100 books like The Four Things That Matter Most

By Ira Byock,

Here are 100 books that The Four Things That Matter Most fans have personally recommended if you like The Four Things That Matter Most. 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 How We Die: Reflections of Life's Final Chapter

Jennie Dear Author Of What Does It Feel Like to Die?: Inspiring New Insights Into the Experience of Dying

From my list on the experience of dying.

Why am I passionate about this?

When my mother enrolled in hospice after years of living with cancer, the nurse asked her: Do you want to know what will happen to your body as it starts shutting down? That was the first time anyone talked with us about the dying process. The question came as an immense relief, eventually inspiring this book. After witnessing the difficulties and surprising joys of my mother’s dying experience, I began hospice volunteering. Later, I spent three intensive stints volunteering at San Francisco’s Zen Hospice Project. And as a former journalist and associate professor of English, I began researching and interviewing experts. Their deep caring and knowledge inform this book.

Jennie's book list on the experience of dying

Jennie Dear Why did Jennie love this book?

Until I began researching death and dying, I hadn’t realized my quest was so literal-minded. Despite the satisfyingly large number of relevant books, most circle around the subject, focusing on areas such as grief, the importance of creating a living will, or funeral planning—all important topics, but I wanted to learn about dying itself.

Then I discovered Nuland’s book. Chapter by chapter, he describes what we know about the physical experience of dying, depending on the type of death: Heart attacks, murders, falls, Alzheimer’s, cancer. Nuland’s background is in surgery, and his descriptions are neither graphic nor gory, but he doesn’t flinch from providing details. Although his book was first published in 1993, no one has yet matched its straightforward, informative approach.

By Sherwin B. Nuland,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER • NATIONAL BESTSELLER • The definitive resource on perhaps the single most universal human concern: death.

Even more relevant than when it was first published, this edition addresses contemporary issues in end-of-life care and includes an all-embracing and incisive afterword that examines the state of health care and our relationship with life as it approaches its terminus. How We Die also discusses how we can take control of our own final days and those of our loved ones.


"Nuland's work acknowledges, with unmatched clarity, the harsh realities of how life departs… There is compassion, and often…


Book cover of Lessons from the Dying

Jennie Dear Author Of What Does It Feel Like to Die?: Inspiring New Insights Into the Experience of Dying

From my list on the experience of dying.

Why am I passionate about this?

When my mother enrolled in hospice after years of living with cancer, the nurse asked her: Do you want to know what will happen to your body as it starts shutting down? That was the first time anyone talked with us about the dying process. The question came as an immense relief, eventually inspiring this book. After witnessing the difficulties and surprising joys of my mother’s dying experience, I began hospice volunteering. Later, I spent three intensive stints volunteering at San Francisco’s Zen Hospice Project. And as a former journalist and associate professor of English, I began researching and interviewing experts. Their deep caring and knowledge inform this book.

Jennie's book list on the experience of dying

Jennie Dear Why did Jennie love this book?

There are many books about what dying has to teach the living. This is the one I keep on my bedside shelf. When I talk to people about my own experiences with hospice and dying, they sometimes wax ecstatic about the subject. I believe they’re right to see the possibilities for joy and spiritual growth, but I also think it’s crucial to look at death with clear eyes. As a former Buddhist monk and hospice director who has worked with dying people, Smith does just that. Again, and again, he emphasizes that death does involve suffering. But he also writes movingly—and honestly—about the experiences he’s witnessed, helping readers to face our own mortality and learn how to live better and more joyfully.

By Rodney Smith (,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lessons from the Dying as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Rediscover the mystery and wonder of life through gentle reflections on death and dying.

What can death teach the living? Former monk and hospice worker Rodney Smith teaches us that through intimately considering our own inevitable end we can reawaken to the sublime miracle of life we so often take for granted. A well of stories, personal anecdotes, and direct advice gleaned from years of working with the dying in their final moments, Lessons from the Dying helps us redefine our conception of what it means to truly live. Each chapter contains guided reflections and exercises that allow the reader…


Book cover of The Experience of Dying

Jennie Dear Author Of What Does It Feel Like to Die?: Inspiring New Insights Into the Experience of Dying

From my list on the experience of dying.

Why am I passionate about this?

