The best books about the afterlife

7 authors have picked their favorite books about the afterlife and why they recommend each book.

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The World of Mamoko in the Year 3000

By Aleksandra Mizielinska, Daniel Mizielinski,

Book cover of The World of Mamoko in the Year 3000

Welcome to the future in the city of Mamoko! A list of questions launches readers to discover a story about each seek-and-find character. What is strange about Otto Flash’s new jumper? Why is Amelia squeal so excited?  Inventive, cross-sectioned interiors and exteriors, a top-notch, delicious color palette. This book sparks future-curious imaginations. Also in this series: Welcome to Mamoko and The World of Mamoko in the Time of Dragons.


Who am I?

From the ages of 1-4, my son Finn deeply rooted himself into the detailed world of Richard Scarry. These books could be such slow reads that we only needed two of them for long airplane rides. Through Finn’s love of Scarry books, I began searching for more books that delighted with detail. And when I did not see my family’s bicycle-rich lifestyle reflected in books, I created Cycle City.


I wrote...

Cycle City: (City Books for Kids, Find and Seek Books)

By Alison Farrell,

Book cover of Cycle City: (City Books for Kids, Find and Seek Books)

What is my book about?

When little Etta the Elephant goes to her Aunt Ellen's house, she takes a journey through bicycle-filled Cycle City, a town filled with bikes of all kinds! At the end of the day, a special surprise awaits Etta—the most amazing bicycle parade imaginable.

Detail-rich illustrations in this fun seek-and-find book paint the colors of this unusual town where everyone rides some kind of bike—whether a penny-farthing, a two-wheeled unicycle, or a conference bike, everyone is on wheels! Packed with prompts and lots to see on every page, this is a sweet story for the sharpest of eyes.

Malice

By Pintip Dunn,

Book cover of Malice

 Okay, technically, Malice is a futuristic young adult novel, but there's a fantastic mystery here with a strong female protagonist. I did mention these books would be genre-bending. In this one, a young girl knows part of the future--the part where one of her classmates releases a virus that kills two-thirds of the population. Now she's in a race against time to find out who he is before he kills everyone she knows.


Who am I?

Bestselling author Candace Havens has published more than 25 books. Her novels have received nominations for the RITA’s, Holt Medallion, Write Touch Reader Awards, and National Reader’s Choice Awards. She is a Barbara Wilson Award winner. She is the author of the biography Joss Whedon: The Genius Behind Buffy and a contributor to several anthologies. She is also one of the nation’s leading entertainment journalists and has interviewed countless celebrities from George Clooney to Chris Pratt. Candace runs a free online writing workshop for more than 2000 writers and teaches comprehensive writing classes. She does film reviews with Hawkeye in the Morning on 96.3 KSCS, and is a former President of the Television Critics Association.


I wrote...

A Case for the Cookie Baker

By Candace Havens,

Book cover of A Case for the Cookie Baker

What is my book about?

Ainsley McGregor and the entire town of Sweet River, Texas, are preparing for the annual summer celebration. And thanks to the extra tourist traffic, Ainsley’s shop, Bless Your Art, has never been busier. Good thing her new friend, Lizzie, has opened a bakery nearby and provides Ainsley and her staff with tasty treats and daily sugar rushes. It’s all cookies and fun, until someone ends up dead in the bakery and her new pal is the prime suspect.

Ainsley is convinced Lizzie is innocent. Unfortunately, her brother, the town sheriff, and her boyfriend, Jake, have some not-so-secret suspicions. With a town full of strangers who just might be suspects, Ainsley finds herself targeted by a killer. Even as her world crumbles faster than a cookie, she’s determined to prove her friend’s innocence—if she can stay alive long enough.

The Amazing Afterlife of Animals

By Karen A. Anderson,

Book cover of The Amazing Afterlife of Animals: Messages and Signs From Our Pets On The Other Side

I chose this comforting, spiritual book, which is about a concept that I wonder about myself — an afterlife. The idea that those we love can still connect with us after they exit this life is something I want to believe and is something that certainly provides me with comfort. The stories that this author shares offer so much help and enable us to feel closer to our pets who we have sadly lost. Ever since reading this book, I have seen more signs that enable me to believe that the bond I have with dogs I have lost can still be as strong as ever today. 


