Our 2020 Book List

On Tuesday, December 15, MTN Twin Cities members met via video for our annual book share. As always, this popular MTN event garnered plenty of fascinating titles to expand your reading (and listening) list. This year, as part of MTN’s commitment to exploring the impacts of white supremacy on all aspects of life in the US, books focusing on race and racism are featured, as well as those focused solely on death. Happy reading!

Books (alphabetical by author)


Materials from January Meeting

Hi, all!

Eli here, thanking you again, on behalf of myself and my co-workshoppers Shannon and Root, for making it out to our “Working Respectfully with Trans and Nonbinary Communities” meeting earlier this month. Attached are the materials from the meeting: a PDF of the slideshow we used, as well as the resource list we mentioned.

And remember: we just barely scratched the surface of what’s out there in the trans and/or nonbinary world. If this topic piques your interest, we encourage you to keep exploring.

Drop me a line if you have questions: eli.effinger.weintraub at gmail dot com

MTN 2019 Book List

On Tuesday, September 10, 2019, sixteen people attended MTN’s annual book share gathering. The following is a list of the books, magazines, and movies shared by attendees, alphabetical by title, because that’s all my computer could handle. Maybe your next read is here!

    • A Beginner’s Guide to the End: Practical Advice for Living Life and Facing Death, BJ Miller and Shoshana Berger
    • Advice for Future Corpses (and Those Who Love Them): A Practical Perspective on Death and Dying, Sallie Tisdale
    • Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, Atul Gawande
    • Blue Nights and The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion
    • Cry, Heart, But Never Break, Glenn Ringtved, illustrated by Charlotte Pardi
    • Die Wise: A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul, Stephen Jenkinson
    • Gone From My Sight: The Dying Experience, Barbara Karnes, RN
    • Holding Space: On Loving, Dying, and Letting Go, Amy Wright Glenn
    • Reimagining Death: Stories and Practical Wisdom for Home Funerals and Green Burials, Lucinda Herring
    • Tear Soup: A Recipe for Healing After Loss, Pat Schwiebert & Chuck DeKlyen, illustrated by Taylor Bills
    • The Cure for Sorrow: a Book of Blessings for Times of Grief, Jan Richardson
    • The Farewell (movie)
    • The Way to Love: The Last Meditations of Anthony de Mello, Anthony de Mello
    • The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief, Francis Weller
    • Tree: A Life Story, David Suzuki & Wayne Grady, illustrated by Robert Bateman
    • Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? Big Questions from Tiny Mortals About Death, Caitlin Doughty
    • YES! Magazine death issue

Books about death: they're made of dead trees!




2018 Book List

We had a wonderful gathering at Anne’s home on September 12. Seventeen people were present to share a heckuva lot of death- and grief-related books that have touched their lives and hearts. I’ve made an attempt to sort them into categories this year. Not sure how well I did, though. Enjoy!

Books about death: they're made of dead trees!

Children’s Books

Death Practices

  • From Here to Eternity, Caitlin Doughty. “World tour” of death practices. Observations of death detachment in US vs. participation in the rest of the world.
    • Notes about cremation: in other cultures where cremation rates are high, families/communities are more involved. Is increasing awareness of witness cremation part of our work?
  • Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, Caitlin Doughty. Good introduction to the topic. Accessible.


  • Being Dead, Jim Crace. Novel about murdered couple whose bodies aren’t found for over a week; weaves in updates on what’s happening with the bodies.

Lessons For the Dying

Lessons for Caregivers and Other Beloveds

Memoirs and Personal Accounts





  • Death, et seq.Interviews about all aspects of death in US culture
  • GeriPal: Geriatric palliative care physicians
  • Kaddish: Rituals for death from around the world



September Book Sharing

Books about death: they're made of dead trees!

The annual MTN book sharing will be at 7:00 PM on Wednesday, September 12 (since our usual 2nd Tuesday is Rosh Hashanah this year). It will be at the home of Anne Murphy, 287 Mt. Curve Blvd, St. Paul.

Be thinking about your favorite death and dying book to share and/or swap. Go home with a reading list of great books for the rest of the year.

The Results Are In!

Hi, all. Eli here with a list of books, articles, films, podcasts, and ideas shared at the September Excitement Swap!

This year we heard so many amazing suggestions, in so many different media, that I’ve broken them into categories. Entries are arranged alphabetically by title (my apologies to librarians and library-lovers). When possible, I have included the sharer’s name and any commentary they offered on the work. Caveat lector: I am but one fallible mortal who was trying to keep up with a delightfully lively discussion, so there’s a very real possibility that I missed things. If you see errors or omissions, please let me know!


