The Mighty Logo

7 Must-Read Books by Disabled Authors

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

As someone who reads every night before they go to sleep and the parent of a child with a disability, I am always on the hunt for high-quality books that speak to the disabled experience. Even better when it comes from a writer who has a disability or chronic illness themselves. Here are seven outstanding books recently published by disabled authors.

1. “True Biz” by Sara Novic

There is a reason this new novel is on so many “best books of the year” lists – it is that good. A New York Times bestseller and Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick, “True Biz” tackles issues in the deaf community including the controversy over cochlear implants, how Black ASL developed, and the importance of deaf spaces such as schools for the deaf. Author Sara Novic, who is deaf, navigates covering these big topics with realistic and relatable characters.

Front cover of "True Biz" book, with image of multicolor fingers using sign language

Millicent Simmonds, a young deaf actor best known for her role in “A Quiet Place,” is slated to star in and executive produce a TV adaptation.

2. “Sitting Pretty” by Rebekah Taussig

This beautifully written memoir-in-essays explores what it means to grow up “in a body that looks and moves differently” in an ableist culture. Author and disability advocate Rebekah Taussig, Ph.D., is a writer and teacher with a doctorate in Creative Writing and Disability Studies. She argues that “We should bring disabled perspectives to the center because these perspectives create a world that is more imaginative, more flexible, more sustainable, more dynamic and vibrant for everyone who lives in a body.”

This is the book I want my son, who uses mobility devices, to read when he’s older.

3. “Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law” by Haben Girma

Haben Girma, a disability rights lawyer, shares her story of growing up and becoming the first deafblind person to graduate from Harvard Law. She gives lessons learned in far-flung places while spending summers in her family’s home in Eritrea, building a school in Mali, and climbing an iceberg in Alaska. She also includes stories closer to home like training with a guide dog. All of her experiences helped define her worldview, where she “defines disability as an opportunity for innovation.” Her straightforward writing style and subtle humor make it an easy and enjoyable read.

Photo of book cover of Haben Girma's memoir, with a side portrait of the author

4. “The Pretty One: On Life, Pop Culture, Disability, and Other Reasons to Fall in Love with Me” by Keah Brown

Author Keah Brown’s first essay collection considers what it means to be Black and disabled. The creator of the hashtag #DisabledAndCute as a celebration of herself, she found it became a place of community. Brown shines when talking about her love of rom-coms, her friends who really “get it,” and disability representation in popular culture.

5. “Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability, and Making Space” by Amanda Leduc

If you are looking for something more research-based, check out “Disfigured” by Amanda Leduc. Leduc examines how the stories we tell and the language we use contribute to disabled exclusion. She analyzes disability representation in stories ranging from Grimm’s fairy tales to Disney films, concluding that “it is time for us to tell different stories.”

6. “Disability Visibility: First Person Stories From the Twenty-First Century,” edited by Alice Wong

This collection is jam-packed with essays from a diverse group of individuals with disabilities, chronic illness, rare disease, and/or mental illness. It is quite powerful to see so many voices in one place, with something for just about anyone. You’re sure to find yourself learning a great deal while reading as well as relating to many of these writers’ experiences. Some favorite essays and topics covered included chasing a cure, disabled icon Selma Blair, reproductive justice, and what it means to live in “crip” time.

7. “El Deafo” by Cece Bell

This coming-of-age graphic novel is appropriate for young readers and enjoyable for all ages. Based on author Cece Bell’s experience growing up after hearing loss, she captures what it was like using a hearing aid as a young child, interacting with her peers at home and in school. She imagines a superhero alter ego to help her get through challenging times.

El Deafo character standing with powerful hearing aid strapped to chest and in ears

While “El Deafo” was published in 2014, Apple TV+ recently released a mini-series based on the graphic novel, with deaf actor Lexi Finigan starring as the main character. The show, rated TV-G, is streaming now.

What books by disabled authors have you read and would recommend?

Header image from my book collection. Other book images via authors’ Instagram pages.

Originally published: September 7, 2022
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home