I’m Encouraged by the Interest in Disability Stories at My Local Library
I rarely have opportunities to talk about disability narratives while working as an assistant for my local public library system. Typically, when I talk books with patrons, we discuss the latest bestsellers, young adult fantasy series, or author gossip. However, with the support of my co-workers at my local library branch, we spent Disability Pride Month highlighting books that feature disability stories.
While the opportunity to represent and leverage my identity as someone with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) was fulfilling, both personally and professionally, seeing people fascinated by these stories will have the greatest lasting impact on me.
For one, I got to witness firsthand how the interest in disability narratives is growing much faster than I would’ve thought possible. But beyond what I learned about patrons’ reading interests and personal stories, the interactions also taught me something about myself.
Even if I don’t love to admit it, for much of my life, I’d always assumed most people wouldn’t be too interested in the stories I saw myself in — or worse, that they’d use my vulnerabilities against me. So instinctually, I don’t usually enjoy sharing too much of myself, and I often find attention overwhelming.
But my recent conversations with library patrons helped me realize that people can have appetites and interests that don’t stem from a self-serving need for gratification or inspiration. Many readers — and nonreaders — seek opportunities to learn and practice empathy.
I don’t think any of us, able-bodied or not, can fully experience feelings of recognition and understanding if we aren’t willing to share more about ourselves. And others can’t learn about us if we’re too afraid to teach. Sharing our stories allows us to participate in an exchange of love and support. And, of course, books are a great way to foster this practice.
This was an important reminder for me. It gives me hope for a more empathetic and equitable future.
I’m increasingly finding that most people are excited to see more diverse stories. Despite my tendency toward cynicism, there’s an interest in stories from underrepresented groups, including the disability community — even if they don’t always top bestseller lists. Perhaps libraries and bookstores can do better at marketing these stories.
If you’re interested in reading books with disability narratives, luckily, we’re in a rather dynamic time. There are many books out there, as well as resources to help you find your next read. Your local library or bookstore likely has quite a few disability stories for you to explore.
Note: Charcot-Marie-Tooth News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Charcot-Marie-Tooth News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Charcot-Marie-Tooth.