MTN Twin Cities Meeting, September 19, 2017
Book, Article, and Idea Share
Anne Murphy’s home (thank you, Anne)
19 attending
Notes taken by Eli
Opening: “Epitaph” by Merritt Malloy







  • Stay With Me Awhile Mary Johnson & Barbara Means Fraser. Rochester Civic in February. Karen G. will be coordinating an MTN group trip to this event.


  • What is the connection between mainstream fear of/separation from death and the hatred, violence, and oppression we are living in now? (Eli)
  • Can we meet hatred with love? How? (originally posed by Carolyn Laine; relayed by Eli)
  • Are people being given the choice of not having morphine and experiencing the pain at end of life? (Marianne)
  • Palliative and sedation. Are we as healthcare agents and other end-of-life tenders listening well enough to advocate for what the dying person truly wants? (Kathy)



  • Kyoko is creating a chapbook based on her experiences with death, grief, and healing in the last months of her husband’s life. She will share more information when it’s available.
  • Karen G. has started giving talks on facing our mortality. The next one is at Sunday, November 19, 1-5 p.m., at Wellsprings Farm in Annandale. Contact Karen for more information.

Notes from the Twin Cities September Book Share

Books about death: they're made of dead trees!The September Twin Cities meeting was our 2nd annual book share, and here are the books we shared. Books are listed alphabetically by title. Where I’d put it in my notes, I’ve included who recommended which book and added their comments, so you can ask us about them later. -Eli

  • Alison’s Gift, Pat Hogan.
  • Caravan of No Despair, Mirabai Starr. Talks about her grief process after her daughter’s death. (Kyoko)
  • Coming to Rest: A Guide to Caring for Our Own Dead, Julie Wiskind and Richard Spiegel (“The guy who made it up as he went”). Also contains several beautiful poems. (Karen Z)
  • Die Wise: A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul, Stephen Jenkinson (Griefwalker). Nancy isn’t sure if she liked it or not, but she was shocked, surprised, awed, baffled, and annoyed. She thinks it’s brilliant. A lot of hand gestures were involved. Hypercritical of medical establishment, hospice, & palliative care. Alternative vision of how to die. (Nancy, and also Dawn, who calls it an “interesting” read)
  • The Grace in Dying, Kathleen Dowling Singh
  • Greening Death, Suzanne Kelly. Becoming at one with the earth. Body-based and Earth-connected. Great quotes. (Anne A is very excited about this book). “Imagine the body as a great feast going back to the Earth.” Politics of green burial advocacy movement, how it’s connected to home funeral/home vigil community & FCA. Privilege/racism/economic accessibility issues around green burial movement, commodification of green death. (Anne A.)
  • The Pagan Book of Living and Dying, Starhawk and the Reclaiming Collective. As far as we know, the only book dedicated to death and dying from the neo-Pagan perspective.  The source of the body blessing in Passing Through Our Hands (unexpurgated version) (Eli)
  • Penroe: In Another Field Without Time, Penny Bosselman (penroe.net)
  • Stiff, Mary Roach. Getting popular with teenagers. (Jean)
  • The Tao of Death, Karen Wyatt. Based in I Ching. If we’re reading about death, we’re working with our thinking. Brand new! (Linda)
  • What Lasts Is the Breath, poems by Janet Eigner; illustrations by Steven Counsell. Poetry and art (Linda)
  • What Really Matters: 7 Lessons for Living from the Stories of the Dying, Karen Wyatt. (Karen G)
  • When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi. Neurosurgeon with lung cancer chronicles his journey toward death. (Linda)

September Twin Cities Meeting: Book Sharing

Books about death: they're made of dead trees!

What are your favorite books on death and dying? Bring one of yours, briefly describe it, and/or read a passage (two minutes max). Or just come and hear about other people’s favorite death and dying books. You will leave with a great reading list for this winter!

At the end of the meeting, maybe folks would like to swap books.

Date and time: Tuesday, September 13, 2016 at 7:00-9:00 p.m. Location: 21 Rustic Lodge Ave. East., Minneapolis 55419 Contact phone: 612-823-1910 (In case GPS directs you to the wrong side of Nicollet Av. it’s 1/2 block EAST, not west, off of Nicollet Avenue)

Free and open to all!

Expand your to-read list!

