As an individual with a learning disability and someone who personally connects with the struggles of mental illness, the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a day for celebration. It is a time in American history where progress was made and lives were changed. On July 26th, 1990, George H.W. Bush signed the ADA into legislation. The ADA assures that all people with disabilities will be granted the same opportunities and equal rights as any American citizen. The document protects people with disabilities from discrimination in public places, the work setting, and when it comes to services. According to ADA.gov, to be protected by the ADA, a person must have a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a history or record of such impairment, or is perceived by others to have such an impairment.
Without the ADA, our world would be drastically different. People with disabilities might shy away from society and be afraid to go out into the world, to be themselves. Not many people know about the ADA unless they are protected by it or study disabilities at a higher institution of learning. More people need to be aware of the ADA and the good that it does to protect people that ultimately contribute to the infrastructure of our society. By authors sharing their own experiences with the world, people who are unaware of disabilities and the ADA can be more cognizant of the dissimilar people and laws in our world. The only way our society can continue to evolve is through knowledge and what better way to do that than through the power of reading!
Here are five amazing books by stellar authors who share their own experiences of having a disability and navigating the world. These books will make you both laugh and cry. They will give you a higher understanding of what people in our society go through every day. If you are unsure how to celebrate this esteemed 30th anniversary of the ADA, there is no need to worry. Reading one of these books will suffice as you support the authors who were brave enough to share their personal stories about how their disability impacted their lives.
Firsts: Coming to Age Stories by People with Disabilities Edited by Belo Miguel Cipriani
Firsts: Coming to Age Stories by People with Disabilities is a collection of short stories by writers with disabilities. These short stories recount their first life experiences and how these experiences changed their life. These stories are raw and real, recounting going off to college, having sex for the first time, and falling in love with a disability. There are eleven stories total and each will leave you in a puddle of emotions. If you are looking for a quick but meaningful read, pick up Firsts: Coming to Age Stories by People with Disabilities. It might change your perspective on how first life experiences truly impact your life.
Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson
Jenny Lawson’s #1 New York Times Bestselling book, Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things, has been captivating audiences across the world. Lawson’s memoir tells her life story and how she suffers from mental illness. She talks about heavy subjects like her anxiety and depression, all while interweaving jokes into her account. The book truly is hilarious and helps soak up the dark topics that weep from her book’s pages. Lawson’s book is the one to pick up if you are looking to understand mental illness a little better. It portrays it accurately and gives you a clear understanding of anxiety and depression while you are laughing out loud.
Double Take: A Memoir by Kevin Connolly
Double Take: A Memoir encompasses Kevin Connolly’s story – that of a man born without legs. In his memoir, Connolly recounts growing up, getting his first pair of prosthetics and shoes, traveling around the world on his skateboard with his camera, and capturing people’s reactions. Double Take: A Memoir is a heartwarming story that is stirring and thought-provoking. It will allow you to perceive disabilities differently and open your eyes to a life that Connolly embraces every day.
About Us: Essays from the Disability Series of the New York Times by Peter Catapano and Rosemarie Garland–Thomson
Based on the New York Times series, About Us: Essays from the Disability Series of the New York Times is a collection of personal essays and reflections encompassing disability. About Us exemplifies the dark side of life with disability, the side the world sometimes does not get to see. The book’s writers help undo the stereotypes and misconceptions people with disabilities face and ultimately give people with disabilities a platform and a chance for their voices to be heard. Like Firsts: Coming to Age Stories by People with Disabilities, About Us offers readers a look at the experiences people with disabilities must overcome daily. The book is an honest portrayal of the disability world, and you will quickly understand while reading why this book has helped transmute the national dialogue around disability.
Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig
Anyone who has combatted depression like Matt Haig knows that sometimes it is hard to find reasons to stay alive. The international bestseller Reasons to Stay Alive encompasses Matt Haig’s life story battling depression and the tribulations he faced to pull himself out of bed every morning and live. Even though the title and story seem to be shrouded in shadows, Matt Haig’s novel is meant to inspire. It was written with the intent to show people how to live…that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Reasons to Stay Alive proves to readers that life is precious even, amid your struggles, you believe it not to be. It is meant to show people that there is always a reason to stay alive, you just have to reach deep into your belly and find it.