Disability Pride Recommendations for Adults

July is Disability Pride Month. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) legislation was a civil rights law that passed in 1990 and prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, such as jobs, schools, and transportation. Denver has a long history of disability rights activism, including the ADAPT movement which protested wheelchair inaccessibility on public buses in Denver beginning in 1978. This month, we celebrate all people with disabilities for who they are! The books chosen for this list help us to define the word "disability" as a natural and beautiful part of human diversity.

Andrews, A.

All different kinds of bods want to connect with other bods, but lots of them get left out of the conversation when it comes to S-E-X. As explained by disabled cartoonist A. Andrews, this easy-to-read guide covers the basics of disability sexuality, common myths about disabled bodies, communication tips, and practical suggestions for having the best sexual experience possible. Whether you yourself are disabled, you love someone who is, or you just want to know more, consider this your handy starter kit to understanding disability sexuality, and your path to achieving accessible (and fulfilling) sex.

Baker, Mishell

A cynical, paraplegic screenwriter with borderline personality disorder gets recruited to join a secret organization that oversees relations between Hollywood and Fairyland in the first book of a new urban fantasy series from debut author Mishell Baker.

Barrett, Kay Ulanday

A love letter to Brown, Queer, and Trans futures, Kay Ulanday Barrett’s More Than Organs questions "whatever wholeness means” for bodies always in transit, for the safeties and dangers they silo. These poems remix people of color as earthbenders, replay “the choreography of loss” after the 2015 Pulse shooting, and till joy from the cosmic sweetness of a family’s culinary history.

Bartlett, Jennifer and Sheila Black (editors)

Beauty is a verb is the first of its kind: a high-quality anthology of poetry by American poets with physical disabilities. Poems and essays alike consider how poetry, coupled with the experience of disability, speaks to the poetics of each poet included. The collection explores first the precursors whose poems had a complex (and sometimes absent) relationship with disability, such as Vassar Miller, Larry Eigner, and Josephine Miles. It continues with poets who have generated the Crip Poetics Movement, such as Petra Kuppers, Kenny Fries, and Jim Ferris. Finally, the collection explores the work of poets who don't necessarily subscribe to the identity of "crip-poetics" and have never before been published in this exact context. 

Black, Sheila, Annabelle Hayse, and Michael Northen (editors)

Welcome to the worlds of the disabled. The physically disabled. The mentally disabled. The emotionally disabled. What does that word "disabled" mean anyway? Is there a right way to be crippled? Editors Sheila Black and Michael Northen (co-editors of the highly praised anthology Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability) join newcomer Annabelle Hayse to present short stories by Jillian Weise, Dagoberto Gilb, Anne Finger, Stephen Kuusisto, Thom Jones, Lisa Gill, Floyd Skloot and others. These authors--all who experience the "disability" they write about--crack open the cage of our culture's stereotypes. We look inside, and, through these people we thought broken, we uncover new ways of seeing and knowing.

Brown, Keah

From the disability rights advocate and creator of the #DisabledAndCute viral campaign, a thoughtful, inspiring, and charming collection of essays exploring what it means to be black and disabled in a mostly able-bodied white America. Keah Brown loves herself, but that hadn't always been the case. Born with cerebral palsy, her greatest desire used to be normalcy and refuge from the steady stream of self-hate society strengthened inside her. But after years of introspection and reaching out to others in her community, she has reclaimed herself and changed her perspective. In The Pretty One, Brown gives a contemporary and relatable voice to the disabled -- so often portrayed as mute, weak, or isolated. With clear, fresh, and light-hearted prose, these essays explore everything from her relationship with her able-bodied identical twin (called 'the pretty one' by friends) to navigating romance; her deep affinity for all things pop culture--and her disappointment with the media's distorted view of disability; and her declaration of self-love with the viral hashtag #DisabledAndCute. 

Catapano, Peter and Rosemarie Garland-Thomson (editors)

Based on the pioneering New York Times series, About Us collects the personal essays and reflections that have transformed the national conversation around disability. Boldly claiming a space in which people with disabilities can be seen and heard as they are-not as others perceive them-About Us captures the voices of a community that has for too long been stereotyped and misrepresented. Speaking not only to those with disabilities, but also to their families, coworkers and support networks, the authors in About Us offer intimate stories of how they navigate a world not built for them. Since its 2016 debut, the popular New York Times' "Disability" column has transformed the national dialogue around disability. 

Brown, Molly McCully

In the Field Between Us is comprised of letters in verse between Molly McCully Brown and Susannah Nevison, which ponders disability and the possibility of belonging in the aftermath of lifelong medical intervention.

Clare, Eli

Blending prose and theory, personal experience and political debate, anger and compassion, Exile & Pride provides a window into a world where our whole selves in all their complexity can be loved and accepted.

