Hello, friends! Time to talk about some more books on my TBR! This is a series where I talk about a specific subset of books on my TBR. I’ve done a few posts of really long lists of books on my TBR, so for these posts I’m going to try to keep the list fairly small, provide the synopsis from Goodreads, and talk about where I found it and why I want to read it.
Today we’re talking about books about disability! Disability rights is probably the biggest hole in my allyship. It’s not really a topic I feel comfortable speaking a ton about, which is something I want to remedy at least a little this year.
Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-first Century edited by Alice Wong
According to the last census, one in five people in the United States lives with a disability. Some are visible, some are hidden—but all are underrepresented in media and popular culture. Now, just in time for the thirtieth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, activist Alice Wong brings together an urgent, galvanizing collection of personal essays by contemporary disabled writers. There is Harriet McBryde Johnson’s “Unspeakable Conversations,” which describes her famous debate with Princeton philosopher Peter Singer over her own personhood. There is columnist s. e. smith’s celebratory review of a work of theater by disabled performers. There are original pieces by up-and-coming authors like Keah Brown and Haben Girma. There are blog posts, manifestos, eulogies, and testimonies to Congress. Taken together, this anthology gives a glimpse of the vast richness and complexity of the disabled experience, highlighting the passions, talents, and everyday lives of this community. It invites readers to question their own assumptions and understandings. It celebrates and documents disability culture in the now. It looks to the future and past with hope and love.
This book sounds like a really good place to start, and a good place to learn about more disabled authors. My library has a couple of copies of this book, so hopefully I can get to it soon!
Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist by Judith Heumann, Kristen Joiner
Paralyzed from polio at eighteen months, Judy’s struggle for equality began early in life. From fighting to attend grade school after being described as a “fire hazard” to later winning a lawsuit against the New York City school system for denying her a teacher’s license because of her paralysis, Judy’s actions set a precedent that fundamentally improved rights for disabled people.
As a young woman, Judy rolled her wheelchair through the doors of the US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in San Francisco as a leader of the Section 504 Sit-In, the longest takeover of a governmental building in US history. Working with a community of over 150 disabled activists and allies, Judy successfully pressured the Carter administration to implement protections for disabled peoples’ rights, sparking a national movement and leading to the creation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
I love memoirs and activism, so I’m really excited to read this book. It sounds like it’ll be a really great read and give an interesting perspective on life as a disabled person.
Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law by Haben Girma
Born with deaf-blindness, Girma grew up with enough vision to know when someone was in front of her and enough hearing to know when someone close to her was talking. However, she had difficulty reading facial features or distinguishing people in group conversations. Relying on her own problem-solving skills, Girma overcame roadblocks while simultaneously obtaining her undergraduate and then law degree.
In the process, she developed new methods of communication and found her calling in advocating for the deaf and blind communities in more accessible communication, education, and employment opportunities. As a lawyer and advocate, Girma shares a collection of vignettes illustrating the defining points in her life. She peppers her writing with a witty sense of humor and showcases her strength in facing obstacles, along with challenging antiquated societal beliefs about people with disabilities, whether describing her experience climbing Alaska’s Mendenhall Glacier or helping a drunk friend get to his dorm by using her seeing-eye dog that he adores as a lure.
Don’t even get me STARTED on the deaf-blind discourse that has been happening on tiktok as of late. The only good thing to come out of it was me learning about this book. It sounds really, really interesting, and I would love to read about Girma’s experience in law school.
Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability, and Making Space by Amanda Leduc
By examining the ways that fairy tales have shaped our expectations of disability, Disfigured will point the way toward a new world where disability is no longer a punishment or impediment but operates, instead, as a way of centering a protagonist and helping them to cement their own place in a story, and from there, the world. Through the book, Leduc ruminates on the connections we make between fairy tale archetypes—the beautiful princess, the glass slipper, the maiden with long hair lost in the tower—and tries to make sense of them through a twenty-first-century disablist lens. From examinations of disability in tales from the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen through to modern interpretations ranging from Disney to Angela Carter, and the fight for disabled representation in today’s media, Leduc connects the fight for disability justice to the growth of modern, magical stories, and argues for increased awareness and acceptance of that which is other—helping us to see and celebrate the magic inherent in different bodies.
This book has been on my TBR for ages, and I just recently learned that my library has the audiobook! So hopefully I’ll be able to listen to it sometime this year.
So there are some books about disability on my TBR! Please let me know if you know of any books about disability, or by disabled authors! I would love to read more.