Death Positive Libraries Book List

An important part of the Death Positive Library Project by Redbridge, Kirklees and Newcastle Libraries and Northumbria University has been the creation and curation of a booklist

The booklist was started during Redbridge Libraries Final Party Project in 2017 and was added to and improved during the current project. 

Books were suggested by the libraries project team, our expert researchers at Northumbria University, our various project partners, our reading group authors, attendees at our events and selected from relevant websites (Huunuu, etc.,). 

We created the booklist to provide titles that would help break down taboos around death and dying and communicate our enthusiasm. We also wanted to help readers: to help them find books that could be of support to them in specific circumstances, for example: 

  • To provide them with practical advice (such as explaining why and how to put things such as wills in place) 
  • To help them explain death and dying to children and young people 
  • To illustrate ways to celebrate a life and memorialise someone 
  • To investigate global funerial activities and celebrations.  

We selected non-fiction and fiction plus some books of poetry that featured death and dying.  

The booklist grew and grew so we decided to group the titles into categories so that readers could go directly to topics that were of interest to them. We used our own reading, the library catalogue headings and the expertise of our research partners from Northumbria University to do this. The Redbridge Libraries’ Death Positive Libraries webpage includes the booklist and has had over 1,100 views since publication in May 2020.

The booklist has been an integral part of our project. Some of the titles are now part of ‘Tickets for the Afterlife’, an interactive experience that will allow people to explore a range of choices around what to do with their body, memories and legacies that span the past, present, future of death and dying, including recommended reads.  

Tickets for the Afterlife will be in Redbridge, Kirklees and Newcastle Libraries from 27 October to 19 November and online. 

Death Positive Library favourites

Andrews, Gary: Finding Joy (John Murray, 2020)

Godden, Salena: Mrs Death Misses Death (Canongate Books, 2021)

Kasket, Elaine: All the Ghosts in the Machine: The Digital Afterlife of your Personal Data (Robinson, 2019)
Lyons, Anna and Winter, Louise: We all know how this ends: Lessons about life and living from working with death and dying (Green Tree, 2021) 

Mannix, Kathryn: With the End in Mind (Harper Collins, 2017)

Mayfield, Kate: The Undertaker’s Daughter (Simon & Schuster, 2014)

Rothschild, Liz (editor): Outside the Box: Everyday Stories of Death, Bereavement and Life (PCCS Books, 2020)

Toolis, Kevin: My Father’s Wake: How the Irish Teach Us to Live, Love and Die (Orion, 2017)

Troyer, John: Technologies of the Human Corpse (MIT Press, 2020)

Having conversations about death

Anastasios, Andrew: Dying to Know: Bringing Death to Life (Hardie Grant Publishing, 2010)

Brayne, Sue: The D Word: Talking about Dying: A Guide for Relatives, Friends and Carers (Continuum, 2010)

Fong, Jack: The Death Café Movement (Palgrave, 2017) 

Grollman, Earl A: Talking about Death: A Dialogue Between Parent and Child (Beacon Press, 2011)

Hebb, Michael: Let’s Talk about Death (over Dinner): The Essential Guide to Life’s Most Important Conversation (Orion Spring, 2018)

Writing wills and getting things in order

Aiyela, Remi: Making a Will: An essential guide to creating the perfect will for your circumstances (Independently published, 2018)

Beckerman, Debbie (ed); Feinman, Jane; Peterson, Clive; & 3 more: How to Have a Good Death (DK, 2006)

Byron, Patricia C: Last Orders: The Essential Guide to Your Letter of Wishes (Stellar Books, 2010)

Byron, Patricia C: The Good Will Guide (Stellar Books Publishing, 2012)

Magnusson, Margareta: The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter (Canongate Books, 2017)

