My father was a big believer in reincarnation. I think it was his way of denying death.

He asked to be buried with the novel Replay. It was about this man who kept coming back, reliving his life.

I actually put the novel in my dad’s coffin, gently laying it on his chest while kissing his forehead. It was a library book, so when my dad does come back, he’ll probably owe a lot of money.

OK, maybe I don’t believe in reincarnation (everybody knows cryogenics is the way to go). However, this experience got me thinking about the six books I would like to be buried with.

Yes, it’s a little morbid, but we’ve all heard the expression “laughing in the face of death.” How about if we “read in the face of death”?

I gave a lot of thought to the type of books I would choose to read and reread through eternity. I decided that they don’t have to be great literary classics.

For example, I didn’t include Moby Dick because I’ve never been able to get through that novel. The only reason I would have it in my coffin would be to impress guests, and I don’t think I’ll be having a lot of visitors.

I also didn’t choose books that were real downers. I’ll already be dead; that’s depressing enough. And I didn’t include mysteries because I’ll be reading these books over and over again, spoiling any surprise ending. Therefore, as much as I loved The Girl on the Train, it’s not included.

Anyway, here are the books on my list. They are mostly uplifting and engrossing and transport me into different lives and experiences. I’m sure you may disagree with some of my choices, but hey, it’s my eternity.


The Storied Life of AJ Fikry – This novel by Gabrielle Zevin is a funny, tender, insightful love letter to books and to life.

We watch AJ, a depressed and cranky widower, grow emotionally as he finds new love and a new family. The characters are rich and unforgettable and would be wonderful people to spend eternity with.

Note to self — make sure I’m buried with a reading lamp, preferably battery operated.


Where’d You Go, Bernadette? – A wild adventure that portrays familial dysfunction in all its gory details. Author Maria Semple’s characters are real and multidimensional.

And most important, this novel makes me laugh out loud. I hope my laughter won’t disturb the other residents in the cemetery.


A Visit from the Goon Squad – This is a joyous, sad, complex book with interconnected stories that shift through time. Written by Jennifer Egan, it’s ostensibly about the music industry but it’s so much more, bursting with ideas and amazing characters.

I find something new each time I read it, which is a terrific quality for a book I’ll be reading for eternity. And the novel takes place in several different countries, which will be great to read about since I probably won’t be doing much traveling.


The Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird – OK, I’m going to lump together two great books by JD Salinger and Harper Lee, respectively. Holden and Atticus would make terrific roommates (or is it casketmates?).

Also, because I read both these books in high school, I feel like I’m a teenager again whenever I open these novels.


One Plus One – An exhilarating book by Jojo Moyes about underdogs, redemption, and second chances.

I was rooting for Jess and Ed to end up together and for Tanzie to get a math scholarship. Since I was never good in math, I could live vicariously through Tanzie (although “live” might be the wrong word to use when you’re in a casket).

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