Crosby, Christina

In A Body, Undone, Crosby puts into words a broken body that seems beyond the reach of language and understanding. She writes about a body shot through with neurological pain, disoriented in time and space, incapacitated by paralysis and deadened sensation. To address this foreign body, she calls upon the readerly pleasures of narrative, critical feminist and queer thinking, and the concentrated language of lyric poetry. Working with these resources, she recalls her 1950s tomboy ways in small-town, rural Pennsylvania, and records growing into the 1970s through radical feminism and the affirmations of gay liberation.

Fell, Blair

Arlo Dilly is young, handsome, and eager to meet the right girl. He also happens to be DeafBlind, a Jehovah's Witness, and under the strict guardianship of his controlling uncle. His chances of finding someone to love seem slim to none. And yet, it happened once before: many years ago, at a boarding school for the Deaf, Arlo met the love of his life--a mysterious girl with onyx eyes and beautifully expressive hands which told him the most amazing stories. But tragedy struck, and their love was lost forever--or so Arlo thought.

Havelin, Karen

The novel tracks backward, from 2016 until 1995, etching details of daily life into a gripping and darkly humorous bildungsroman, about the intricacies of love and life in a fragile body. We meet Laura Fjellstad first as she works and cares for her young daughter, while struggling with debilitating pain and endometriosis, an invisible chronic illness. As the reader moves in reverse to meet Laura's younger and somewhat healthier selves (a hopeful bride in New York, a baby queer in Paris, a figure skater in Norway) we uncover her tireless work to gain control of her identity, her illness and the conflicting demands made by doctors, friends, lovers and family.

Heumann, Judith E.

One of the most influential disability rights activists in US history tells her personal story of fighting for the right to receive an education, have a job, and just be human. A story of fighting to belong in a world that wasn't built for all of us and of one woman's activism--from the streets of Brooklyn and San Francisco to inside the halls of Washington--Being Heumann recounts Judy Heumann's lifelong battle to achieve respect, acceptance, and inclusion in society.

Hibbert, Talia

Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list. She's come up with seven directives to help her "Get a Life", and she's already completed the first: finally moving out of her family's mansion. She's ready to enjoy a drunken night out, ride a motorcycle, and other adventures. But it's not easy being bad, and Chloe knows just the man to help her complete her list. Redford 'Red' Morgan is a handyman with tattoos, a motorcycle, and sex appeal, who paints at night but hides his work. When she enlists Red to help her rebel, she discovers what really lies beneath his rough exterior.

Hotchner, A. E.

Chet Tremaine is living his best life. A successful lawyer with a loyal best friend, the arts and culture of New York City at his doorstep, and a peaceful retreat in Connecticut, Chet has it figured out. Even when a freak tennis accident leaves him blind in one eye, Chet is confident he'll be able to bounce back. But then he starts hallucinating: unknown children playing in his living room, pine needles seasoning his salad, wire grids barring access to his bathroom.

Leduc, Amanda

Challenges the ableism of fairy tales and offers new ways to celebrate the magic of all bodies. In fairy tales, happy endings are the norm - as long as you're beautiful and walk on two legs. After all, the ogre never gets the princess. And since fairy tales are the foundational myths of our culture, how can a girl with a disability ever think she'll have a happy ending? By examining the ways that fairy tales have shaped our expectations of disability, Disfigured will point the way toward a new world where disability is no longer a punishment or impediment but operates, instead, as a way of centering a protagonist and helping them to cement their own place in a story, and from there, the world. 

Leitch, Will

Daniel leads a rich life in the university town of Athens, Georgia. He's got a couple close friends, a steady paycheck working for a regional airline, and of course, for a few glorious days each Fall, college football tailgates. He considers himself to be a mostly lucky guy - despite the fact that he's suffered from a debilitating disease since he was a small child, one that has left him unable to speak or to move without a wheelchair. Largely confined to his home, Daniel spends the hours he's not online communicating with irate air travelers observing his neighborhood from his front porch. One young woman passes by so frequently that spotting her out the window has almost become part of his daily routine. Until the day he's almost sure he sees her being kidnapped...

Lorde, Audre

First published over forty years ago, The Cancer Journals is a startling, powerful account of Audre Lorde's experience with breast cancer and mastectomy. Long before narratives explored the silences around illness and women's pain, Lorde questioned the rules of conformity for women's body images and supported the need to confront physical loss not hidden by prosthesis. Living as a "black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet," Lorde heals and re-envisions herself on her own terms and offers her voice, grief, resistance, and courage to those dealing with their own diagnosis. Poetic and profoundly feminist, Lorde's testament gives visibility and strength to women with cancer to define themselves, and to transform their silence into language and action.