Self-help and grief, ‘Coping with Bereavement: A practical guide to getting through grief’ (, 2017)
Albom, Mitch, The Five People You Meet in Heaven (Little, Brown Book Group, 2004)
Andrews, Gary, Finding Joy (John Murray, 2020)
Bates, Sasha: Languages of Loss: a psychotherapist’s journey through grief (Yellow Kite, 2021)
Bonanno, George A: The Other Side of Sadness: What the New Science of Bereavement Tells Us about Life After Loss (Basic Books, 2009)
Dass, Ram and Bush, Mirabai: Walking Each Other Home: Conversations on Love and Dying (2018)
Devine, Megan: It’s OK That you’re not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand (Sounds True, 2017)
Dolny, Helena, Before Forever After: When Conversations About Living Meet Questions About Dying (2018)
Edelman, Hope: The AfterGrief: Finding Your Way on the Long Path of Grief (Michael Joseph, 2021)
Gehlek, Rimpoche Nawang: Good Life, Good Death: Tibetan Wisdom on Reincarnation (Riverhead Hardcover, 2001)
Giddings, Philip; Down, Martin; Sugden, Elaine; Tuckwell, Gareth, Talking About Dying: Help in Facing Death & Dying (2016)
Glenn, Amy Wright, Holding Space: On Loving, Dying, and Letting Go (Parallax Press, 2017)
Halifax, Joan, Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death (2008)
Hartley, Gill, Aspects of Loss: A Companion for Bereaved Parents and their families (Moorley's Print & Publishing; 2011)
Holloway, Richard, Waiting for the Last Bus: Reflections on Life and Death (Canongate Books, 2018)
Kessler, David, Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief (Ebury Publishing, 2019)
Khyentse, Dzongsar Jamyang,  Living is Dying: How to Prepare for Death, Dying and Beyond (2020)
Kirkpatrick, Roger (ed): Final Chapters: writings about the end of life (Jessica Kingsley Pub, revised 2014)
Kubler-Ross, Elisabeth: Questions and answers on death and dying (Simon & Schuster, 1997) 
Leimbach, Claire, Trypheyna McShane, and Zenith Virago, The intimacy of death and dying: simple guidance to help you through (2009)
Mayer, Catherine, and Bird, Anne Mayer, Good Grief: Embracing Life at a Time of Death (HarperCollins Publishers, 2020)
McKissock, Diane, Coping with grief (HarperCollins Publishers, 4th edition, 2015)
Miller, BJ and Berger, Shoshana, A Beginner's Guide to the End: How to Live Life to the Full and Die a Good Death (2019)
Neuberger, Julia, Dying Well: A Guide to Enabling a Good Death (CRC Press; 2016)
Nuland, Sherwin, How We Die (Vintage, 1997)
Petch, Sally, Death Matters (Matador, 2013) 
Rice, Margaret, A Good Death (2019)
Robertson, Ray, How to die: A Book About Being Alive (Biblioasis, 2020)
Rolls, Antonia, As Mother Lay Dying: A Tapestry Woven of Memories and Insights From the Bedside (Antonia Rolls, 2021)
Rosenfeld, Juliet, The State of Disbelief: A Story of Death, Love and Forgetting (Short Books Ltd, 2020)
Rothschild, Liz (ed), Outside the Box: Everyday Stories of Death, Bereavement and Life (PCCS Books, 2020).
Samuel, Julia, Grief Works: Stories of Life, Death and Surviving (2017)
Shepherd, Grace, Living with Dying (Darton, Longman and Todd, 2010) 
Taee, Katrina and McNicoll, Wendelien, Surviving the Tsunami of Grief: For the Bereaved and Those Wanting to Support Them (New Act Publishing, 2019)
Tisdale, Sallie, Advice for the Dying (and Those Who Love Them): A Practical Perspective on Death (2018)
Warner, Felicity, A Safe Journey Home: A Simple Guide to Achieving a Peaceful Death (2011)
Wyatt, John, Dying Well: Dying Faithfully (2018)
Yalom, Irvin, Staring at the Sun: Being at Peace With Your Own Mortality: Overcoming the Dread of Death (Piatkus, 2011) 

