Sun rays behind blue moon

The Book of Two Ways

By Jodi Picoult
Star Rating

Rated by Heather C
Sep 28, 2020

"After my son Kyle Ferriera van Leer declared his major in Egyptology at Yale in 2010, he mentioned the Book of Two Ways in passing. Without knowing a thing about it, I said, "That's a great title for a novel." It was only after he began to explain what it actually was that I realized what I needed to write about - the construct of time, and love, and life, and death"--Jodi Picoult 

This book had me at Egypt and did not disappoint. 

Dawn Edelstein is a Death Doula, she specializes in helping her clients find peace and comfort in the last days of their life.  Dawn was drawn to this work after

May 20, 2019

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you jumped into a black hole? Or maybe you're curious about what would happen if you traveled to another planet, like Jupiter or Venus? Could this book kill you while you're reading it and, if so, how? And Then You're Dead examines these and dozens of other scenarios to offer a scientific explanation for how you would meet your demise in these unlikely and unlucky ways.

Yes, on the surface this book sounds depressing. The authors bring a dry sense of humor to each scenario that effectively balances out the cringe effect of rather gory descriptions

Playing Dead: A Journey through the World of Death Fraud

By Elizabeth Greenwood
Star Rating

Rated by Heather B.
May 28, 2017

Deep in debt and seeking a major change in her life, author Elizabeth Greenwood becomes infatuated with the idea of faking her own death. Couldn't she just "die," and walk away from her student loans, her life, and her problems? Instead of actually committing pseudocide, as it's known, she delves into researching the idea instead, and the result is Playing Dead: A Journey through the World of Death Fraud.

First Greenwood interviews several private investigators and privacy experts about whether it's even possible to disappear completely in the information age, when so much about our lives is

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: and Other Lessons from the Crematory

By Caitlin Doughty
Star Rating

Rated by Hannah Jane W.
Sep 3, 2016

Caitlin Doughty’s memoir of her journey to becoming a licensed mortician is equal parts morbid, hilarious, inspiring and ruthlessly genuine. It’s also a memoir of her fight against the fear of death, a fight that almost destroys her. Much like the orange rot that sometimes trails our faces during death, we may never be ready to see it. But Caitlin stresses throughout Smoke Gets in Your Eyes that witnessing death is how we ready ourselves for it, and even embrace its terrible beauty.

Caitlin may be a mortician, but first and foremost she is an observer and writer, using description and self

This Is Where It Ends

By Marieke Nijkamp

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Feb 11, 2016

Four different people, four separate stories, and four unique perspectives are all tied together by fear. As the school-wide assembly ends, the entire school discovers that all the doors are locked as a student starts shooting.  In this fast paced read, which only spans the course of fifty minutes, the reader gets the perspective of four students, who all have reasons to fear the boy holding the gun. Each character reflects on how they are tied to the shooter, decisions they have made, and how they got to this point all while testing their strength in this nerve-wracking, suspenseful book

Good Words: Memorializing Through a Eulogy

By Beth L. Hewett
Star Rating

Rated by Helen H.
Oct 24, 2015

"Once we're born, the only other certainty of life is that one day we and all of our loved ones die." - Beth L. Hewett

I haven't yet needed to write a eulogy, so I can't say what drew me to Hewett's Good Words. Something did, and I was instantly presented with a generous spirit. In The Guide to Using Good Words, Hewett suggests that, if the death of your loved one has been sudden, skip to chapter 3, where you'll find help in drafting a eulogy. She even invites readers to photocopy what they need. In the Introduction, she goes on to explain, "I have come to understand the eulogy's importance

The Shepherd's Crown

By Terry Pratchett

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Oct 13, 2015

As he does for everyone in the end, Death has come for Granny Weatherwax.  The finest leader the witches never had, indisputably first amongst equals, Granny bequeaths her legacy to young Tiffany Aching.  Tiffany struggles to do the job in front of her when she has to manage her own steading, Granny's steading, train a new apprentice (and never before has a boy wanted to be a witch!), and stop the elven incursion into her world.  Not to mention reining in the Nac Mac Feegle clan.  Crivens!

I gave this four stars for lack of ease for new readers.  Even if you've read all of the Tiffany Aching

Denton Little's Deathdate

By Lance Rubin

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Jul 18, 2015

I immediately fell for Denton Little. Born at a time when people know the date they will die, Denton knows his funeral is today. No surprise. Tomorrow is his death date. No big deal. But waking up in the bed with his best friend's sister? Now that is a surprise.  And a big deal.

