Here are our top ten recommendations if you are looking for the best books to read in Sociology of Death. We have made sure our list is diverse to cater to the interests of different types of readers.
1. It's OK That You're Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn't Understand
As seen in THE NEW YORK TIMES • READER'S DIGEST • SPIRITUALITY & HEALTH • HUFFPOST Featured on NPR's RADIO TIMES and WISCONSIN PUBLIC RADIO When a painful loss or life-shattering event upends your world, here is the first thing to know: there is nothing wrong with grief. "Grief is simply love in its most wild and painful form," says Megan Devine. "It is a natural and sane response to loss." So, why does our culture treat grief like a disease to be cured as quickly as possible? In It’s OK That You’re Not OK, Megan Devine offers a profound new approach to both the experience of grief and the way we try to help others who have endured tragedy. Having experienced grief from both sides―as both a therapist and as a woman who witnessed the accidental drowning of her beloved partner―Megan writes with deep insight about the unspoken truths of loss, love, and healing. She debunks the culturally prescribed goal of returning to a normal, "happy" life, replacing it with a far healthier middle path, one that invites us to build a life alongside grief rather than seeking to overcome it. In this compelling and heartful book, you’ll learn: • Why well-meaning advice, therapy, and spiritual wisdom so often end up making it harder for people in grief • How challenging the myths of grief―doing away with stages, timetables, and unrealistic ideals about how grief should unfold―allows us to accept grief as a mystery to be honored instead of a problem to solve • Practical guidance for managing stress, improving sleep, and decreasing anxiety without trying to "fix" your pain • How to help the people you love―with essays to teach us the best skills, checklists, and suggestions for supporting and comforting others through the grieving process Many people who have suffered a loss feel judged, dismissed, and misunderstood by a culture that wants to "solve" grief. Megan writes, "Grief no more needs a solution than love needs a solution." Through stories, research, life tips, and creative and mindfulness-based practices, she offers a unique guide through an experience we all must face―in our personal lives, in the lives of those we love, and in the wider world. It’s OK That You’re Not OK is a book for grieving people, those who love them, and all those seeking to love themselves―and each other―better.
- Author: Megan Devine
- Publisher: Sounds True, Inc.; 1st edition (October 1, 2017)
- Genre: Self-Help, Death & Grief
- ISBN: 978-1622039074
- Dimensions: 5.33 x 0.78 x 8.03 inches
2. Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life's Greatest Lesson, 20th Anniversary Edition
A special 20th anniversary edition of the beloved international bestseller that changed millions of lives Maybe it was a grandparent, or a teacher, or a colleague. Someone older, patient and wise, who understood you when you were young and searching, helped you see the world as a more profound place, gave you sound advice to help you make your way through it. For Mitch Albom, that person was Morrie Schwartz, his college professor from nearly twenty years ago. Maybe, like Mitch, you lost track of this mentor as you made your way, and the insights faded, and the world seemed colder. Wouldn't you like to see that person again, ask the bigger questions that still haunt you, receive wisdom for your busy life today the way you once did when you were younger? Mitch Albom had that second chance. He rediscovered Morrie in the last months of the older man's life. Knowing he was dying, Morrie visited with Mitch in his study every Tuesday, just as they used to back in college. Their rekindled relationship turned into one final “class”: lessons in how to live. Tuesdays with Morrie is a magical chronicle of their time together, through which Mitch shares Morrie's lasting gift with the world.
- Author: Mitch Albom
- Publisher: Crown; Anniversary, Reprint edition (October 8, 2002)
- Genre: Self-Help, Death & Grief
- ISBN: 978-0767905923
- Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.59 x 7.3 inches
3. Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End
Named a Best Book of the Year by The Washington Post , The New York Times Book Review , NPR, and Chicago Tribune, now in paperback with a new reading group guide Medicine has triumphed in modern times, transforming the dangers of childbirth, injury, and disease from harrowing to manageable. But when it comes to the inescapable realities of aging and death, what medicine can do often runs counter to what it should. Through eye-opening research and gripping stories of his own patients and family, Gawande reveals the suffering this dynamic has produced. Nursing homes, devoted above all to safety, battle with residents over the food they are allowed to eat and the choices they are allowed to make. Doctors, uncomfortable discussing patients' anxieties about death, fall back on false hopes and treatments that are actually shortening lives instead of improving them. In his bestselling books, Atul Gawande, a practicing surgeon, has fearlessly revealed the struggles of his profession. Here he examines its ultimate limitations and failures―in his own practices as well as others'―as life draws to a close. Riveting, honest, and humane, Being Mortal shows how the ultimate goal is not a good death but a good life―all the way to the very end.