Who am I?

Ever since I was a young girl, I always turned to writing to work through anything that was happening in my life, ranging from the first time I experienced loss to my parents’ divorce. I have since published three children’s books on tough topics as I have aimed to provide parents, children, and teachers with tools to discuss loss and change. My most recent book, Goodbye, Gus is specifically about the loss of a pet. My dad died when I was 21, and that was the first death (other than my dogs) that I ever experienced. I was able to experience first-hand the fact that the loss of my pets helped prepare me to cope with grief, and I also learned that we can all focus on what we did have and hang on to those memories forever. 


I wrote...

Goodbye, Gus

By Amy Lee Kite,

Book cover of Goodbye, Gus

What is my book about?

Goodbye, Gus: Exploring grief and finding hope after the loss of a pet is for children ages 2 – 8 although many adults have reported loving the book, as well. For many young children, losing a pet is their first experience with death. This book helps to ease their sadness, address tough questions that may arise, and comfort them with an honest and hopeful message. The book is helpful for adults, too as it not only provides a tool for their discussions with children, but it provides comfort and hope for them, too. 

Surviving Death

By Leslie Kean,

Book cover of Surviving Death: A Journalist Investigates Evidence for an Afterlife

A science teacher who knew that my interest in enduring consciousness was tempered with skepticism recommended I read this book after I lost Caitlin. The author is an investigative journalist, and her essays are dense with in-depth, picked-apart examinations of claims of paranormal phenomena. A good chunk of its pages are devoted to over 400 end-notes. Leslie Kean is a smart and down-to-earth narrator, equipped with an objective yet curious sensibility, and I found Surviving Death to be an addicting read that spoke to my skepticism.


Who am I?

I’m an award-winning author of fiction that always explored existential questions but in a ruminating sort of way. After the loss of my only child, I turned to memoir and wrote Little Matches: A Memoir of Finding Light in the Dark, to tell the story of my search for satisfying answers to the big life questions. I spent months reading the philosophers and visiting people who claimed psi abilities. I sought out books on the paranormal written by critical thinkers, books by people who possessed real-world credentials, and/or had been tested and certified by groups I respected. They opened the door to a fascinating world of ideas and beliefs.


I wrote...

Little Matches: A Memoir of Finding Light in the Dark

By Maryanne O'Hara,

Book cover of Little Matches: A Memoir of Finding Light in the Dark

What is my book about?

After losing my only child, I looked for answers to the big life questions. Where is she? Is she? Is there more to life than this life? Does consciousness survive death? Does my existence serve any real purpose? Does anyone's? 

Little Matches is my recounting of my search and the surprising, affirming answers I discovered.

Sum

By David Eagleman,

Book cover of Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives

Awesomely creative think-piece. 40 very short fictional stories about what happens when you die. The framework is inspiring for anyone: coming up with 40 different answers to any one question. But they’re also just brilliant ideas and powerful little fables.


Who am I?

The greatest thrill is seeing something a new way. Remember the end of the movie The Sixth Sense, when you learn he was dead the whole time? It blows your mind and makes you re-think everything you saw. That's how it feels to learn another philosophy or a new distinction in understanding the world. I'm always seeking more of those moments, and these five books (plus mine) do that more than any I've found so far.


I wrote...

How to Live: 27 Conflicting Answers and One Weird Conclusion

By Derek Sivers,

Book cover of How to Live: 27 Conflicting Answers and One Weird Conclusion

What is my book about?

27 different answers to the question of how to live your life. Each chapter disagrees with the rest. But in this case, they’re all true, so how can you reconcile it? You’ll see.

This book is only available from the author here.

Who am I?

Resilience - helping people recover their capacities to deal with any adversity, stress, loss or trauma – is the heart of my work as a licensed psychotherapist (25 years) and an international trainer of mental health professionals (more than a decade). Bouncing Back is the book I wanted to be able to hand my clients to help them learn to use the capacities of resilience innate in their brains to develop more effective patterns of response to life crises and catastrophes. No such book was available at the time, so I wrote my own. It has become a tremendous resource for people to learn to how to be more resilient, and to learn that they can learn.


