Category Archives: 199 Cemeteries To See Before You Die

199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die’s anniversary

199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die came out four years ago today. My encyclopedia of graveyards, tombs, and burial places spanned the US and circled the globe. It never stood a chance at being comprehensive, but I tried to make it as wide-ranging as possible.

I’m not sure if it’s obvious to anyone but me, but 199 Cemeteries is my most intentionally political book. From the start, I didn’t want it to be a collection of stories about dead White men, so I knew I would include Black History, Native American heroes, and Suffragettes. The real turning point for me, though, came the morning after the 2016 election.

Powazaki Cemetery of Poland, whose records were destroyed during World War II

In the fall of 2016, I joined a group called Shut Up & Write that met on Wednesday mornings at the Borderlands Cafe in San Francisco’s Mission District. We sat down at the big tables in the back of the cafe and everyone said their name and what they intended to work on that morning. Then we put our heads down over our own writing and silently worked for several hours.

By November, I’d learned most of everyone’s names and their recurring projects, but I hadn’t really gotten to know any of them. We were pleasant acquaintances, nothing more. Still, when I’d gone to bed on election day, Hillary Clinton was winning. When I got up the next morning, I could not believe the news. I thought about taking the day off but, to be honest, I didn’t want to be alone. I wanted to bury myself in work. And, election or no, I had a deadline to complete 199 Cemeteries by the end of January. I couldn’t afford to get depressed.

The Jewish Cemetery of Chernivitsi, Ukraine

In a daze, frightened for my kid and my friends, I packed up my laptop and notes and went to Borderlands. Z’ev, the cafe manager, was kind. I settled at the table in the back and watched the other writers drift in. We all talked briefly about our disappointment and shock, our sense of betrayal by the rest of the country. I discovered how much more we had in common than just our creative pursuits.

As the writing session progressed, people wept silently. We passed a box of tissues back and forth. Some of them were simply journaling. Others were writing letters to the editor or outlining articles or penning essays. I sat there with my cemetery notes, wondering how I could possibly make sense of what had just happened…and became increasingly angry.

The Soul-Consoling tower at the Manzanar concentration camp.

My inclusive table of contents morphed. I believe fiercely that humans have more in common than we have differences. I believe that we are all in this together, all of us around the world. We have to get along right here, care for each other right here, and care for the earth. We have one planet. There is nowhere for us to go.

So my table of contents expanded. I wanted to include the Islamic prophets and the artists of Russia, the Apartheid martyrs of South Africa, the world’s indigenous cultures, if they welcomed visitors to their burial grounds. I wanted to examine the legacies of genocide and racism and war. I wanted to make the point — 199 times — that we are all going to end up dead. What matters, what will be remembered, is what we do right here, right now.

My contribution to making the world a better place, as small as it might be, is 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die.

Monument to the Native warriors killed at the Little Bighorn National Monument, placed more than a century after the battle.

Cemetery Press in 2018

Considering I didn’t have a new book out in 2018, I was pleased with the attention that 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die continued to draw. It opened doors for me to speak at a bunch of new (to me) venues last year, too. Hopefully, I persuaded some new people to check out the beauty of these fragile historic places.

Book publications:

I put a collection of my cemetery essays up on Wattpad in July and August. Graveyard Field Trips: A Memoir gathers essays I published on Gothic.Net and GothicBeauty.com, along with the introduction to the original edition of Death’s Garden: Relationships with Cemeteries.

At the moment, I have a proposal out for my new book, The Pioneer Cemeteries of the San Francisco Bay Area, and another proposal for a nonfiction book with Lisa Morton, president of the Horror Writers Association, that I’m excited about.  Hopefully those books will find homes in 2019.

I’m not sure what cemetery project I’ll work on after those are done. Maybe I’ll finally finish the second volume of Death’s Garden.

Short Nonfiction Publications:

Four Graves for Harvey Milk” appeared on The Cemetery Club  to kick off Great Britain’s Gay Pride Month.

10 American Cemeteries to See Before You Die” appeared on The Daily Beast in April 2018. My collection of cemeteries to see in springtime was illustrated with images from 199 Cemeteries.

I wrote 9 cemetery columns for the Horror Writers Association’s newsletter about the histories of burial and cremation, cemetery ghost stories, and gravestone iconography.

