In May 2018, a close family member of mine became critically ill. Within a day of hearing the news, I began ordering books in a desperate attempt to set my nervous mind to some productive but related task, as I could hardly think of anything else.
In the following weeks, books about death assembled into a stack in the windowsill on my side of the bed. $10 or $15 seems like such a small price to pay for even an iota of comfort or understanding, when it comes to such a harrowing topic.
It eventually dawned on me that I should turn this scattered effort into a coherent project. Even in the first 5 books or so, certain themes have come up repeatedly, and it is getting slippery in my mind. Here, I’ll provide notes on the 100 books as I read them, and observations on the themes I find.
The drive to read and research is not universal, but death certainly is. And I reject the often-circulated idea that book learning is necessarily dry. Though there is no perfect substitute for personal experience of something (especially when the experience is a transformative one), reading the right works can help us to adopt an adaptive perspective on the past, cope with the present, and imagine the future.
Depending on your personality and goals, I hope that this site can help direct you towards the right book for your needs or simply substitute for full-book reading that you can’t or won’t do.
If you have a book suggestion or other comment, you can reach me here.
If you’d like to gift me a book, my wish list is here.