When my mother enrolled in hospice after years of living with cancer, the nurse asked her: Do you want to know what will happen to your body as it starts shutting down? That was the first time anyone talked with us about the dying process. The question came as an immense relief, eventually inspiring this book. After witnessing the difficulties and surprising joys of my mother’s dying experience, I began hospice volunteering. Later, I spent three intensive stints volunteering at San Francisco’s Zen Hospice Project. And as a former journalist and associate professor of English, I began researching and interviewing experts. Their deep caring and knowledge inform this book.

Jennie's book list on the experience of dying

Jennie Dear Why did Jennie love this book?

Pattison’s book offers a rare mix: specific insights based on evidence and experience, and a kind of gentleness. Here’s an example of what I mean: This is where I first read about the ups and downs of “the living-dying interval,” the time between when a person is diagnosed with a terminal condition and death. Just naming and describing the interval helps others better imagine what it’s like. Pattison is also good at pointing out important nuances. He discusses attitudes at different stages of life, because of course it’s not the same to die at age ten as at age ninety. First published in 1977, this collection of essays—which includes pieces by other authors—takes an academic approach, but it’s one that’s extraordinarily thoughtful.

By E. Mansell Pattison,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Experience of Dying (A Spectrum book) S-419 - by E. Mansell Pattison - 1977


Book cover of The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us about Living Fully

Connie Sobczak Author Of Embody: Learning to Love Your Unique Body (and Quiet That Critical Voice!)

From my list on to keep your body, mind, and spirit awake, alive, and free.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a free spirit since I was born, but as an adolescent I got trapped by diet culture and believed I needed to change my body. I struggled for six years with an eating disorder and my sister Stephanie died at age 36 from faulty breast implants and malnutrition. Because of these experiences, and wanting my baby daughter to grow up staying lovingly connected to her body (she has!), I created The Body Positive, a nonprofit that has freed millions of people to love and respect their precious bodies. I’m now a full-fledged Wild Woman teaching and freeing other aging women to connect to their soul’s innate wisdom.

Connie's book list on to keep your body, mind, and spirit awake, alive, and free

Connie Sobczak Why did Connie love this book?

I recommend this book to everyone I know, because it really is as the subtitle suggests—a way to be more fully alive by remembering that we are all going to die! Something that really helped me was the chapter on how to “find rest in the middle of things.” I don’t know about you, but my life is filled with a lot of responsibility, including being a caregiver for my 94-year-old mom. Then there’s everything happening in the world that adds to increased stress levels. Since reading this book, I’ve had more rest, from getaways to 10-minute walks to one simple but conscious breath. The stories shared are profound, and Frank’s gentle manner and wise teachings have been a true inspiration to me. 

By Frank Ostaseski,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The cofounder of the Zen Hospice Project and pioneer behind the compassionate care movement shares an inspiring exploration of the lessons dying has to offer about living a fulfilling life.

Death is not waiting for us at the end of a long road. Death is always with us, in the marrow of every passing moment. She is the secret teacher hiding in plain sight, helping us to discover what matters most.

Life and death are a package deal. They cannot be pulled apart and we cannot truly live unless we are aware of death. The Five Invitations is an exhilarating…


Book cover of A Fine White Dust

Caroline Starr Rose Author Of Miraculous

From my list on mysterious strangers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write books to make sense of the world  — this gloriously weird, sometimes heartbreaking, marvelous place we call home. Years ago, while visiting a museum in St. Louis, I heard a woman give a talk on charlatans (people who intentionally deceive others for their personal gain). It sparked a number of questions in me: Why do we believe the things that we do? What might we be willing to try to change our circumstances? Exploring these ideas was the starting point for my book, Miraculous, and its mysterious stranger, Dr. Kingsbury. I hope the stories you read in these pages fill you wonder as they did me.

Caroline's book list on mysterious strangers

Caroline Starr Rose Why did Caroline love this book?

Pete’s whole life changes the summer the Preacher Man comes to town. Hearing the Man speak fills Pete with purpose. No one understands Pete like the Preacher Man — neither Pete’s parents, who no longer attend church, nor his best friend, who is an atheist — and Pete will do anything to hold fast to his devotion.

I read this short, deceptively simple book twice while working on Miraculous. It is an honest look at the longings and purpose so many of us search for, the power a persuasive individual can have, and the flaws that make us all human. I’ll never forget this book.

