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Books & Authors, Diverse Voices

Disability Independence Day 2023

July is Disability Pride Month, punctuated by July 26th, Disability Independence Day. In the spirit of celebration, choose a book that fosters understanding and amplifies representation from this mix of fiction, poetry, essay, and memoir.

Born extraordinary : empowering children with differences and disabilities by Meg Zucker
Born Extraordinary helps parents of children with differences and disabilities to relinquish their instinctive anxieties, embrace their new normal, and ultimately find joy in watching their children thrive. Often the subjects of unwanted attention-ranging from pitying stares to bullying-Zucker and her sons have learned to ignore what others think and live fearlessly. Also incorporating the stories of other families with visible and invisible differences of all kinds, Born Extraordinary gives parents the tools to meet their children's emotional needs while supporting the whole family unit. Parents learn how best to empower their children to confront others' assumptions, grow in confidence, and encourage dialogue-rather than silence, fear, and shame-around difference.

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
Emerging from a life-threatening illness, a fiercely organized but unfulfilled computer geek recruits a mysterious artist to help her establish meaning in her life, before finding herself engaged in reckless but thrilling activities.

Golem Girl: a memoir by Riva Lehrer
What do we sacrifice in the pursuit of normalcy? And what becomes possible when we embrace monstrosity? In 1958, Riva is one of the first children born with spina bifida to survive. Her parents and doctors are determined to 'fix' her, sending the message over and over again that she is broken. That she will never have a job, a romantic relationship, or an independent life. Enduring countless medical interventions, Riva tries her best to be a good girl and a good patient in the quest to be cured. Everything changes when, as an adult, Riva is invited to join a group of artists, writers, and performers who are building Disability Culture.

Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law by Haben Girma
Documents the story of the first deaf and blind graduate of Harvard Law School, tracing her refugee parents' harrowing experiences in the Eritrea-Ethiopian war and her development of innovations that enabled her remarkable achievements.

Sitting Pretty: The View From My Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body by Rebekah Taussig
From disability advocate with a PhD in disability studies and creative nonfiction, and creator of the Instagram account @ sitting pretty, an essay collection based on a lifetime of experiences in a paralyzed body, tackling themes of identity, accessibility, bodies, and representation.

Smile : the story of a face by Sarah Ruhl
In this poignant and deeply intimate memoir, Sarah Ruhl chronicles her experience with Bell's palsy after giving birth to twins. At night, I dreamed that I could smile. The smile felt effortless in my dreams, the way it did in my childhood. Happily married and in the flush of hard-earned professional success, with her first play opening on Broadway, Sarah Ruhl has just survived a high risk pregnancy and given birth to twins when she discovers the left side of her face entirely paralyzed. Bell's palsy. Ninety percent of Bell's palsy sufferers see spontaneous improvement and full recovery. Like Ruhl's mother. Like Angelina Jolie. But not like Sarah Ruhl. Sarah Ruhl is in the unlucky ten percent. Like Allen Ginsberg. But for a woman, a mother, a wife, and an artist working in the realm of theater, the paralysis and the disconnect between the interior and exterior, brings significant and specific challenges. So Ruhl begins an intense decade-long search for a cure, while simultaneously grappling with the reality of her new face-one that, while recognizably her own-is incapable of accurately communicating feelings or intentions. In a series of searing, witty, and lucid meditations, Ruhl chronicles her journey as a patient, mother, wife, and artist. She details the struggle of a body yearning to match its inner landscape, the pain post-partum depression, the joys and trials of marriage and being a playwright and a mother to three tiny children, and the desire for a resilient spiritual life in the face of difficulty. Brimming with insight, humility, and levity, SMILE is a triumph by one of the leading playwrights in America. It is about loss and reconciliation, perseverance and hope. The Hollywood pitch would be Joan Didion meets Ann Lamott with a little Nora Ephron for good measure.

