Back in December of 2013, I wrote a post called "Death, a reading list."
So much has happened since then, not the least of which was the death of my Mom, I thought it was time to update the list.
As I embark on recording my next album -- lovingly nicknamed "The Death Album" for now -- I wanted to lay a trail of breadcrumbs between the worlds (and words) I've been immersed in and the songs I've been writing about my Mom, our time together, her living and dying, and my own living and dying ("you are dying everyday").
As with my original post, this list is certainly not a “best of," nor is it in any particular order. You have to find your own way through this topic, as we all do. And just because a book appears here does not mean I loved it and would recommend it without reserve. These titles have shaped my thinking about death, but that shaping may have come in the form of a single sentence or two, a single chapter, or merely a stance toward mortality more generally.
I am never not reading Mortality. I finish it and immediately begin again. I've given away my own copy so often -- at gigs and to friends and acquaintances -- that I now keep a stack on my desk for just such occasions. It is the keystone of the Death Album; it is the touchstone of the songs about death I have written and am writing still.
Christopher Hitchens, Mortality
Leo Tolstoy, The Death of Ivan Ilyich
Astrid Lindgren, The Brothers Lionheart
Roland Barthes, Mourning Diary
Max Porter, Grief Is The Thing With Feathers
Atul Gawande, Being Mortal
Edited by Kevin Young, The Art of Losing: Poems on Grief and Healing
Complied by Yoel Hoffman, Japanese Death Poems
Alphonse Daudet, In the Land of Pain
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams
Lapham's Quarterly: Death, Volume VI, Number 4, Fall 2013