Staff Picks by Tag

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All the Living and the Dead: From Embalmers to Executioners, an Exploration of the People Who Have Made Death Their Life's Work By Hayley Campbell Cover Image
Unavailable at this time.
ISBN: 9781250281845
Published: St. Martin's Press - August 16th, 2022

This book taught me more about what happens after someone dies than anything or anyone else I’ve ever asked. I don’t think that’s because people didn’t want me to know, but instead because most people just simply don’t know themselves. Which is precisely what Campbell wanted to address by writing this book—why in our society are we so averse to talking about, knowing and seeing death? And how much more of the human experience could we access if allowed ourselves to stand at the edge and peer over? In this journalist’s journey through so many careers in death, I got to see how death work is “some kind of love.” This gave me a solace which I had never had before about the people I have lost and the ways they must have been taken care of even after I could no longer see their body. That solace alone makes this book worth reading.

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The Day I Die: The Untold Story of Assisted Dying in America By Anita Hannig Cover Image
ISBN: 9781728259420
Availability: Out of stock, usually available in 3-10 days
Published: Sourcebooks - November 7th, 2023

Dying is, to most, an uncomfortable topic. Even more taboo is assisted dying. Hannig approaches this topic in a sensitive and accessible way, shedding light on a conversation that we as a society should have.

Review by Zack

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Samuel Johnson's Eternal Return By Martin Riker Cover Image
ISBN: 9781566895286
Availability: On our shelves now at one or more of our stores
Published: Coffee House Press - October 9th, 2018

One of my favorite hidden gems. Martin Riker—the co-publisher of Dorothy, A Publishing Project—pens a novel that spans decades of life both remarkable and comically dull. After Samuel Johnson dies, he finds himself in a liminal state, his soul jumping from body to living body in earthbound purgatory, in search of his son and the meaning behind our quiet lives.

Review by Spencer R.

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Playing Dead: A Journey Through the World of Death Fraud By Elizabeth Greenwood Cover Image
ISBN: 9781476739342
Availability: On our shelves now at one or more of our stores
Published: Simon & Schuster - August 15th, 2017

I read this for research (no, I don't want to fake my own death) but now I could totally fake my own death. If you've ever wanted to know more, or anything, about the hidden underworld of pseudocide, Playing Dead is a great place to start! Greenwood, loaded with student loan debt herself, investigates what it takes to leave everything behind for a new life.  

Review by Emily

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Skippy Dies: A Novel By Paul Murray Cover Image
ISBN: 9780865478619
Availability: On our shelves now at one or more of our stores
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - August 30th, 2011

This is my favorite, favorite book. Murray spins a dazzling web between his rich array of characters, creating a mystery that is funny, weird, and heart-wrenching. Skippy may die in the prologue, but the novel backtracks to show how desperately full of life he was. Every time I revisit this book, I always hope that the act of my reading will save him ... but it never does.


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Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss By Margaret Renkl Cover Image
ISBN: 9781571313836
Availability: On our shelves now at one or more of our stores
Published: Milkweed Editions - March 30th, 2021

Part memoir, part backyard natural history Late Migrations packs a wallop in a tiny package. Renkl treats the lives and deaths she sees in her backyard with the same deference and respect as that of her family. A beautiful study on grief and loss and the importance of living a full life. 

Review by Erin

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Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?: And Other Questions About Dead Bodies By Caitlin Doughty, Dianné Ruz (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Caitlin Doughty, Dianné Ruz (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780393358490
Availability: On our shelves now at one or more of our stores
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 22nd, 2020

Do I really have to sell you on a book with this kind of title? If you insist... Caitlin Doughty is back with another in-depth look at death, and this time the subject matter is derived from the morbid curiosity of 100%, non-GMO kids. She continues to write of death and all its natural oddities with a dose of humor, respect, and endless knowledge as a working mortician, even when it comes to something as simple as burying your pet hamster.

Review by Sarah C.

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From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death By Caitlin Doughty, Landis Blair (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Caitlin Doughty, Landis Blair (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780393356281
Availability: On our shelves now at one or more of our stores
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - October 9th, 2018

Despite the subject manner, Doughty approaches her work as a mortician with a "death-positive" attitude, which extends itself to here exploration of cultures working outside the western tradition of burials and mourning. As tender as they are technical, her essays range from the beauty of a funeral pyre in a Colorado community to the high-tech world of Japanese cremation facilities, and all are told in an open and optimistic manner you wouldn't expect from someone dedicated to the art of death.

Review by Sarah C.

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Grave Mercy: His Fair Assassin, Book I By Robin LaFevers Cover Image
ISBN: 9781328567659
Availability: On our shelves now at one or more of our stores
Published: Clarion Books - October 2nd, 2018

At first glance, this is a well researched series about an order of medieval assassin nuns sired by Death Himself, so I was pretty much already sold. But THEN I started reading it, and could not stop. For weeks. I burned through all 3 books (and the related upcoming February 2019 release Courting Darkness) in like a week and a half. 

The series takes place in 15th century Brittany, a time when everyone is at war, the duchy has been inherited by a 12 year old girl, and the Catholic Church chose to actively subsume pagan beliefs in order to gain acceptance among a reluctant populace. It is one of these old pagan gods, Mortain, now considered the patron saint of death, that our heroines worship and struggle and fight for. But they are also fighting for themselves. 

The history is fascinating, the trauma is brutal but very well handled, the romance is the healthy and supportive (but fuuun) kind that you want your teens reading about, and the weapons are historically accurate. Don't you want to read about young women finding self actualization and liberation through violence and subterfuge and epic battles? DON'T YOU?

Review by Anje