Mairs, Nancy

Mairs explores in her inimitable voice the subject that has always been in the background of her writing, but which she takes on here for the first time at book-length - disability and the way it shapes a life. The result is a brave and beautiful book that will open new worlds for readers. It begins with a disavowal ("I cannot begin to write this book....I don't want to think about my crippled life") and ends with a declaration of hope ("I choose joy"). In between, Mairs gives us a brilliant portrait of an issue and experience too rarely portrayed and talked about. She begins with subjects close to home: the personal history of her disease, the intimate realities of the body, the moral economy of care and caregiving, life with her husband and children. The second half of the book covers topics that look outward: women with disabilities, obstacles physical and social, the ethics of selective abortion and euthanasia, the joys and troubles of travel, and more.

McGinnis, Jarred

After a car accident Jarred discovers he'll never walk again. Confined to a 'giant roller-skate', he finds himself with neither money nor job. Worse still, he's forced to live back home with the father he hasn't spoken to in ten years. Add in a shoplifting habit, an addiction to painkillers and the fact that total strangers now treat him like he's an idiot, and it's a recipe for self-destruction. How can he stop himself careering out of control? As he tries to piece his life together again, he looks back over his past - the tragedy that blasted his family apart, why he ran away, the damage he's caused himself and others - and starts to wonder whether, maybe, things don't always have to stay broken after all.

Miller, Tessa

A ... candid account of a young journalist's awakening to a life of chronic illness, weaving together her personal story with reporting to shed light on how Americans live with long-term diagnoses today.

Mitchell, Evie

He doesn't do relationships. She doesn't do flings. Everything they thought is about to unravel... Frankie When you say you're a sexologist, people imagine Marilyn Monroe. They don't expect a woman who uses a wheelchair. As the host of the All Access Podcast, I'm breaking barriers, crushing stigmas, and creating sexual connections that are fulfilling for my fans. I'm like cupid, but with pink hair and fewer diapers. Only, I've hit a snag. A lovely listener wants some advice about accessible rope play and I'm drawing a big fat blank. Which leaves me with no option but to get out there and give it a go. Which is how I meet Jay Wood-rigger, carpenter, and all-round hottie. I'd be open to letting him wine and dine me-only Jay isn't my type. He's not a one-girl kind of guy. Monogamy isn't even in his vocab, and I'm not a woman who'll settle for being second choice. But the closer we get, the more Jay has me tied up in knots. And it's making me think, maybe I could compromise and accept a little Wood in my life.

Moore, Carley

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, a queer disabled woman bikes through a locked-down New York City in search of connection.

Nović, Sara

"rue biz? The students at the River Valley School for the Deaf just want to hook up, pass their history final, and have doctors, politicians, and their parents stop telling them what to do with their bodies. This revelatory novel plunges readers into the halls of a residential school for the deaf, where they'll meet Charlie, a rebellious transfer student who's never met another deaf person before; Austin, the school's golden boy, whose world is rocked when his baby sister is born hearing; and February, the headmistress, who is fighting to keep her school open and her marriage intact, but might not be able to do both at the same time. As a series of crises both personal and political threaten to unravel each of them, Charlie, Austin, and February find their lives inextricable from one another-and changed forever. This is a story of sign language and lip-reading, cochlear implants and civil rights, isolation and injustice, first love and loss, and, above all, great persistence, daring, and joy. Absorbing and assured, idiosyncratic and relatable, this is an unforgettable journey into the Deaf community and a universal celebration of human connection.

Piepzna-Samarasinha, Leah Lakshmi

In this collection of essays, Lambda Literary Award-winning writer and longtime activist and performance artist Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha explores the politics and realities of disability justice, a movement that centers the lives and leadership of sick and disabled queer, trans, Black, and brown people, with knowledge and gifts for all.

Spotswood, Stephen

A detective novel set in 1945, about two female private investigators trying to solve the locked-room murder of a society widow.

Tareq El Bechelany-Lynch, Eli

Poetry. Literary Nonfiction. Middle Eastern Studies. LGBTQIA Studies. Disability Studies. Bringing together poetry, essay, and letters to "lovers, friends and in-betweens," Eli Tareq Bechelany-Lynch confronts the ways capitalism, fatphobia, ableism, transness, and racializations affect people with chronic pain, illness, and disability. Knot Body explores what it means to discover the limits of your body, and contends with what those limitations bring up in the world we live in.

Taussig, Rebekah

From disability advocate with a PhD in disability studies and creative nonfiction, and creator of the Instagram account @ sitting pretty, an essay collection based on a lifetime of experiences in a paralyzed body, tackling themes of identity, accessibility, bodies, and representation.

Wong, Alice (editor)

A groundbreaking collection of first-person writing on the joys and challenges of the modern disability experience: 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. Now, just in time for the thirtieth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, activist Alice Wong brings together an urgent, galvanizing collection of personal essays by contemporary disabled writers.