Rachel Kauder Nalebuff

"Here are a few of the books that shaped Stages and my conversations with Thick Press about care, health justice, art, play, and work. I keep a list of favorite quotations from these books in my phone to return to when I’m feeling stuck or lost." ~Rachel Kauder Nalebuff

Stages: On Dying, Working, and Feeling By Rachel Kauder Nalebuff Cover Image
ISBN: 9781732066625
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Thick Press - June 1st, 2020

The Problem with Work: Feminism, Marxism, Antiwork Politics, and Postwork Imaginaries (John Hope Franklin Center Books) By Kathi Weeks Cover Image
ISBN: 9780822351122
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Duke University Press - August 16th, 2011

Why do we work so long and hard? The mystery here is not that we are required to work or that we are expected to devote so much time and energy to its pursuit, but rather that there is not more active resistance to this state of affairs.

Erin of Thick Press suggested reading Kathi Weeks. Everyone with a puratinical bone in their body or who is under the influence of someone puratanical—basically Americans—should read this book.

Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice By Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha Cover Image
ISBN: 9781551527383
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Arsenal Pulp Press - October 30th, 2018

I believe that our work in creating new worlds depends on it [dreaming ways to build emergent, resilient care webs], because all of us will become disabled and sick, because state systems are failing.

An entry to the Disability Justice framework, which “understands that all bodies are unique and essential, that all bodies have strengths and needs that must be met.” I recommend this book to anyone with a body because, as Leah writes, “all of us will become disabled and sick.” I love this book’s balance of practical and political insight, and how it models care and acknowledgment for an entire community of activists. This was recommended to me by Caitlin, who teaches with me at senior centers.

The Human Condition: Second Edition By Hannah Arendt, Margaret Canovan (Introduction by), Danielle Allen (Foreword by) Cover Image
By Hannah Arendt, Margaret Canovan (Introduction by), Danielle Allen (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9780226586601
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: University of Chicago Press - October 18th, 2018

For us, appearance—something that is being seen and heard by others as well as by ourselves—constitutes reality....The most current of such transformations occurs in storytelling and generally in artistic transposition of individual experiences. But we do not need the form of the artist to witness this transfiguration. Each time we talk about things that can be experienced only in privacy or intimacy, we bring them out into a sphere where they will assume a kind of reality which, their intensity notwithstanding, they never could have had before. The presence of others who see what we see and hear what we hear assures us of the reality of the world and ourselves…

I turn to this book when I need to remember the connection between witness, politics, community and art. I blame it for my continued interest in theater. Thank you to Johanna and Merkel for recommending Hannah Arendt in great moments of doubt.

Unlocking the Mysteries of Birth & Death: . . . And Everything in Between, A Buddhist View Life By Daisaku Ikeda Cover Image
ISBN: 9780972326704
Availability: Not in Stock. Available to Order.
Published: Middleway Press - January 1st, 2004

In the general turmoil of dying, we may become frightened and confused and struggle frantically. We may feel many emotions—contentment, dissatisfaction, joy, sadness and regret. How we live prepares us for this moment.

The book I needed most while working at a nursing home. When death is viewed as a chapter of life, the curtain is pulled back on Western philosophy and medicine. I believe someone gave me a free copy at a Buddhist center. Then I gave several copies away to friends.

Health Justice Now: Single Payer and What Comes Next By Timothy Faust Cover Image
ISBN: 9781612197166
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Melville House - August 6th, 2019

Today, among so-called “developed countries,” America is the most dangerous place to be sick.

Among peer countries, America is the most dangerous place to be black. Black infants die twice as often as white infants. 
America is the most dangerous place to be pregnant, with the highest maternal mortality rate of any first world country, of which deaths 60 percent are entirely clinically preventable by things as simple as taking the mother’s blood pressure. 
America is the most dangerous place to be a child. 

America is the most dangerous place to be a woman. 

America is the most dangerous place to be gay. 

America is the most dangerous place to be old. 

America is one of the most dangerous places to be disabled.

But a funny thing happens when you look at these statistics. When you study them closely, you realize that all this danger exists….only if you’re poor. Because rich people are exempt from all these problems….This is the terrible secret of American healthcare. This is the fundamental American illness. They’re killing us and robbing our corpses to foot the bill. This is an act of war.


Tim Faust has written a book that makes legible the rats nest that is our healthcare system and how we got here. Thank you Tim for your service.

Games for Actors and Non-Actors By Augusto Boal Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780415267083
Published: Routledge - August 22nd, 2002

The artist and the madman seek to give a meaning to life and to nature which, as we know, has no meaning.

I return to Augusto Boal whenever I begin a community art project or am teaching, and am trying to remember what really matters and what’s possible by gathering together. Theater of the Oppressed was an approach to expression, teaching and liberation that developed in Brazil in the 70’s. This book, complete with exercises and short illuminating and amusing reflections from Boal, is as relevant now as then. I have no idea who recommended it to me.