middle of the civil war that splintered Sri Lanka. A brilliant forensic anthropologist who was educated abroad, Anil Tissera bravely returns to her homeland determined to unearth evidence to explain the brutal campaign of murders ravaging the country. With each new discovery Anil makes, at great risk to her own safety, I find myself holding my breath. Although the powerful elite are lined up against her, she stands firm, refusing to let the guns and bombs scare her away. Steeped in centuries of culture and tradition, this is truly one of my favorite books ever. 

By Michael Ondaatje,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Anil's Ghost as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With his first novel since the internationally acclaimed The English Patient, Booker Prize—winning author Michael Ondaatje gives us a work displaying all the richness of imagery and language and the piercing emotional truth that we have come to know as the hallmarks of his writing.

Anil’s Ghost transports us to Sri Lanka, a country steeped in centuries of tradition, now forced into the late twentieth century by the ravages of civil war. Into this maelstrom steps Anil Tissera, a young woman born in Sri Lanka, educated in England and America, who returns to her homeland as a forensic anthropologist sent…


Book cover of Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore and Reality

Stephen R. Wilk Author Of Medusa: Solving the Mystery of the Gorgon

From my list on the unexpected truths behind myths.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a scientist, engineer, and writer who has written on a wide range of topics. I’ve been fascinated by mythology my entire life, and I spent over a decade gathering background material on the myth of Perseus and Medusa, and came away with a new angle on the origin and meaning of the myth and what inspired it. I was unable to present this in a brief letter or article, and so decided to turn my arguments into a book. The book is still in print, and has been cited numerous times by scholarly journals and books. It formed the basis for the History Channel series Clash of the Gods (in which I appear).

Stephen's book list on the unexpected truths behind myths

Stephen R. Wilk Why did Stephen love this book?

The figure of the vampire has become very familiar through portrayals in literature, stage, and cinema, but where does the myth itself originate?

Many have speculated on the roots of the vampire legend, ascribing it to various diseases, like porphyria or rabies. But Barber stripped away the cultural additions imposed on the legend by its fictional interpretation and looked for origins consistent with the bare, original legend.

A nice piece of folkloric detective work, and one that influenced my own book.

By Paul T. Barber,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this engrossing book, Paul Barber surveys centuries of folklore about vampires and offers the first scientific explanation for the origins of the vampire legends. From the tale of a sixteenth-century shoemaker from Breslau whose ghost terrorized everyone in the city, to the testimony of a doctor who presided over the exhumation and dissection of a graveyard full of Serbian vampires, his book is fascinating reading.

"This study's comprehensiveness and the author's bone-dry wit make this compelling reading, not just for folklorists, but for anyone interested in a time when the dead wouldn't stay dead."-Booklist

"Barber's inquiry into vampires, fact…


Book cover of Being with the Dead: Burial, Ancestral Politics, and the Roots of Historical Consciousness

Timothy Recuber Author Of The Digital Departed: How We Face Death, Commemorate Life, and Chase Virtual Immortality

From my list on changing your thinking about death and dying.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a sociologist who has just written a book about the ways that we engage with death and dying online, and before that I wrote a book about media coverage of disasters. Macabre subjects have always fascinated me, I guess, not because they are macabre but because they reveal a great deal about the ways we live and our sense of the value of life itself.

Timothy's book list on changing your thinking about death and dying

Timothy Recuber Why did Timothy love this book?

I was blown away by this thought-provoking philosophical examination of the relationship between the living and the dead.

Burial, Hans Ruin points out, is the most ancient cultural-symbolic practice in all of human development. In burying the dead, and through the attendant rituals accompanying burial, we are caring for them and communicating about or with them. Ruin looks at a variety of ways that such care has been accomplished and debated over time, from prehistoric graves to ancient Egyptian pyramids to Sophoclean dramas from ancient Greece.

All of these examples are put to use as part of a larger meditation on what it means to live ethically; as he puts it “there is no social space entirely outside the shared space with the dead. To learn to live is to learn to inhabit this space in a responsible way. Life is a life after, as inheritance, ancestry, legacy and fate.”     

By Hans Ruin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Philosophy, Socrates declared, is the art of dying. This book underscores that it is also the art of learning to live and share the earth with those who have come before us. Burial, with its surrounding rituals, is the most ancient documented cultural-symbolic practice: all humans have developed techniques of caring for and communicating with the dead. The premise of Being with the Dead is that we can explore our lives with the dead as a cross-cultural existential a priori out of which the basic forms of historical consciousness emerge. Care for the dead is not just about the symbolic…


Book cover of The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Death and Burial

Julia Troche Author Of Death, Power, and Apotheosis in Ancient Egypt: The Old and Middle Kingdoms

From my list on the enduring power of the dead in our lives.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love zombie movies. I am also an Egyptologist. The dead affect us in profound ways every day, even without being semi-animated corpses searching for brains. I have always been keenly interested in the relationships we have with our dead, be it Halloween, Día de los Muertos, or an urn on a mantle. The dead are with us and inform our lives. The same was true in ancient Egypt. And to me, this made the ancient Egyptians feel very familiar and accessible. They, too, were anxious about death. They, too, grieved when loved ones were gone and developed practices and beliefs that kept the dead ‘alive’. 