By Cynthia Rylant,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Fine White Dust 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?

Synopsis coming soon.......


Book cover of Space Station Seventh Grade

Daniel Hayes Author Of The Trouble with Lemons

From my list on classic YA that are coming-of-age gems.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been drawn to coming-of-age stories. These are the years when you’re leaving the somewhat cocooned world of childhood and entering the intimidating but (arguably) more exciting world of adolescence. Although I’m now in my 70s, I still love a good coming-of-age story!

Daniel's book list on classic YA that are coming-of-age gems

Daniel Hayes Why did Daniel love this book?

I read this book when I finishing an early draft of my own first novel and I was thoroughly impressed as well as a little intimidated by it. Having drummed up the courage to write my own coming-of-age novel after reading another YA novel that was popular at the time which I felt had clunky dialogue and narration, I was amazed at Spinelli's spot-on dialogue and crisp narration which captured the quirky and (sometimes) wonderful world of a 7th-grade narrator who was no longer a little kid but who hadn’t yet entered into young adulthood. It remains one of my favorites even today.

By Jerry Spinelli, Jerry Spinelli,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Space Station Seventh Grade as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

Title: Space Station Seventh Grade( The Newbery Award-Winning Author of Maniac Magee) <>Binding: Paperback <>Author: JerrySpinelli <>Publisher: Little,BrownBooksforYoungReaders


Book cover of Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life

Healey E. Ikerd Author Of Changing Your Feelings: A Workbook for Anxiety and Worry from a Christian Perspective

From my list on Christians determined to be more mentally healthy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a licensed therapist who has been in the mental health field for over 15 years. I believe that God wants his followers to be mentally healthy! We are better witnesses to Him when we think and act in ways that reflect biblical principles. This is why I am a big fan of books that help me think and act more wisely and that also helps me follow God more deeply. Working through our mental ‘stuff’ and following God well are greatly intertwined. Whether in person or by recommending books, I love to be a part of that process with people.

Healey's book list on Christians determined to be more mentally healthy

Healey E. Ikerd Why did Healey love this book?

I have read this book so many times. It is a classic! For those of us who have struggled with saying yes to everything, I was so thankful that I found this book. 

A heart of compassion and care can set you up for burnout, resentment, and going in directions that God doesn’t want you to go. The authors are brilliant, and they help Christians learn that it is okay to say No and that is actually good for us and others. Saying No when appropriate is a sign of good mental health.

By Henry Cloud, John Townsend,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Join the millions who have learned how to take control of their lives by setting healthy boundaries with their spouses, children, friends, parents, coworkers, and even themselves, in order to live life to the fullest.

Do you feel like your life has spiraled out of control? Have you focused so much on being loving and unselfish that you've forgotten your own limits? Do you find yourself taking responsibility for other people's feelings and problems? In Boundaries, Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend teach you the ins and outs of setting the boundaries that will transform your daily life.

Boundaries, a…


Book cover of Naughts & Crosses

Lauren Stabler Author Of Trials of the Realm

From my list on dystopia set in the UK.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an English writer based in Sheffield. I started reading dystopia when I was around 19 and in a very bad place mentally, it became an escape for me and I would read everything in the genre. It got to the point where I was writing in the notes on my phone (not very well, I might add). Somehow dystopia ignited my passion for writing and so I went to university to study it. Almost everything I wrote for both my undergrad degree and my master's was set in a future dystopian UK. It is where my passion still lies and I hope to create more futuristic worlds like those I have listed.

Lauren's book list on dystopia set in the UK

Lauren Stabler Why did Lauren love this book?

Another well-known book. It has recently been adapted into a TV show (which I’m sure all of us authors would love). I absolutely recommend reading the books before watching the show as they are very different mediums and have their own spins on each. The books feel darker than the TV show, which is something I appreciate. Dystopia shouldn’t be light, the world is filled with darkness and Blackman really captures this element in her series. I love that she flips apartheid but for a modern-day world, showing people what could happen if we carry on as we have been going but making many readers the target.

By Malorie Blackman,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Naughts & Crosses as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Two star-crossed lovers fight for a more just world in this searing novel with a critically-acclaimed BBC series adaptation now streaming on NBCUniversal’s Peacock platform!