- Author: Atul Gawande
- Publisher: Picador; 1st edition (September 1, 2017)
- Genre: Medical Books, Administration & Medicine Economics
- ISBN: 978-1250076229
- Dimensions: 5.51 x 0.81 x 8.27 inches
4. Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A searing, deeply moving memoir of illness and recovery that traces one young woman’s journey from diagnosis to remission to re-entry into “normal” life—from the author of the Life, Interrupted column in The New York Times “I was immersed for the whole ride and would follow Jaouad anywhere. . . . Her writing restores the moon, lights the way as we learn to endure the unknown.”—Chanel Miller, The New York Times Book Review “Beautifully crafted . . . affecting . . . a transformative read . . . Jaouad’s insights about the self, connectedness, uncertainty and time speak to all of us.”— The Washington Post In the summer after graduating from college, Suleika Jaouad was preparing, as they say in commencement speeches, to enter “the real world.” She had fallen in love and moved to Paris to pursue her dream of becoming a war correspondent. The real world she found, however, would take her into a very different kind of conflict zone. It started with an itch—first on her feet, then up her legs, like a thousand invisible mosquito bites. Next came the exhaustion, and the six-hour naps that only deepened her fatigue. Then a trip to the doctor and, a few weeks shy of her twenty-third birthday, a diagnosis: leukemia, with a 35 percent chance of survival. Just like that, the life she had imagined for herself had gone up in flames. By the time Jaouad flew home to New York, she had lost her job, her apartment, and her independence. She would spend much of the next four years in a hospital bed, fighting for her life and chronicling the saga in a column for The New York Times . When Jaouad finally walked out of the cancer ward—after countless rounds of chemo, a clinical trial, and a bone marrow transplant—she was, according to the doctors, cured. But as she would soon learn, a cure is not where the work of healing ends; it’s where it begins. She had spent the past 1,500 days in desperate pursuit of one goal—to survive. And now that she’d done so, she realized that she had no idea how to live. How would she reenter the world and live again? How could she reclaim what had been lost? Jaouad embarked—with her new best friend, Oscar, a scruffy terrier mutt—on a 100-day, 15,000-mile road trip across the country. She set out to meet some of the strangers who had written to her during her years in the hospital: a teenage girl in Florida also recovering from cancer; a teacher in California grieving the death of her son; a death-row inmate in Texas who’d spent his own years confined to a room. What she learned on this trip is that the divide between sick and well is porous, that the vast majority of us will travel back and forth between these realms throughout our lives. Between Two Kingdoms is a profound chronicle of survivorship and a fierce, tender, and inspiring exploration of what it means to begin again.
- Author: Suleika Jaouad
- Publisher: Random House (February 9, 2021)
- Genre: Kindle Store, Kindle eBooks, Politics & Social Sciences
5. When Breath Becomes Air
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • PULITZER PRIZE FINALIST • T his inspiring, exquisitely observed memoir finds hope and beauty in the face of insurmountable odds as an idealistic young neurosurgeon attempts to answer the question What makes a life worth living? NAMED ONE OF PASTE ’S BEST MEMOIRS OF THE DECADE • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review • People • NPR • The Washington Post • Slate • Harper’s Bazaar • Time Out New York • Publishers Weekly • BookPage Finalist for the PEN Center USA Literary Award in Creative Nonfiction and the Books for a Better Life Award in Inspirational Memoir At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality. What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir. Paul Kalanithi died in March 2015, while working on this book, yet his words live on as a guide and a gift to us all. “I began to realize that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed nothing and everything,” he wrote. “Seven words from Samuel Beckett began to repeat in my head: ‘I can’t go on. I’ll go on.’” When Breath Becomes Air is an unforgettable, life-affirming reflection on the challenge of facing death and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a brilliant writer who became both.
- Author: Paul Kalanithi
- Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (January 12, 2016)
- Genre: Medical Books, Medicine
- ISBN: 978-0812988406
- Dimensions: 5.37 x 0.9 x 7.8 inches
6. The Denial of Death
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1974 and the culmination of a life's work, The Denial of Death is Ernest Becker's brilliant and impassioned answer to the "why" of human existence. In bold contrast to the predominant Freudian school of thought, Becker tackles the problem of the vital lie: man's refusal to acknowledge his own mortality. In doing so, he sheds new light on the nature of humanity and issues a call to life and its living that still resonates more than thirty years after its publication. The Denial of Death was the last book Dr. Becker published before his premature death in 1974. His insightful and powerful ideas are sure to last for generations.
