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Disability Pride, All Year Long
disabled literature for the win!
There’s no one way to be disabled. The disability community is a diverse group of people who all have different disabilities and accommodation needs. So it makes sense that no single story can define what it means to be disabled. That’s why it’s so important to read a wide range of disability literature. From romance novels to disability theory, it all has purpose and a place in the bookish world.
The power of story, the power of disabled people asking nondisabled people to bear witness to our lives, is a vital part of disability advocacy. But, to me, the greatest part of our stories is when we tell them to each other, encouraging others in the disability community and reminding us that we aren’t alone.
Even though I can’t read print books anymore, I still surround myself with books. When I’m stuck on the couch or in bed, I stack books next to me, piling them around on the cushions like a little fortress. When I leave the house, I always carry a book with me in my bag, like an emotional support book for an anxious brain.
The books you see in this photo hold a special place in my heart. Ever since I took this photo, I haven’t been able to put them away. Instead, I stacked them on the dresser so I can see them from my bed. It’s just nice to know that they are there.
I don’t have a lot of answers or wise words. But whether or not you are part of the disability community, I just ask that you read our stories, not just in July, but all year long.
The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Nova Bailey
“My bed was an island within the seas of my room. Yes I knew that there were other people homebound from illness or injury, scattered here and there throughout rural towns and cities around the world. And as I lay there, I felt connection to all of them. We, too, were a colony of hermits.”
Loneliness, like someone sucked out all of the air in the room. It can feel suffocating, like I’ve been left in the dark with just weight of my anxiety for company.
When I first picked up The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, I felt so seen. I’d never read about this part of my disability experience before, and realizing that there are so many other people out there like me made me feel less alone.
From the time I was twenty-five, I've spent the majority of my time at home, resting for the next big thing I’d needed to do. There are rules I abide by so I can get the most out of my failing body: don’t go out two days in a row, exercise to maintain mobility, eat a very strict diet to manage symptoms (cheat at your own peril!). These three principles help me get the most out of my days. A lot of people might see them as restricting, but to me, they allow me to live.
I’ve often described my life as “partially housebound,” because I don’t really have the words to describe my experience. Our minds love easy binaries, but being bedridden, like many types of dynamic disabilities, isn’t just a yes or no answer. It’s a complex lived reality.
Things I Made Recently
Disability Pride Month Wrap Up
I filmed some thoughts on the end of Disability Pride Month.
Disability Representation in Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow
While Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is a great read, it’s not without its flaws, including its representation of disability.
Libro.fm Podcast – Episode 03: “Interview with Kendra Winchester”
Recently, I was on Libro.fm’s new podcast to talk about Read Appalachia and about how audiobooks are an accessibility tool.
On this month’s episode we chat with Kendra Winchester of Book Riot and Read Appalachia. We talk about audiobooks and why they DO count as reading, Disability Pride Month, Appalachian writing and literature, podcasting, and more.
If this is your first time observing Disability Pride Month, I understand that it can feel overwhelming. “Disabled” is really just an umbrella term that refers to a wide range of conditions, lived experiences, and communities. How do you know what terminology to use when? What is the difference between deaf and Deaf? What’s the difference between disability rights and disability justice?
While you might feel flooded with disability lit recommendations at the moment, here are a few books that I think will help you learn some key points about the disability community. While disabled people write in every genre, I’ve chosen mostly nonfiction books to give you a baseline from which to start. But rest assured, there are always more great books by disabled authors out there just waiting for you to read them.