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‘Sitting Pretty: The View from My Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body’ chosen as 2024-25 Go Big Read book 

May 1, 2024 By Käri Knutson
A woman sits in a wheelchair in front of a mural.

Rebekah Taussig

Rebekah Taussig wasn’t alone, but she sure felt like it.  

Paralyzed since the age of 3, Taussig couldn’t help noticing that depictions of disability were limited to the monstrous Hunchback of Notre Dame, inspirational Helen Keller or angelic Forrest Gump.  

None came close to capturing her experience, nor did she expect them to.  

“I’d never considered disability an identity worth understanding, let alone worth celebrating, and I was pretty sure I was the only one who experienced this world from this seat on the margins,” she recalls.  

After a roommate’s suggestion, the Instagram account @sitting_pretty was born, giving Taussig a place to share what life was like for her — traveling, marriage, motherhood, work, going to the grocery store. It has grown to more than 63,000 followers, including actress Selma Blair, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2018.  

The response helped lead to “Sitting Pretty: The View from My Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body, the 2024-25 Go Big Read book.  

A combination memoir, essay collection and call to action, Taussig’s book invites readers to consider disability from a different perspective.  “Instead of disability as the limitation, what if a lack of imagination was the actual barrier?” she asks.  

“Inclusion isn’t better just because it’s kinder,” Taussig writes. “We should bring disabled perspectives to the center because these perspectives create a world that is more imaginative, more flexible, more sustainable, more dynamic and vibrant for everyone who lives in a body.” 

Taussig is a Kansas City writer and teacher with her doctorate in Creative Nonfiction and Disability Studies. She has led workshops and presentations at the University of Michigan, University of Kansas, and Davidson College on disability representation, identity, and community.

“This book is a wonderful opportunity for our community to engage in critical and timely dialogue around disability and accessibility,” says Chancellor Jennifer L. Mnookin. “Rebekah Taussig’s memoir in essays is a thoughtful and nuanced exploration, grounded in her own life experiences and raising important questions about disability, ableism and the narrative of ‘normal.’” 

“Rebekah writes in a way that is somehow both world-shakingly profound and beautifully intimate. Her voice is unforgettable in its power to make you feel, question, learn, and grow,” says Body Positive Power” bestselling author Megan Jayne Crabbe. “There aren’t words for how much the world needs this book.”  

Publishers Weekly describes it as “a pull-no-punches memoir about life in a wheelchair.” 

 “Taussig’s refreshing, matter-of-fact tone makes it clear that she’s not asking anyone to feel sorry for her; rather, she’s asking for just the opposite—to not be defined by her wheelchair,” it says. “Her smart and witty observations about living with disabilities will be enlightening and eye-opening for readers.” 

Kirkus Reviews calls it “a fierce and fabulous revision to entrenched ableist scripts.” 

“Taussig goes beyond empty inspirational jargon, forcing readers to consider the value of the real-world improvements that can emerge from centering underrepresented voices,” it says. “An engaging, up-close view of the need for structural change regarding disabilities in this country, the text is a solid combination of theory and personal experience.”  

Go Big Read events connected to the book are expected to include a visit from the author. Planning is underway for how students, faculty and staff will use the book in classrooms and for special events. Copies of the book will be given to first-year students at the Chancellor’s Convocation for New Students and to students using the book in their classes. UW–Madison instructors or event planners interested in using the book canrequest a print or e-review copy. 

The Go Big Read program is an initiative of the Office of the Chancellor. It engages members of the campus community and beyond in a shared, academically focused reading experience.