Funerals and memorialisation

Francis, Jean, Time to Go: Practical celebrations for the final milestone - alternative British funerals (, 2004)

Francis, Jean, Finishing Touches: 60+ Ways to Enrich a Funeral (The Milestone Publishing Company, 2011)

Gordon-Lennox, Jeltje, Crafting Meaningful Funeral Rituals: A Practical Guide (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2019)

Jones, Sarah, Funerals Your Way: A Person-Centred Approach to Planning a Funeral (independently published, 2018) 

Martin, Richard: Celebrating the Life of a Loved One: what to do with their ashes (2015?)

Speyer, Josefine; Wienrich, Stephanie & The Natural Death Centre: The Natural Death Handbook (Ebury Press; 3rd edition, 2003) 

Behind the scenes at the funeral directors

Doughty, Caitlin, Smoke Gets in your Eyes (Canongate, 2015)

Doughty, Caitlin, Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?: And Other Questions About Dead Bodies (Orion Publishing Co, 2020)

Lynch, Thomas, The Undertaking (Vintage, 1998)

McKenzie, Kenneth & Harra, Todd, Mortuary Confidential: Undertakers Spill the Dirt (Citadel; Reissue edition, 2018)

Valentine, Carla, Past Mortems: Life and Death Behind Mortuary Doors (Sphere, 2017)

Wilde, Caleb, Confessions of a Funeral Director: How the Business of Death Saved My Life (HarperCollins, 2018)


Awbery, Stephanie, My Daddy Had Cancer (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015)
Becker, Aaron, A Stone For Sascha (Walker Books, 2018)
Brown, Laurie Krasny, and Brown, Marc: When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death (Little, Brown & Company, 2004)
Bruna, Dick, Dear Grandma Bunny: A Miffy Book (Simon & Schuster Ltd, 2018)
Coelho, Joseph, and Colpoys, Allison, If All the World Were… (Lincoln Children's Books, 2018)
Davies, Benji, Grandad’s Island (Simon & Schuster Children's UK, 2015)
Davies, Nicola, The Pond (Graffeg Limited, 2017)
Dieckmann, Sandra, Waiting for Wolf (Hachette Children's Group, 2020)
Doughty, Caitlin, Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?: And Other Questions About Dead Bodies (Orion Publishing Co, 2020)
Gaines, Arlen Grad and Polsky, Meredith Englander: I Have a Question about Death: A Book for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder or Other Special Needs (2017) 
Grollman, Earl A, Talking about death: A Dialogue Between Parent and Child (Beacon Press, 2011)
Hewitt, Dawn, When Someone Dies (Questions and Feelings About) (2018)
Jeffers, Oliver, The Heart and the Bottle (Philomel Books, 2010)
Kerr, Judith, Goodbye Mog (Harper Collins Children’s Books, 2003)
Lee, Carol, Remembering Hare: The Great Race (Southgate Publishers, 2014)
Lee, Carol, Saying Goodbye to Hare: a story about death and dying for children aged 5-9 years (Southgate Publishers, 2012)
Lemon, Mark, The Magical Wood (Lemon Drop Books, 2018)
Moth, ‘Goodbye, Mr Jim’, 
Perkin, Jayde, Mum’s Jumper (Book Island, 2019)
Potter, Molly, Let's Talk About When Someone Dies (2018)
Robinson, Hilary, The Copper Tree: Helping a child cope with death and loss (Strauss House Productions, 2012)
Rosen, Michael, Michael Rosen's Sad Book (Walker Books, 2011)
Teckentrup, Britta, The Memory Tree (2013)
Thomas, Isabel, and Egnéus, Daniel, Fox: A Circle of Life Story (Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2020) 
Varley, Susan, Badger’s Parting Gifts (1984) plus online