I wrote...

Bouncing Back: Rewiring Your Brain for Maximum Resilience and Well-Being

By Linda Graham,

Book cover of Bouncing Back: Rewiring Your Brain for Maximum Resilience and Well-Being

What is my book about?

The award-winning Bouncing Back: Rewiring Your Brain for Maximum Resilience and Well-Being is a groundbreaking integration of practical tools and techniques. The book is informed by Eastern contemplative practices, Western relational psychology, and the emerging neuroscience of resilience, to help people learn how to rewire their patterns of coping with the disappointments, difficulties, and even disasters inevitable in a human life, and to learn that they can.

The Journeyman

By Michael Alan Peck,

Book cover of The Journeyman: The Commons, Book 1

The life of a homeless teen is pretty dark. But for Paul Reid, his life is nothing compared to his death. After being taken out by an untimely accident, Paul finds himself caught in a war between the forces of light and dark. Unfortunately, the forces of darkness are winning, and light doesn't seem to care.

This is a horrifying vision of an afterlife run by a faceless bureaucracy, where a newly dead young man will have to defeat all the forces of evil, just for a chance to rest in peace.


Who am I?

As host of ImmerseOrDie, I've tested over 600 indie novels so far, searching for books that can hold me in their spell for at least 40 minutes. Unfortunately, self-publishing is rife with the quirks and gaffs that burst such glamours: bad spelling, bad formatting, ludicrous dialogue... Even allowing three failures before bailing, only 9% survived. And reading those to completion whittled the herd still further. So here then are the surviving 1%. A glittering few, plucked from the muck so that you don't have to. I don't promise you'll love them, but I do make one guarantee: they do not suck. And in the Swamps of Indie, that is high praise indeed.


I wrote...

Strange Places

By Jefferson Smith,

Book cover of Strange Places

What is my book about?

Unlovable. That's what they call her. According to the nuns who run the orphanage, girls like Tayna, with minds of their own, are too unruly to ever be loved. So they're put to work in the kitchens and never shown to the wanna-dads and mommy-bes who might offer them a loving home.

But that all changes when Tayna learns that her entire life has been built on a lie. Her parents are still alive! Only they're trapped in a world of magic and now it's up to her to rescue them. All she has to do is escape her nunnish prison, find her way into that secret world, and lead a rescue mission. But compared to being a slave? This oughta be a piece of cake.

Poison for Breakfast

By Lemony Snicket,

Book cover of Poison for Breakfast

I am a huge fan of Lemony Snicket’s writing style, after all he calls my book extraordinary and claims it made him lose his mind. This latest of his is poignant, witty, and clever. The basic plot tells the one-day adventure of a man who upon discovering a note during eating breakfast claiming that he has been poisoned, sets out to uncover the mystery. But the book is so much more than its plot. It is full of brief moments of pause and philosophy that really get to the true absurdness of life. 


Who am I?

I admire the way children tell stories—how their imagination veers here and there, how fantasy and reality intertwine, and how magic can happen at any moment. I wrote stories like this when I was a kid and, fortunately, saved many of them. When writing The Kids of Cattywampus Street (my twentieth book), I went through these stories and recreated this narrator’s voice as the 8-year-old me with absurdity and confidence. I wanted to show a range of characters in a diverse world where kids believe in themselves, have the power to use their imagination, can get into and out of trouble on their own accord, are resilient, adaptable, strong, and just plain funny.


I wrote...

The Kids of Cattywampus Street

By Lisa Jahn-Clough, Natalie Andrewson (illustrator),

Book cover of The Kids of Cattywampus Street

What is my book about?

In this delightful chapter book, you'll meet Lionel, Lindalee, Hans, Matteo, Evelyn, Ursula, and others – the kids who live on Cattywampus Street, not far from the Waddlebee Toy Store.

