16/11/2020

5 Books To Read By Disabled Authors #2

Gifted - I was kindly gifted a proof copy of 'Girl of the ashes' but I have not been paid and am under no obligation to post about it.

3 months ago I shared five books by disabled authors that I love and the reaction was incredible. It seems that I'm not the only one who was lacking disability representation on their bookshelf! I loved hearing about how many of you had added some of the books to your 'to be read' lists, and learning that so many of you had already read and loved many of the books in my post. So, I'm back with five more recommendations for you and I'm just as excited about these ones, there are some really gripping reads in there that I just couldn't put down.

5 books are stacked on top of eachother against a white background. Top to bottom they are: Girl of the ashes by Hayleigh Barclay, Break the mould by Sinead Burke, Haben the deafblind woman who conquered Harvard law, Sitting pretty by Rebekah Taussig and The Oracle code by Marieke Nijkamp and illustrated by Manuel Preitano.

Girl Of The Ashes by Hayleigh Barclay

Fantasy is definitely not my usual genre of book to go for but Hayleigh Barclay's debut novel might have just changed that for me! This is essentially a vampire book but it is so much more than that, the complex family secrets involved in this story had me hooked from the start, there are so many twists and turns! It was obvious from just the first chapter that this had been written by a disabled person as well, with the fight for disability rights being present in a timeline given by the main character, Elise. There is also a badass disabled vampire in this as well, she is complex and multi-faceted and I really fell in love with her! If you're a fantasy fan then this is a must read, and I hope that Elise's story will be continued beyond this first book as I'm dying to know what happens next. 

Break The Mould by Sinéad Burke

Moving on to an entirely different book and audience now, we have a recent release that is marketed more towards children, but I thoroughly enjoyed it as an adult! Sinéad Burke is a writer, activist, influencer and more, mostly known for her work in increasing representation and access to fashion for disabled people. She has achondroplasia and was the first little person to attend the Met Gala and be on the cover of Vogue. On the cover of her debut book it says 'how to take your place in the world' and I couldn't sum this book up any better myself, this is a guide on how to embrace your differences and be confident in your identity. It's the kind of book that as a disabled teenager I'd have benefitted from and it's a book I will read to my nephew as he gets older to teach him about differences and how to strike up conversations without being condescending. The lessons in it are simple and yet rarely taught by society to our children, if you've got a child or young teenager in your life then I couldn't think of anything better to pop in their Christmas stocking this year.

5 books are stacked on top of eachother against a white background. Top to bottom they are: Girl of the ashes by Hayleigh Barclay, Break the mould by Sinead Burke, Haben the deafblind woman who conquered Harvard law, Sitting pretty by Rebekah Taussig and The Oracle code by Marieke Nijkamp and illustrated by Manuel Preitano.

Haben | The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law by Haben Girma

I'll be honest, when I first saw the title of this book I feared it was another inspiration porn type memoir, but I trusted in every disabled person who recommended it to me and gave it a try and I couldn't be happier to say that I was so wrong! Haben Girma gives a masterclass in how to write a memoir as a disabled person without pandering to the identity of the 'inspiring disabled person'. I truly could not put this down as I learnt about Haben's upbringing and family, her experience at school and college, the endless barriers put in her way and the intelligence and creativity she had in working to remove them. I learnt so much about communicating when you're Deafblind, including things that as hearing and sighted people we can to do to facilitate that communication. The book ended in truly the most perfect way, with Haben meeting President Obama and our next president Joe Biden, but you'll have to read it for yourself to find out more about that!

Sitting Pretty by Rebekah Taussig

I've followed Rebekah on Instagram for a few years now, so when she announced that she was releasing a book I was over the moon and couldn't wait to get my hands on it! Rebekah is a writer, teacher and advocate and created the Instagram account @sitting_pretty to explore and write about what it means to be disabled, for her. Her debut book is an extension of that account exploring everything from love to kindness. I found myself being completely immersed in her story and using post it notes everywhere to note the areas in which I found myself nodding along. In the chapter 'An Ordinary Unimaginable Love Story' Rebekah talks about prioritising everyone else's comfort over her own and this realisation absolutely floored me because it's something I do everyday too. She talks about helping to make other people feel comfortable about disability, "helping them see us as human without making them feel threatened or shamed", and I don't think I've ever related to words more than that. Further on she talks about stepping out of line when not accepting help from strangers when it's not needed, again this idea that if we decline help then we've stepped outside of the role we're meant to be playing to make society comfortable. The way she talks about people thinking it's a compliment not to see a disability or wheelchair resonated so much as well. I basically spent the whole time reading this book nodding my head and clapping! For disabled people this book will give you so much validation and for non-disabled people, you will learn many important lessons. 

5 books are stacked on top of eachother against a white background. Top to bottom they are: Girl of the ashes by Hayleigh Barclay, Break the mould by Sinead Burke, Haben the deafblind woman who conquered Harvard law, Sitting pretty by Rebekah Taussig and The Oracle code by Marieke Nijkamp and illustrated by Manuel Preitano.

The Oracle Code by Marieke Nijkamp & illustrated by Manuel Preitano

For the the final book we have something really different, my first graphic novel! I was over the moon when I won this in a giveaway on Twitter, particularly as it's by Marieke Nijkamp, the same author who edited Unbroken that featured in the first post. This graphic novel follows Barbara Gordon after she becomes paralysed below the waist following a gunshot wound, she undergoes rehabilitation at the Arkham Center for Independence but soon finds that all is not as it seems. Disabled people are rarely the heroes in stories, we're far more likely to be the villain, so to read a story that centres young disabled people as the heroes was just incredible. Again, one of those books that really would have helped me as a teenager to see that a disability was not the end of my life. For ages I thought I wouldn't enjoy graphic novels but the illustrations in this are stunning and I really enjoyed it, and have actually gone on to read another one since! 

Like last time I really implore you to add at least one of these books to your TBR list, I know my bookshelf is a lot better off for having better disability representation on it! Words are powerful and can can change minds and opinions and teach us important lessons. I've linked the books in this post via Waterstones but I ask that where you can and are financially able you choose to buy via independent bookstores. 

2 comments:

  1. Great selection of books. I've just checked out Rebekah on Instagram and she looks so inspirational. I like the sound of these books and I will have to check them out.

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