"Entertaining and illuminating...Melville's wry humor enlivens discussions of arcane yet intriguing historical discoveries. This colorful study fascinates."



"You hold in your hands a treasure map, a gentle, sly, and poignant presence leading us to places in America and in our lives that have been hiding in plain sight. This tale is about cemeteries, but it's really about how beautiful is life. We go forward living well by being aware how and where life ends up, so to speak—that's the amazing, enlightening journey of this book. If you love Ian Frazier, Bill Bryson, or Caroline Alexander, this one's for you."

DOUG STANTON, #1 New York Times bestselling author of 12 Strong

“Melville is an ideal guide, carrying a revealing lantern into both beautiful and disturbing corners of the nation’s undervalued graveyards. At the end of a glorious excursion, he leaves you with a deep appreciation of the rich heritage sleeping just under Americans’ feet. Captivating.”

-—DR. LINDSEY FITZHARRIS, NYT bestselling author of The Facemaker

“If every graveyard is a library of compact life stories, this essential book is the grand, sweeping history of American burials: their humble beginnings, surprising (and often controversial) heyday, and questionable future. Greg Melville comes to the subject firsthand and writes with infectious enthusiasm, deep respect, and a healthy dose of wit. You'll dig it.”

-—MARK ADAMS, NYT bestselling author of Turn Right at Machu Picchu

"Witty, warm, and bristling with fascinating history and firsthand details, this book about the places where our bodies return to earth is essential—no vital—reading. 

-—ROBERT MOOR, NYT bestselling author of On Trails: An Exploration 

"(Melville) drags his wry wife and patient kids through rural cemeteries, garden burial grounds and locked churchyards—not to mention bone vaults and the continent’s busiest city park—while he strips away myths and unearths buried sins, exploring cycles of fashion and need in the American history of mourning.”

DR. JUDY MELINEK AND T.J. MITCHELL, NYT bestselling authors of Working Stiff, First Cut, and Aftershock. 

“Greg Melville has written a wonderful book about a fascinating piece of Americana that has, for too long, needed a disinterment. Over My Dead Body is, at various times, haunting, thoughtful, and laugh-out-loud hilarious, and is so chock-full of informative ‘who knew?’ moments that the pages almost seem to turn themselves.”

-—MONTE BURKE, NYT bestselling author of Saban and Lords of the Fly

This revelatory book about the places we bury our dead brims with life—from body snatchers to racist policies, religious rituals to digital immortalization, I couldn't put it down.  

-—ALLISON HOOVER BARTLETT, bestselling author of The Man Who Loved Books Too Much


   The summer before his senior year in college, Greg Melville worked at the cemetery in his hometown, and thanks to hour upon hour of pushing a mower over the grassy acres, he came to realize what a rich story the place told of his town and its history. Thus was born Melville's lifelong curiosity with how, where, and why we bury and commemorate our dead. 

 Melville's Over My Dead Body is a lively (pun intended) and wide-ranging history of cemeteries, places that have mirrored the passing eras in history but have also shaped it. Cemeteries have given birth to landscape architecture and famous parks, as well as influenced architectural styles. They've inspired and motivated some of our greatest poets and authors--Emerson, Whitman, Dickinson. They've been used as political tools to shift the country's discourse and as important symbols of the United States' ambition and reach.    But they are changing and fading. Embalming and burial is incredibly toxic, and while cremations have just recently surpassed burials in popularity, they're not great for the environment either. Over My Dead Body explores everything--history, sustainability, land use, and more--and what it really means to memorialize.


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A unique guide for the millions of American urban dwellers and suburbanites seeking quick getaways to small, breathtaking locales where there are pulse-quickening activities but a slower pace of life.

Grab your gear; pack your bags and beat the developers to 101 of the greatest places left for living, visiting and playing—outdoor towns where you can still eat breakfast at a local diner; play all day in a gorgeous, natural setting; find microbrews and comfort food; and flop yourself into bed at a family-run lodge.


“An entertaining combination of On the Road and An Inconvenient Truth.”

New York Times Book Review 

"Melville has a breezy, unpretentious style as well as the ability to work in the occasional edifying digression-a brief history of wind power, for instance, or a discussion with a professor about cellulosic ethanol-without disrupting the book's brisk, novelistic pace." 


Booklist starred review