The Madam’s Haunted Tomb” served as part of the Ghosts in the Graveyard series on Roxanne Rhoads’s All Things Halloween blog. I talked about a ghost legend centered on New Orleans’ Metairie Cemetery.

Here on CemeteryTravel.com, I was proud to put together a two-part series on the “Resting Places of Horror Icons.” Here’s part one.

Lectures:

At Cypress Lawn in Colma in September

I spoke to Angela Hennessy’s “Over My Dead Body” class at the California College of the Arts in February. My lecture, called “Memento Mori: Even Graveyards Die,” covered the demolition of the historic cemeteries of San Francisco.

In April, for the “Memento Mori” evening of the Reimagine End of Life week, I talked about the dismantling of “Laurel Hill Cemetery: San Francisco’s Garden Cemetery” at the Swedish American Hall.

I talked about how I came to write 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die at the Association for Gravestone Studies conference in Danbury, Connecticut in June.

In September, I showed slides of my favorite cemeteries from 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die at Cypress Lawn Memorial Park in Colma, California.

Professor Steven Brown invited me to talk about cemeteries to his horticultural class as San Francisco’s City College on October 1, 2018.

My last lecture of the year was near to my heart.  For years, I’ve wanted to trace the development of San Francisco’s Old Mission Cemetery through tourist postcards.  I finally got to do it as part of the Odd Salon’s “Cemetery Stories” event during the Litcrawl on 10/20/18. My lecture was called “Postcards from History.”

Podcasts:

Extreme Genes, my first genealogy podcast ever, chatted with me about cemeteries on 3/25/18. My bit starts 24 minutes in:
https://extremegenes.com/2018/02/25/episode-226-black-history-month-advances-in-african-american-research-199-cemeteries-to-see-before-you-die/

Venerable goth podcast Cemetery Confessions broadcast our conversation about cemeteries on 6/17/18:
http://www.thebelfry.rip/blog/2018/6/15/cemetery-expert-loren-rhoads

Mark from On the Odd chatted with me about 199 Cemeteries on October 26, 2018: https://ontheodd.com/199-cemeteries-to-see-before-you-die/

And I talked with Timothy Renner about cemeteries for his Strange Familiars podcast, but it hasn’t been released yet.

Print/Online Interviews:

“Loren Rhoads takes us through the gates of the Cemetery” for Women in Horror Month on Library of the Damnedhttp://libraryofthedamned.com/2018/02/22/wihm-interview-loren-rhoads-takes-us-through-the-gates-of-the-cemetery/

Sonora Taylor invited me by for a Q&A on her blog in August. Mostly we talked about 199 Cemeteries, but also got into my Alondra short stories: https://sonorawrites.com/2018/08/15/ask-the-author-a-qa-with-loren-rhoads/

Erin Al-Mehairi invited me by her Oh, for the Hook of a Book! blog for a long conversation about cemeteries and more on 10/30/18: https://hookofabook.wordpress.com/2018/10/30/hookinterview-cemetery-travel-writer-and-horror-author-loren-rhoads-lohf/

Articles:

199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die continued to get some press attention this year, even though the book’s been out more than a year. Most of these stories were nice surprises when I stumbled across them online.

I served as a consultant about Potter’s Fields for “State-Funded Funerals: What Happens to the Unclaimed Dead” on How Stuff Works. I’m a fan of the podcast, so this was an honor. https://people.howstuffworks.com/culture-traditions/cultural-traditions/state-funded-funerals-what-happens-to-unclaimed-dead.htm

A feature story on 199 Cemeteries called “From Established to Eccentric, These Cemeteries are To Die For” appeared on Gonomad in April: https://www.gonomad.com/109276-from-established-to-eccentric-these-cemeteries

Lifestyles over 50 reprinted Larry Bleiberg’s “10 Great Cemeteries to See Before You Die”: https://lifestylesafter50.com/10-great-cemeteries-to-visit-before-you-die/

Atlas Obscura did a lovely piece called “In Search of Cemeteries Alive With Beauty, Art, and History” for Halloween: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/cemeteries-to-visit-before-you-die-monuments

Halloween Lifestyle cautioned readers “Don’t Die Before You see These Amazing Cemeteries”: http://www.halloween-lifestyle.com/2018/04/23/dont-die-before-seeing-these-amazing-cemeteries/

And the Steampunk Explorer put together an in-depth 3-part series of historic cemeteries that would appeal to those of a steampunk persuasion:

Part 1: USA and Canada
https://steampunk-explorer.com/articles/exploring-historic-cemeteries-part-i

Part 2: Europe
https://steampunk-explorer.com/articles/exploring-historic-cemeteries-part-ii

Part 3: The Rest of the World
https://steampunk-explorer.com/articles/exploring-historic-cemeteries-part-iii

Miscellaneous Good Things:

A catch-all category for things that made me smile this year.

