10 books like The Cannibal Hymn

By Christopher Eyre,

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

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Conceptions of God in Ancient Egypt

By Erik Hornung, John Baines (translator),

Book cover of Conceptions of God in Ancient Egypt: The One and the Many

Ancient Egyptian religion is so much more than royal pyramid burials and animal-headed gods, and Hornung’s book explains how. He dissects the notoriously complex topic by first defining terms, like the word netjer“god,” and then explores creation accounts, divine imagery, and how humans and gods interact. Along the way, Hornung pulls in a story by Edgar Allen Poe, the motto of the French Revolution, and even black holes. Any study of ancient Egyptian religion should begin with this erudite, witty, and accessible book. We always include this in the reading assignments for introductory courses on ancient Egyptian religion and magic.

Conceptions of God in Ancient Egypt

By Erik Hornung, John Baines (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Conceptions of God in Ancient Egypt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Osiris, Horus, Isis, Thoth, Anubis - the many strange and compelling figures of the Egyptian gods and goddesses seem to possess endless fascination. The renowned Egyptologist Erik Hornung here studies the ancient Egyptians' conceptions of god, basing his account on a thorough reappraisal of the primary sources. His book, now available in English for the first time, is the most extensive exploration yet undertaken of the nature of Egyptian religion.

Hornung examines the characteristics, spheres of action, and significance of Egyptian gods and goddesses, analyzing the complex and changing iconography used to represent them, and disentangling the many seemingly contradictory…


The Search for God in Ancient Egypt

By Jan Assmann, David Lorton (translator),

Book cover of The Search for God in Ancient Egypt

Weaving together passages from key primary sources within a rich web of analysis, Assmann’s wide-ranging study tackles both the principles of Egyptian polytheism and its historical developments.  Assmann’s important and influential work (translated by David Lorton) does not shy away from intense vocabulary, but a close read repays the effort. By the end of the dense text, the reader will be familiar with both the diversity and beauty of ancient Egyptian religious texts. Assmann’s years of work with ancient Egyptian texts, and especially his encyclopedic knowledge of ancient Egyptian solar hymns, ensures that the reader is firmly grounded in primary sources, even in the most esoteric of discussions.

The Search for God in Ancient Egypt

By Jan Assmann, David Lorton (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Search for God in Ancient Egypt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

First English-language edition, with revisions and additions by the author.This classic work by one of the world's most distinguished Egyptologists was first published in German in 1984. The Search for God in Ancient Egypt offers a distillation of Jan Assmann's views on ancient Egyptian religion, with special emphasis on theology and piety. Deeply rooted in the texts of ancient Egypt and thoroughly informed by comparative religion, theology, anthropology, and semiotic analysis, Assmann's interpretations reveal the complexity of Egyptian thought in a new way.Assmann takes special care to distinguish between the "implicit" theology of Egyptian polytheism and the "explicit" theology that…


Living with the Dead

By Nicola Harrington,

Book cover of Living with the Dead: Ancestor Worship and Mortuary Ritual in Ancient Egypt

Dr. Harrington offers an accessible yet meticulous overview of the role of the dead in ancient Egyptian society, with a general, but not exclusive, focus on the New Kingdom. Her book was published while I was just starting my dissertation and it was inspiring to see a project that dealt with similar themes being published. I admit, I also love this book because it was the first time someone ever made reference to me and my research in a footnote. It made me feel like my work was worthwhile and for that, I am eternally grateful to Dr. Harrington.    

Living with the Dead

By Nicola Harrington,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Living with the Dead as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Living with the Dead presents a detailed analysis of ancestor worship in Egypt, using a diverse range of material, both archaeological and anthropological, to examine the relationship between the living and the dead. Iconography and terminology associated with the deceased reveal indistinct differences between the blessedness and malevolence and that the potent spirit of the dead required constant propitiation in the form of worship and offerings. A range of evidence is presented for mortuary cults that were in operation throughout Egyptian history and for the various places, such as the house, shrines, chapels and tomb doorways, where the living could…


The Secret History of Hermes Trismegistus

By Florian Ebeling, David Lorton (translator),

Book cover of The Secret History of Hermes Trismegistus: Hermeticism from Ancient to Modern Times

Even after the priests and temples of ancient Egypt ceased to function, Egyptian religion lived on through the mysterious figure of Hermes Trismegistus (literally, Hermes “thrice great”). Originally a form of the ancient Egyptian god Thoth, late Egyptian religious texts, Greek philosophy, Roman theology, and later Christian and Islamic authors would make of Hermes Trismegistus a magically potent entity. At first a god, by the late Middle Ages he had become an ancient sage, pagan counterpart to Moses as dispenser of wisdom and guide to the transcendental world. Ebeling unravels the mysteries and history of this fascinating literary figure, and how writings attributed to him continued to exert influence on authors during the Renaissance, the birth of Freemasonry, and German Romanticism.  

The Secret History of Hermes Trismegistus

By Florian Ebeling, David Lorton (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Perhaps Hermeticism has fascinated so many people precisely because it has made it possible to produce many analogies and relationships to various traditions: to Platonism in its many varieties, to Stoicism, to Gnostic ideas, and even to certain Aristotelian doctrines. The Gnostic, the esoteric, the Platonist, or the deist has each been able to find something familiar in the writings. One just had to have a penchant for remote antiquity, for the idea of a Golden Age, in order for Hermeticism, with its aura of an ancient Egyptian revelation, to have enjoyed such outstanding success."-from the Introduction

Hermes Trismegistus, "thrice-great…


Greening Death

By Suzanne Kelly,

Book cover of Greening Death: Reclaiming Burial Practices and Restoring Our Tie to the Earth

A great anthropological read about the past 150 years of death care in this country. She discusses the ingrained traditions held so closely by the public over decades of death. There are so many destructive practices we cling to when someone dies. Suzanne unpacks the sack of societal behaviors that have been none-too-friendly on our precious environment. Our customary American demise practices, which include the procedure of embalming, hardwood and metal caskets, and concrete burial vaults and grave liners, only strengthen this saga.

