The most recommended funeral director books

Who picked these books? Meet our 18 experts.

18 authors created a book list connected to funeral directors, and here are their favorite funeral director books.
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

What type of funeral director book?

Loading...
Loading...

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 The Duzy House of Mourning

Nanette Littlestone Author Of For the Love of Brigid

From Nanette's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Editor Reader Writer Romantic Idealist

Nanette's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Nanette Littlestone Why did Nanette love this book?

January Duzinski never knew her parents. Her father died the night of her birth and her mother was severely disfigured and left with brain trauma. 22 years later January works for the family mortuary, with little to no interaction with her mother.

The writing in this story is sprinkled with magic and the reality of the complexity of relationships. January’s journey into understanding her mother and all of her family is a wonder to behold. There is fear and doubt, memories to be scrutinized, a beautiful unfolding of amazing events and realizations. January’s pain and love is so evident.

I haven’t read a story that so connected with my own feelings and emotions—it had my heart swelling constantly and my eyes pricking with tears. 

By Ka Hancock,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

THE DUZY HOUSE OF MOURNING is the compelling story of a young woman who survived an unthinkable accident the night she was born, an accident that claimed the life of her father, and forever altered her mother who sustained a traumatic brain injury.

The book opens 22 years later. January Duzinski has been raised by her Polish paternal grandparents and works as an embalmer in their mortuary. She’s a bit of an introvert, completely comfortable with the dead, completely brilliant (like her mother was) at the piano. And she has a very conflicted relationship with her non-verbal, disabled mother, Claire.…


Book cover of The Greatest People I Never Knew

Alexandra Kathryn Mosca Author Of Grave Undertakings: Mortician by Day, Model by Night

From my list on funeral directors and for funeral directors.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have worked as a funeral director for more than 35 years and write regularly about funeral service. Since I wrote my first book, Grave Undertakings, in 2003, there’s been a proliferation of books about funeral service. Funeral directors have many stories to tell, and some of the best are by those who have worked in the trenches and gleaned profound insight into the work that we do. I’m less enamored about the books that are written for sensationalism and excessively hyped. That said, I’m always on the lookout for a good book by a colleague who writes about the work that we do with sincerity and compassion. 

Alexandra's book list on funeral directors and for funeral directors

Alexandra Kathryn Mosca Why did Alexandra love this book?

Funeral directors often wonder about the lives of those they serve. Obituaries offer clues, but are limited in scope. Funeral director Eric Daniels decided to learn more about some of the lives entrusted to his care. Wanting them to be more than a “body” Daniels delves into the lives of “ordinary people who lived extraordinary lives.” In the book’s prologue, Daniels writes that the people he chose were those “who made a lasting impact on me because of the difference they made in the lives of others.”

Writing the book, Daniels says, enriched his own life. It also left a lasting legacy for the families of those whose lives he chronicled. An added bonus for readers is that the book’s forward was written by Dr. Alan Wolfelt, one of the country’s foremost grief experts.

By Eric M Daniels,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Greatest People I Never Knew as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When you lose someone you love, you learn new things about them-often from strangers who were touched by the one you lost. This book is about how thirteen people touched the man who met them in his Funeral Home. Without ever knowing them personally-hearing their laughter or seeing their tears-Eric Daniels describes how he's come to understand and value the lives of those he tended to in death. In today's busy and uncertain world, the stories presented here are gentle reminders to appreciate the blessings of each day. They are also a source of comfort for those who've lost family…


Book cover of From 'Hear' to Forever

Alexandra Kathryn Mosca Author Of Grave Undertakings: Mortician by Day, Model by Night

From my list on funeral directors and for funeral directors.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have worked as a funeral director for more than 35 years and write regularly about funeral service. Since I wrote my first book, Grave Undertakings, in 2003, there’s been a proliferation of books about funeral service. Funeral directors have many stories to tell, and some of the best are by those who have worked in the trenches and gleaned profound insight into the work that we do. I’m less enamored about the books that are written for sensationalism and excessively hyped. That said, I’m always on the lookout for a good book by a colleague who writes about the work that we do with sincerity and compassion. 

Alexandra's book list on funeral directors and for funeral directors

Alexandra Kathryn Mosca Why did Alexandra love this book?