Older children
Callender, Kacen, King and the Dragonflies (Scholastic, 2020)
DiCamillo, Kate, The Tiger Rising (Walker Books Ltd, 2014)
Newbery, Linda, Lob (Penguin Random House Children's UK, 2014)
Welford, Ross, The 1,000-Year-Old Boy (Harper Collins, 2018)
White, E.B., Charlotte’s Web (Puffin, 2016)
Wilson, Jacqueline, and Sharratt, Nick, The Cat Mummy (Penguin Random House Children's UK, 2009)

Young adult
Dellaira, Ava, Love Letters to the Dead (Hot Key Books, 2014)
Erlbruch, Wolf, Death, Duck and the Tulip (2007) plus video online
Gaiman, Neil, The Graveyard Book (2008)
Green, John, The Fault in our Stars (Penguin Random House Children's UK, 2014)
Ness, Patrick, and Dowd, Siobhan, A Monster Calls (Walker Books Ltd, 2015)
Paterson, Katherine, Bridge to Terabithia (1977).
Silvera, Adam, History Is All You Left Me (Simon & Schuster Ltd, 2017)
Silvera, Adam, They Both Die At The End ((Simon & Schuster Children’s UK, 2017)

Books for people with learning disabilities, When I die: The Choices that Tony has made for the end of his life (free downloadable booklet)
Hollins, Sheila and Tuffrey-Wijne, Irene, Am I going to die? (Beyond Words, 2009)
Marie Curie, Feelings you might have when someone dies: a new booklet on grief for people with learning disabilities (2019)


Classic literature
Anon, Beowulf (10th -11th c)
Bronte, Emily, Wuthering Heights (1848)
Dickinson, Emily, Complete Poems (Faber, 2016)
Hill, Susan, The Woman in Black (1998)
Le Fanu, Sheridan, Carmilla (1872)
Lewis, C.S, A Grief Observed (Reader’s Edition) (Faber & Faber, 2015)
Poe, Edgar Allan, The Portable Edgar Allan Poe (Penguin, 2006)
Shakespeare, William, Hamlet: The Revised Edition ed. Neil Taylor and Ann Thompson (Arden, 2016). 
Shelley, Mary, Frankenstein (1818: Penguin, ed Maurice Hindle, 2003). 
Stevenson, Robert Louis, The Body Snatcher (1884) 
Stevenson, Robert Louis, The Suicide Club (1878)
Stoker, Bram, Dracula (1897: Penguin, 2003)
Tennyson, Alfred Lord, In Memoriam ed. Erik Gray (Norton, 2020). 
Thomas Ligotti, Death Poems (2014)
Walters, Julia: Poems and Readings for Funerals (Penguin, 2004)

Modern literature 
Adam, Claire, Golden Child (2019)
Barnes, Julian, Levels of Life (Vintage Publishing, 2014)
Beecher, Anne, Here Comes the Miracle (2021)
Godden, Salena, Mrs Death Misses Death (Canongate Books, 2021)
Goode, Chris, User Not Found (Oberon, 2018).
Haig, Matt, The Midnight Library (2020)
Highsmith, Patricia, The Talented Mr Ripley (1955)
Hopkins, Cathy, The Kicking the Bucket List (HarperCollins Publishers, 2017)
Hurley, Andrew Michael, Starve Acre (John Murray Publishers Ltd, 2019)
Kis, Danilo, The Encyclopaedia of the Dead (Penguin, 2015)
Kurkov, Andrey, Death and the Penguin (1996; trans: English 2001)
Kurkov, Andrey, Penguin Lost (2005; trans: English 2010)
Mackintosh, Clare, After the End (Little, Brown Book Group, 2020) 
Mantel, Hilary, The Giant, O’Brien (1998)
McEvoy, Mel, An Emptied Space (Mudfog, 2012) (poetry)
Morrison, Toni, Beloved (Vintage Publishing, 2010)
O’Farrell, Maggie, Hamnet (2020). 
Plath, Sylvia, Collected Poems (Faber, 1981)
Plath, Sylvia, The Bell Jar (1963)
Porter, Max, Grief is the Thing with Feathers (Faber & Faber, 2015)
Pratchett, Terry, Hogfather (1996)
Pratchett, Terry, Mort (1987)
Pratchett, Terry, Reaper Man (1991)
Pratchett, Terry, Soul Music (1994)
Pratchett, Terry, Thief of Time (2001)
Rayner, Sarah, One Moment, One Morning (Pan Macmillan, 2010)
Saunders, George, Lincoln in the Bardo: a novel (Penguin Random House USA, 2017)
Spark, Muriel, Memento Mori (Macmillan, 1959)
Zusak, Marcus, The Book Thief (2005)

