These books have all given me valuable insight into the experience of being disabled or caring for someone who is. Some are confronting (which is necessary), others are beautiful and insightful. All are worth your time and will widen your understanding of people and the world.
I have included my own memoir (in a reluctant flash of self-promotion) because I’m proud of it. Together they are a mixture of own voice accounts by disabled people, memoirs by parent carers, and well-researched non-fiction.
Most are available to buy from my Bookshop.org list here.
1 Sitting Pretty: The View From My Ordinary Resilient Body – Rebekah Taussig
This is one of my favourite books. It does exactly what I want a book to do – speak truthfully and lyrically about complex issues that are personal and also universal. It really digs into the ways that disabled people are made to feel like the difficulties they face are individual, when actually they’re societal, and how it feels to be a woman. It’s funny and powerful.
2. A Still Life – Josie George
George’s memoir is about her life being made physically still and small by her illness and pain, yet full and rich in her mind. She writes so evocatively about all the challenges and triumphs of her day-to-day experience, and helps us reimagine what is valuable.
3. The Cracks That Let the Light In: A mother’s story of raising her disabled son and the life-changing power of books – Jessica Moxham
My memoir about my son Ben and what he’s taught me. A lot about the challenges and triumphs of parenting, his love of books and my hatred of people pitying us.
4. Far From the Tree – Andrew Solomon
This is a huge book that covers the stories of hundreds of parents whose children with very different identities from their own – from autism, to deafness, to complex physical disability. It would be impossible to read in one go – I’ve read a chapter at a time – Solomon’s writing is accessible and represents diverse views while being true to lived experience.
5. Tender: The Imperfect Art of Caring – Penny Wincer
Part memoir, part interviews, part manifesto. Penny covers all of the realities and emotions of being an unpaid carer – the highs and lows, and how it can still be possible to live a good life.
6. Dear Parents – Micheline Mason
I was lucky to see Micheline Mason speak when my son was younger, but this book is a good alternative to hearing her in person. Micheline is disabled and a parent of a disabled child and her insights can feel challenging, but are undoubtedly necessary.
7. The Skies I’m Under – Rachel Wright
Rachel writes movingly about how her life is turned upside down when she realises her son will be disabled. Despite her being a nurse and her husband being a doctor, this is a different way of engaging with health services and makes Rachel re-evaluate her life, her faith and her responsibilities.
8. Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century – edited by Alice Wong
This is a collection of writing by disabled people with diverse impairments and there is something for everyone. The range of topics and styles make it a powerful anthology, representing views and insights that I haven’t read elsewhere.