My favorite books by disabled authors

Have you ever read a book by a disabled author?

Most of the time, we think to read books by doctors and other medical professionals, but who is the true expert of living with a disability? While doctors and medical professionals may know more about the medical side of things, people with disabilities themselves are much more the experts on what it’s like to live with a disability as well as disability culture and disability activism. I think reading books by disabled people can really bring some much needed perspective and diversity to our knowledge of what it means to be disabled.

Today, I'm sharing some of my favorite books by disabled authors, as well as some coming up on my reading list!

My Favorite Books:

Cover of Double Take, features the author on a white background with the title

Double Take: A Memoir by Kevin Michael Connolly

Kevin Michael Connolly has travelled all over the world on a skateboard. But it’s not what you imagine. He doesn’t have legs, so he sits on the skateboard and propels it with his hands. It’s apparently not what a lot of people are expecting, as Kevin embarked on a photographic journey where he took pictures of people doing a double take to look at him and his unique form of mobility. In his memoir, Kevin talks a lot about what it’s like for him to always have people staring at him and his exploration of how we perceive people who are different from us. A few of his photographs are also sprinkled throughout the book!

Cover of Care Work, features a drawing of an arm and leg reaching around what appears to be roots and dirt

Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

This book challenged me. In a lot of ways. If you are ready to think about disability in drastically new ways and really confront your own views of disability, then this book is for you. If you’re not ready for that yet, maybe start with another book in this list! This isn’t to scare you away from this book. Honestly, this is one of the most life-changing books I’ve ever read. I think if everyone could read and understand this book, our world would be vastly better for people with disabilities. You just have to be ready for it.

Cover of Don't Worry, He won't get far on foot, with an image of the author next to his dog, and handwritten cartoony text

Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot by John Callahan

The most comical book on this list, John Callahan’s memoir explores life as a quadriplegic and as an alcoholic. While as a parent of a child with a developmental disability you may not be able to relate to his specific disability, his cartoons, which are sprinkled throughout the book, often speak to the entirety of the disability community. I also find his comparisons and contrasts between his disability and alcoholism really interesting. Callahan definitely tackles some very difficult topics in a very light-hearted read.

Honorary Mention:

Cover of No Pity, mostly black and white, with a small color picture at the bottom of an abstract human body

No Pity: People with Disabilities Forging a New Civil Rights Movement by Joseph Shapiro

This is hands down my favorite book on disability, but…its author is non-disabled! Hence why it’s getting an honorary mention. But no discussion of books on disability is complete without this one. If you’ve read my e-book then you know I pull multiple excerpts out of this book, because it’s just that good and that important! Joseph Shapiro wrote this around the time of the ADA being passed, and it really gives a great history of disability in this country, as well as highlighting the experiences of people with disabilities. A must read.

Coming up on my reading list:

There are a few books just released this year that I’m looking forward to reading!

Cover of Sitting Pretty, featuring the author in her wheelchair with doodles over her clothing and chair

Sitting Pretty: The View from My Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body by Rebekah Taussig

The book is of the same name as her Instagram account, which is where I know her from. She is hands down one of my favorite disability advocates to follow, and she has wonderful down-to-earth insights. I’m excited to read her book to learn more about her story and her perspective.

Cover of Being Heumann, featuring a black and white photograph of the author looking at herself in a mirror

Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist by Judith Heumann

If there is any name on this list I want you to know, it is that of Judy Heumann. She had an epic showdown at the Supreme Court with the Board of Education of the City of New York who denied her a teaching license solely on the basis that she couldn’t walk. Aside from that, she was a huge leader in the disability rights movement, leading the 504 sit-in (the longest occupation of a federal building in US History), being an advisor to multiple presidents, and setting the path for the ADA. I’m excited to hear the whole story from her perspective.

Cover of Feminist, Queer, Crip, featuring abstract colorful artwork

Feminist, Queer, Crip by Alison Kafer

This book wasn’t released this year, I just haven’t gotten around to it yet! But I have heard wonderful things about it. I actually got the chance to see Alison Kafer speak in person at a conference a couple years ago, and I loved listening to her. I’m excited to hear more of her perspective, which tends to differ from the rest of the disability community.

Have you ever read a book by a disabled author? Or any of the ones above? I’d love to know! Let me know in the comments below.

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