8 Memoirs Written by People Living with a Disability

8 Memoirs Written by People Living with a Disability

While great strides have been made for equality over the last several decades, things are far from perfect. In 2010, the US Census reported that 19% of Americans lived with some sort of disability. The official definition of disability in the United States includes any mental or physical impairment that limits one or more major activity. This can include everything from anxiety disorders and depression to multiple sclerosis and epilepsy.

Even in our modern society that, for the most part, tries to embrace all kinds of diversity, disabled people can still feel marginalized. One way we as a culture can overcome that sort of marginalization is through literature, especially memoirs.

Here are 8 books written by people that are living with a disability.

Laughing at My Nightmare and Strangers Assume My Girlfriend is My Nurse by Shane Burcaw

Shane Burcaw is actually the inspiration for this post. Back when I still used Tumblr, I followed Shane Burcaw and read Laughing at My Nightmare as soon as it came out. Shane has spinal muscular atrophy and his experience with the disease is the focus of both books. Despite the difficulties he has to deal with, he has such a wonderful sense of humor and maintains a level of positivity that is inspiring. Shane and his girlfriend Hannah have a great Youtube channel that you should check out called Squirmy and Grubs.

There’s a Boy in Here: Emerging from the Bonds of Autism by Judy Barron and Sean Barron


There are a lot of books about autism out there, but this one is written in a unique way. It’s told from both the perspective of a child with autism and his mother. While we often hear about autism from the outside, if you’re really interested in what it’s like living with autism, this is a great book to pick up.

The Story of My Life by Helen Keller


This autobiography by Helen Keller is near the top of my TBR list right now. I can’t even begin to imagine the difficulties of being born with both blindness and deafness. Keller overcame her disability and thrived, and is truly an inspiration.

Elegy for a Disease: A Personal and Cultural History of Polio by Anne Finger


With advancements in science in the mid- to late-1900s, polio has become a disease of the past in developed countries. Reading memoirs such as Anne Finger’s is still important, however, in order to remember how the disease worked and how people lived with it.

My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor


There are two medical conditions that terrify me over all others: strokes and aneurysms. Dr. Taylor had a stroke at the age of 37 and lived to write about the experience. Due to Dr. Taylor being a Harvard-educated brain scientist, she has some unique insights into the experience. Thankfully she made a full recovery.

A Different Life: Growing Up Learning Disabled and Other Adventures by Quinn Bradlee


Quinn Bradlee was born with Velo-Cardio-Facial Syndrome (VCFS) which manifests in a range of physical and learning disabilities. Bradlee discusses his life with a great sense of humor and insight.

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan


This novel is part memoir and part medical mystery. Susannah Cahalan woke up strapped in a hospital bed at the age of 24 after experiencing psychosis, but the doctors weren’t sure why.

Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness by William Styron


While William Styron is best known for his acclaimed literary fiction, in this memoir he writes about his depression and suicidal tendencies. For those of us (myself included) living with long-term and severe depression, we’ll probably recognize many of the symptoms that Styron discusses. However, this memoir would also be a good choice for people who want some insight into how people with depression and mental illness feel.

Do you know of any memoirs that I left out? Let me know in the comments.

A Look at the 35 Over 35 List

For the past five years, the 35 Over 35 list has been examing books written by debut authors 35 years old or older. The collection includes books that are both fiction and non-fiction.

I love that they highlight authors who published in their mid-thirties or beyond. The creators originally started the list as a response to the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 list.

Here are my top five picks from their list, followed by the full list:

The Optimistic Decade by Heather Abel


Taking place during the Reagan era, this book takes place in a utopian summer camp and examines idealism and the impact it can have on someone’s life.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Goodbye, Sweet Girl: A Story of Domestic Violence and Survival by Kelly Sundberg


This is a memoir where the author examines a loving relationship that afterwards becomes abusive. It’s important to understand how a relationship that started off fine can then become a nightmare for one of the people involved.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

Look Big: And Other Tips for Surviving Animal Encounters of All Kinds by Rachel Levin


I’m throwing this one in my top five because I spent a decade living in the Appalachian Mountains and much of that time on trails. I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I saw people try to approach wild animals for photos or to attempt to feed them. I even saw one woman get out of her car to approach a black bear. If you’re going to be spending any time in the woods without an experienced guide, please read this book and others like it!

