As someone with a chronic illness, reading sci-fi and fantasy books that feature characters with disabilities has had a huge impact on me. It’s valuable to see myself as a hero and not just a character on the sidelines who’s too “broken” to go on an adventure. I don’t exist to inspire other people, I’m not useless until I’m healed, and I don’t have to overcome my disability to be worth something. I want the fiction I read to embrace diversity and include characters who are learning to deal with their conditions—just like me.
Each of the books on this list includes a character who has chronic pain or a disability, who plays a significant role in the story. I appreciate how these characters all wrestle with their conditions and learn to value themselves—despite others telling them they’re useless.