Banks, Iain M., Surface Detail (2010)
Brockmeier, Kevin, The Brief History of the Dead (2006)
Dick, Philip K., A Maze of Death (1970)
Dick, Philip K., Ubik (1969)
Farmer, Philip Jose, To Your Scattered Bodies Go (1971)
Gibson, William, Neuromancer (1984)
Golding, William, Lord of the Flies (1954)
Ishiguro, Kazuo, Never Let Me Go (2005)
Ishiguro, Klara and the Sun (2021)
James, Marlon, A Brief History of Seven Killings (2014)
Le Guin, Ursula K., The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition (2018)
Lem, Stanislaw, The Investigation (1959)
Morgan, Richard K., Altered Carbon (2002)
Morgan, Richard K., Woken Furies (2005) 
Morgan, Rickard K., Broken Angels (2003)
Sawyer, Robert J., The Terminal Experiment (1995)
Squailia, Gabrielle, Dead Boys (2015)
Vesaas, Tarjei, and Rokkan, Elizabeth (trans), The Ice Palace (Penguin, 2018)
Yolen, Jane, Cards of Grief (1984)

Barthes, Roland, Mourning Diary (2009)
Black, Sue, All That Remains: A Life in Death (Doubleday, 2018).
Black, Sue, Written in Bone: hidden stories in what we leave behind (Doubleday, 2020).
Clarke, Rachel, Dear Life: A Doctor's Story of Love and Loss (Little Brown, 2020).
Doughty, Caitlin,  From Here to Eternity (Norton, 2018).
Doughty, Caitlin, Smoke Gets in your Eyes (Canongate, 2015). 
Fitzpatrick, Niamh, Tell Me the Truth About Loss: A Psychologist’s Personal Story of Loss, Grief and Finding Hope (Gill, 2020).
Haig, Matt, Reasons to Stay Alive (2015)
Lynch, Thomas, The Undertaking (Vintage, 1998)
Lyons, Anna, and Winters, Louise, We All know How This Ends: Lessons about life and living from working with death and dying (Green Tree, 2021)
Macdonald, Helen, H is for Hawk (Jonathan Cape, 2014)
Mannix, Kathryn, With the End in Mind (Harper Collins, 2017).
Mayfield, Kate, The Undertaker’s Daughter (Simon & Schuster, 2014).
McKenzie, Kenneth & Harra, Todd, Mortuary Confidential: Undertakers Spill the Dirt (Citadel; Reissue edition, 2018).
Melinek, Judy and Mitchell, T.J., Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies and the Making of a Medical Examiner (Scribner, 2014).
O’Mahony, Seamus, The Way We Die Now (Head of Zeus, 2017)
Praske and Nina, Love in the Present Tense: A Bereaved Mum's Story (2020)
Riley, Denise, Time Lived, Without its Flow (Picador, 2019)
Roach, Mary, Stiff (Penguin, 2003)
Rogers, Jane Duncan, Gifted by Grief (Wild Wisdom Ltd, 2015)
Taylor, Cory, Dying: A Memoir (Canongate, 2016) 
Toolis, Kevin, My Father’s Wake: How the Irish Teach Us to Live, Love and Die (Orion, 2017).
Valentine, Carla, Past Mortems: Life and Death Behind Mortuary Doors (Sphere, 2017).
Wilde, Caleb: Confessions of a Funeral Director: How the Business of Death Saved My Life (HarperCollins, 2018)