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

Summer Cannibals by Melanie Hobson


Set in a mansion on the shores of Lake Ontario, this story follows three sisters facing an imminent tragedy alongside their troublesome pasts.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Thrift Books

Self-Portrait with Boy by Rachel Lyon


Rachel Lyon’s debut was longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. It’s about a young photographer who accidentally shoots a boy falling to his death. She’s struggling to make ends meet, and such a photo could improve her career, but the boy in the photo is her neighbor’s son. She starts to wonder if it would be ethical to use the photos to advance her career.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

Here’s the full list:

  1. The Optimistic Decade by Heather Abel
  2. First Comes Marriage: My Not-So-Typical American Love Story by Huda Al-Marashi
  3. The Deeper the Water the Uglier the Fish by Katya Apekina
  4. White Dancing Elephants by Chaya Bhuvaneswawr
  5. Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs
  6. A Dirty Word: How a Sex Writer Reclaimed Her Sexuality by Steph Auteri
  7. The Shame of Losing by Sarah Cannon
  8. Kickdown by Rebecca Clarren
  9. Designer You by Sarahlyn Bruck
  10. The Summer List by Amy Mason Doan
  11. Nothing Good Can Come From This: Essays by Kristi Coulter
  12. Bone Willows by James Engelhardt
  13. Lands of Lost Borders by Kate Harris
  14. Summer Cannibals by Melanie Hobson
  15. An Untidy Life: What I Saw at the Media Revolution by Les Hinton
  16. Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee
  17. Look Big: And Other Tips for Surviving Animal Encounters of All Kinds by Rachel Levin
  18. The Good News About Bad Behavior: Why Kids are Less Disciplined Than Ever – And What to Do About It by Katherine Reynolds Lewis
  19. Amongst the Liberal Elite: The Road Trip Exploring Societal Inequities Solidified by Trump by Elly Lonon and Joan Reilly
  20. Self-Portrait with Boy by Rachel Lyon
  21. One Water by Rob McCue
  22. Big Windows by Lauren Mosely
  23. No Ashes in the Fire by Darnell L. Moore
  24. Burning Down the Haus by Tim Mohr
  25. Letters from a Young Father by Edoardo Ponti
  26. Forbidden by Faith by Negeen Papehn
  27. The Shortest Way Home by Miriam Parker
  28. California Calling: A Self-Interrogation by Natalie Singer
  29. There Are No Dead Here: A Story of Murder and Denial in Colombia by Maria McFarland Sanchez-Moreno
  30. Love War Stories by Ivelisse Rodriguez
  31. Revolutionary Threads by Bobby Sullivan
  32. Goodbye, Sweet Girl by Kelly Sundberg
  33. The Wild Birds by Emily Strelow
  34. Tigerbelle by Wyomia Tyus with Elizabeth Terzakis
  35. Everything You Love Will Burn: Inside the Rebirth of White Nationalism in America by Vegas Tenold


My Book Bucket List

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

There are a lot of books that have been on my To-Be-Read list for years, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to actually reading them yet. In most cases, my procrastination in getting around to them is due to size or the number of books in the series, or just the sheer density of the novel. 

I thought it would be fun to talk about some of these books, so here’s my book bucket list!

The Game of Thrones Series by George R. R. Martin

I adore the Game of Thrones television series, and I’ve wanted to read the books ever since I finished the first season. However, each book is absolutely massiveA Song of Fire and Ice, the first book in the series, is a whopping 848 pages. The third book, A Storm of Swords is, according to Goodreads, 1178 pages. That’s some intimidating stuff right there. Another reason I haven’t read any of these yet is that I’m waiting for George R. R. Martin to finish the series, but since that is a long time coming, I might just jump into it. 

Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Thrift Books | Books-a-Million

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski


Despite owning a copy of this book for years, I still haven’t finished it. A few years ago I made it about a fifth of the way through before giving up. It feels like more of an art project than a traditional novel. The pages are out of order, it’s written in a variety of different styles, and it’s simply difficult to read. I’m determined to get through it though, and I’m planning on attempting it again in 2019. 

Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Books-a-Million | ThriftBooks

Dune by Frank Herbert


The fact that I love science fiction and fantasy but haven’t read this book yet makes me feel deeply ashamed of myself. I tried to read it back when I was probably too young for it – I believe I was in middle school at the time. I put it down after the first 20 pages or so and haven’t picked it up again. From everything I’ve heard about it, I have a very strong suspicion that I will adore it, I just need to push myself to actually read it. 

Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | ThriftBooks

Moby Dick by Herman Melville


I always assumed I’d have to read this book in school at some point, but I never did. At 720 pages, it’s a huge book. I feel as though this is one of those classics that everyone needs to read at least once, I just need to make the time to do so. 

Buy: Amazon | Barnes & NobleThriftBooks

The Silmarillion by J. R. R. Tolkien


If I’m being honest, I’m not entirely sure why I haven’t read The Silmarillion yet. The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are a couple of my favorite books of all time. I own a copy of The Silmarillion that I inherited from my mother. I literally have no excuse to not have read it yet, but here we are. I’ve been wanting to do a massive re-read of all of Tolkien’s books so that might be a good time to read this one. 

Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | ThriftBooks | Books-a-Million

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy


This is the type of book that might be on the Book Bucket List of most people. It’s a long novel at 803 pages and was originally published in 1877. It seems like even for a fast reader like myself it might end up taking quite a bit of time to read it.  

Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | ThriftBooks

The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas


The seventh and final book in this series was just released earlier this month, and I’ve heard nothing but praise surrounding this series. I love young adult fantasy, but it’s always a little intimidating starting a new, long series. I’ll get around to this one eventually though!

Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | ThriftBooks

Journey to the West by Wu Cheng’en

This is one of the four Chinese classics and is the most prevalent of the four in popular culture. The premise sounds really interesting and I would have loved to tackle it for November’s #readtheworldchina challenge. Since I’m already reading Outlaws of the Marshhowever, there’s no way I would have been able to finish both in one month. 

Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | ThriftBooks | Books-a-Million

Beowolf by Unknown


Unlike most of the other books on this list, this one is incredibly short, at only 213 pages. I never read it in school like most people I know did, which is disappointing. My boyfriend adores this story, and I would love to give it a shot. 

Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | ThriftBooks

The Mistborn Series by Brandon Sanderson


Although the Mistborn series is the one highest on my list of Brandon Sanderson books I want to read, this could easily just be any series of his. Sanderson is an incredibly prolific writer and well-known for his fantasy series. It’s a daunting task, however, since there are so many books to read. 

Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | ThriftBooks

There are a plethora of other books I could have added to this list, mainly classic novels that I haven’t read yet, but these are the top ten that I would like to tackle before I die. 

What books are on your Book Bucket List? Have you read any of the books above? Let me know in the comments!

5 Books to Read on Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Every year, more and more people are choosing to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day rather than Columbus Day, and it’s about damn time. Here are five books that celebrate Native American culture:

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Amazon | Goodreads

In this young adult novel, Junior spends his time on the reservation dreaming of becoming a cartoonist. The story follows him as he leaves the school on his reservation for a high school where he’s the only Native American student.

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

Amazon | Goodreads

This novel takes place on the Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota. When a terrible crime occurs, a young boy on the verge on manhood seeks justice and understanding. This book is very highly rated, and I can’t wait to read it.

Crazy Brave: A Memoir by Joy Harjo

Amazon | Goodreads

Joy Harjo is a poet, and this memoir details the inspirations for her work, rooted in Native American culture. In it, she discusses growing up with an abusive step-father, along with the strong ties to her heritage and her spirituality.

I Am Woman: A Native Perspective on Sociology and Feminism by Lee Maracle

Amazon | Goodreads

In this non-fiction book, Lee Maracle examines feminism and spirituality within her Native American culture.

Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko

Amazon | Goodreads

Tayo was captured by the Japanese during World War II. He struggles with feelings of alienation and estrangement, even after returning home to the Laguna Pueblo reservation. This classic novel is a must-read for people interested in a fictional look at life on reservations and in experiencing Native American culture.

Anything missing from this list? Add your favorites down below. There’s also an amazing resource from the First Nations Development Institute where you can search their book recommendations for every genre!

5 Books for International Day of Peace 2018

Non-violence is not a garment to be put on and off at will. Its seat is in the heart, and it must be an inseparable part of our being. Mahatma GandhiRead more at_ https_www.brainyq

Today is the United Nations’ International Day of Peace, “a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.” To celebrate, here are five books that promote peace and non-violence in our world.

What are your favorite books on peace and non-violence?