Sephy is a Cross: dark-skinned and beautiful, she lives a life of privilege and power. But she’s lonely, and she burns with injustice at the world she sees around her.

Callum is a nought: pale-skinned and poor, he’s considered to be less than nothing, there to serve Crosses, but he dreams of a better life.

They’ve been friends since they were children, and they both know that’s as far as it can ever go. Noughts…


Book cover of The Tactical Guide to Women: How Men Can Manage Risk in Dating and Marriage

Tony Endelman Author Of The Big Stick: Collected and Applied Wisdom from the Teachings of Dr. Robert Glover

From my list on men’s self-development books that don’t totally suck.

Why am I passionate about this?

In 2013, my father–an amazing man who was the picture of health–died suddenly and unexpectedly while at the gym. At the time, I was miserable and unfulfilled. My father’s passing sent me down a path of deep self-exploration, where I realized that life is simply too short and unpredictable to settle for less than what you truly want. As I endeavored to change my life, I became a certified life coach, relationship coach, and happiness trainer, initially to help myself, but soon discovered a passion for helping others. I've been lucky to have incredible mentors like Dr. Robert Glover. My unconventional brand of self-help has been featured in numerous publications.

Tony's book list on men’s self-development books that don’t totally suck

Tony Endelman Why did Tony love this book?

While No More Mr. Nice Guy may have saved my life, this book has repeatedly saved my ass.

In the book, Dr. Smith uses his years of clinical experience (and his distinct sense of humor) to offer men a plan to attract the right women and confidently move on from the wrong women. This was a plan that I desperately needed. 

This book forced me to examine my unhealthy relationship patterns. It showed me how to meet amazing women and avoid emotionally unstable women. It taught me how to identify red flags, see women more clearly, and have healthier partnerships.

By Shawn T. Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For men, love is a high-stakes gamble. The right woman can be the best part of a man's life, and the wrong one can lead to personal and financial ruin. In today's climate, no man should venture into romance without a reliable risk-management strategy.

The Tactical Guide to Women delivers a solid plan for allowing the right women into your life, and keeping the wrong ones at a safe distance. You'll discover how to:

Identify good women of low drama and high character Reduce your vulnerability to women who seem perfect for you--but aren't Spot the early warning signs of…


Book cover of Before I Fall

Jodi Perkins Author Of Chasing Echoes

From my list on where time is out to get you.

Why am I passionate about this?

During my fifth year teaching 7th grade, I found myself repeating the same lessons as prior years, participating in the same club events, marching in the same parades, etc. My students would inevitably reach the end of the school year and move on, while I was forever frozen in 7th grade. Herein my fascination with time loops was born. Over a decade later, I’m now happily teaching high school English while moonlighting as a writer of stories featuring temporal anomalies and time travel. I hope to spread my wings into dystopians and fractured fairy tales in the future, but until then…I may or may not have 22 clocks in my house.

Jodi's book list on where time is out to get you

Jodi Perkins Why did Jodi love this book?

Before I Fall is Mean Girls meets Groundhog Day, with the popular and pretty protagonist, Sam, forced to relive February 12th (her beloved “Cupid’s Day”) over and over. In the beginning, I had no love for Sam and was appalled by her and her friend’s nasty behavior, but Sam’s character growth throughout the novel is inspirational. The time-turning in the novel is handled flawlessly with repeated events never growing dull, and each new loop offering another layer to Sam’s redemption. Admittedly the book didn’t end the way I wanted (I’m a fan of fairy tale endings, even if unrealistic), but watching Sam evolve from a shallow mean girl to a beautiful soul was a moving experience and made the book worth the read.

By Lauren Oliver,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Before I Fall 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?

A bestselling summer read as heartbreaking as The Lovely Bones and as gripping as Jenny Downham's Before I Die.

**Now a major Netflix movie starring Zoey Deutch, Halston Sage, Logan Miller, Kian Lawley*

'Gossip Girl meets Groundhog Day' Grazia

'Tender, funny and raw' Marie Claire

'A clever, funny, insightful and utterly addictive novel' Daily Mail

'Compelling and poignant, a truly memorable read' Closer

They say 'live every day as if it's your last' - but you never actually think it's going to be. At least I didn't.
The thing is, you don't get to know when it happens. You don't…


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