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From Here to Eternity

From Here to Eternity

Traveling the World to Find the Good Death

Large Print - 2018 | Large print edition.
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Fascinated by our pervasive fear of dead bodies, mortician Caitlin Doughty set out to discover how other cultures care for the dead. In rural Indonesia, she watches a man clean and dress his grandfather's mummified body, which has resided in the family home for two years. In La Paz, she meets Bolivian natitas (cigarette-smoking, wish-granting human skulls), and in Tokyo she encounters the Japanese kotsuage ceremony, in which relatives use chopsticks to pluck their loved-ones' bones from cremation ashes. Doughty vividly describes decomposed bodies and investigates the world's funerary history. She introduces deathcare innovators researching body composting and green burial, and examines how varied traditions, from Mexico's Días de los Muertos to Zoroastrian sky burial help us see our own death customs in a new light. Doughty contends that the American funeral industry sells a particular -- and, upon close inspection, peculiar -- set of 'respectful' rites: bodies are whisked to a mortuary, pumped full of chemicals, and entombed in concrete. She argues that our expensive, impersonal system fosters a corrosive fear of death that hinders our ability to cope and mourn. By comparing customs, she demonstrates that mourners everywhere respond best when they help care for the deceased, and have space to participate in the process. Illustrated by artist Landis Blair, From Here to Eternity is an adventure into the morbid unknown, a story about the many fascinating ways people everywhere have confronted the very human challenge of mortality.
Publisher: Waterville, Maine : Thorndike Press, a part of Gale, a Cengage Company, 2018.
Edition: Large print edition.
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9781432848538
Characteristics: 295 pages (large print) : illustrations ; 23 cm.
large print
Additional Contributors: Blair, Landis - Illustrator


From Library Staff

Fascinated by our pervasive fear of dead bodies, mortician Caitlin Doughty embarks on a global expedition to discover how other cultures care for the dead. From Zoroastrian sky burials to wish-granting Bolivian skulls, she investigates the world's funerary customs and expands our sense of what it... Read More »

This book reads like a death travelogue, and Doughty's wry and insightful voice is the perfect tour guide for this fascinating topic. The audiobook is also read by the author, and is delightful. - Sabrina

CedarMill_SabrinaH Nov 28, 2018

This delightful death-oriented travelogue is equally fascinating and thought-provoking. While Doughty's first book made me start to consider the alternatives for my own body after death, From Here To Eternity opened my eyes to death traditions I had never even imagined. The author reads the audio... Read More »

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JCLHeatherC May 09, 2021

I found this book quite interesting and well written. Death isn't an easy subject to broach and this was done with such care and concern for the people she was writing about that it didn't feel like a taboo subject. By the end I was asking questions about all of our (very expensive) death rituals in the US and who are they for and why. Even got me thinking about what I would like done with my body once I'm gone.

ArapahoeMollie Sep 09, 2020

Yet again, Caitlin brings to the table her easy-to-read writing style mixed with informative experiences to make a book that you can't put down. Even if you're slightly squeamish, I'd highly recommend this book that embraces rituals of all cultures. She holds up each ceremony as sacred and true, even when it doesn't mesh with Western traditions.

Kstobo Mar 30, 2020

Just as enjoyable as her first book 'Smoke Gets in Your Eyes'. A fascinating look at death traditions around the world, and how they differ drastically from Western norms.

SCL_BethZ Jul 26, 2019

A fascinating book about funerary practices around the world. The author is the host of the popular “Ask a Mortician” channel on YouTube. In this book she travels to places like Bolivia, Indonesia, Mexico, Japan and the US. The book is very well researched and respectful of the cultures and practices it examines. It’s the type of book that challenges your beliefs and understandings and helps to break down some of our Western stigma and aversion to death. A read-alike for fans of Mary Roach’s Stiff: The Curious Life of Human Cadavers.

Jun 06, 2019

You know how sometimes you end up on, as we call it "The weird part of youtube"? I ended up there because a friend mentioned this channel "Ask a Mortician", and frankly they have excellent taste in weird internet because I've been HOOKED for almost a month. Then I discovered there was a book and boy howdy did I want it. (And thanks to the wonder that is my work AKA the Public Library that had a copy, I GOT ONE)

I was a little worried that the funny and quirky entertainment side of the channel wouldn't translate to writing, but it really did and the book was making me laugh within the first few chapters. Death isn't something I, or most people really, like to think about but I definitely have lately. Finding out about the different ways that cultures handle death around the world (Aka not our regular ways in Western society) was morbidly intriguing and Caitlin honestly makes it fun and entertaining to listen to. The illustrations were a nice touch, because while I missed having actual pictures I can understand why there were none. (I found myself googling a lot later).

I definitely recommend the book, which I already did at work by slapping a STAFF PICK sticker on the cover.


IndyPL_KaseyP May 06, 2019

A wonderful look at death practices around the world. Doughty is funny, candid, and well-researched. She is an advocate of "green burial", and it shows. However, she provides a broad picture of culturally diverse death practices. I found this book to be fascinating and oddly comforting following deaths in my own family.

DBRL_IdaF Feb 25, 2019

Fascinating, and often funny, look at how people around the world handle their dead. Doughty's book shows that what's "normal" is really just what you are used to. But it is written with the utmost respect. Stories of stealth funeral pyres, cremation, folks who keep their mummified family members at home with them until they can throw a proper funeral -- sometimes for years!

Each practice described has its benefits and drawbacks. I discovered my mercury fillings are going to be a problem no matter what happens to my body. Cremation is difficult at high altitudes. How the use of painkillers in cattle led to a mass die-off of vultures in India and is creating a ripple problem for Parsi funeral customs. That's another lesson of this book - we're all in an interconnected web, here on this world.

CedarMill_SabrinaH Nov 28, 2018

This delightful death-oriented travelogue is equally fascinating and thought-provoking. While Doughty's first book made me start to consider the alternatives for my own body after death, From Here To Eternity opened my eyes to death traditions I had never even imagined. The author reads the audiobook herself, to great effect.

lauz32 Nov 10, 2018

This was such an interesting and enjoyable read! I loved learning about the way other cultures deal with death and make it a natural part of life. I was in Mexico for day of the dead so it was quite an appropriate time to read the book, and it didn't feel macabre or depressing. A great quick read.

Sep 14, 2018

This book is so interesting! I didn't want to put it down once I started reading. It came with pictures but I wish more were included. I ended up googling a lot of the scenes described in the book.

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Apr 02, 2020

frenchhornistba thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over


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Apr 02, 2020

Death is scary, but it doesn't always have to be, and Caitlin Doughty is here to teach us exactly that. Take a journey with Caitlin as she travels to places all around the world to witness their death rituals. You'll learn a lot, chuckle, and maybe you'll find that you're a little less worried about death after reading this wonderfully macabre book.


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