Recommended Reading

Death Salon Recommended Reading List

A highly-selective guide to some of the best books and other resources for understanding death and dying.



The Hour of Our Death: The Classic History of Western Attitudes Toward Death Over the Last One Thousand Years – Philippe Ariès

The Corpse: A History – Christine Quigley

Death in England: An Illustrated History – Edited by Peter C Jupp & Clare Gittings

Death, Religion and the Family in England, 1480—1750 – Ralph Houlbrooke

This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War  – Drew Gilpin Faust

The Sacred Remains: American Attitudes Toward Death, 1799-1883 – Gary Laderman


Science & Medicine

After We Die: The Life and Times of the Human Cadaver – Cantor, Norman L.

Death to Dust: What Happens to Dead Bodies? – Iserson,  Kenneth V.

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers – Mary Roach

The Rethinking Mortality series at the New York Academy of Sciences, 2013-2014.

Letting Go: What Should Medicine Do When It Can’t Save Your Life? (The New Yorker)


Sociology & Anthropology

Death, Mourning, and Burial: A Cross-Cultural Reader – Edited by Antonius C. G. M. Robben

Celebrations of Death: The Anthropology of Mortuary Ritual – Peter Metcalf and Richard Huntington

Funeral Festivals in America – Jacqueline S. Thursby


The Funeral Industry

The American Way of Death – Jessica Mitford

Final Rights: Reclaiming the American Way of Death – Joshua Slocum and Lisa Carlson

Rest in Peace: A Cultural History of Death and the Funeral Home in Twentieth-Century America – Gary Laderman

The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade – Thomas Lynch

Death Without Darkness: A Mortician Proposes a Redesign for the Crematory (Medium) – Caitlin Doughty

Facing Your Mortality

The Denial of Death – Ernest Becker

Staring at the Sun: Overcoming the Terror of Death – Irvin D. Yalom

Talking about Death – Virginia Morris

Thinking about Death Can Make You Value Life More – Nathan Heflick

Ask a Mortician / Order of the Good Death Youtube Channel


Green Death

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

The Natural Death Handbook – Natural Death Centre

Grave Danger: The Emergence of the Sustainable Death Movement (GOOD Magazine)

The Greenest Things to Do With Your Body After You Die (The Atlantic)

DIY Death: Natural, At-Home Funerals And Their Boomer Appeal (WBUR)


Death & Youth

Carry On & A Fashionable Death (Rookie Mag) – Esme B.

Thinking About Dying Will Change Your Life (Rookie Mag) – Danielle

Children’s Books about Death (A list from National Association for the Education of Young Children)

Books to Help You Explain Death to Children (A list from Aha! Parenting)


Death in General

The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead – David Shields

Speaking of Death: America’s New Sense of Mortality – Michael K. Bartalos

Thinking Clearly About Death – Jay F. Rosenberg

Whole Death Catalog – Harold Schechter

Handbook of Death and Dying – Edited by Clifton D. Bryant

Encyclopedia of Death: Myth, History, Philosophy, Science—The Many Aspects of Death and Dying – Beatrice Kastenbaum and Robert Kastenbaum

The Death Class: A True Story About Life – Erika Hayasaki



Dissection: Photographs of a Rite of Passage in American Medicine, 1880-1930 – John Warner

Sleeping Beauty: Memorial Photography in America (and Sleeping Beauty II and III)     –  The Burns Archive


Books and Articles by Death Salon Contributors and Friends

Cranioklepty: Grave Robbing and the Search for Genius & Afterlives of the Saints: Stories from the Ends of Faith – Colin Dickey

The Morbid Anatomy Anthology – Edited by Colin Dickey and Joanna Ebenstein

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory – Caitlin Doughty

The Mummies of Mexico City (Atlas Obscura) – Elizabeth Harper

The Empire of Death: A Cultural History of Ossuaries and Charnel Houses & Heavenly Bodies: Cult Treasures and Spectacular Saints from the Catacombs  – Paul Koudounaris

Rest in Pieces: The Curious Fates of Famous Corpses & Fond Farewells: A Reconsideration of the American Way of Death (Lapham’s Quarterly) – Bess Lovejoy

Stayin’ Alive (Lapham’s Quarterly) & Let’s Talk About Death, Says Medical Librarian Donating Her Corpse to Science (WHYY’s The Pulse) – Megan Rosenbloom

4 Responses to Recommended Reading

  1. Damian Black says:

    Hi thannks for sharing this

  2. Norbert says:

    Wanna read this(thinking-about-death-can-make-you-value-life-more).hope it will open my eyes and mind more and love accordingly

  3. SO fantastic to find like-minded Humans who understand the miracle of Life AND Death! Found my way here from The Order of the Good Death website and very much appreciate your approach to dying and living. Thank you! Patti DiMiceli, “Embrace the Angel”

  4. Jackie M Herring-Prescott says:

    New to this channel. Started by seeing Ask a Mortician on YouTube. My father worked at a funeral home for 50 years. Until I started watching AAM I thought I was so very different than others, cause my family looks at death differently. I was told I was morbid. Now I want to sign up for everything. I have looked for a long time to find open minded people like you all.
    Thank you for all your work!
    Go Green, Or Die Trying!

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