By Sarah Smith, Adult Services
This is an invitation to participate in Dubuque County Reads! This April, Carnegie-Stout is partnering with five other local libraries to offer eight different days to meet with others in Dubuque County and discuss “Sitting Pretty: The View From My Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body” by Rebekah Taussig. Copies of the eBook and eAudiobook are always available with your City of Dubuque library card through hoopla. Books are also available to borrow at participating libraries.
Learn more about Dubuque County Reads and the upcoming discussion dates here.
Taussig published her memoir in late 2020 about her experience growing up with a disability, how the world’s expectations of disability shaped her view of herself, and how she’s worked to redefine how she and others with disabilities fit in the world today.
According to the CDC, one in four Americans have some type of disability. Some disabilities are present throughout your life, some develop later in life, some disabilities are temporary conditions, and some disabilities aren’t visible to others. Every person’s experience with disability is unique, but for each of us, disability changes how we see and interact with the world around us.
Disability doesn’t define you, but it can limit the ways in which you interact with the world. The expectations that you or the people around you might have about what someone with a disability can or can’t do can be a heavy thing. In her memoir, Taussig shares how as a child she learned to feel shame about her own body, and began to question if it was possible for a woman in a wheelchair to experience romantic love.
Reading about Taussig’s story offered me a new perspective on my own experience as a person with a physical disability. Because my visual disability is inherited, I grew up surrounded by family who understood what I was experiencing and were able to give me the tools and support I needed to navigate the world a little differently from most people. Even so, as an adult, it has been much easier to not share this part of myself with most people, and some of that instinct is shame and some of it is fear.
In 1990 the American with Disabilities Act was passed into law. It sought to protect people with disabilities from discrimination and to improve the accessibility of daily life. Today it may feel like common sense that sidewalks have little ramps to allow someone in a wheelchair, using a walker, or pushing a stroller to more easily cross the street. But even with the improvements we’ve made as a society, there’s still work that we can all do to make life more welcoming to more people.
I hope that you will join me in reading “Sitting Pretty” for Dubuque County Reads and that you’ll attend one of the discussion events to share your thoughts and perhaps learn more about the experiences of others in your community. Reading is a wonderful way to build empathy and understanding, and having just a little bit more of it in the world would benefit us all.