On International Day of Persons with disabilities, we selected ten non-fiction titles that will give you a new perspective on disability and chronic illness.
Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century
Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century by Alice Wong brings together a variety of contemporary essays from numerous people with disabilities. This book may make you question things that you take for granted on a daily basis and will leave you respecting and celebrating today’s disability culture.
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
Recommended reading by therapists and psychiatrists, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma has over 33,000 positive reviews on Amazon. This book is changing the way many people think about trauma and PTSD. Author Bessel van der Kolk has spent his life focusing on post-traumatic stress and is a world-renowned expert on trauma. The book discusses how those with PTSD can heal not just the mind, but also the body.
Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice
Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice is a collection of essays exploring the experiences of people with disabilities. This book by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha specifically focuses on celebrating disabled bodies and looking at how marginalised communities, like disabled people of ethnic minorities, are working to create space for themselves.
Nothing About Us Without Us: Disability Oppression and Empowerment
James Charlton’s Nothing About Us Without Us analyses how disability oppression is similar to (and different from) that of other groups. Charlton contrasts disability oppression from racism, sexism, and colonialism to shine a brighter light on the suffering people with disabilities face on a daily basis. His analysis is emphasized by interviews that he conducted over the course of 10 years with disability rights activists from Europe, the United States, and developing nations.
Sitting Pretty: The View from My Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body
Sitting Pretty is a memoir-in-essays from disability advocate Rebekah Taussig. She describes growing up as a “paralysed girl” during the ’90s and early 2000s, and seeing disability represented in a few narrow viewpoints: monstrous (The Hunchback of Notre Dame), inspirational (Helen Keller), or angelic (Forrest Gump). As she got older, Taussig realized how few stories depicted people with disabilities being just, well, people—having jobs; going to school; and feeling pain, love, and heartbreak like anyone else—with the added troubles of being in a body that doesn’t fit into society’s standards.
The Pretty One: On Life, Pop Culture, Disability, and Other Reasons to Fall in Love with Me
From the creator of the #DisabledAndCute viral campaign, Keah Brown brings us The Pretty One. This collection of essays helps to examine what it means to be Black and disabled. Born with cerebral palsy, Brown used to strive for “normalcy” and internalised a lot of the hatred society impressed upon her, telling her if she’s not white and able-bodied, she’s not doing it right. Through this collection of essays, Brown details her self-love journey and how she came to terms with her identity and her body. With a fun and fresh relatable voice, Brown helps to smash the idea that people with disabilities are weak and frail. The name of the book comes from her able-bodied identical twin, whom her friends used to call “the pretty one” to differentiate the two. Now, she’s reclaiming the term.
THE WORLD I FELL OUT OF by MELANIE REID
Melanie Reid became disabled following an accident and so this is an account of coming to disability relatively late. It describes all the ways in which she had to accommodate her changed body, and how that altered the ways she saw and was seen by the world. It is unflinching and compelling.
DEAR PARENTS by MICHELINE MASON
Micheline addresses the relationship between disabled children and their parents. She is both a disabled person and a parent of a disabled child and her insights can feel challenging, but are undoubtedly necessary.
Neurotribes by Steve Silberman
Autism is gradually becoming more widely diagnosed, thanks to an update in dated diagnostic criteria. But are you aware of the full tapestry of the condition, as well as the history? Using his incredible eye for detail, Steve Silberman has constructed something of a tour de force in Neurotribes. The book encompasses different elements of Autism through history, as well the future of neurodiversity.
Coping with Multiple Sclerosis by Cynthia Benz and Richard Reynolds (2005)
Multiple Sclerosis (also known informally as MS) is a condition that impacts the central nervous system. This book may initially seem a little bit daunting, due to its medical textbook-like appearance. But it comprehensively includes almost everything you would like to know, as well as, crucially, vital practical information on dealing with the condition on a day-to-day basis.