- Author: Ernest Becker
- Genre: Politics & Social Sciences, Sociology, Death
7. I Wasn't Ready to Say Goodbye: Surviving, Coping and Healing After the Sudden Death of a Loved One (A Compassionate Grief Recovery Book)
The most helpful grief book to read when you're ready to start healing after the loss of a loved one. The grief book that just "gets it." Whether you're grieving the sudden loss of a loved one or helping someone else through their grief, I Wasn't Ready to Say Goodbye offers a comforting hand to help guide you through the grieving process, from the first few weeks to the longer-term emotional and physical effects. It then reveals some of the myths of the grieving process and what really happens as you navigate through the pain. Top-rated within grief books, topics include: Grieving the loss of a child, partner, parent, sibling, friend, or pet The physical and emotional effects of grief Navigating difficult days such as holidays, anniversaries, and birthdays Helping children cope with grief Understanding the grief recovery process Written by two authors who have experienced it firsthand, this book has offered solace to over one-hundred fifty-thousand people, ranging from seniors to teenagers and from the newly bereaved to those who lost a loved one years ago. An exploration of unexpected death and its role in the cycle of life, I Wasn't Ready to Say Goodbye provides those people coping with grief with a rock-steady anchor from which to weather the storm of pain and begin to rebuild their lives. For further step-by-step support, the I Wasn't Ready to Say Goodbye Companion Workbook offers a combination of self-exploration questions, visualization activities, and journaling to help readers through the grieving process. Praise for I Wasn't Ready to Say Goodbye : "I highly recommend this book, not only to the bereaved, but to friends and counselors as well."― Helen Fitzgerald, author of The Grieving Child , The Mourning Handbook , and The Grieving Teen "This book, by women who have done their homework on grief... can hold a hand and comfort a soul through grief's wilderness. Outstanding references of where to see other help."― George C. Kandle, Pastoral Psychologist "Finally, you have found a friend who can not only explain what has just occurred, but can take you by the hand and lead you to a place of healing and personal growth...this guide can help you survive and cope, but even more importantly... heal."― The Rebecca Review "For those dealing with the loss of a loved one, or for those who want to help someone who is, this is a highly recommended read."―Midwest Book Review
- Author: Brook Noel
- Publisher: Sourcebooks; 1st edition (May 1, 2008)
- Genre: Self-Help, Death & Grief
- ISBN: 978-1402212215
- Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
8. Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital
National Book Critics Circle Award Winner, General Nonfiction, 2013 Pulitzer Prize winner Sheri Fink’s landmark investigation of patient deaths at a New Orleans hospital ravaged by Hurricane Katrina - and her suspenseful portrayal of the quest for truth and justice In the tradition of the best writing on medicine, physician and reporter Sheri Fink reconstructs five days at Memorial Medical Center and draws the listener into the lives of those who struggled mightily to survive and to maintain life amidst chaos. After Katrina struck and the floodwaters rose, the power failed, and the heat climbed, exhausted caregivers chose to designate certain patients last for rescue. Months later, several health professionals faced criminal allegations that they deliberately injected numerous patients with drugs to hasten their deaths. Five Days at Memorial, the culmination of six years of reporting, unspools the mystery of what happened in those days, bringing the listener into a hospital fighting for its life and into a conversation about the most terrifying form of health care rationing. In a voice at once involving and fair, masterful and intimate, Fink exposes the hidden dilemmas of end-of-life care and reveals just how ill-prepared we are in America for the impact of large-scale disasters - and how we can do better. A remarkable book, engrossing from start to finish, Five Days at Memorial radically transforms your understanding of human nature in crisis.
- Author: Sheri Fink
- Genre: Audible Books & Originals, Science & Engineering, Science, Environment, Natural Disasters
9. A Grief Observed
Written after his wife's tragic death as a way of surviving the "mad midnight moment," A Grief Observed is C.S. Lewis's honest reflection on the fundamental issues of life, death, and faith in the midst of loss. This work contains his concise, genuine reflections on that period: "Nothing will shake a man -- or at any rate a man like me -- out of his merely verbal thinking and his merely notional beliefs. He has to be knocked silly before he comes to his senses. Only torture will bring out the truth. Only under torture does he discover it himself." This is a beautiful and unflinchingly honest record of how even a stalwart believer can lose all sense of meaning in the universe, and how he can gradually regain his bearings.
- Author: C. S. Lewis
- Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers; 1st edition (February 6, 2001)
- Genre: Self-Help, Death & Grief
- Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.3 x 8 inches
10. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
"One of the funniest and most unusual books of the year....Gross, educational, and unexpectedly sidesplitting."― Entertainment Weekly Stiff is an oddly compelling, often hilarious exploration of the strange lives of our bodies postmortem. For two thousand years, cadavers―some willingly, some unwittingly―have been involved in science's boldest strides and weirdest undertakings. In this fascinating account, Mary Roach visits the good deeds of cadavers over the centuries and tells the engrossing story of our bodies when we are no longer with them.
- Author: Mary Roach
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1st edition (May 17, 2004)
- Genre: Medical Books, Medicine
- ISBN: 978-0393324822
- Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches