Talking about “Top Books” is always a hard call for me. Remember, I’m the daughter of two people who, when they decided to move to the South Pacific, brought something in the area of 36 boxes of books… and two small suitcases for clothes. It’s harder still to choose books that truly help in understanding disability better.
The books I’m listing here are ones that personally helped me most in my learning and understanding disability – disability as a subject, as a matter of personal pride, as a movement, as an action and as an opportunity.
My Pick of Books to Help in Understanding Disability:
This is really a must-read, I think. Powerful, engaging. Very well written, comprehensive. A basic primer for anyone who is an advocate – or interested.
An intense collection of stories, personal narrative that captures and conveys the experience of being a person with a disability in America today.
Two books go together here:
The New Disability History: American Perspectives (History of Disability)
Why I Burned My Book and Other Essays on Disability (American Subjects)
These books packed the same type of WALLOP for me that ‘No Pity” did – “The New Disability History” is also a comprehensive history of disability – cross disability. “Why I Burned My Book” talks of the search for heroes, public policy and more. Again, comprehensive. Far reaching. Essential reading for advocates, people with disabilities and those involved in the disability field.
This book pushes the reader to “recast many assumptions we might hold about disability in relation to human rights” (- Lennard Davis). It’s broad, comprehensive, and on the international disability rights movement.
A memoir from one of my favorite authors. One of the first books about being a parent with a disability that I read. Beautifully written. Poignant. Candid. Lovely.
Another memoir that I loved by an outspoken, well spoken smart and funny professional journalist who is a paraplegic.
“Everyone cares for disabled people, right? What they don’t care for are the genuine civil rights for disabled people…” (-William Greider). This book was an eye-opener for me in my early learning on what “disability rights” really means – and the complicated pieces that are involved.
I am deaf. I grew up mainstreamed. I can barely sign and I felt an intense shame for most of my life for the fact that I just can’t hear. It was exhilarating to chomp my teeth on deaf culture and history.
A memoir from a Deaf comedienne. One of the first Deaf memoirs I read and enjoyed. On the lighter side.
This is another memoir of sorts. I liked the punch it pulls in terms of moving through life with colour and beauty – despite what else might be happening.
That’s inspiring to me.
This feels particularly relevant in the here and now in which we are fighting for IHSS, for healthcare, struggling against some pretty basic disability discrimination.
I like comprehensive – I’m sure you’ve noticed that already! This is another comprehensive book – it’s really a comprehensive overview for disability studies, “the collection covers cultural studies, identity politics, literary criticism, sociology, philosophy, anthropology, the visual arts, gender and race studies, as well as memoir, poetry, fiction, and prose non-fiction.”
There you have it. Those are my Top 13 .What are yours?
You might be wondering where the Down syndrome books are?
I don’t honestly think that they have a place here on this list, as they are written by parents of people with Down syndrome – they are stories of the parents coming to terms with disability and the place that Down syndrome holds in their world. They are for a specific slice of disability but not necessarily for disability or written from the perspective of one who has walked the walk.
None the less, the books that I truly loved are in the “Book Resources” section here on this blog.
Meriah Nichols is a counselor. Solo mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one on the spectrum). Deaf, and neurodiverse herself, she’s a gardening nerd who loves cats, Star Trek, and takes her coffee hot and black.