Illness & Disability Memoirs and Essays

This is a work in progress. Please suggest books I might add!
Andrea Avery, Sonata: A Memoir of Pain and the Piano
Amy Berkowitz, Tender Points
Anatole Broyard, Intoxicated by My Illness and Other Writings on Life and Death
Mary Felsteiner, Out of Joint: A Private and Public Story of Arthritis
Lucy Grealy, Autobiography of a Face
Susan Griffin, What Her Body Thought
Jessica Handler, Invisible Sisters
Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air (doctor, terminal cancer)
Stephen Kuusisto, Planet of the Blind
Thomas Larson, The Sanctuary of Illness (heart disease, genetic component)
Jane Lazarre, Wet Earth and Dreams: A Narrative of Grief and Recovery (breast cancer)
Joselin Linder, The Family Gene (rare genetic disease)
Ulla-Carin Lindquist, Rowing Without Oars
Audre Lorde, The Cancer Journals
Nancy Mairs, Waist-High in the World: A Life Among the Non-Disabled
Sarah Manguso, The Two Kinds of Decay
Harriet McBryde Johnson, Too Late to Die Young
Abby Norman, Ask Me About My Uterus: A Quest to Make Doctors Believe in Women’s Pain
Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Dirty River: A Queer Femme of Color Dreaming Her Way Home
Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha. Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice.
Porochista Khakpour, Sick (about addiction and Lyme)
Lucia Perillo. I’ve Heard the Vultures Singing: Field Notes on Poetry, Illness, and Nature. 
Emily Rapp, Poster Child and The Still Point of the Turning World
Lisa Roney, Sweet Invisible Body
Bonnie J. Rough, Carrier (intergenerational health issues)
Elizabeth Scarboro, My Foreign Cities (cystic fibrosis)
Peggy Shumaker, Just Breathe Normally
Floyd Skloot, In the Shadow of Memory
Jeneva Burroughs Stone, Monster
Esmé Weijun Wang, The Collected Schizophrenias. Essays on living with mental illness.

Memoirs by Healthcare Providers

Atul Gawande
Henry Marsh, Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death, and Brain Surgery


Bellevue Literary Review: A Journal of Humanity and Human Experience
Breath and Shadow: A Journal of Disability Culture and Literature
Deaf Poets Society: An Online Journal of Disability Literature and Art
Hospital Drive: The Literature and Humanities Review of the UVA School of Medicine
: A Journal of Narrative Medicine
Kaleidoscope (first magazine to explore disability through lens of literature and art, founded 1979)
Rogue Agent Journal: A Journal for Work that Inhabits the Body
Wordgathering: A Journal of Disability Poetry and Literature


LitMed: Literature Arts Medicine Database (NYU)
Literature & Medicine (training for healthcare providers)

Essays (there are so many great ones–here are a few I’ve encountered recently!)

Sara Greenslit, “Start Anywhere,” Bending Genre
Heather Kirn Lanier, pretty much anything she writes, on parenting a child with special needs
Esmé Weijun Wang, Jillian Weise, and Keah Brown in conversation with Alex Lu: “What Does it Mean to Be a Disabled Writer?” Electric Lit, May 8, 2018.
Rachel Hoge, “The Careful Craft of the Disability Essay,” Brevity, Jan. 24, 2018


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