The 7 Best Books Written by Authors with Disabilities

A woman reading books

Sometimes, there are just certain things about life as a person with a disability that can be difficult to capture if you haven’t lived it yourself. That’s why, while there are able-bodied people who can do extensive research and write characters with disabilities, sometimes we want to seek out work that was written from first-hand experience.

Here are our personal favorite books written by writers with disabilities. Disability is one part of many people, but disability does not define anyone’s entire selfhood. So, many of the items on this list are books about disabilities, but some are about unrelated topics, and they only mention disability as one part of the whole.


Our Top Pick: The Country of the Blind by Andrew Leland

Screenshot 2024-02-05 152417Last year, when the New York Times Book Review completed their "round-ups" and "end of the year reviews," multiple reviewers could not stop talking about The Country of the Blind by Andrew Leland. 

Andrew Leland was born with sight, but he is slowly losing his eyesight and will eventually become completely blind. Knowing this, he writes this memoir, but he combines it with a historical and cultural examination of sight and what it means to exist in the world with a disability. 

The humor, insightfulness, and revelatory nature of this book led us to point to it as our top pick for must-read books by authors with disabilities.

Best Book About General Disability Rights: Disability Visibility by Alice Wong

Disability Visibility is a collection of stories, interviews, sermons, and more, written by and about people with disabilities. Many people call this novel a “must-read” for learning more about how people with disabilities experience the world.

Alice Wong is an incredibly accomplished writer and activist. She is best known for founding the Disability Visibility Project. She was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy as a child and has dedicated her life to helping other disabled people like her.

For Children and Tweens/ Graphic Novel: El Deafo by Cece Bell

El Deafo is a fantastic, autobiographical graphic novel, recommended for children ages 7-10. The graphic novel follows the life of Cece, and her experience at school using hearing aids. 

Memoir: Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy

As a child, Lucy Grealy battled (and defeated) potentially terminal cancer. But as a result of her fight, she had to have a third of her jaw removed. Her book, Autobiography of a Face, uses beautifully written prose to document her life struggling with a desire to be loved as she is and a seemingly contradictory desire to be perfect.

Modern Novel: True Biz by Sara Nović

If you are a fiction lover, check out True Biz by Sara Nović, the story of the people attending and living at a School for the Deaf. We loved this book and its heartfelt style that shows how to political and the personal become particularly intertwined when disabilities are involved. 

Classic Novel: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

In this heartbreaking novel (that is vaguely autobiographical), Sylvia Plath tells the story of a promising young woman who seemingly has all the potential in the world but who is secretly unraveling due to intense mental health struggles. 

Sylvia Plath had major depressive disorder, and she used her personal experiences to enrich the world of her main character. 

A Memoir of an Activist: Being Heumann by Judith Heumann and Kristen Joiner

Judith Heumann has not only been praised for her work as an activist, but also for her irreverent, funny, and powerful writing style. In this book, she talks about her lifelong fight for respect and acceptance after being paralyzed from polio at just 18 months old. Because Judith has been so influential, her autobiography is also a record of recent history in the disability rights world.

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