Tag Archives: cemetery book club

Death’s Garden Revisited is available now!

I’m so excited to announce that my next cemetery book is available now.

Death’s Garden Revisited collects 40 powerful personal essays that explore 60 cemeteries — accompanied by 80 full-color photographs — to illustrate why people visit cemeteries. Spanning the globe from Iceland to Argentina and from Portland to Prague, Death’s Garden Revisited explores the complex web of relationships between the living and those who have passed before.

Genealogists and geocachers, travelers and tour guides, anthropologists, historians, pagan priestesses, and ghost hunters all venture into cemeteries in these essays. Along the way, they discover that cemeteries don’t only provide a rewarding end to a pilgrimage, they can be the perfect location for a first date or a wedding, the highlight of a family vacation, a cure for depression, and the best possible place to grasp history. Not to mention that cemetery-grown fruit is the sweetest.

You can see a preview below:

You can order your copy of the book in paperback or in hardcover directly from Blurb. The ebook is coming soon.

Contributors and Kickstarter backers: The books arrived earlier than expected. I’m getting those into the mail as soon as I can!

Morbid Curiosity Book Club selection

WishYouWereHere-cover-FINAL copy

Tomorrow — Wednesday, January 27, 2016 — my book of cemetery travel essays will be the topic of discussion at the Morbid Curiosity Book Club in Toronto.  The club meets at the BAKA Cafe Gallery Lounge on 2256 Bloor St West, Toronto, Ontario (map) at 7:30 PM.

Organizer Alma Sinan, a longtime member of the Association for Gravestone Studies, describes the group as “a different sort of book club, for those of us who are interested in cemeteries, gravestones, mourning customs, and death and dying.”

She encourages guests to join them for coffee and conversation. The cost is free, but Alma asks that you purchase something from the cafe in appreciation for them allowing us to host the meeting there.

You can link up with the Book Club and check out their upcoming selections on Meetup.com.

I’m so honored by this!  This is the second time Wish You Were Here has been chosen as a book club selection.  I love the idea that my work inspires people to talk about cemeteries.

If you’re nowhere near Toronto, you can still read along with the book club. Here’s a description of Wish You Were Here:

Almost every tourist destination has a graveyard. You go to Yosemite National Park: there’s a graveyard. You go to Maui: graveyards everywhere you look. The Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park: both graveyards. The number one tourist destination in Michigan has three cemeteries. America’s best-preserved Gold Rush ghost town has five. Gettysburg is a National Park because it has a graveyard. Some graveyards are even tourist destinations in themselves: the Old Jewish Cemetery of Prague, the colonial burying grounds of Boston, and Kennedy’s eternal flame in Arlington National Cemetery. Jim Morrison’s grave in Père Lachaise Cemetery ranks in the top five tourist sites of Paris.

Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel contains 35 graveyard travel essays, which visit more than 50 cemeteries, churchyards, and grave sites across the globe.

Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel is available from Amazon or CreateSpace. Autographed and inscribed copies can be ordered directly from me through my bookshop.


The Loved One

Rhoads-Cypress LawnMy space opera trilogy is finally all finished, except for the going over the copyeditor’s notes on the last book, so I can turn my thoughts back to graveyards.  I’ve visited several lovely ones in the California Wine Country in the last couple of months, so I will start researching and writing those up soon.

Today was the meeting of the Cypress Lawn Book Club down in Colma.  Our third book was The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh.  I went down early, so I could park under a tree and read in the cemetery on this glorious summer day. (Cypress Lawn was featured as the Cemetery of the Week here.)

The highlight of the book club meeting was that we were joined today by Mary Ann Cruz, the director of the Cypress Lawn Cremation Society.  She has worked as a mortician, embalmer, and mortuary cosmetologist for 16 years, so her backstage stories were fascinating, colorful, and a whole lot of fun.

The Loved OneThe Loved One by Evelyn Waugh

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I re-read this for the Cypress Lawn Book Club and enjoyed it a second time, but I still don’t find it particularly funny. Some of that is my familiarity with Forest Lawn in its current incarnation, complete with speakers in the trees piping music across the flat grave markers. It’s hard to be over the top when the bar is set so high.

The book club was put off by the way the female characters are depicted, but the book was published in 1948 and I don’t think anyone comes off particularly well. I could look past that.

I think that if you’re curious about backstage mortuary practices, if you’re a cemetery aficionado, quite possibly if you loved Mad Men, you should check out this book.

You can pick up a copy of your own from Amazon here.

View all my reviews on Goodreads.