Greening Death

By Suzanne Kelly,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

We once disposed of our dead in earth-friendly ways-no chemicals, biodegradable containers, dust to dust. But over the last 150 years death care has become a toxic, polluting, and alienating industry in the United States.

Today, people are slowly waking up to the possibility of more sustainable and less disaffecting death care, reclaiming old practices in new ways, in a new age. Greening Death traces the philosophical and historical backstory to this awakening, captures the passionate on-the-ground work of the Green Burial Movement, and explores the obstacles and other challenges getting in the way of more robust mobilization. As the…


All the Living and the Dead

By Hayley Campbell,

Book cover of All the Living and the Dead: From Embalmers to Executioners, an Exploration of the People Who Have Made Death Their Life's Work

I write about death. A lot. I might also be a death-expert, in fact (deathxspert?). My first book was on death, dying, and grief, and since then, I’ve been interviewed by NPR, Jodi Kantor for the NYT, various news outlets, and an awful lot of podcasts. Frankly, I thought I knew everything there was to know—then I read Hayley Campbell’s book. I was asked to consider not the dying, nor the grieving, but the death workers. Who cleans the body? Who embalms? Who tidies a crime scene? I was shocked to discover there are companies that specialize in plane-crash management, or that someone is still sifting through the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire and collapse. This book is a literal journey, weaving a take from peculiar unknowns and delivering an utterly riveting story.

All the Living and the Dead

By Hayley Campbell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A deeply compelling exploration of the death industry and the people—morticians, detectives, crime scene cleaners, embalmers, executioners—who work in it and what led them there.

We are surrounded by death. It is in our news, our nursery rhymes, our true-crime podcasts. Yet from a young age, we are told that death is something to be feared. How are we supposed to know what we’re so afraid of, when we are never given the chance to look?

Fueled by a childhood fascination with death, journalist Hayley Campbell searches for answers in the people who make a living by working with the…


Reimagining Death

By Lucinda Herring,

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

I was drawn to this book for its focus on stories about death care practices that empower family and friends to connect with the land and each other while honoring the dead. The author is a licensed funeral director who helped me understand what to do when someone dies and you want to care for the body at home, rather than at a funeral home. At first, my teenager wasn’t thrilled about the idea of a home funeral (“I’ll pay for a Motel Six!” she said), but these stories helped me reassure her that I could provide support to people to handle logistics and prepare a plan in advance. 

Reimagining Death

By Lucinda Herring,

Why should I read it?

1 author 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…


The American Resting Place

By Marilyn Yalom,

Book cover of The American Resting Place: 400 Years of History Through Our Cemeteries and Burial Grounds

Even though it’s 12 years old, this is still the definitive history of burial grounds in America. I honestly cannot rave about it enough. Although the book looks dry and intimidating, I promise you it’s anything but. Yalom provides solid information about the history of burial and burial grounds in the United States, leavened with personal reflections inspired by the graveyards she visited as she researched. If anything can inspire a desire to travel to visit cemeteries, The American Resting Place will set your feet on the path.

The American Resting Place

By Marilyn Yalom,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An illustrated cultural history of America through the lens of its gravestones and burial practices—featuring eighty black-and-white photographs.

In The American Resting Place, cultural historian Marilyn Yalom and her son, photographer Reid Yalom, visit more than 250 cemeteries across the United States. Following a coast-to-coast trajectory that mirrors the historical pattern of American migration, their destinations highlight America’s cultural and ethnic diversity as well as the evolution of burials rites over the centuries.

Yalom’s incisive reading of gravestone inscriptions reveals changing ideas about death and personal identity, as well as how class and gender play out in stone. Rich particulars…


Whichwood

By Tahereh Mafi,

Book cover of Whichwood

In this fantastical story, which is a companion to Furthermore, a lonesome girl scrubs the skin of the dead to ready souls for the afterlife. (Sounds properly spooky, doesn’t it? I love when books give me chills!) And when things are especially dark, as they are for Laylee, friendship shines all the brighter once it is found. 

Whichwood

By Tahereh Mafi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Embark on a wondrous journey through the land of Whichwood in this stunning companion to Tahereh Mafi’s acclaimed bestseller Furthermore.

A Kirkus Best Book of the Year!

★ "Deliciously descriptive prose. . . . Darkly fascinating." −Kirkus
★ "Unforgettable heroine." −Booklist
★ "Mafi's language choices create visually arresting moments." –Shelf Awareness

Our story begins on a frosty night . . .
Laylee can barely remember the happier times before her beloved mother died. Before her father, driven by grief, lost his wits (and his way) and she was left as the sole remaining mordeshoor in the village of Whichwood, destined…


Life and death in Spitalfields, 1700-1850

By Margaret Cox,

Book cover of Life and death in Spitalfields, 1700-1850

Excavations in the Crypt of Christ Church, Spitalfields, London in 1984-9 uncovered 1000 skeletons, of which 387 were in coffins with inscribed plates giving the names and ages of the deceased. A mixed team of specialists were able to analyse the bodies and follow up the documentary evidence to reveal extraordinary details of life, dentistry and funerary practices between 1729 and 1859 in this historically rich part of London.

Life and death in Spitalfields, 1700-1850

By Margaret Cox,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Life and death in Spitalfields, 1700-1850 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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