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A wooden figure of a person with a fishtail is reading a book inquisitively. There is a pile of books and a blue and green dreamy background. 

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A wooden figure of a person with a fishtail is reading a book inquisitively. There is a pile of books and a blue and green dreamy background. 

The D*List book club: Our favourite disabled authors

A list of books by local and international disabled authors curated by The D*List community. 

  • The D*List book club: Our favourite disabled authors
    The D*List
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  • After covering the launch of Wellington author Henrietta Bollinger’s new book Articulations earlier this month, we asked The D*List community to share their favourite books by disabled authors. So we thought we'd compile a list of the recommended books and their promotional blurbs below for an unofficial D*List book club!

    Places That I've Taken My Body by Molly McCully Brown

    In seventeen intimate essays, poet Molly McCully Brown explores living within and beyond the limits of a body ― in her case, one shaped since birth by cerebral palsy, a permanent and often painful movement disorder. In spite of ― indeed, in response to ― physical constraints, Brown leads a peripatetic life: the essays comprise a vivid travelogue set throughout the United States and Europe, ranging from the rural American South of her childhood to the cobblestoned streets of Bologna, Italy.

    Laughing at my Nightmare by Shane Burcaw

    With acerbic wit and a hilarious voice, Shane Burcaw's Laughing at My Nightmare describes the challenges he faces as a twenty-one-year-old with spinal muscular atrophy. From awkward handshakes to having a girlfriend and everything in between, Shane handles his situation with humour and a "you-only-live-once" perspective on life. While he does talk about everyday issues that are relatable to teens, he also offers an eye-opening perspective on what it is like to have a life threatening disease.

    Care Work by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

    Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha explores the politics and realities of disability justice, a movement that centres the lives and leadership of sick and disabled queer, trans, Black, and brown people, with knowledge and gifts for all. Leah writes passionately and personally about creating spaces by and for sick and disabled queer people of colour, and creative "collective access" - access not as a chore but as a collective responsibility and pleasure - in our communities and political movements.

    In my chair or yours? by Juliana Carvalho

    At 19, a mysterious illness put Juliana Carvalho in a wheelchair. Her autobiographical account, In my chair or yours? draws humour and hopes from difficult situations—without hiding the moments of despair and desire to give up. Her story exposes the mixture of tragedy and comedy that characterise our lives. Juliana weaves vignettes of her life before and after her spinal cord injury, contrasting two realities.

    Year of the Tiger by Alice Wong

    In Chinese culture, the tiger is deeply revered for its confidence, passion, ambition, and ferocity. That same fighting spirit resides in Alice Wong. Drawing on a collection of original essays, previously published work, conversations, graphics, photos, commissioned art by disabled and Asian American artists, and more, Alice uses her unique talent to share an impressionistic scrapbook of her life as an Asian American disabled activist, community organiser, media maker, and dreamer.

    Eavesdropping by Stephen Kuusisto

    Blind since birth, Stephen Kuusisto recounts with a poet's sense of detail the surprise that comes when we are actively listening to our surroundings. There is an art to eavesdropping. Kuusisto's memoir highlights periods of childhood when a writer first becomes aware of his curiosity and imagination. Whether the reader is interested in disability, American poetry, music, travel, or the art of eavesdropping, he or she will find much to hear and even "see" in this unique celebration of a hearing life.

    Here we are, read us: Women, disability and writing by Tusiata Avia, Steff Green, Helen Vivienne Fletcher, Charlotte Simmonds, Michele Leggott, Trish Harris, Te Awhina Arahanga and Robyn Hunt.

    Eight writers from throughout New Zealand with lived experience of disability. That experience has an impact. It takes root, pushes its way into consciousness and into words on the page. In this pocket book you get to meet them through their unique symbol, the genres they write in and their take on the intersection between writing and disability. When the voice of disabled writers is strong, their words, our words, can transform worlds. Those voices are often missing from mainstream New Zealand writing and we want to change that.

    Activism, Feminism, Politics and Parliament by Margaret Wilson

    Margaret Wilson has always lived a political life. From her days as a child growing up in the Waikato in a Catholic family attuned to fairness, an unlikely law student in the 1960s in a class with a few other women, and an emerging socialist feminist who read radical texts and attended women's conventions, her key concerns became cemented early: the rights of women and equality for all under the law. This is the story of one of New Zealand's most eminent political actors.

    I am Autistic by Chanelle Moriah

    When Chanelle Moriah was diagnosed with autism at 21, life finally began to make sense. Hungry for information, Chanelle looked for a simple resource that could explain what autism is and how it can impact the different areas of an autistic person's life, but found that there was little written from the perspective of someone who is autistic. So Chanelle decided to create that missing resource. I Am Autistic is a tool for both diagnosed and undiagnosed autistics to explain or make sense of their experiences. It also offers non-autistic people the chance to learn more about autism from someone who is autistic.

    Laziness Does Not Exist by Devon Price

    Like many Americans, Dr Devon Price believed that productivity was the best way to measure self-worth. Price was an overachiever from the start, graduating from both college and graduate school early, but that success came at a cost. After Price was diagnosed with a severe case of anemia and heart complications from overexertion, they were forced to examine the darker side of all this productivity. Laziness Does Not Exist explores the psychological underpinnings of the “laziness lie.” Using in-depth research, Price explains that people today do far more work than nearly any other humans in history yet most of us often still feel we are not doing enough.

    Are there any other books we could add to this list? Send us an email to kiaora@thedlist.co.nz

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