There are books that list records you should listen to, movies you should watch and books you should read before you die. There’s “101 Asian Dishes You Need to Cook Before You Die” and “Fifty Places to Fly Fish Before You Die.” So perhaps it was inevitable — and especially fitting — that we would get “199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die,” Loren Rhoads’s new guide to checking out the hereafter before you check out.
As Rhoads points out in her brief introduction, cemeteries are not just sacred places for mourners; they can be sites of wonder for “art lovers, amateur sociologists, birdwatchers, master gardeners, historians, hikers, genealogists, picnickers and anyone who just wants to stop and smell the roses.”
The emotions evoked by these cemeteries run the gamut from pride to guilt to great sorrow. Hope Cemetery, in Barre, Vt., the town that calls itself the Granite Capital of the World, is “a veritable open-air showroom of the craftsmanship of Barre’s local stone carvers,” with nearly 11,000 monuments made from locally quarried and carved rock. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, where the atomic bomb was dropped on the city, has a grave that holds “the remains of such victims as could be recovered” after the bombing.
I’ve been to two of the destinations on Rhoads’s list. As a Brooklyn resident, I’ve visited the borough’s immense and lovely Green-Wood Cemetery, and this June I had a chance to stroll through Holavallagarour Cemetery in Reykjavik, Iceland. One hundred and ninety-seven to go.
“I often wish I were more addicted to the process of writing than I am — that it compelled my time in that way. . . . If I become addicted to writing my next novel — I can live with that.” — Sylvia Brownrigg, author of “Pages for Her,” in an interview with The Rumpus
Judging His Profession
In September, Judge Richard A. Posner announced his retirement from the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago. Posner, 78, a sharp and amusing writer and one of the few American jurists to have achieved nationwide recognition without serving on the Supreme Court, is the author of many books that appeal to more than specialists. His latest, “The Federal Judiciary,” a wide-ranging critique, was published soon before he announced he was stepping down from the bench. “I acknowledge the strengths…