Julia's book list on the enduring power of the dead in our lives

Julia Troche Why did Julia love this book?

I love teaching from this book because I learn something new every time I pick it up. This robust volume includes chapters that cover how death was understood in a wide range of cultural contexts, from antiquity (e.g. “Ancient Identities: Age, Gender and Ethnicity in Ancient Greek Burials” or “The Place of Veneration in Earl South Asian Buddhism) to the contemporary (e.g. “Contested Burials: The Dead as Witnesses, Victims, and Tools” or “The Archaeology and Material Culture of Modern Military Death”). At over 800 pages, this book may seem overwhelming, but each chapter can be excerpted on its own. My favorite is “The Powerful Dead of the Inca” because it parallels the questions and paradigms I tackle in my own work on ancient Egypt dead, some 3000 years and 7,800 miles away. 

By Sarah Tarlow, Liv Nilsson Stutz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Death and Burial as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Death and Burial reviews the current state of mortuary archaeology and its practice, highlighting its often contentious place in the modern socio-politics of archaeology. It contains forty-four chapters which focus on the history of the discipline and its current scientific techniques and methods.

Written by leading, international scholars in the field, it derives its examples and case studies from a wide range of time periods, such as the middle palaeolithic to the twentieth century, and geographical areas which include Europe, North and South America, Africa, and Asia. Combining up-to-date knowledge of relevant archaeological…


Book cover of The Graveyard Book

Bryan L. Young Author Of A Children's Illustrated History of Presidential Assassination

From my list on morbidly curious kids and their adults.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a nerd for the morbid for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, I tore through all the books on the shelves in my house, whether they were appropriate for my age group or not. I started tearing into Stephen King books at 8 or so. I remember vividly copying language out of Christine when I was about 10 on the playground and getting in a lot of trouble for it. But I turned out okay. I really do believe that kids have a fascination for things above their age range, and adults enjoy it, too, and I still love all of these.

Bryan's book list on morbidly curious kids and their adults

Bryan L. Young Why did Bryan love this book?

This book opened in a graveyard and never let me go from there.

It’s not the sort of book I expected to like, let alone be wowed by or to be pleasing to a kid, but it works so well. Neil Gaiman’s writing is almost never stronger than it is here and every page kept me hooked to the point where I just wanted to keep reading, page after page.

By Neil Gaiman, Dave McKean (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

17 authors picked The Graveyard Book as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

When a baby escapes a murderer intent on killing his entire family, who would have thought it would find safety and security in the local graveyard? Brought up by the resident ghosts, ghouls and spectres, Bod has an eccentric childhood learning about life from the dead. But for Bod there is also the danger of the murderer still looking for him - after all, he is the last remaining member of the family. A stunningly original novel deftly constructed over eight chapters, featuring every second year of Bod's life, from babyhood to adolescence. Will Bod survive to be a man?


Book cover of Cemetery Stories: Haunted Graveyards, Embalming Secrets, and the Life of a Corpse After Death

Seth Mallios Author Of Cemeteries of San Diego

From my list on the reality of cemeteries across America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have inventoried hundreds of cemeteries and thousands of historic gravestones, my mentor (Jim Deetz) wrote the seminal study that brought the study of gravestones into archaeology, and I truly believe the words of former English Prime Minister William E. Gladstone, who said, “Show me the manner in which a nation or a community cares for its dead and I will measure with mathematical exactness the tender sympathies of its people, their respect for the laws of the land and their loyalty to high ideals.”

Seth's book list on the reality of cemeteries across America

Seth Mallios Why did Seth love this book?

For many of us who study cemeteries, there is a danger of thinking that these landscapes of the dead are just bodies and gravestones. Katherine Ramsland’s Cemetery Stories: Haunted Graveyards, Embalming Secrets, and the Life of a Corpse After Death is one of the few books out there that details every step between death and internment, which are just as revealing about American culture as a fancy gravestone epitaph or a biography of a deceased local celebrity.

By Katherine Ramsland,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Never look at a grave the same way again

Admit it: You're fascinated by cemeteries. We all die, and for most of us, a cemetery is our final resting place. But how many people really know what goes on inside, around, and beyond them?

Enter the world of the dead as Katherine Ramsland talks to mortuary assistants, gravediggers, funeral home owners, and more, and find out about:

Stitching and cosmetic secrets used on mutilated bodies Embalmers who do more than just embalm The rising popularity of cremation art Ghosts that infest graveyards everywhere

If you've ever scoffed at the high…


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