We had 14 people at our September meeting and recommended many books to each other. When folks had comments on a book, I tried to include those, but some books were mentioned only in passing, with no commentary. Links go directly to the author or book website where possible and to amazon.com otherwise.

Happy reading!

Books about death: they're made of dead trees!

  • Alison’s Gift, Pat Hogan. The story of the death of Alison Sanders, daughter of Crossings founder Elizabeth Knox, and how it helped spark radical changes in how Americans approach care of the dead.
  • The American Way of Death, Jessica Mitford. First published in 1963 (an updated version, The American Way of Death Revisited, was published in 1998), Mitford’s book was the first book-length exposé of the American funeral industry and related industries. Cut from the same consumer awareness cloth as Ralph Nader’s Unsafe at Any Speed, Mitford focuses on keeping costs and “frippery” down for the average funeral consumer and has little patience for grief rituals. But there’s no better peek at the excesses of funeral and disposition salesmanship. American Way of Death is funny, relentless, and depressingly relevant, more than 50 years later.
  • Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, Atul Gawande. Medical perspective on end-of-life decision-making and how western medicine unnecessarily prolongs life. Not a ton of new material for folks involved in the conscious dying movement, but he writes with authority.
  • Being with Dying, Joan Halifax. One Buddhist’s perspective on death and dying.
  • The End of Your Life Book Club, Will Schwalbe. A son and his dying mother form a book club together.
  • Find the Good, Heather Lende. A book by a newspaper obituary writer.
  • Forever Ours, Janis Amatuzio. Former Anoka County coroner writing about spirit communication from the afterlife.
  • A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die, Gail Rubin. Planning help for death rituals. “Just as talking about sex won’t make you pregnant, talking about funerals won’t make you dead.”
  • The Grace in Dying, Kathleen Dowling Singh
  • The Grace of Ordinary Days, Kay Saunders and Bernie Saunders. A photo/poetry exploration of death
  • Healing Into Life and Death; Who Dies? An Investigation of Conscious Living and Conscious Dying; and Unattended Sorrow, Stephen Levine. Levine is a poet and prolific author; some describe reading his books as being a transcendental experience in itself.
  • How We Die, Sherwin Nuland
  • Knocking on Heaven’s Door, Katy Butler. Explores how medical technology artificially prolongs the quantity of life at the expense of quality of life.
  • Living Consciously, Dying Gracefully, Nancy Manahan & Becky Bohan. This book by MTN’s own Nancy and Becky chronicles the conscious dying process of their sister-in-law, Diane Manahan, and the family-directed death care that followed. Many present cite this book as an inspiration for their own journey into this work.
  • Living into Dying, Nancy Jewel Poer
  • Laughing in a Waterfall, Marianne Dietzl. Another book by an MTN founder, Marianne’s book about her daughter’s life and death–and her own in relation–has also inspired many of us to reconsider where we stand in relation to death.
  • No Death, No Fear: Comforting Wisdom for Life, Thich Nhat Hanh. Recommended for anyone working with a dying person who’s struggling to move beyond fear of death.
  • The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd. Contains a home vigil scene.
  • The Shrouding Woman, Loretta Ellsworth. A middle-grade book about a pre-Civil War family in the business of shrouding, preparing the community’s dead for burial.
  • Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: Lessons from the Crematory, Caitlin Doughty. A first-hand look at life behind the scenes of the American cremation trade. Doughty writes with a style that is fast-paced and witty while still being emotionally affecting. She never mocks the dead but encourages readers to confront our fear and denial around death. And be sure to check out Doughty’s always informative and hilarious “Ask a Mortician” videos (also on YouTube).
  • Unforgettable: A Son, a Mother, and the Lessons of a Lifetime, Scott Simon. Stories about his mother’s death & the conversations they had leading up to it.
  • We Know How This Ends: Living while Dying, Bruce Kramer & Kathy Wurzer. After Kramer was diagnosed with ALS, he chose to document his dying process and the insights and experiences he had along the way.
  • The Wind Blows, the Ice Breaks, Ted Bowman and Elizabeth Bourque Johnson, editors. Poems of loss and renewal by Minnesota poets.

Readers’ Theater from New Book June 9

Where the Tree FallsYou are invited to a Reader’s Theater reading from Where the Tree Falls, the Forest Rises, a new collection of stories about how  people have integrated the death of a loved one into a transformed life, including several from the Threshold Network. Free and open to all. June 9, 7:30 – 9pm, at the home of Becky Bohan and Nancy Manahan, 21 E. Rustic Lodge Ave. Mpls. For more information, call 612-823-1910.