List of Books

In Love

Amy Bloom

NY Times review of this novelist’s powerful memoir about marriage and assisted death. Amy Bloom and Brian Ameche were a handsome couple. I know this not because there’s a photograph of them in Bloom’s new memoir, “In Love,” about his Alzheimer’s and their search for a painless and dignified way for him to end his life. There isn’t.

NPR interview of author, Amy Bloom on her new memoir, “In Love.”

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End

Atul Gawande

In Being Mortal, the author, an American surgeon, using personal reflections and stories addresses end of life care and hospice care, and suggests that medical care should focus on well-being rather than survival. It is a personal meditation by a physician on how we can better live with age-related frailty and serious or terminal illness.

Podcast with D. Gawande and Krista Tippett, On Being

Voluntary Stopping of Eating and Drinking

Timothy e. Quill, Paul T. Menzel, Thaddeus Pope, and Judith K. Schwartz

This book by leading experts in the field describes a practical way for a seriously ill patient to hasten their death without breaking the law. It delves into the clinical, ethical, legal, and policy questions around VSED through contributions by medical, legal, and bioethics experts.

When Breath Becomes Air

Paul Kalanithi

This book follows the author, a neurosurgeon who was diagnosed with cancer at the age 36. The book chronicles his change in perspective after his diagnosis as he tries to find meaning in life, come to terms with his new reality, deal with his transition from doctor to patient, and approach death with grace.

Scripting Death, Stories of Assisted Dying in America

Mara Buchbinder

In this book, the author and award-winning medical anthropologist Mara Buchbinder brings to the forefront previously hidden narratives about assisted dying. Her work chronicles two years of research documenting the implementation of Vermont’s 2013 Patient Choice and Control at the End of Life Act. The book offers an unprecedented, in-depth account of how patients, caregivers, and health care providers navigate assisted death in the aftermath of legalization and explores the cultural power of assisted death in the United States today, explains how medical aid in dying works, and what motivates people to pursue it.

Let’s Talk About Death (Over Dinner)

Michael Hebb

This book presents methods to help family and friends have the difficult conversation about death and dying. It covers a range of topics such as planning for death, how the death of someone affects others, and how to have a conversation about death and dying without having it become a dark and uneasy topic.

Death Over Dinner, the Organization

On Death and Dying

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Swiss-American psychiatrist and pioneer of studies on dying people, Kübler-Ross wrote “On Death and Dying,” the 1969 book in which she proposed the patient-focused, death-adjustment pattern, the “Five Stages of Grief.” Those stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

No Place for Dying: Hospitals and the Ideology of Rescue

Dr. Helen Stanton Chapple

In this book, Dr. Chapple gives a critical analysis of the culture of hospital care for the dying. She interviewed clinicians of over 200 patients who had died and presents an argument for the need to change the culture of dying in the US. She describes a culture that supports the belief that hospitals rescue us from dying. She posits that rescue is the gold standard of acute care in the US, putting hospitals in a “battle with death,” which impacts how we die in hospitals.

This is Assisted Dying: A Doctor’s Story of Empowering Patients at the End of Life

Dr. Stephanie Greene

A transformative and compassionate memoir by a leading pioneer in medically assisted dying who began her career in the maternity ward and now helps patients who are suffering explore and then fulfill their end of life choices.

The Day I Die: The Untold Story of Assisted dying in America

Anita Hannig

In this groundbreaking book, award-winning cultural anthropologist Anita Hannig brings us into the lives of ordinary Americans going to extraordinary lengths to set the terms of their own deaths. Faced with a terminal diagnosis and unbearable suffering, they decide to seek medical assistance in dying-a legal option now available to one in five Americans.

The Other Talk


It was a rite of passage for you to have the Talk with your kids about the beginning of life (as in the birds and the bees). As you get older, though, you need to have the Other Talk — that is, about the end of life. And you need to have it now, not after a crisis hits.

Extreme Measures: Finding a Better Path to the End of Life

Dr. Jessica Nutik Zitter, MD

For readers of Being Mortal and Modern Death, an ICU and Palliative Care specialist offers a framework for a better way to exit life that will change our medical culture at the deepest level.

When My Time Comes: Conversations About Whether Those Who Are Dying Should Have the Right to Determine When Life Should End

Diane Rehm

From Diane Rehm, renowned radio host – one of the most trusted voices in the nation – and best-selling author: a book of candor and compassion, addressing the urgent, hotly contested cause of the Right-to-Die movement, of which she is one of the most inspiring champions.

Finish Strong: Putting Your Priorities First at Life’s End

Barbara Coombs Lee

President Emerita/Senior Advisor of Compassion & Choices, Barbara Coombs Lee has provided a guide for the healthcare consumer to achieving a death-positive experience. It covers tough issues around aging and dying and reflects her own conviction “that individuals can be empowered to chart a course for themselves and loved ones that reduces suffering and reflects their personal values and beliefs.”

Alone and Invisible No More: How Grassroots Community Action and 21st Century Technologies Can Empower Elders to Stay in Their Homes and Lead Healthier, Happier Lives

Dr. Allan S. Teel, MD

Dr. Teel describes how to overhaul our eldercare system. Based on his own efforts to create humane, affordable alternatives in Maine, Teel’s program harnesses both staff and volunteers to help people remain in their homes and communities. It offers assistance with everyday challenges, uses technology to keep older people connected to each other and their families, and stay safe.

How we Die, Reflections on Life’s Final Chapter

Dr. Sherwin B. Nuland, MD

National Book Award Winner, National Best-seller, the definitive resource on perhaps the most universal human concern: death. Even more relevant than when it was first published, this edition addresses contemporary issues in end-of-life care and includes an all-embracing and incisive afterword that examines the state of health care and our relationship with life as it approaches its terminus. How We Die also discusses how we can take control of our own final days and those of our loved ones.

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, And Other Lessons from the Crematory

Caitlin Doughty

“Morbid and illuminating” (Entertainment Weekly) – a young mortician goes behind the scenes of her curious profession.