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When the book world celebrates marginalized voices in literature, I rarely see disabled, chronically ill, deaf, and neurodivergent authors singled out by able-bodied sources. Or, if highlighted, their disabilities will be erased from their stories. But disabled people, particularly those of marginalized gender, have long been at the forefront of social change. The removal of disabled people’s stories from the narrative by able society means we never learn about these incredible advocates and their work.
When I scour the internet for more books to add to my TBR, I scour shelves and scroll through recommended reading lists, always hoping to see someone like me whose body works just a little differently. While I’m still not discovering as many as I’d like, disabled people of marginalized genders have written and published some incredible books in recent years. Authors like Jenny Lawson and Samantha Irby use their wit and humor to describe their lives. Alice Wong and Carly Findlay have each edited fantastic anthologies filled with excellent disabled writers.
If you’re like me looking for your next great disability read, browsing virtually or otherwise, here are ten excellent choices. You can’t go wrong with any of these excellent writers, so whether you like graphic novels, memoirs or disability theories, here’s something for you!
Dear Scarlet: The Story of My Postpartum Depression by Teresa Wong
In her illustrated memoir, Teresa Wong shares her experience with postpartum depression (PPD). The graphic memoir is structured like a letter to her daughter Scarlett. She expresses her struggles with a feeling of never being enough and an unbelievable sadness.
Dirty River: A Queer Woman of Color Dreaming Her Way Home by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
Care Work author Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha spent time in Canada traveling and meeting queer people looking for a new kind of love and revolution. But haunted by her past, Piepzna-Samarasinha has to deal with what it means to be a queer, disabled woman in this world.
Crip Kinship: The Disability Justice & Art Activism of Sins Invalid by Shayda Kafai
Shayda Kafais Crip relatives deals with Sins Invalid, a performance project focused on disability justice. The movement empowers disabled people of color and focuses on the work of queer, transgender and gender non-conforming people.
Rx: A Graphic Memoir by Rachel Lindsay
Rachel Lindsay, in her early 20s, who lives in New York City, is diagnosed with bipolar disorder. To pay for her health care, she takes a job in marketing and finds herself at Pfizer. Now she is said to be working on ads for an antidepressant.
A Face for Picasso: Coming of Age with Crouzon Syndrome by Ariel Henley
Ariel and her twin sister, Zan, were the first twins known to have survived Crouzon Syndrome, a rare condition in which the bones in the head fuse prematurely. Growing up, Ariel and her sister experienced many surgeries on their faces, which was very painful. But they also went through life with a face difference. Henley’s young adult memoir explores her life and the concepts of beauty and identity.
Golem Girl: A Memoir by Riva Lehrer
When Teacher was born with spina bifida in the 1950s, doctors said she could never have a romantic relationship, a job, or any kind of independence. But when she discovers a collective of people creating art, Lehrer finds a way to express herself that helps her accept herself for who she is.
Sitting Pretty: The View from My Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body by Rebekah Taussig
in the Sit prettyRebekah Taussig examines the complex realities of life as a disabled woman in a disabled society. In her essays she describes her life as a paralyzed girl in the 90s and 00s. Taussig describes her first-hand experience of feeling like she never sees a positive representation of disabled people, and how disabled people are so often portrayed as villains.
haben: the deafblind woman who conquered harvard law by haben girma
As the daughter of Eritrean immigrants, haben grew up visiting her family and found resilience and courage in her family’s stories. She later saw her disability as an opportunity for innovation and created her own text-to-braille communication system.
The Pretty One: On Life, Pop Culture, Disability, and Other Reasons to Fall in Love with Me by Keah Brown
Keah Brown, the creator of the #DisabledAndCute social media campaign, describes her outlook on life in her memoir The attractive one. Brown shares her unique perspective as a black disabled woman with cerebral palsy.
These wonderful books are just the tip of the iceberg. Dozens more books are waiting for you! For more books by disabled authors, see 10 Disability Accessibility Books and 9 Intermediate Novels With Disabled Main Characters.