On July 26, 1990, the president at the time, George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act which prohibited discrimination against people with disabilities. Since then, Disability Pride is celebrated around the country in the same month (July) every year. This is a time to challenge the discrimination and prejudices faced by people with disabilities, bring awareness to issues of lack of inclusivity, and highlight ways to make things more accessible for those who do not fit the norm of the able-bodied.
It’s also a time to understand that disabilities are not a negative facet of one’s life, but rather something that should be accepted and loved as a part of one’s life. While parades are held throughout the country to help instill a sense of pride in oneself regardless of their disability, another way to celebrate and recognize the lives of people with disabilities is to broaden your reading lists to include books with proper disability representation. So, during Disability Pride Month and beyond, here are some books to get you started on your journey to a more diverse TBR list.
1. Sick Kids in Love by Hannah Moskowitz
Sick Kids in Love by Hannah Moskowitz tells the story of Isabel and Sasha: two kids who’ve spent their lives in and out of hospitals. Isabel is firmly against any kind of relationship and when she meets Sasha in a hospital room, she stands firm in her self-imposed rule. But over the course of the book, she finds acceptance and a sense of camaraderie from someone who truly understands what it means to be sick. And when that friendship becomes more, she learns that some risks are worth taking and some rules are meant to be broken.
This is an adorable story that is lighthearted but also important. It realistically portrays what it means to be a person with an invisible illness, like Isabel with her rheumatoid arthritis and Sasha with Gaucher’s disease. It highlights the prejudices faced by people with chronic illness while also emphasising how every chronically ill person is not the same.
2. Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
After a near-death experience, Chloe Brown has found a new zeal for life and decides to make a “Get a Life” list to, well, help her get a life. But when she struggles with some of the items on her list, she finds help in the form of the bad boy superintendent of her new apartment building, Redford ‘Red’ Morgan. When the chronically ill computer geek and the secret artist come together, they slowly open themselves up to new opportunities that just might include a forever love.
Get a Life, Chloe Brown, brings together, Chloe, a bright woman who goes about life with the constant pain of her fibromyalgia, and Red, a man buried under the weight of his past, in a diverse, heartwarming story that’s fun and steamy, with cavity-inducing amounts of sweetness.
3. The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun
When Charlie Winshaw enters a reality dating show as a last-ditch effort to reinvent his public image, he has no idea what he’s getting into. He’s awkward, nervous, and can’t relax in front of the cameras. Enter producer and creator of fairy tales, Dev Deshpande, who makes it his goal to make the show work for Charlie. But in the process these two messy, dynamic characters fall head over heels for each other, throwing the whole show off the rails.
Featuring main characters who live with anxiety, OCD, and bouts of depression, The Charm Offensive is a book about discovering one’s sexual identity, the struggles of living with mental health issues, and accepting and loving oneself through all the ups and downs of being exactly who you are.
4. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Six of Crows, a story about six messy, chaotic teenagers and one impossible heist, is so much more than it’s advertised as. It’s a phenomenally written, action-packed adventure that features six young people who’ve been through so much in their short lives and have had to fight for their place in the harsh, dangerous world they live in.
With multiple perspectives and a plot that will keep you on your toes, this complex young adult fantasy duology is filled with magic, mayhem, and mishaps that will keep you hooked all the way through. This book has a diverse array of characters who tackle insurmountable odds every day while living with chronic pain, mental health issues, and a particularly significant crow-headed cane.
5. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
Stella Lane is a successful, accomplished woman who has mastered everything in life except for being in a relationship. She’s never quite figured out how to get into the physical intimacy of a relationship and being someone with Autism Spectrum Disorder has only made her more sensitive to the touch of another person. So, to help her learn the ins and outs of being in a sexual relationship, she decides to hire Michael Phan, an escort.
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang is a heartwarming story with a diverse cast of characters led by the main character with ASD and a mixed-race love interest. It’s sweet, steamy, and significant in its writing and plot, and it shines a spotlight on a lot of serious topics while remaining a romantic story about falling in love.
6. One For All by Lillie Lainoff
Constantly underestimated and put down because of her chronic illness, Tania de Batz wants nothing more than to be a strong Musketeer like her father. When her father is brutally murdered, she goes on to fulfill his final wish of going to finishing school, only to realize that the school is actually a secret training ground for female Musketeers. Along with her newfound sisterhood, Tania goes on a mysterious journey of family and love, that includes thwarting an assassination attempt and finding her father’s killer.
This authentically written story about a girl with POTS is a gender-bent retelling of The Three Musketeers, set in a patriarchal world where the odds are already stacked against women. One For All tackles these societal expectations, while also weaving a tale of strength, secrets, and sisterhood, with LGBTQIA+ and disability representation.
7. A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
All Harper wanted to do was save a stranger on the streets of Washington, DC. But soon she’s dragged into a parallel fairytale world, equipped with a cursed prince and a monster to slay. Constantly underestimated because of her cerebral palsy, Harper has learned to be strong and independent. She faces this new world with confidence and passion and soon realizes there’s more to the magical world of Emberfall than what meets the eye.
This modern-day retelling of Beauty and the Beast is an enchanting story with action, magic, love, and more. With a fierce female lead, an endearing prince, and a menacing villain, A Curse So Dark and Lonely is a wonderfully unique retelling of the classic fairytale.
8. The Bromance Book Club By Lyssa Kay Adams
When baseball player Gavin Scott’s wife, Thea, asks for a divorce, it throws him for a loop, especially when this request comes on the heels of another major admission from her. Desperate and down on his luck, Gavin is introduced to The Bromance Book Club, a book club filled with some of the most influential men in Nashville, where they read and analyze romance novels to better their own lives.
This novel tackles some of the most common stereotypes against romance novels and their readers while also being an ode to the genre. Using a steamy Regency romance as a guide, the members of the club help Gavin and Thea find their way back to one another, as they tackle their own personal insecurities, parenting struggles, and the dreams they lost along the way.
9. Knot My Type by Evie Mitchell
Sexologist, Dr. Frankie Kenton, runs a successful podcast about accessible intimacy. She breaks down barriers when it comes to helping her fans form fulfilling sexual connections, so when she’s asked a question about accessible rope play, she dives headfirst into finding the answers by trying it herself. Enter Jay Wood, rigger and carpenter who invites her to his class on rope play to check it out for herself. When this sassy, intelligent monogamist, and the kind, understanding serial dater, come together sparks fly and they both fall hard for each other.
Knot My Type is fun, spicy, and lighthearted with a female lead who happens to be a wheelchair user and a love interest who never sees her as just her disability but as the bright, brilliant woman that she is.
10. Only When It’s Us by Chloe Liese
When Willa Sutter sits next to Ryder Bergman in their Business Mathematics class, neither of them knows just how much their lives are going to change forever. But one wrong first impression leads to a spiral into frenemy mode which is only further pushed when they’re paired up on a project.
Only When It’s Us—an opposites attract, slow burn, sports romance—is a sweet but heartbreaking story of family, friendship and love that is sure to melt even the coldest of hearts. Willa and Ryder’s story is also the start of a series following the Bergman family; a series of books are not only swoon-worthy but also with solid disability representation in every one of them.