6 Books That Will Change The Way The World Looks At Death


Death is the least understood subject known to man.

And it’s pretty rare that people want to talk about it, think about it, or plan for it.

But thankfully, a few brave souls have set out to tackle the topic of death and dying with 6 thought-provoking books. These books help the reader discover the philosophy of death, the grief caused by it, and the gruesome side of it that is uncomfortable, yet so necessary to know about.  

Check these 6 beautifully written books out below:

#1: Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

By Mary Roach


If you want to fascinate (and freak out) your non-funeral director friends, Stiff is the book you should buy and give to them (maybe not for their birthday, thought). In this controversial yet incredibly written book, you’ll read about what really happens to cadavers. Just know that once you pick this gem up, there is no putting it down.

#2: Over Our Dead Bodies: Undertakers Lift the Lid

By: Kenneth McKenzie and Todd Harra


When you open up the first page of a book and it begins with a police raid in a mortuary, you know there is plenty of entertainment to ensue. When Kenneth McKenzie of McKenzie Mortuary Services and Todd Harra of McCrery & Harra Funeral Homes and Crematory, Inc. came together to create Over Our Dead Bodies, I couldn’t wait to read it because there’s nothing I love more than seeing funeral directors spread their wings and share their knowledge with the world.  And don’t worry, if your attention span is short, you’re in good luck. These dramatic, touching, and funny funeral tales are written in bite-sized pieces so you can pick the book up and put it down whenever you please.

#3: The Book Thief

By Markus Zusak


Have you ever read a book narrated by death? I hadn’t either, until I picked up a copy of The Book Thief – an experimental fiction novel that you might have to force yourself to read. I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but it’s about WWII and it’s safe to say there is no happy ending. But don’t make the mistake of not reading it, this book is one of the most powerful books out there. The character and plot development will leave you on the edge of your seat, turning every page with a feeling of anxiety, thinking “Geez, what will happen next?”

#4: Tuesdays with Morrie

By Mitch Albom


If you haven’t read this book yet, it’s time you put it on your to-do list, because it’s an absolute classic. Tuesday’s with Morrie is based on Mitch’s real-life accounts spent with his old sociology college professor, Morris Schwartz during the last months of his life. Each chapter is divided into Morrie’s important life lessons on like aging, greed, fear, marriage, family, and most importantly, death. Carry the tissues, folks. This one is a tearjerker.   

#5 How We Die: Reflections of Life’s Final Chapter

Sherwin Nuland


It’s a sad truth that 80 percent of people die in a hospital, and the author, Sherwin Nuland thinks that this is “sanitizing” and “hiding” death from public comprehension. In his book, he argues that in order to die in a dignified way, we must plan for and truly understand death from a biological perspective. If you’re in funeral service, we highly suggest passing this book over to a friend who might fear death or “can’t think about it”. Based on my own reaction to it, it’s bound to change their life.

#6: Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: & Other Lessons from the Crematory

By Caitlin Doughty


Caitlin Doughty is easily one of my favorite funeral directors of all time. Her witty, uncanny commentary on the views on death and dying had me sold from the very first time I read her blog. Her recently published first book, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, challenges the traditional way we deal with death in the most humorous, kind of awkward way imaginable. Go ahead, support your fellow funeral professional and give it a read.

What is your favorite book on death and dying? Tell us in the comments below!

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  1. Charles Girard

    A Grief Observed. CS Lewis
    When Bad Things Happen to Good People. Rabbi Kershner
    Tuesday’s at Morrys
    Grief Changes your address book

  2. Kerry

    I read Mark Harris’ “Grave Matters: A Journey Through the Modern Funeral Industry to a Natural Way of Burial” about six years ago and it has stuck with me ever since then. Glad for this post. I think we as a society do a poor job of dealing with death, and we pay for it in many ways.