Welcome to In The Club, a newsletter of resources to keep your book group well-met, well-read, and well-fed.
It’s hot and humid af, so I’ve been staying inside (mostly) reading, watching a little TV, and playing with my poorly behaved new kitten. One of my most recent reads has been a new horror anthology I mentioned in this week’s New Releases Tuesday post , which actually made me want to recommend some more books by disabled authors. The anthology, titled Other Terrors: An Inclusive Anthology, features authors from marginalized backgrounds writing around the theme of the other and what role it has played in horror. I’m still working my way through it, but I already highly recommend it (the Tananarive Due story still has me shookington).
This collection’s theme of questioning what we deem as the other goes so well with many of the books I’m mentioning today, and with that said, on to the club!
Nibbles and Sips
Keepin’ it light and simple today with this crisp and fresh cucumber salad. I love cucumbers, especially in the summer, and this recipe’s inclusion of miso paste and peanut oil give it a lil sumn extra, I think.
8 mini cucumbers
3 garlic cloves (minced into paste)
1 tbsp chilli flakes
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp miso paste
1 tbsp peanut oil
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
2 tbsp chilli oil
Make sure to watch the vid for a fancy cucumber slicing technique!
Now for books!
Disabled Takes on Beauty, Sex, and Belonging
Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability and Making Space by Amanda Leduc
I love how the this book presents fairy tales as our (the United States, that is) foundational myths, because they really are, but I never seem them presented as such. It’s an important thing to note when speaking of constructs and norms within our society. Leduc looks at how fairy tales have positioned disabled bodies as other, and influenced our views of disability in everyday life. She also reimagines these stories from a modern-day disablist perspective, tying disability activism to more modern, magical stories.
Book club bonus: It’s interesting to think of how villainy in fairy tales has often been identified by physicality. This kind of logic has helped to perpetuate the idea that people who are deemed “attractive” are inherently good. What real life implications do you think this has had?
Easy Beauty by Chloé Cooper Jones
Chloé Cooper Jones has all the things, all the flowers. She’s a Pulitzer Prize finalist, has received a Whiting Creative Nonfiction grant, and is a philosophy professor, and with this memoir, she sheds light on what it’s been like to live with a rare congenital condition. The condition, sacral agenesis, affects how she walks and stands, which has resulted in often being dismissed outright or pitied. It’s also the reason she’s had to make “pain calculations” when planning her days, and why she learned early on to retreat into the neutral area of academia. Things change when she has a child, though. The spaces, both physical and mental, that she often thought were off limits to her are ones she now wants to reclaim. And, by traveling to things like Beyonce concerts and gardens in Rome, she sets out to take up the space she’s due, questioning our views of beauty along the way.
Book club bonus: Here’s another examination of beauty being a determiner of value, and how that beauty itself is determined. It’s often not about ability or skill, but physical appearance. Meanwhile, beauty standards can literally change with the wind. We’ve seen, within just one country, how vastly different beauty standards can be. I’ve even witnessed a few beauty standard changes within my short 30 years in this country alone. Discuss why and how societies have placed so much importance on something so flimsy.
The Perseverance by Raymond Antrobus
Have to mention how Antrobus features a Ted Hughes poem titled “Deaf School” where he crosses out each line. Why? Because Hughes wrote things like “the deaf children were monkey nimble” and how they had “faces of little animals.” Antrobus actually won the 2018 Ted Hughes award (the irony) for poetry with this collection, in which he explores his identity as a d/Deaf person, a British Jamaican, and society’s failings where d/Deaf children are concerned.
Side note, but when I tried to look up the poem by Ted Hughes (Sylvia Plath’s husband for those unawares), I could only find stuff having to do with Antrobus, which was… interesting. The original poem is so gross to me, I can’t imagine how Hughes has a poetry award in his name, but here we are.
Book club bonus: I obviously feel some type of way about Hughes’ poem. Because he had the nerve to think those things, commit them to paper, and that it was accepted and he revered enough to have an award named after him. I think we should just sit and let it marinate how this view of disabled people was not only accepted, but celebrated in many ways (i.e. the award). How did this type of thinking manifest in their lives? What is its legacy?
The Pretty One: On Life, Pop Culture, Disability, and Other Reasons to Fall in Love with Me by Keah Brown
First thing’s first, sis’ title is a whole mood. It’s no surprise that Brown was the originator of the #DisabledAndCute viral hashtag, and I’m not mad. Here, she explores her experiences growing up Black with cerebral palsy. Despite her immense confidence now, she explains how that wasn’t always the case. The title, even, refers to how her identical, able-bodied twin was always referred to as “the pretty one” in relation to her. With this collection, she aims to do away with distorted, able-bodied stereotypes, and give a peek into her life by looking at things like her love of pop culture and her romantic entanglements.
Book club bonus: It blows my mind how Brown’s identical twin sister was labelled “the pretty one.” Like, how? When they’re identical?? Discuss how the mere label of things, specifically being labeled as disabled, can completely color people’s perceptions of others. How has this affected disabled people?
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
You’ve probably heard about this book in recent years, but if you haven’t read it, then you may not know that the main character, like the author, has Autism Spectrum Disorder. Stella is good with algorithms but not so much with romance. She decides to fix her lack of experience by hiring a professional, escort Michael Phan, to help her, um, practice (heh). Practice, they do, but they also realize that their previously strictly dickly (lol) arrangement is starting to feel so right in other ways.
Book club bonus: Discuss society/mainstream media’s portrayal of the sexuality of disabled people. How is it handed generally?
Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!
Y’all, TikTok now has a bookclub and the first book is… Persuasion by Jane Austen. I would have never guessed *insert Pikachu shocked face*
I hope this newsletter found you well, and as always, thanks for hanging out! If you have any comments or just want to connect, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or holla at me on Twitter @erica_eze_. You can also catch me talking more mess in the new In Reading Color newsletter as well as chattin’ with my new cohost Tirzah Price on the Hey YA podcast.
Until next week,