6 Books About Disability I Really Want to Read

Posted October 20, 2016 by Ely in Lists, TBR / 21 Comments


In line with my life goal to get disability included in diversity discussions on Twitter and elsewhere, I wanted to share six books about disability that I really want to read. I wanted to include both fiction and non-fiction books, so I can talk about some of the incredible criticism I’m reading and writing about for Honours. Before I go on a rant, let’s get started.

Dead Girls Society by Michelle Krys

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This one isn’t out just yet, but it’s being released in November so it’s not too long of a wait. The main character Hope has cystic fibrosis, which is something I’ve never read about. It’s also a bit of a mystery/thriller, so the whole thing sounds very much like my kind of book. I’m hoping to pick this up at the library after its release.

Lovely, Dark and Deep by Amy McNamara

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This one has been on my TBR for years now before I even knew it was about disability. (It was totally for the cover, okay?) It features multiple sclerosis, but I’m unsure as to how big of a role that plays. It does also look at depression, and I’ve heard very good things about its representation.

Good Kings Bad Kings by Susan Nussbaum

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I keep seeing this book on the Goodreads Disability Studies genre page, and for the longest time I had it in my mind that it was non-fiction. It’s actually YA, so I’m even more excited about it now. According to Disability in KidLit, it features cerebral palsy, paralysis, muscular disorder, quadriplegia and wheelchair use as well as being own voices. If that doesn’t sound incredibly important to you then I just don’t understand you.


Feminist, Queer, Crip by Alison Kafer

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This is one of the first books I found, and every time I see it I get even more excited about it. After reading Extraordinary Bodies, I’m really interesting in looking at disability from a feminist perspective. I think there’s a lot of interesting discussion to be had there. There are some mixed views on this book, but I want to read it myself to see.

Staring: How We Look by Rosemarie Garland-Thomson

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Back to Extraordinary Bodies for a moment here. After I read that, I decided that I needed to read everything Rosemarie Garland-Thomson has ever written. This one seems like a good place to go next. I’m very aware of how my disability attracts stares in public—as a pre-teen it was something that very much bothered me. I’d be very interested to see what Garland-Thomson has to say on the matter.

In a Different Key: The Story of Autism by John Donvan and Caren Zucker

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I’m reading this one right now, about a week before this post goes up, but it’s so large that I don’t think I’ll get through it. My focus lately has mostly been on physical disabilities because that’s what I have, but I want to learn about everything. Already I feel like I know and understand more about autism.

Quickly before I go, I just wanted to ask if anyone would be interested in hearing a little more about my Honours. I can’t share too much obviously, but I was thinking of doing just a basic overview. I don’t know whether anyone would be interested or if I should just keep bombarding my supervisor and Emily with messages instead. Let me know in the comments how you feel.

No matter what, I’ll still be talking about disability both on here and on Twitter. I’ve been teaching myself and exploring books and websites the last couple of months so I can share some more stuff with you. Until then…


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21 responses to “6 Books About Disability I Really Want to Read

    • I’ve heard of another book about it but I can’t for the life of me think what it’s called. I’ve never read anything about it though, so I hope Dead Girls Society turns out to be a good representation (and story).

    • It does! I depserately want it for my collection—it might be the next book I buy, actually. I’ve got a recommendation post planned, once I’ve gotten around to a few more books on my list! I hope you’ll enjoy it <3

  1. YEEEEES. Everyone always talks about diversity, but then they hardly ever include disability under the umbrella :-/ There’s a lot more discussion about mental health/illness lately, but not physical. And it’s even harder to find sci-fi/fantasy books with disabled characters. To be honest, I’ve been trying to figure out some sort of blogging event or monthly thing or something that could spotlight books with disabled characters and help bring more understanding to the topic, but I don’t have any ideas yet. I definitely agree we need more discussion and books about this though, so this is a great post 🙂

    • It makes me so sad/angry when they do that. Disability is such a big part of our world, so I hate it when people don’t mention it at all. I like that we’re seeing more about mental health, but physical disabilities are important too! Have you heard of Corinne Duyvis’ books? She writes about disability in sci fi/fantasy, and her stuff is own voices too 🙂 It’s funny you should mention that because I’ve been trying to do the same for months too but I keep drawing blanks. We should try and organise something!

      • I would definitely be down for working together if we could figure something out. I’ve never talked about it on my blog but I have CFS, so bringing more light to physical disabilities and chronic illnesses is really important to me too.

        I’ll definitely check out that author! I know of a few SFF books with disabled characters, but they’re just kind of random and scattered. No One Dies in the Garden on Syn is a first-in-series I enjoyed with a character who has cystic fibrosis, in case you’re looking for any fantasy recs 🙂

        • Ah, you’re in good company—I have a lot of friends with CFS, and I understand chronic illness (having T1 Diabetes myself). I’ve never heard of that series before, but I’ve just added it to my Goodreads wishlist!

  2. I really loved this post, Ely! Especially in the We Need Diverse Books discussion, I definitely don’t think that disability books are that common. I’ll definitely check these out!

    • Thanks, Emily 🙂 I think We Need Diverse Books does great work, but I do think they’re missing disability representation. If you don’t already, I highly recommend following Disability in KidLit’s website—they’re incredible!

  3. YES THESE ARE THE POSTS I LIVE FOR. Dead Girls Society sounds really good, and I don’t know what Cystic fibrosis which just shows there needs to be more on it.

    • You’re welcome, munchie <3 I'm not super clear on CF either, but I've done a little googling in the past—it's definitely something that needs to be included in our books!

  4. MS plays a pretty big role in ‘Lovely, Dark and Deep’, which I wasn’t expecting since it’s not mentioned in the blurb at all (you’re supposed to wonder if her new boyfriend just isn’t that in to her, I think). My boyfriend has MS and I found the portrayal of MS in the book pretty true to my experience of it so far. The book also deals with depression really well, so it’s a winner on a few fronts. I enjoyed it much more than I expected to, so I keep hoping Amy McNamara will write another novel.

  5. I have a friend who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis last year, and I had to actually google what it entailed – much to my shame. There’s so much talk about diversity in literature these days, but so much of that diversity is focused on race and sexuality. They need more representation, yes, but they’re not the only topics of diversity.

    Did you ever finish reading The Things I Didn’t Say?

    I believe authority when writing about something is a big issue, because no matter how well you research, the odds of you somehow writing a bad representation of a minority group is high. Disability is something I could actually write about, but the idea terrifies me at the same time…

    Autism is a fascinating one, because the neurodiversity can be so broad, and often it’s a disability that’s written about from the perspective of a parent who has a child with autism.

    I hope you enjoy these books 😀