Strangers Assume My Girlfriend Is My Nurse by Shane Burcaw
With his signature acerbic wit and hilarious voice, 20-something author, blogger, and entrepreneur Shane Burcaw is back with an essay collection about living a full life in a body that many people perceive as a tragedy. From anecdotes about first introductions where people patted him on the head instead of shaking his hand, to stories of passersby mistaking his able-bodied girlfriend for a nurse, Shane tackles awkward situations and assumptions with humor and grace.

The Future is Disabled : prophecies, love notes, and mourning songs by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
An essay collection that expands on Leah's bestselling book Care Work, centring and uplifting disability justice and care in the pandemic era. In The Future Is Disabled, Leah Laksmi Piepzna-Samarasinha asks some provocative questions: What if, in the near future, the majority of people will be disabled--and what if that's not a bad thing? And what if disability justice and disabled wisdom are crucial to creating a future in which it's possible to survive fascism, climate change, and pandemics and to bring about liberation? Building on the work of her game-changing book, Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice, Piepzna-Samarasinha writes about disability justice at the end of the world, documenting the many ways disabled people kept and are keeping each other--and the rest of the world--alive during Trump, fascism, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Other subjects include crip interdependence, care and mutual aid in real life, disabled community building, and disabled art practice as survival and joy. Written over the course of two years of disabled isolation during the pandemic, this is a book of love letters to other disabled QTBIPOC (and those concerned about disability justice, the care crisis, and surviving the apocalypse); honour songs for kin who are gone; recipes for survival; questions and real talk about care, organizing, disabled families, and kin networks and communities; and wild brown disabled femme joy in the face of death. With passion and power, The Future Is Disabled remembers our dead and insists on our future.

The Sign for Home by Blair Fell
Arlo Dilly is young, handsome and eager to meet the right girl. He also happens to be DeafBlind, a Jehovah's Witness, and under the strict guardianship of his controlling uncle. His chances of finding someone to love seem slim to none. And yet, it happened once before: many years ago, at a boarding school for the Deaf, Arlo met the love of his life-a mysterious girl with onyx eyes and beautifully expressive hands which told him the most amazing stories. But tragedy struck, and their love was lost forever. Or so Arlo thought. After years trying to heal his broken heart, Arlo is assigned a college writing assignment which unlocks buried memories of his past. Soon he wonders if the hearing people he was supposed to trust have been lying to him all along, and if his lost love might be found again. No longer willing to accept what others tell him, Arlo convinces a small band of misfit friends to set off on a journey to learn the truth. After all, who better to bring on this quest than his gay interpreter and wildly inappropriate Belgian best friend? Despite the many forces working against him, Arlo will stop at nothing to find the girl who got away and experience all of life's joyful possibilities.

True Biz : A Novel by Sara Novi?
This revelatory novel plunges readers into the halls of a residential school for the deaf, where they'll meet Charlie, a rebellious transfer student who's never met another deaf person before; Austin, the school's golden boy, whose world is rocked when his baby sister is born hearing; and February, the headmistress, who is fighting to keep her school open and her marriage intact, but might not be able to do both at the same time. As a series of personal and political crises threaten to unravel each of them, Charlie, Austin, and February find their lives inextricable from one another and forever changed.

What Doesn't Kill You: A Life With Chronic Illness: Lessons From a Body in Revolt by Tessa Miller
A riveting and candid account of a young journalist's awakening to a life of chronic illness, weaving together her personal story with reporting to shed light on how Americans live with long-term diagnoses today.

Yes & I Love You by Roni Loren
Everyone knows Miz Poppy, the vibrant reviewer whose commentary brightens the New Orleans nightlife. But no one knows Hollyn Tate, the real face behind the media star...or the fear that keeps her isolated. When her boss tells her she needs to add video to her blog or lose her job, she's forced to rely on an unexpected source to help her face her fears. When aspiring actor Jasper Deares finds out the shy woman who orders coffee every day is actually Miz Poppy, he realizes he has a golden opportunity to get the media attention his acting career needs. All he has to do is help Hollyn come out of her shell... and through their growing connection, finally find her voice.

 

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