Death, history, and culture

Anon, The Egyptian Book of the Dead, ed John Romer (Penguin Classics, 2008) 
Appignanesi, Lisa, Everyday Madness: On Grief, Anger, Loss and Love (Fourth Estate, 2018)
Ariés, Philippe, The Hour of Our Death (Vintage, 2008)
Baudrillard, Jean, Symbolic Exchange and Death (Sage, 2017) 
Becker, Ernest, The Denial of Death (Free Press, 1973)
Bradbury, Jennie, and Scarre, Chris, Engaging with the Dead (Oxbow, 2017)
Buist, Erica, This Party’s Dead: Grief, Joy and Spilled Rum at the World’s Death Festivals (Unbound, 2021)
Colquhoun, Matt, Egress: On Mourning, Melancholy, and Mark Fisher (Repeater, 2020).
Crowe, Dan (ed), Dead Interviews (Granta, 2013)
Davies, Douglas, Mors Britannica: Lifestyle & Death-Style in Britain Today (OUP, 2015).
Dickey, Colin, Cranioklepty (Unbridled Books, 2000)
Fenwick, Peter, and Fenwick, Elizabeth, The Art of Dying (Continuum, 2008)
Fisher, Mark, Ghosts of My Life (Zero Books: 2013) 
Fong, Jack, The Death Café Movement (Palgrave, 2017) 
Freud, Sigmund, ‘Mourning and Melancholia’ (1918)
Fuss, Diana, Dying Modern: A Meditation on Elegy (Duke UP, 2013)
Gawande, Atul, Being Mortal: illness, medicine and what matters in the end (Profile Books Ltd, 2015) 
Hallam, Elizabeth, and Hockey, Jenny, Death, Memory and Material Culture (Berg, 2001)
Holmberg, Tora, Jonsson, Annika, and Palm, Fredrik, Death Matters: Cultural Sociology of Mortal Life (Palgrave, 2019)
Jupp, Peter C., and Gittings, Clare, Death in England: An Illustrated History (Manchester UP, 1999).
Kasket, Elaine, All the Ghosts in the Machine: The Digital Afterlife of your Personal Data (Robinson, 2019)
Kellehear, Alan, A Social History of Dying (CUP, 2007)
Kellehear, Alan, The Study of Dying (CUP, 2009)
Klass, Dennis, and Steffen, Edith Maria, Continuing Bonds in Bereavement (Routledge, 2018) 
Klass, Dennis, Silverman, Phyllis R.; and Nickman, Steven L., Continuing Bonds: New Understandings of Grief (Routledge, 1996) 
McIlwain, Charlton, When Death Goes Pop (Peter Lang, 2005)
Penfold-Mounce, Ruth, Death, The Dead and Popular Culture (Emerald, 2018)
Prodromou, Amy-Katerini, Navigating Loss in Women’s Contemporary Memoir (Palgrave, 2015) 
Shaw, Katy, Hauntology (Palgrave, 2018).
Sheeran, Pat, and Witoszek, Nina, Talking to the Dead: A Study of Irish Funerary Traditions (Rodopi, 1998).
Sontag, Susan, Regarding the Pain of Others (Penguin, 2003)
Stanford, Peter, How to Read a Graveyard (Bloomsbury, 2013)
Stokes, Patrick: Digital Souls: a philosophy of online death (Bloomsbury Academic, 2021)
Strange, Julie-Marie, Death, Grief and Poverty, 1870-1914 (CUP, 2005)
Teodorescu, Adriana, and Jacobsen, Michael, Death in Contemporary Popular Culture (Routledge, 2020). 
Troyer, John, Technologies of the Human Corpse (MIT Press, 2020). 


Death Positive Libraries book list

A booklist to provide titles to help break down taboos around death and dying, by Redbridge, Kirklees and Newcastle Libraries and Northumbria University