Each of the eleven stories in this magical, mysterious, silly, scary, happy, and sometimes sad chapter book tells an utterly unforgettable tale about one of these kids. Whether it's about Lionel and his magic ball, which knows how to find him after it’s been stolen away; or Charlotta, who shrinks so small that she can fit inside her dollhouse; or Rodney, whose pet rock becomes the envy of all the kids on Cattywampus Street, here are stories sure to charm, captivate, and engage all readers of chapter books and anyone interested in the slightly absurd.

This Perfect Day

By Ira Levin,

Book cover of This Perfect Day

Ira Levin wrote 7 novels; I wish he’d written more. He was that very rare bird: a literary writer who wrote for readers, and not for himself. He’s all story, never showmanship—his beautiful flourishes are stunning because they’re so rare.  

This Perfect Day is one of his novels that hasn’t been turned into a film (the only other one is Son of Rosemary, his sequel to Rosemary’s Baby). This is a head-scratcher to me just because it’s easily his most cinematic novel—in the sense of lending itself to stunning visuals. It’s very much in the same school of dystopian sci-fi as Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World—both depict a futuristic, technological dystopia in which people are perpetually drugged into complaisance and compliance. In the world of This Perfect Day, races have been merged into one, there is only one language, and the world is run by…


Who am I?

I’ve been hooked on science fiction since I saw Westworld in its first run in 1973, at age 7 (it’s the first movie I saw in a theatre). I started drawing my own sci-fi comics at age 11, when the first Star Wars came out, and kept it up through adolescence. Eventually, my love of sci-fi led me to a passion for philosophy, which I majored in in college. And the philosophy I learned has since informed my later choices in sci-fi reading, and even more my sci-fi writing and illustration. The books I talk about below are very dear to my heart—I’m sure you won’t regret checking them out.


I wrote...

The Furnace: A Graphic Novel

By Prentis Rollins,

Book cover of The Furnace: A Graphic Novel

What is my book about?

2052: Walton Honderich, a physicist in haggard, alcoholic middle-age, is visiting New York City with his wife and young daughter when he is nearly unraveled by the sight of a floating drone. In a hotel room the next morning, he tells his daughter about his youthful complicity with what turned out to be a crime against humanity—a prison program that assigned drones to released criminals. The drones rendered their charges invisible and unable to communicate with the outside world. After 25 years, Honderich understands what he has wrought—and is horrified.

Told almost entirely in flashback, The Furnace is a cautionary tale about the dangers of solitary confinement—and in the end, also a story about the hazards of coming to terms with the past, and creating a legacy for the future.

Between

By Jessica Warman,

Book cover of Between

Jessica Warman’s Between is a marvelous study in flawed characters, who, by their very nature, are at times unlikeable. Ironically, I love unlikeable characters—because they’re written realistically and with plenty of potential for growth. Because I prefer to write characters with realistic attributes, and those in my own book are no exception, I love reading their points of view. Additionally, it’s always interesting when these characters are dropped into situations requiring suspension of disbelief, and it’s even better when protagonists lead a cast of such characters. Between checks all of these boxes. It’s delicious!


Who am I?

Human psychology has always fascinated me, and studying what drives human behavior is necessary in writing realistic characters. I bring psychological studies into every novel I write, and realistic characters, often flawed, always receive top billing. One of my hallmarks is presenting a story’s setting as a supporting character, as well—much like the books I’ve recommended. I have written and published seventeen titles, chock full of the many facets of the human condition, whether I’m writing for teens (as Sasha Dawn) or adults (as Brandi Reeds). The books on my list inspire, entertain, and perhaps most importantly feel. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.


I wrote...

Blink

By Sasha Dawn,

Book cover of Blink

What is my book about?

When Josh was four, a little girl named Rachel was abducted and never found. Twelve years later, the mysterious Chatham Claiborne appears in town, apparently on the hunt for her runaway sister. Josh suspects she knows things she’s not telling—things about the missing girl.

No sooner than she begins to open up to him, Chatham disappears. Finding her means more than simply saving her. It could also be the key to the town’s longest unsolved mystery. Josh is determined to find her and untangle the web of lies she spun. But who is Chatham really? And what is her connection to the crime committed long ago? Blink is as a 2019 Edgar Award finalist.

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