In 2018, Danny Jefferson was selected “Funeral Director of the Year” by his colleagues. That honor was more than just the culmination of many years of hard work. It was especially gratifying for Jefferson, whose success was hard-won. Hearing impaired since birth, he not only became licensed as a funeral director, but also realized his dream of owning a funeral home. In his book, Jefferson writes candidly about the unique challenges he faced, and overcame, along the way in both his personal and professional life. He hopes that by sharing his story, it will inspire others not to let their own challenges, whatever they are, hold them back from achieving their goals. His friend, and co-author Raymond Reid, a noted artist, helped choose the book's title and also created the cover.

By Danny Jefferson, Raymond Reid,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked From 'Hear' to Forever as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Funeral Director's Triumph Over Adversity Danny Jefferson remembers being laughed at and bullied. He remembers talking too loud and too much. That's what deaf people do. His roller coaster journey through life will lead you from heartfelt tears to joyous laughter, as well as admiration for his many accomplishments along the way. Enjoy the ride!


Book cover of Hollow Heathens

Jenny Hickman Author Of A Cursed Kiss

From my list on romance with cursed love.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a lover and reader of the romance genre ever since I graduated high school and borrowed one of my mother’s paperback novels during our annual beach vacation (which may have been twenty years ago... Yikes!). While I read everything from contemporary to historical, paranormal to fantasy, I’ve always had a particular fondness for stories with a touch of magic—specifically the cursed kind. There’s something extra angsty and tragic about cursed love that makes overcoming obstacles that much sweeter. I hope you fall in love with the books on this list as much as I have. 

Jenny's book list on romance with cursed love

Jenny Hickman Why did Jenny love this book?

Hollow Heathens, a hauntingly dark romance, overflows with Fiorina’s poetic prose. This book single-handedly made Fiorina an auto-buy author for me. Dark, forbidden love, a dangerous curse, legends and lore, murder and intrigue, Hollow Heathens will have you falling from the very first page. Seriously, I still dream about Julian x Fallon. I read the NA version, but Fiorina also released a YA version with milder language and fade-to-black spicy scenes so her daughter could enjoy the story as well.  

By Nicole Fiorina,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From Amazon's #1 bestselling author in Gothic Romance comes a haunting and forbidden love strong enough to murder fears and break centuries-old curses.

Once upon a time, there lived a girl named Fallon who was taken far away from home shortly after she was born.
A home that held more than strange traditions and bizarre superstitions.
Twenty-four years later, she returned to Weeping Hollow, a town she'd only heard about in stories during restless nights under a marble moon, to take care of her last living relative.
They called the nosy mortician a freakshow-a ghastly thing.
They said I couldn't…


Book cover of Undertakings of an Undertaker: True Stories of Being Laid to Rest

Alexandra Kathryn Mosca Author Of Grave Undertakings: Mortician by Day, Model by Night

From my list on funeral directors and for funeral directors.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have worked as a funeral director for more than 35 years and write regularly about funeral service. Since I wrote my first book, Grave Undertakings, in 2003, there’s been a proliferation of books about funeral service. Funeral directors have many stories to tell, and some of the best are by those who have worked in the trenches and gleaned profound insight into the work that we do. I’m less enamored about the books that are written for sensationalism and excessively hyped. That said, I’m always on the lookout for a good book by a colleague who writes about the work that we do with sincerity and compassion. 

Alexandra's book list on funeral directors and for funeral directors

Alexandra Kathryn Mosca Why did Alexandra love this book?

In his book, funeral director Stanley Swan ponders the question, “Are we destined before birth to be what is planned for us?” In Swan’s case, that just may be so. He shares several childhood experiences that he believes may have foreshadowed his career. In one reminiscence, he recounts how he tenderly cared for the remains of a dead sparrow. In another, Swan describes watching the local undertaker conduct a burial in the small cemetery adjacent to his family’s dairy farm in upstate New York, where Swan often played and explored. Fifteen years later, he enrolled in mortuary school and soon after was serving as a funeral director for his community. In his 40-year career, Swan witnessed the public tragedies that were 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina as well as the deaths of many of the locals he knew as friends. He writes about them all and offers a window into how…

