Looking to get into reading this year? When choosing what to read, consider the many benefits of reading diverse authors.
For starters, reading is a way to broaden our perspectives and live the stories of people different from ourselves. This creates empathy and the ability to connect to others in the real world around us! If we branch out and read stories written by authors of a variety of backgrounds, our empathy and ability to connect becomes more inclusive.
It is also a way of putting your money where your mouth is! Whether you buy a book or borrow from the library, authors are getting the income and recognition they’ve worked so hard for! As in any field, it’s important that people of marginalized groups are getting that boost, and unfortunately it can be tougher to get those opportunities when not part of the “mainstream.” Publishers and distributors look to the data of what we read to decide who to promote in the future.
And finally, if you have felt marginalized yourself, or experienced challenges that those around you don’t understand, it is so validating to read stories like yours, told by authors who get it! Representation matters!
We are hoping to read more books this year written by authors living with illness and disability! These communities are an often overlooked demographic, especially given the number of us whose challenges are invisible. Reading these stories reinforces the nuanced experiences that only someone who has lived it can describe.
If you want to join us, here are 5 books to get started:
1. The Labyrinth’s Archivist by Day Al-Mohamed
Written by a disability policy expert (and current advisor to the federal government!), this sci-fi novel is the epitome of intersectionality! The blind, queer protagonist of color, Azalea, is daughter to the Head Archivist in an ableist planet. No one believes she can carry on the family legacy, until “it falls to her to save them all.”
2. The Pretty One by Keah Brown
Keah Brown is the creator of the viral #DisabledAndCute campaign. Her collection of essays discuss what she’s learned through life with Cerebral Palsy, and express finally rejecting normalcy to make way for self-love.
3. Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens edited by Marieke Nijkamp
These fictional stories involve a diverse cast of intersectional characters and authors. Each of the characters express a different perspective of living with disabilities, and forge unique relationships as they navigate complex adolescent lives.
4. Resistance and Hope: Essays by Disabled People, edited by Alice Wong
Alice Wong is a disability rights activist and creator of the Disability Visibility Project. The essays include 17 writers using humor and vulnerability to share their experiences with disability in our world today.
5. Cyborg Detective by Jillian Weise
This collection of poems investigates the trend of appropriation of nondisabled writers telling stories of disability. Weise challenges the problematic interpretations of worthiness and sexual attraction. She uses humor and satire to break down ableism and express pride.