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July 8, 2024 – July is Disability Pride Month, and Cedar Rapids Public Library Materials Librarian Allison Zordell curated this list of memoirs, histories, and more nonfiction to read this month and beyond.

"During Disability Pride Month this July, we have an opportunity to honor and amplify the voices and experiences of individuals with disabilities. This month encourages us to reflect on the achievements, struggles, and diversity within the disability community," she said. "Let's celebrate Disability Pride Month by embracing these stories, learning from them, and continuing to advocate for a world that recognizes and respects the dignity and rights of every individual, regardless of ability."

Browse the books below, and click on their covers to put them on hold in our catalog. Book descriptions are excerpted from the catalog, which pulls from information provided by publishers.

"Disability Intimacy: Essays on Love, Care, and Desire" edited by Alice Wong (2024)

A collection of first-person writing on the joys and challenges of the modern disability experience, and intimacy in all its myriad forms. What is intimacy? More than sex, more than romantic love, the pieces in this stunning and illuminating new anthology offer broader and more inclusive definitions of what it can mean to be intimate with another person. Explorations of caregiving, community, access, and friendship offer us alternative ways of thinking about the connections we form with others – a vital reimagining in an era when forced physical distance is at times a necessary norm. Plunge between these pages and you'll also find disabled sexual discovery, disabled love stories, and disabled joy.

"Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century" edited by Alice Wong (2020)

Disability Visibility brings together the voices of activists, authors, lawyers, politicians, artists, and everyday people whose daily lives are, in the words of playwright Neil Marcus, "an art . . . an ingenious way to live." According to the last census, one in five people in the United States lives with a disability. Some are visible, some are hidden – but all are underrepresented in media and popular culture. Activist Alice Wong brings together an urgent, galvanizing collection of personal essays by contemporary disabled writers. 

"Disability Pride: Dispatches from a Post-ADA World" by Ben Mattlin (2022)

An eye-opening portrait of the diverse disability community as it is today and how attitudes, activism, and representation have evolved since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

"Loving Our Own Bones: Disability Wisdom and the Spiritual Subversiveness of Knowing Ourselves Whole" by Julia Watts Belser (2023)

A spiritual companion and political manifesto that cuts through objectification and inspiration alike to offer a powerful new account of disability in biblical narrative and contemporary culture.

"All Our Families: Disability Lineage and the Future of Kinship" by Jennifer Natalya Fink (2022)

"All Our Families: Finding Our Disability Lineages" argues that disability is stigmatized because it is delineated – excised from our understanding of family, cut out from the story a family tells about itself, and proposes how finding and integrating disability in our family would transform our lived experiences of both family and disability.

"Sitting Pretty: The View from My Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body" by Rebekah Taussig (2020)

Growing up as a paralyzed girl during the 1990s and early 2000s, Taussig only saw disability depicted as something monstrous, inspirational, or angelic. She longed for more stories that allowed disability to be complex and ordinary, uncomfortable and fine, painful and fulfilling. Here she writes about the rhythms and textures of what it means to live in a body that doesn't fit. Taussig 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. She shows how disability affects all of us, directly or indirectly, at one point or another.

"Against Technoableism: Rethinking Who Needs Improvement" by Ashley Shew (2023)

A manifesto exploding what we think we know about disability, arguing that disabled people are the real experts when it comes to technology and disability.

"The Country of the Blind: A Memoir at the End of Sight" by Andrew Leland (2023)

Andrew Leland is midway through his life with retinitis pigmentosa, a condition that ushers those who live with it from complete sightedness to complete blindness over a period of years, even decades. He grew up with full vision, but starting in his teenage years, his sight began to degrade from the outside in, such that he now sees the world as if through a narrow tube. Soon – but without knowing exactly when – he will likely have no vision left. Full of apprehension but also dogged curiosity, Leland embarks on a sweeping exploration of the state of being that awaits him: not only the physical experience of blindness but also its language, internal debates, politics, and customs. He also negotiates his changing relationships with his wife and son, and with his own sense of self, as he moves from sighted to semi-sighted to blind, from his mainstream, "typical" life to one with a disability. 

"I Live a Life Like Yours: A Memoir" by Jan Grue (2021)

In this essayistic autobiography, Jan Grue reflects on social structures, disability, loss, relationships, and the body: in short, on what it means to be human.

"Being Seen: One Deafblind Woman's Fight to End Ableism" by Elsa Sjunneson (2021)

A deafblind writer and professor explores how the misrepresentation of disability in books, movies, and TV harms both the disabled community and everyone else.

"Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist" by Judith E. Heumann (2020)

Paralyzed from polio at eighteen months, Judy’s struggle for equality began early in life. From fighting to attend grade school after being described as a “fire hazard” to later winning a lawsuit against the New York City school system for denying her a teacher’s license because of her paralysis, Judy’s actions set a precedent that fundamentally improved rights for disabled people. As a young woman, Judy rolled her wheelchair through the doors of the US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in San Francisco as a leader of the Section 504 Sit-In, the longest takeover of a governmental building in US history. Working with a community of over 150 disabled activists and allies, Judy successfully pressured the Carter administration to implement protections for disabled peoples’ rights, sparking a national movement and leading to the creation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

"Normal Sucks: How to Live, Learn, and Thrive Outside the Lines" by Jonathan Mooney, (2019)

A writer diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD as a child explores the toll the system takes on kids who are not "normal" and advocates for a revolution in the way society thinks about diversity, abilities, and disabilities.

"A Disability History of the United States" by Kim E. Nielsen (2012)

Covering U.S. history from pre-1492 to the present, "A Disability History of the United States" places the experiences of disabled people at the center of the American narrative. In many ways, it’s a familiar telling. In other ways, it is a radical repositioning of U.S. history. By doing so, the book casts new light on familiar stories, such as slavery and immigration, while breaking ground about the ties between nativism and oralism in the late nineteenth century and the role of ableism in the development of democracy.

"The Accessible Home: Designing for All Ages and Abilities" by D. Pierce (2012)

Millions of baby boomers are approaching the golden years. While it's a marker worth celebrating, it can also be a reminder of uncertain times ahead. How will I manage? Can I stay in my home? "The Accessible Home" goes beyond ramps and grab-bars to help aging boomers, or those faced with disabilities, accomplish home accessibility on a deeper level. With a focus on closing the gap between home and homeowner, architect Deborah Pierce leads readers through the steps of universal design – from hiring the right architect to creating a pleasing space with the final details. Plus, an insider's look at 25 case studies shows that the best design is built in, not tacked on, and that "accessible" can be both beautiful and functional.