By Stanley Swan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Could these remains, yet to be identified, be one of the victims of Rochester's Genesee River killer? Did the mourner in the chapel with the casket and the deceased actually think there was an apparition present? Is it legal to bury a man with no pants? Would a man really drive his deceased wife to a mortuary instead of calling the authorities? Those ashes seeping from the fractured urn...imagined or real? The black cat visiting the deceased man's wake...a family friend or fiend? These are just some of the intriguing, unusual and funny stories to be found in Undertakings of…


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 Grave Matters: A Journey Through the Modern Funeral Industry to a Natural Way of Burial

Elizabeth Fournier Author Of The Green Burial Guidebook: Everything You Need to Plan an Affordable, Environmentally Friendly Burial

From my list on if you literally want to go green when you die.

Why am I passionate about this?

Saving the planet one death at a time is truly what the world needs now: to reduce our carbon footprint and go out in eco-friendly style. As the one-woman funeral service in the rural town of Boring, Oregon, I support the philosophy of old-school burial practices that are kinder to both humans, the earth, and our wallets. I have humbly been baptized the Green Reaper for my passionate advocacy of green burial, and as an undertaker and the owner and undertaker of Cornerstone Funeral, the first green funeral home in the Portland area. I love to devour all literature possible on green burial and environmentally friendly death care.

Elizabeth's book list on if you literally want to go green when you die

Elizabeth Fournier Why did Elizabeth love this book?

This is the book where it all began. Mark Harris opened up eyes and hearts to the beauty of burying our loved ones naturally and on our own terms. I had never read such a clear reality of the embalming process and how Americans morphed from simple home burial to the industrial Googleplex of the funeral business. Want to be buried in your backyard or with a sheet off your bed? Read this book! The author is a former environmental columnist with the Los Angeles Times Syndicate and his work has been featured in many fabulous places.

By Mark Harris,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Grave Matters 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 The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy

Lisa Preziosi Author Of The Ice Maiden's Tale

From Lisa's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Fairy tale aficionado Wolf keeper

Lisa's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Lisa Preziosi Why did Lisa love this book?

When you read a lot of paranormal romance, it’s often challenging to find something that feels new and fresh.

The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy took a seemingly familiar romantic trope – an anonymous love letter and found a way to make it unique. From its world building to the character interaction, it felt familiar and yet scrumptiously new. You wanted to learn more about the world and see the sparks fly between the two romantic leads.

If you like exploring new worlds and adore a love/hate romance, then this book is for you.

By Megan Bannen,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A uniquely charming mixture of whimsy and the macabre that completely won me over. If you ever wished for an adult romance that felt like Howl's Moving Castle, THIS IS THAT BOOK." —Helen Hoang, author of The Kiss Quotient

Hart is a marshal, tasked with patrolling the strange and magical wilds of Tanria. It’s an unforgiving job, and Hart’s got nothing but time to ponder his loneliness.  

Mercy never has a moment to herself. She’s been single-handedly keeping Birdsall & Son Undertakers afloat in defiance of sullen jerks like Hart, who seems to have a gift for showing up right…


Book cover of The Vacillations Of Poppy Carew

Alison Ragsdale Author Of The Child Between Us

From my list on with feisty, female protagonists.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Scottish writer, based in the USA after living in eight countries. I spent thirty years following work, family, and love, and my experiences seep into everything I write—so there are often elements of travel in my books. Thirteen years ago, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and underwent life-saving surgery. That experience gave me a new perspective on the power of the human spirit, and our ability to forge new and unexpected paths, in the face of adversity. I love to read about and create characters that take on life’s challenges and find inner strength they didn’t know they had. That’s why feisty female protagonists appeal to me. 

Alison's book list on with feisty, female protagonists

Alison Ragsdale Why did Alison love this book?

This book turned me into an avid Wesley fan. Aside from her genius at creating characters that face their flaws head-on and then blow a giant raspberry rather than conform—parts of Poppy’s situation mirrored my own at the time. A longtime love had dumped me, then promptly changed his mind, leaving me questioning everything I believed to be true. Poppy bravely takes on a slew of challenges with humor and grace, grabbing back the reigns of her spiraling life. It’s easy to fall in love with a gutsy character like that.

By Mary Wesley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A novel by the author of "Jumping the Queue".