Books·Posted on Oct 27, 202215 Chronic Illness And Disability Memoirs That Just Might Change The Way You See The WorldYou won't be able to put these down.by Ashley HolstromBuzzFeed ContributorFacebookPinterestTwitterMailLink Chronic illness and disability take many forms, both physical and mental. These memoirs, about schizophrenia, endometriosis, cerebral palsy, and more shed light on what it's like to live in an able-bodied world that wasn't built with you in mind. 1. The Invisible Kingdom: Reimagining Chronic Illness by Meghan O'Rourke Riverhead Books Drawing on her own experiences, as well as a decade of interviews with doctors, patients, researchers, and other medical experts, Meghan O’Rourke has investigated the mystery of invisible, chronic illnesses like autoimmune diseases and long COVID. The biggest problem with many invisible illnesses, she writes, is that they’re hard to define and even harder to treat if you don’t have mounds of cash to drop on medical bills. The Invisible Kingdom drives to answer the questions of how we got here, who is most likely to be neglected (women and people of color, mostly), and what we can do to better understand our bodies and our health. Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. 2. The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays by Esmé Weijun Wang Graywolf Press Esmé Weijun Wang has penned an absolutely extraordinary collection of essays about schizophrenia. She goes deep into her own experiences with the illness — with varying diagnoses over the years — as well as into the history of mental health and psychiatry and the chaos of the DSM. The Collected Schizophrenias is a stunning, vulnerable look at a chronic mental illness that evades simple labels. Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. 3. The Pretty One: On Life, Pop Culture, Disability, and Other Reasons to Fall in Love With Me by Keah Brown Atria Books Keah Brown was born with cerebral palsy and has chosen to live her life according to her own rules. The Pretty One is her delightful collection of essays about being Black and disabled in the world. Her able-bodied twin was called “the pretty one” growing up, which Keah has reclaimed here. The essays are about so much more than disability — they’re about romance and pop culture and learning to celebrate yourself, too. Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. 4. Pain Woman Takes Your Keys, and Other Essays from a Nervous System by Sonya Huber University of Nebraska Press Pain is a strange thing for science to measure. What does the one-to-ten rating really mean? How does one person’s ranking compare to another’s, and how can you tell? Sonya Huber considers those questions and more in Pain Woman Takes Your Keys, and Other Essays from a Nervous System. It’s a memoir, but also a lyrical musing on what pain is in general and how we all share some form of it. Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. 5. Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-first Century edited by Alice Wong Vintage Disability activist Alice Wong brings together a powerhouse of writers in Disability Visibility, an essay collection about living in an ableist society. The book is divided into four sections — Being, Becoming, Doing, and Connecting — and each essay brings a new experience and viewpoint to the narrative, from being deaf in prison to fighting with public transit. This is mandatory reading for everyone as we try to make the world a better place for all. Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. 6. Sitting Pretty: The View from My Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body by Rebekah Taussig HarperOne Disability advocate, Rebekah Taussig, grew up as a paralyzed girl seeing disability depicted as anything but her own lived experience. It wasn’t all monstrous Hunchback of Notre Dame and inspirational Helen Keller. It was just…normal. Sitting Pretty, a collection of essays, is a reflection on her life, her thoughts about charity, and her call for more voices to tell their stories. Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. 7. Dancing After TEN by Vivian Chong, illustrated by Georgia Webber Fantagraphics Books A rare skin disease, Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis, took away Vivian Chong’s sight. She had a severe allergic reaction to ibuprofen, was in a coma for two months, and scar tissue eventually blinded her. As her eyesight waned, she scribbled her experience as fast as she could, then teamed up with cartoonist Georgia Webber — who has a graphic memoir about her own disability, Dumb — to put this story, and how gracefully Chong deals with the tragedy, out into the world. Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. 8. The Tiger and the Cage: A Memoir of a Body in Crisis by Emma Bolden Soft Skull It’s no secret that misogyny exists in Western medicine. Remember hysteria? It’s the term that was placed upon women who *checks notes* expressed emotion or voiced pain. Sounds like being human to me. Emma Bolden examines the history of that mistreatment alongside her experiences with endometriosis and not being believed by doctors in The Tiger and the Cage. Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. 9. What My Bones Know: A Memoir of Healing from Complex Trauma by Stephanie Foo Ballantine Books Despite the outward appearance of living her best life, Stephanie Foo spent her mornings having panic attacks and sobbing at her desk. She was diagnosed with complex PTSD, which is a form of post-traumatic stress disorder with continual trauma occurring. It makes sense; she grew up in a home of abuse and neglect and was abandoned as a teen. What My Bones Know is the moving story of Foo’s journey toward healing from generational trauma.Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. 10. Easy Beauty by Chloé Cooper Jones Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster Chloé Cooper Jones was born with sacral agenesis, a rare congenital condition that affects her stature and gait. She’s endured the regular physical pain, but also the emotional pain of being looked at and pitied wherever she goes. When she finds herself on the road to motherhood, she decides to take advantage of the world she’d denied herself for years. Easy Beauty is the stunningly written story of her journey, from a Beyoncé convert in Milan to a tennis tournament in California and beyond, with insightful takes on desirability and beauty along the way. Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. 11. Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot Counterpoint LLC Terese Marie Mailhot’s memoir, Heart Berries, will take your breath away. Hospitalized and suddenly diagnosed with PTSD and bipolar II, she begins to write the story of her dysfunctional life. She grew up on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation in the Pacific Northwest, the daughter of a social worker mother and an abusive father. The work is a haunting narrative of memory and the ways that your brain fills in the gaps to make sense of traumatic stories. Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. 12. A Face for Picasso: Coming of Age with Crouzon Syndrome by Ariel Henley Farrar, Straus and Giroux Sisters Ariel and Zan were the first known twins to survive a diagnosis of Crouzon syndrome at only eight months old. The condition is a rare one in which the bones in the head fuse prematurely. They went through countless procedures growing up, having the bones in their heads and faces broken to make space for their growing organs inside. Of course, this causes physical pain, but the real toll was emotional. Ariel Henley writes openly about beauty and resilience in A Face for Picasso, a moving memoir for young adults. Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm. 13. What Doesn't Kill You: A Life with Chronic Illness—Lessons from a Body in Revolt by Tessa Miller Holt McDougal Tessa Miller writes candidly about her horrible experiences with gastrointestinal diseases and infections. She's had more than one fecal transplant — where a healthy person's poop is placed in the patient's intestines with the hope that the new poop's bacteria will overpower the patient's natural bacteria. What Doesn't Kill You is a moving look at a life with chronic illness, and also what it means when much of the world is ill, too. Get it from Bookshop. 14. Poor Little Sick Girls by Ione Gamble Dialogue Books Poor Little Sick Girls is the book for all of us who find ourselves chronically online. Ione Gamble was diagnosed with an incurable illness two weeks after her 19th birthday, turning her vision of adulthood away from chaotic fun and more toward going to the hospital and barfing in public places. Her work takes on the gross ideas of the "girlboss" and self-care and how it’s all bullshit to those of us who don’t have the privilege of an able body. Get it from Amazon. 15. Sick: A Memoir by Porochista Khakpour Harper Perennial Full recovery is a myth. Porochista Khakpour can prove it. She lived with undiagnosed late-stage Lyme disease for years — after numerous drug addictions, hospitalizations, and endless agony. Sick is her powerful story, where she refuses to avoid the ugly topics of chronic illness. Much of her life was spent in anxiety and uncertainty as she clamored for any reason for her mysterious illnesses. Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm.