Tour Books for the Dying

One of my new subscribers recently mentioned a curious problem: “I have tried to find poems or books that dying but still with-it people might like to look at (or that I could read to them) but when I Google the subject or look in the death and dying section of a bookstore, all of the books are for the people being left behind. I guess if it were me dying, I’d want to read everything I could get my hands on. Or maybe I wouldn’t….”

Ah! What do we have here? Maybe a new niche in literature in the offing? A new idea to designate a section in the bookstore as “Tour Books for the Dying”? I suppose the audience for that would be hard to build up in advance, as because, well, you know. More seriously, though, when I  spied the sentence, “all of the books are for the people being left behind,” I heard a lament behind that. As we reach each stage in our lives and want to make sense of the changes each stage leaves in its wake, we yearn for fellow voices to say or write or sing or paint or sculpt, “Yup. I’ve been there too, and this is how I made my way.”

 When our dying moves from our long term to our short term itinerary, perhaps more than ever we will long to hear those voices who have unflinchingly shared our rapidly shifting scenery.  That might get tricky for those writers who “have been there” or even “on the way there” to light the way for us. Alas in this final trip, we will have to settle for a tour book in reverse: where the writer has only been there emotionally at best and where the reader has already booked passage.


For the next post:: What those tour books might be. What might you yourself want on your bookshelf in your final days? I will anonymously include your thoughts.


5 thoughts on “Tour Books for the Dying

  1. Irving Kaplan says:

    Karen, Most interesting. Irv and Sande

    Sent from my iPad


  2. Vicki says:

    I recently read “The End of Your Life Book Club”. The author’s mother is dying and together they resolve to read the same books and then discuss them, as a meaningful way to pass the time while she’s receiving chemo and waiting in doctor’s offices etc.Apparently the one book the mother couldn’t live without was called “Daily Strength for Daily Needs” (first published in the late 1800’s!). I checked it out and it is a great little compilation,although definitely biblical in tone, so might not suit everyone.


    • Re: “they resolve to read the same books and discuss them….” So maybe the point is not so much what in particular a dying person chooses to read so much as the fact that others are sharing and discussing the same books,providing yet another way to connect with those others.


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