Summer is here and so are all the book lists that help you decide which novel to take to the park, on vacation or to read on your spare time. But, if you’re looking for your next read to include a diverse storyline - starring characters who give a voice to people with disabilities or face discrimination - this is the list for you.
The novels in this list are available as ebooks or audiobooks for readers with physical impairments who rely on Tecla to flip through pages and for readers with visual impairments.
1. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Flowers for Algernon is a story about a man with intellectual disabilities who is the first person to receive the same scientific experiment that has made an extraordinary lab mouse, Algernon, famous. Charlie’s diary reveals how a brain operation increases his IQ and changes his life and surpasses the intelligence of the doctors and engineers who created the study. The experiment seems to be a scientific breakthrough - until Algernon begins his sudden, unexpected deterioration. Will the same happen to Charlie?
2. The Coffin Dancer by Jeffery Deaver
For our mystery lovers, The Coffin Dancer is not a typical novel portraying life with a disability. The psychological thriller combines spine-chilling forensic detail with a turbocharged plot and may not be for the faint of heart. The main character, Detective Lincoln Rhyme, was left paralyzed in a line-of-duty accident and is hell-bent on catching an infamous serial killer known as the Coffin Dancer for his elusiveness to capture. Bestselling novel with crime fighting protagonist representing the disability community? Count us in!
3. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Louisa Clark is a creative, talented and funny young woman who constantly underestimates herself and lives with her working-class family. Unambitious and with few qualifications, she takes a badly needed job working for ex-Master of the Universe, Will Traynor, who is left quadriplegic after an accident. Will has always lived a fast-paced and physically active life, but when he's sure his life cannot continue, Louisa sets out to prove him wrong. This heartbreaking romance novel asks the question: what do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?
4. Things Not Seen by Andrew Clements
Nothing about Bobby Phillips is out of the ordinary until the morning he wakes up and can't see himself in the mirror. He's neither blind nor dreaming, but is literally invisible to the world.
Without any solid answers to his condition, Bobby cannot go to school or see and is deemed a missing person. Then he meets Alicia. She's blind, and Bobby can't resist talking to her, trusting her. Bobby knows that his invisibility could have dangerous consequences for his family and that time is running out. He has to find out how to be seen again before it's too late.
5. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
One of the most popular young-adult novels of the 21st century, The Fault in Our Stars is the love story of Hazel and Augustus, two teenagers with terminal cancer who meet in Cancer Kid Support Group and immediately have a connection. Despite knowing she doesn't have much longer to live, Hazel dives head first into an adventure of love in this heartbreaking, yet witty novel that can be appreciated by all ages.Download the ebook or download the audiobook.
6. Still Alice by Lisa Genova
At 50 years old, Alice Howland a world-renowned expert in linguistics cognitive and a psychology professor at Harvard. She is married to a successful husband and has three grown children. However, when Alice becomes increasingly disoriented and forgetful, a tragic diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease changes her life, as well as the lives of her children who have a 50% chance of inheriting the disease, forever. Still Alice is a unique and vivid depiction of life and challenges that come with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
7. Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper
Melody may not be able walk or talk, but she has a photographic memory and can remember every detail of everything she has ever experienced. She is smarter than most of the adults who try to diagnose her and her classmates who dismiss her as unintelligent because she is unable to communicate her thoughts. Still, Melody refuses to be defined by cerebral palsy and she's determined to let everyone know it - somehow.Download the ebook or download the audiobook.
8. Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Auggie Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at a new school, and anyone who has been a new kid knows it can be a daunting reality. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary boy, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?
Wonder uplifting story that is accessible to all reading levels will have you laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. It has also been adapted into a motion picture starring Jacob Tremblay, Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson. Watch the official Wonder (2017) trailer here.
9. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, Ellen Forney (Illustrator)
Junior is an aspiring cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Native Reservation. Hydrocephalus and speech impediments cause Junior to be picked on mercilessly as the reservation outcast. Determined to pursue a future of success, Junior leaves his problem-plagued school to attend an all-white high school where the only other Indigenous is the school mascot. The novel is based on the author's own experiences and is enhanced with powerful drawings that reflect the Junior's art.
10. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby, Jeremy Leggatt
Jean-Dominique Bauby was a father of two and the editor-in-chief of French Elle known and loved for his wit, style and impassioned approach to life. By the end of 1995, he was also the victim of a rare kind of stroke to the brain stem. After 20 days in a coma, Bauby awoke to a body with only his left eye functioning, only having his blink to communicate. Almost miraculously, he was soon able to express himself in the richest detail: dictating a word at a time, blinking to select each letter as the alphabet was recited to him slowly, over and over again. In the same way, he was able eventually to compose this extraordinary book.
11. This is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel
Claude is 5-years-old, the youngest of five brothers, and loves peanut butter sandwiches. He also loves wearing a dress, and dreams of being a princess. When he grows up, Claude says, he wants to be a girl.
Rosie and Penn want Claude to be whoever Claude wants to be. They’re just not sure they’re ready to share that with the world. Soon the entire family is keeping Claude’s secret; until one day it explodes. This Is How It Always Is is a novel about revelations, transformations, fairy tales, and family.
If you or someone you know has an impairment that restricts the ability to turn the pages of a novel, learn more about how tecla-e can help.