199 Cemeteries made the preliminary ballot for the Horror Writers Association’s Bram Stoker Award in Nonfiction. While the book didn’t advance to the final ballot, it was still an honor to make the long list.

The podcast Two Girls One Ghost read my fan letter on air after they mentioned 199 Cemeteries in an earlier episode. Here’s a link to their Haunted Cemeteries podcast: https://audioboom.com/posts/6692482-episode-27-rest-in-peace which originally aired on 2/25/18.

199 Cemeteries made a Buzzfeed list! “30 Gorgeous Products for Anyone with a Morbid Mind”  appeared on 4/13/18: https://www.buzzfeed.com/malloryannp/gorgeous-products-morbid-mind

I came across the first edition of Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel listed on Amazon for $1200. I’d gladly set you up with one for 10 bucks.

Sonora Taylor mentioned 199 Cemeteries in her list “October Reads: Time for (More) Darkness” recommendation list on 10/5/18: https://sonorawrites.com/2018/10/05/october-reads-time-for-more-darkness/

Finally, I got to provide a cover blurb for the first time.  I am really excited about Erin-Marie Legacey’s Making Space for the Dead, which is coming from Cornell University Press in April 2019. You can preorder it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2RkuyiT.

At Cypress Lawn this Weekend

IMG_0551This Sunday, September 16, I will show some of my favorite photographs from 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die at one of my favorite cemeteries in the book, Colma’s Cypress Lawn Memorial Park.

Cypress Lawn was founded in the 1890s as a garden cemetery. To this day, it is full of lovely statuary, an exotic arboretum, carpet flowerbeds, and monuments to the founding fathers of San Francisco. It also has acres of stained glass in its public catacombs. It’s one of the loveliest cemeteries in Northern California.

My talk starts at 2 pm in Cypress Lawn’s Reception Center at 1370 El Camino Real in Colma, California. It’s free and there will be refreshments. You can get more information here: http://www.cypresslawnheritagefoundation.org/events/lectures/ or call 650-550-8812.

I’ll have copies of 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die and Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemeteries Travel available for sale. You’re also welcome to bring your own copy for a signature.

This is the only 199 Cemeteries event I’ve got scheduled so far this far, so don’t miss it. In fact, come early and have a lovely ramble in Cypress Lawn.

199 Cemetery links

Last year was great for getting the word out about traveling to cemeteries. I spoke to reporters from Time, Preservation magazine, Entertainment Weekly, the LA Times, Real Simple magazine, and many more. I was honored to talk to Callie Crosby for her Under the Radar bookclub on NPR and radio broadcasters from Ireland to Australia to my hometown of Flint, Michigan.

I’ve gathered all the links together, but this is one of my favorites:

Screen Shot 2017-09-20 at 10.03.41 AM

Articles & Interviews:

Rhoads_NYT Book Review_10_1_17 copyGuide to Graveside Tourism
New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/27/books/review/199-cemeteries-to-see-before-you-die.html

What Gets Remembered: How Visiting a Cemetery Can Teach you About History
Time magazine
http://time.com/4963379/cemeteries-history-rhoads/

Hurry to see a cemetery while you can still appreciate it, says author Loren Rhoads
Los Angeles Times
http://beta.latimes.com/books/la-et-jc-199-cemeteries-20171018-htmlstory.html

The Best Historic Cemeteries to Visit Around the World
The National Trust for Historic Preservation
https://savingplaces.org/stories/the-best-historic-cemeteries-to-visit-around-the-world#.WjarlVQ-f2Q

Books for Impassioned Travelers
Wall Street Journal
https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-must-read-for-restless-fly-fishermenand-other-books-for-travelers-1509645620

A Kind of Serendipity: 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die
Funeral Zone
https://www.funeralzone.co.uk/blog/loren-rhoads-199-cemeteries-travel-book

