Reading List

América Delve Deeper Reading List

Adult Nonfiction

Boris, Eileen, and Jennifer Klein. Caring for America: Home Health Workers in the Shadow of the Welfare State. Oxford University Press, 2012

In this sweeping narrative history from the Great Depression of the 1930s to the Great Recession of today, Caring for Americarethinks both the history of the American welfare state from the perspective of care work and chronicles how home care workers eventually became one of the most vibrant forces in the American labor movement. Eileen Boris and Jennifer Klein demonstrate the ways in which law and social policy made home care a low-waged job that was stigmatized as welfare and relegated to the bottom of the medical hierarchy.

Butler, Katy. Knocking on Heaven's Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death.Scribner, 2013

Part memoir, part medical history, and part spiritual guide, Knocking on Heaven's Door is a map through the labyrinth of a broken medical system. Its provocative thesis is that technological medicine, obsessed with maximum longevity, often creates more suffering than it prevents. It also chronicles the rise of Slow Medicine, a movement bent on reclaiming the "Good Deaths" our ancestors prized. In families, hospitals, and the public sphere, this visionary memoir is inspiring passionate conversations about lighting the path to a better way of death.

Gawande, Atul. Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End. Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt and Company, 2014.

Medicine has triumphed in modern times, transforming birth, injury, and infectious disease from harrowing to manageable. But in the inevitable condition of aging and death, the goals of medicine seem too frequently to run counter to the interest of the human spirit. Nursing homes, preoccupied with safety, pin patients into railed beds and wheelchairs. Hospitals isolate the dying, checking for vital signs long after the goals of cure have become moot. Doctors, committed to extending life, continue to carry out devastating procedures that in the end extend suffering. Gawande, a practicing surgeon, addresses his profession's ultimate limitation, arguing that quality of life is the desired goal for patients and families.

Glenn, Evelyn Nakano. Forced to Care: Coercion and Caregiving in America. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2010

The United States faces a growing crisis in care. The number of people needing care is growing while the ranks of traditional caregivers have shrunk. The status of care workers is a critical concern. Evelyn Nakano Glenn offers an innovative interpretation of care labor in the United States by tracing the roots of inequity along two interconnected strands: unpaid caring within the family; and slavery, indenture, and other forms of coerced labor. By bringing both into the same analytic framework, she provides a convincing explanation of the devaluation of care work and the exclusion of both unpaid and paid care workers from critical rights such as minimum wage, retirement benefits, and workers’ compensation. Glenn reveals how assumptions about gender, family, home, civilization, and citizenship have shaped the development of care labor and been incorporated into law and social policies. She exposes the underlying systems of control that have resulted in women—especially immigrants and women of color—performing a disproportionate share of caring labor. Finally, she examines strategies for improving the situation of unpaid family caregivers and paid home healthcare workers.

Gross, Jane. A Bittersweet Season: Caring for our Aging Parents—and Ourselves. Vintage Books, 2012.

When Jane Gross found herself suddenly thrust into a caretaker role for her eighty-five year-old mother, she was forced to face challenges that she had never imagined. As she and her younger brother struggled to move her mother into an assisted living facility, deal with seemingly never-ending costs, and adapt to the demands on her time and psyche, she learned valuable and important lessons.

Mace, Nancy L. The 36-hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People Who Have Alzheimer Disease, Other Dementias, and Memory Loss.Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017.

When someone in your family suffers from Alzheimer's disease or other related memory loss diseases, both you and your loved one face immense challenges. For over thirty years, this book has been the trusted bible for families affected by dementia disorders. Now completely revised and updated, this guide features the latest information on the causes of dementia, managing the early stages of dementia, the prevention of dementia, and finding appropriate living arrangements for the person who has dementia when home care is no longer an option.

Nuland, Sherwin B. How We Die: Reflections of Life's Final Chapter. Vintage Books, 1995.

A runaway bestseller and National Book Award winner, Sherwin Nuland's How We Die has become the definitive text on perhaps the single most universal human concern: death. This new edition includes an all-embracing and incisive afterword that examines the current state of health care and our relationship with life as it approaches its terminus. It also discusses how we can take control of our own final days and those of our loved ones.

Rinpoche, Sogyal. The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.Harper San Francisco, 1994.

Written by the Buddhist meditation master and popular international speaker Sogyal Rinpoche, this highly acclaimed book clarifies the majestic vision of life and death that underlies the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. It includes not only a lucid, inspiring and complete introduction to the practice of meditation, but also advice on how to care for the dying with love and compassion, and how to bring them help of a spiritual kind. But there is much more besides in this classic work, which was written to inspire all who read it to begin the journey to enlightenment and so become 'servants of peace'.