Undertakings of an undertaker by Stanley Swan.

One of the great things about being a blogger is that every now and then you get sent free stuff! One day a book came through the post from a funeral director in America wanting me to read and review his new book about his career in the funera industrty.

 I was sent this book a little while ago now by a follower from the United States Stanley Swan. He is a retired funeral director who has written this fabulous book about his career in the funeral service. His time spent as a New York State licensed funeral director was made up of times of joy, sorrow and triumph.

For over 35 years Stanley worked as a mortician attending to many situations including the 9/11 terrorist attack which is detailed very respectfully in this book. He comes across as sincere, caring and respectful. This is a real page turner that I couldn’t put down. Not a long book only 138 pages but just long enough to make the reader wanting more after they have finished. I can only hope that there is a second instalment of this book?

This is not a gruesome book which gives macabre details of the embalming or autopsy process. It’s not that type of book. It tells the story of one mans career in an industry that is rather misunderstood in today’s society. The author gives the reader and insight as to what goes on in a funeral home as well as what he goes through personally outside of work which is a rarity. Most authors will only detail their professional lives and not their personal ones. All in all this was a fantastic book to read and I would highly recommend it to anyone.

Smoke gets in your eyes by Caitlin Doughty.

I have been a huge fan of Caitlin Doughty for a while now. And I admire her immensely for what she has done for the American funeral industry and the death positive movement. So I was thrilled when her book 'Smoke gets in your eyes' came to the UK. 

I wouldn't say this book is an autobiography but it is in some ways of an autobiographical nature? In it she talks about her childhood in Hawaii and how she came to learn about death after witnessing a young girl fall to her death from a balcony at a shopping mall. From that point on Caitlin began questioning her own mortality and exploring the worlds different death cultures and traditions. Upon reaching adulthood she got a job as a crematorium operative at a funeral home and crematorium. It was here she had her own visions of how she could bring her own unique brand of death care to the American people and the world beyond?

Through her YouTube channel 'Ask a mortician' she starts to promote death positivity drawing on her professional and personal experiences of life and death. The book answers a lot of those burning (pardon the pun) morbidly curious questions we all have about death and what goes on behind the doors of a funeral home. From embalming, to body removals, caskets, to cremation containers and everything in between Caitlin covers all areas no holds barred! Love and romance plays a part in the book too because as I keep telling people all the time "we undertakers are people too you know with real emotions and everything!"

Smoke gets in your eyes is a fantastic book. Funny, sad, a bit gross, informative and educational. It has everything one could possibly want all in 255 pages. Priced at £9.99 it is available in paperback from all good book stores.

The Undertaking by Thomas Lynch.

This book is amazing! I have been aware of Thomas Lynch for sometime now but i have never got round to reading any of his material. For this of you who don't know Tom Lynch is an American undertaker ands poet. He is world famous for his works as a writer and his fly on the wall documentary 'The Undertaking'. 

I bought this book off ebay as you cannot get it in this country from a highstreet book shop. From start to finish it had me gripped. I have read a lot of death related books about the funeral indistry but none like this. This goes more into the philisophical side of the funeral industry and what makes funeral directors tick. It details our fears for the future of the death care industry, our worries for our own families and the reality of our own mortality. That all seems very involved and a bit deep but honestly the wat Lynch has written it brings humour and warmth to the pages.

For me personally it ticked every box for what I have been saying for years about my profession. Itr is a vocation, a calling, not something you just to because you fancy a change or your a bit bored. It is a serois business and the peoiple who work in it take it very seriously indeed. The author highlights this beautifully. The book itself is only 226 pages long so it isn't a difficult read. i mamage to finish it in just over a week. There are no pictures in the book but they way Tom writes you have all the images you want in your head.

This is a book containing a mixture of poetry, personal anecdotes and memoirs of a life spent in the company of the dead. As I say this delves into the more philisophical side of the industry so you get less of what actually phisycally happens in a funeral home but more the reasoning behind it and why we find ourselves dealing with death and grief the way we do?