Cemetery Travel: World’s Best Destinations
Blueprints for Living on ABC radio in Australia
http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/blueprintforliving/cemetery-travel—10-of-the-worlds-best/8667452

Dark Tourism: Why Would You Want to Spend Your Holiday Visiting a Cemetery?
Blueprints for Living on ABC radio in Australia
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-06/tombstone-tourism-why-we-visit-cemeteries-on-holidays/8673454

In Search of Cemeteries Alive with Beauty, Art, and History
Atlas Obscura
https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/cemeteries-to-visit-before-you-die-monuments

“199 Cemeteries” A Lively Chronicle of Culture
San Francisco Chronicle
http://www.sfchronicle.com/travel/article/Travel-Books-199-Cemeteries-a-lively-12241291.php?cmpid=gsa-sfgate-result

Loren Rhoads suggests 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die: Life, Death, and Everything in Between
Narrative Species
https://narrativespecies.wordpress.com/2017/10/02/loren-rhoads-suggests-199-cemeteries-to-see-before-you-die-life-death-and-everything-in-between/

Just in Time for Halloween, Bay Area Cemeteries to See Before You Die
San Francisco magazine
https://www.modernluxury.com/san-francisco/story/just-time-halloween-the-bay-area-cemeteries-see-you-die

12 of the Most Beautiful Cemeteries Around the World
Mental Floss
http://mentalfloss.com/photos/504533/12-most-beautiful-cemeteries-around-world

These Connected Graves in the Netherlands Prove Love Conquers All
Mental Floss
http://mentalfloss.com/article/505109/these-connected-graves-netherlands-prove-love-conquers-all

10 Hauntingly Beautiful Cemeteries to Visit Before Halloween
Real Simple
https://www.realsimple.com/work-life/travel/beautiful-cemeteries-to-visit

Cemetery-book author takes readers to 199 of her favorites
San Diego Union Tribune
http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/entertainment/books/sd-et-author-rhoads-20171010-story.html

199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die
Death & the Maiden
https://deadmaidens.com/2017/12/12/199-cemeteries-to-see-before-you-die/

11 Cemeteries That Are Hauntingly Beautiful
Popsugar
https://www.popsugar.com/smart-living/World-Most-Beautiful-Cemeteries-44166497

A Guide to the World’s Most Intriguing Cemeteries
Hyperallergic
https://hyperallergic.com/403271/a-tombstone-explorers-guide-to-the-worlds-most-intriguing-cemeteries

10 Great Cemeteries to Visit Before You Die
USA Today
https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/destinations/10greatplaces/2017/10/27/cemeteries/803205001/

Two of the “199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die” are in Utah
Salt Lake City Tribune
http://www.sltrib.com/artsliving/arts/2017/10/27/two-of-the-199-cemeteries-to-see-before-you-die-are-in-utah/

10 Cemeteries to See Before you Die
Funeral Zone
https://www.funeralzone.co.uk/blog/10-cemeteries-see-you-die

7 Amazing Cemeteries to Visit Before You Inhabit One (if You’re into That Sort of Thing)
Did You Know
http://didyouknowfacts.com/8-amazing-cemeteries-visit-inhabit-one-know-youre-sort-thing/

Cemeteries You must see before you die: Scotland to Japan, the world’s most haunted and beautiful burial sites revealed
Daily Mail
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-5150991/The-worlds-hauntingly-beautiful-burial-sites.html

Being Dead Sucks Even More than You Thought
Vice
https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/j5gwwy/being-dead-sucks-even-more-than-you-thought

The London Dead review:
http://thelondondead.blogspot.com/2017/10/199-cemeteries-to-see-before-you-die.html

Two Books to Delight the Tombstone Tourist in You
Luna Luna
http://www.lunalunamagazine.com/dark/2-boos-to-delight-the-tombstone-tourist

IMG_8862Radio:

Callie Crosby’s Under the Radar book club
https://news.wgbh.org/2017/11/10/author-graveyard-aficionado-asks-whats-your-favorite-cemetery

Blueprints for Living on ABC radio in Australia
http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/blueprintforliving/tombstone-tourism/8665726

Gary Shapiro’s From the Bookshelf (23 minutes in)
https://player.fm/series/gary-shapiros-from-the-bookshelf/guests-james-gleick-and-loren-rhodes

