To celebrate Disability Pride Month in July, I opened the Authors with Disabilities Showcase. This online bookstore began out of a deep desire to shed light on the diverse talent within the disabled community, and support a group of writers that often get marginalized and underrated. In my journey of searching for and adding new titles to the bookstore, I have collected many favourites along the way, and my TBR pile [To be Read] just keeps growing!
Now that 2022 is drawing to a close, I wanted to highlight a few of my favourite reads from the bookstore.
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Thunder Dog by Michael Hingson
There’s no such thing as being late to the party when it comes to a great book! Thunder Dog was published 10 years after the tragedy of 9/11, and I read it more than 10 years later. But we will never forget, and this book is a wonderfully, poignant reminder of that day.
“When one of four hijacked planes flew into the World Trade Center’s North Tower on September 11, 2001, Michael Hingson, a district sales manager for a data protection and network security systems company, was sitting down for a meeting. His guide dog, Roselle, was at his feet.
Blind from birth, Michael could hear the sounds of shattering glass, falling debris, and terrified people flooding all around him. But Roselle sat calmly beside him. In that moment, Michael chose to trust Roselle’s judgment and not to panic. They were a team.”
How to Lose Everything by Christa Couture
Grief is hard to feel, but even harder to understand. But it helps to hear a fellow human speak openly about their own grief and their journey through it. If nothing else, it can help us feel less alone, which is sometimes, all we need.
“From the amputation of her leg as a cure for bone cancer at a young age to her first child’s single day of life, the heart transplant and subsequent death of her second child, the divorce born of grief and then the thyroidectomy that threatened her career as a professional musician, How to Lose Everything delves into the heart of loss. Couture bears witness to the shift in perspective that comes with loss, and how it can deepen compassion for others, expand understanding, inspire a letting go of little things and plant a deeper feeling for what matters. At the same time, Couture’s writing evokes the joy and lightness that both precede and eventually follow grief, as well as the hope and resilience that grow from connections with others.”
Poster Child by Emily Rapp
Heartbreakingly vivid, raw and relatable, this memoir digs into the emotions we’d rather keep hidden, explores the parts of ourselves that are uncomfortable, and teaches that disability is only one part of who we are–and there’s so much more that defines a person and who they become.
“Emily Rapp was born with a congenital defect that required, at the age of four, that her left foot be amputated. By the time she was eight she’d had dozens of operations, had lost most of her leg, from just above the knee, and had become the smiling, indefatigable “poster child” for the March of Dimes. For years she made appearances at church suppers and rodeos, giving pep talks about how normal and happy she was. All the while she was learning to live with what she later described as “my grievous, irrevocable flaw,” and the paradox that being extraordinary was the only way to be ordinary.”
Sitting Pretty by Rebekah Taussig
I will confess: I haven’t finished this book. Though I’m well on my way, I can only read for about 10 minutes before I have to put it aside for days to digest what Rebekah has written. It touches parts of me that I didn’t know were there, challenges subconscious beliefs I held about myself, and offers, in personal and theoretical terms, a way to understand the world around me and find my place in it.
“Growing up as a paralyzed girl during the 90s and early 2000s, Rebekah Taussig only saw disability depicted as something monstrous (The Hunchback of Notre Dame), inspirational (Helen Keller), or angelic (Forrest Gump). None of this felt right; and as she got older, she longed for more stories that allowed disability to be complex and ordinary, uncomfortable and fine, painful and fulfilling.
Writing about the rhythms and textures of what it means to live in a body that doesn’t fit, Rebekah reflects on everything from the complications of kindness and charity, living both independently and dependently, experiencing intimacy, and how the pervasiveness of ableism in our everyday media directly translates to everyday life.”
Forward, Shakespeare by Jean Little
Jean Little had an uncanny ability to take disability and create something universally relatable in her books. Forward, Shakespeare, and its prequel, Rescue Pup, are no exception. Alongside learning about how guide dogs are trained to guide the blind, you’ll fall in love with Shakespeare and learn about how letting someone love you is the first step in learning to love and accept yourself for who you are.
“Seeing-eye pup, Shakespeare, conquered many fears in Rescue Pup. Now he is back, about to be matched up with a blind boy, ready to begin his working life. Tim is enraged by his blindness and wants nothing to do with a guide dog. But he is no match for Shakespeare.”
It’s Not What It Looks Like by Molly Burke
I have been a fan of Molly’s Youtube channel for years now, and her audiobook, It’s Not What It Looks Like, did not disappoint.
Molly and I are both blind, but our experiences and perspectives are sometimes poles apart. Our disabilities have shaped us in different ways, but that’s what makes this such a wonderful read. In her book, I saw myself clearly in her words and depictions of living as a blind woman, but I also learned a new way of perceiving blindness and how we can all appreciate the diversity of disability and a person’s individual journey.
“Close your eyes and get ready to see the world in a new and more positive way. As a child in Toronto, Molly Burke was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa and became completely sightless as a teenager. Now an award-winning YouTube star and global influencer, Molly shares what it’s like to be a purple-haired, pink-obsessed fashion and makeup lover in a seeing world. She speaks with authenticity and candor about how she tackles the preconceived notions we have around blindness; Molly has made it her mission to make us see her – and ourselves- in a wholly empowering way. Learn about her struggles with bullying and anxiety, her quest for inclusivity, how she built a successful influencer business (with more than 1.8 million followers), and what it’s really like to travel with the true star of this audio, her service dog, Gallop.”
What were your favourite books of 2022? Let me know in the comments!