The next day, his death date, strange things start happening. Sure he's going to die, but what is this huge bluish-purple bruise on his leg? And the little red pulsing lights within it? Denton's decided since he's going to die tomorrow anyway, he might as well not worry his mom or dad. However, this only works for so

At the Water's Edge

By Sara Gruen

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Jun 18, 2015

Philadelphia, 1944. The world is at war and yet Maddie and her husband, Ellis, and their friend Hank don't seem to notice. Having been forced out of their home after a drunken outburst at a New Year's Eve party, Ellis and Maddie are cut off completely from his well-off family. After throwing the final insult and claiming his father was a liar when he saw the Loch Ness monster in Scotland decades before, Ellis plans a reckless trek across the Atlantic with Hank, and Maddie is forced to go with them against her wishes. They believe that they will find the monster, prove their worth to Ellis's

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End

By Atul Gawande

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Apr 8, 2015

In short, this book is about dying. Yes it is sad, but also eye opening in showing how doctors are poorly equipped to deal effectively with the natural process of dying and the limits of medicine. Dr. Gawande is a surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital who also teaches at Harvard Medical School. In this insightful and worthwhile book, Dr. Gawande wonderfully tackles the question of whether the objective of medicine should be pure survival at any cost, including more pain and suffering, or about the quality of life and what it means to die with dignity and control. Gawande examines the

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

By Claire North

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Sep 3, 2014

The First Fifteen Lives is an excellent and satisfying journey through time travel. Harry August is a Kalachakras, a group of people born and reborn many times. After a message from a young girl is passed to Harry that the world is ending, Harry is left with the task of saving the world. From the beginning of the story "Let us begin at the beginning" I was hooked. The author lets us see just enough of Harry's previous lives to allow the reader an idea of how being reborn works. North had me questioning the people I cross paths with. Why do some people I've never met seem so familiar? I enjoyed

Croak by Gina Damico

Rated by Diane H.
Apr 9, 2013

Croak is a coming-of-age, teen identity, death-is-my-life book.  Lex is 16 and headed for expulsion from school. Her parents are trying to understand and help her, but Lex has become an unmitigated brat and terror. As a last resort, they ship her off to her uncle for the summer, hoping that country life will straighten her out.

It becomes immediately obvious that Lex’s parents have no idea what her uncle really does. He is a Grim Reaper and plans to bring Lex into the death business. What does that mean? The explanation comes out fairly early on in the story. In addition to coming to terms

Apr 3, 2013

After the Event, people see the dead. They are as normal to life as breathing now, but Veronica wishes that life would return back to the way it was before. Now, the ghosts are becoming stronger and they want to return to their lives and become part of the living again. Veronica and her best friend Kirk decide to investigate what caused the ghosts to appear and how they might send them back into the afterlife.  Along the way, Veronica must battle with a nefarious former teacher who wants to try and use Veronica to bring his dead daughter back to life.

In this thrilling tale, the dead are no

Aug 31, 2012

In her second installment in the Anna Dressed in Blood series, Kendare Blake hits the reader’s full force with instant action, gore, and sadly death. Girl of Nightmares begins shortly after the events of Anna Dressed in Blood, with Cas trying to figure out how to save Anna from hell, all the while having gruesome visions of her that almost cost him, and his friends, their lives on more than one occasion. Unable to cope with knowing that Anna is suffering, Cass decides to break all of the rules of ghost hunting to travel to hell and save her. This takes Cas deep into underground London and into

Jun 15, 2012

We read books to help us parent well, to strengthen our marriage, to improve our careers and to manage our finances, but it seems off-putting to read a book to help us prepare for death.  But Lani Leary, author of No One Has To Die Alone: Preparing for a Meaningful Death, believes that how we die matters and how we serve our loved ones as they die matters most of all. The first part of the book focuses on how family and caregivers can make a difference through illness, dying and death. The second part addresses bereavement and includes a section on the special needs of grieving children.   

Feb 17, 2012

It’s Passover and Laurel, a junior in high school, her little brother and parents celebrate at their neighbor’s home.  Following the meal everyone decides to go to the ice cream shop for dessert.  Laurel and David, the neighbor’s son, both decide to forego the ice cream—Laurel to do homework and David to do whatever it is David does these days.  When they were little Laurel and David were good friends; however, upon growing up and entering high school they had grown apart.  The decision to skip dessert, after a painful family dinner, changed both of their lives forever.

Without Laurel and

Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Feb 3, 2012

“Everyone has secrets. Some are just bigger and dirtier than others. At least that’s what I told myself whenever I stood in a crowd of normal-looking people and felt like I was the only one.” Lucy has been living with a shameful secret. Her mother, who on the outside is a respected, caring and gifted oncology nurse, is on the inside a stubborn, irritated person who is incapable of caring for her children and house. And worse, her mother suffers from compulsive hoarding and she has turned their house into a maze full of massive piles of filth, clutter and junk. So far Lucy has been quite

Ghost Story by Jim Butcher

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Aug 10, 2011

The latest entry in the bestselling Dresden Files, Ghost Story picks up right after the shocking ending of Changes.  Everyone's favorite wizard is in new territory, without his staff, his rod, his magic, or even his body.  Yes, Harry Dresden is a ghost charged with solving his own murder.  As usual, there's something bigger going on, and Harry must fight to protect his loved ones, his city, and everybody else against the forces of darkness...which just might include him.