Agony Column (long version of Rick Kleffel’s podcast):
http://www.bookotron.com/agony/audio/2017/2017-interviews/loren_rhoads-2017.mp3

The Agony Column (short version):
http://www.bookotron.com/agony/audio/2017/2017-time_to_read/time_to_read_ep274_loren_rhoads.mp3
Broadcast 10/6: http://kbcz.org 90.1 FM Santa Cruz Community Radio

Finch Files Halloween episode
https://www.mixcloud.com/peter-finch2/finch-files-halloween-17-episode-94/

The Jim Bohannon Show

Horror Addicts #150: Cure for the Holidaze
https://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2017/11/18/horroraddicts-net-150-cure-for-the-holidaze-special/

At some point during October, I was on the Entertainment Weekly Radio show on Sirius XM. I missed hearing it, so I don’t have the airdate.

I appeared (briefly!) on the Sean Moncrief Show on Newstalk.com, a national radio broadcast in Ireland on November 6, 2017.

My last radio interview for the year was live on the Michael J. Thorp Show on December 20th, 2017. It is part of the SuperTalk 1570 Cumulus channel and broadcast in Flint, Michigan on WWCK AM.

Booklists & Shopping Guides:

EW Screenshot 199Order of the Good Death Booklist
http://www.orderofthegooddeath.com/resources/books#5

Cult of Weird’s Morbid Must-Reads for Fall
http://www.cultofweird.com/books/2017-fall-reading-list/

Cult of Weird Holiday Gift Guide
http://www.cultofweird.com/curiosities/2017-holiday-gift-guide/

Macabre Holiday Gift Guide 2017
https://boroughsofthedead.com/macabre-holiday-gift-guide-2017/

Macabre Non-Fiction Books for Darklings
http://www.thespookyvegan.com/2017/12/macabre-non-fiction-books-for-darklings.html

Weekly gift ideas from the Staff of Atlas Obscura
https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/weekly-wishlist-dice-fire-cemetery-flux-science-toy

14 Holiday Gift Book Ideas to Help You Finish off Your Christmas Shopping
https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900005765/14-holiday-gift-book-ideas-to-help-you-finish-off-your-christmas-shopping.html

My Articles:

5 Cemetery Road Trips for the Ultimate Taphophile
Mental Floss
http://mentalfloss.com/article/504942/5-cemetery-road-trips-ultimate-taphophile

Norton the First

Norton the First

Cemetery Sights: Norton, Emperor of the United States
Legacy.com
http://www.legacy.com/news/explore-history/article/cemetery-sights-norton-emperor-of-the-united-states

Did You Know There Are Travel Sites Dedicated to Visiting Cemeteries?
The Author Spot
https://staceyturner-authorspot.blogspot.com/2017/10/did-you-know-there-are-travel-sites.html

The Most Haunted Cemetery in the World
Horror Addicts
https://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2017/10/08/guest-blog-the-most-haunted-cemetery-in-the-world-by-loren-rhoads/

Cemeteries and the Ghost of Marie Laveau
October Frights
http://afstewartblog.blogspot.ca/2017/10/octoberfrights-cemeteries-and-ghost-of.html

The Ultimate Romantic Cemetery
Emmy Z. Madrial’s blog
https://emmyzmadrigal.wordpress.com/2017/10/25/guest-blog-the-ultimate-romantic-cemetery-by-loren-rhoads/

American Vampires
Emz Box
https://emzbox.wordpress.com/2017/10/27/guest-blog-american-vampires-by-loren-rhoads/

199 Cemeteries Giveaway!

CoverArt_LenoraXTomorrow is the magic day.  199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die officially comes out.

It’s been an amazing ride so far.  An editor from Black Dog & Leventhal (an imprint of Hachette) contacted me last September to ask if I’d thought about writing a book about cemeteries around the world. Not even 13 months later, it’s going to be unveiled.

You have two more days to win one of 15 copies on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34219866-199-cemeteries-to-see-before-you-die

(While you’re there, you can enter to win a copy of Wish You Were Here, also: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18010009-wish-you-were-here.)

I’ll be doing the first release event for the book tomorrow night at Green Apple Books on the Park, 1231 9th Avenue, San Francisco, California 94122. Please come tell me your favorite cemetery.