The usual crew is around—and it's simultaneously sad and uplifting to see how they've reacted to Harry's absence—as well as

The Art of Racing in the Rain a novel by Garth Stein

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Jul 6, 2011

The Art of Racing in the Rain is the story of a dog named Enzo, who has a very old soul. Enzo believes that if he tries hard enough to think like a man, he will eventually be reincarnated as a man.
He tries his best to help his family stay together despite a custody battle between the grandparents and Denny, Enzo's owner, over Denny's daughter Zoe.
Denny is a race car driver. He talks over all his strategies for racing with Enzo; while reading, I also learned some interesting race car facts.
Dog lovers, especially those of us who have lost one, will be sad, happy and maybe even hopeful while

Jun 2, 2011

Book 2 of Lynette Eason's series Women of Justice is just as suspensful and hair raising as Book 1 Too Close to Home.  In Don't Look Back we catch up with characters from Book 1 though now the spot light is on Jamie Cash, survivor or a brutal kidnapping at age 18. 

Jamie, who struggled with agoraphobia following her abduction, has finally started coming out of her shell.  She is now working for the local law enforcement as a forensic anthropologist, though she still struggles with fear on a daily basis.  When two skeletons are found with similar injuries Jamie believes that the deaths are

13 Reasons Why

By Jay Asher
Star Rating

Rated by Kate M.
May 6, 2011

So yesterday I was reading at the gym, and I am just about to the end of my book and something horrible happens. It starts with a little catch in my throat, then I can feel my eyes starting to fill up...and I realize that I am about to cry over a book in public. And not just anywhere, at the gym, in front of all the ladies going to zumba and the body builders lifting weights. I avoided the full out break down (thank goodness a character didn't die or I would have had to leave immediately and go cry in my car) and I hope that anyone who saw just thought I was sweating from my eyeballs from my

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Rated by Diane H.
Mar 8, 2011

Before I Fall could be titled "A day in the life of Sam". Sam (Samantha) Kingston is just your ordinary popular, somewhat mean and snobbish high school senior. She has three best friends and a boyfriend who is also popular (and who Sam has had a crush on for years). Life is good. Until the aftermath of a high school party sends Sam into a rabbit hole, leading her to relive the same day over and over. What would you do if you could keep reliving one day, possibly your last day alive? You could go wild since whatever you do will be probably be erased when you fall asleep that night. You could

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Rated by Lisa J.
Dec 15, 2010

If I stay by Gayle FormanChoices, that's what 17 year old Mia is facing choices. A gifted cellist is almost certainly going to be accepted to Julliard. However, Adam, Mia's boyfriend, is an up and coming rock star. If Mia follows her dream to Julliard, she will be giving up her boyfriend and leaving behind her family and all that is familiar.

On the cold winter morning when school is unexpectedly cancelled due to snow Mia decides to set aside thinking about these choices and the upcoming choices awaiting her and enjoy a day with her family. They decide to go on an adventure to visit friends and family. It seems

Oct 5, 2010

this-is-where-i-leave-you.jpgThis Is Where I Leave You is about death, divorce and dysfunction and it is hilarious. Shorty after Judd's wife leaves him for his boss, Judd’s father dies and his mother announces that his father’s last wish was for the family to observe shiva, a seven day mourning period during which friends and family visit the home of the bereaved. Seven days is a long time to be cooped up in your childhood home. Judd and his three grown siblings revert to their familial roles and no one is safe from rehashing the humiliations and pain of adolescence. Jonathan Tropper reminds me a lot of author Pete Dexter

Aug 13, 2010

barnes.jpgThis book I love. Julian Barnes is an author of essays and works of fiction, most recently his novel, Arthur and George. In this memoir, Barnes explores his thoughts on religion and death, more specifically fear of death. He muses on his parents life and death with open eyes, devoid of the maudlin adoration often bestowed on family memories. What amazes me the most is everything he feels, I feel the exact opposite. Yet I respect him so much because of his genius in expressing himself and his desire to be true to oneself when facing that final moment. Barnes also considers the life and death of

The Girls by Helen Yglesias

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
May 7, 2010

The Girls by Helen Yglesias Set in Miami, Florida, The Girls is a black comedy about four elderly Jewish sisters - Eva, ninety-five, Naomi, ninety, Flora, eighty-five and Jenny who is eighty. As the novel opens, Jenny, who lives in Maine, is traveling to Miami to tend to Naomi, who is undergoing surgery for cancer and to visit with her other two sisters. Miami Beach is as much a main character in this story as the four sisters. It's decline from the way it was years ago parallels the physical decline of the sisters. Much happens during Jenny's visit - Eva celebrates her 95th birthday, Flora performs her one-woman show

Everafter by Amy Huntley

By Amy Huntley
Star Rating

Rated by Christi H.
Apr 27, 2010

The Everafter by Amy Huntley This would be a good read alike for people that enjoyed Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin. Like that book, the subject explored is what happens to a person after they are dead. As the book begins the only thing that Madison Stanton knows for sure is that she is dead. She doesn't remember dying and she doesn't really remember her life. Gradually she realizes that the space is currently occupies is not a void, there are bright "x-ray" versions of objects from her life scattered and that with concentration she can navigate to them and then relive the moments of her life