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Waist-High in the World: A Life Among the Nondisabled

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  258 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
In a blend of intimate memoir and passionate advocacy, Nancy Mairs takes on the subject woven through all her writing: disability and its effect on life, work, and spirit.
Paperback, 224 pages
Published December 22nd 1997 by Beacon Press (first published April 7th 1997)
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Apr 10, 2014 Laura rated it it was amazing
I have read this book 3 times, the first two about 10 years ago, either right before or right after I graduated from college. The first time I read it, it was a library copy, and I couldn't mark it up the way I was dying to, so I dog-earred pages and used slips of paper as bookmarks to share passages with others.

Then, I bought my own copy and was liberal with the yellow highlighter. This time around, I used an ink pen, to differentiate between my different readings. And, somewhat surprisingly, I
Elise Gennrich
Apr 06, 2011 Elise Gennrich rated it liked it
Mairs, Nancy. “Waist High in the World: A Life among the Nondisabled.”
Massachusetts: Beacon Press Books, 1996

Nancy Mair’s writing contains a very sad but still optimistic tone to it in her poignant memoir, “Waist High in the World: A Life among the Nondisabled.” She uses many bits of unconventional and witty humor to keep the tone of the story as light as possible, even though it is describing her experiences with multiple sclerosis, or as she refers to it, MS. In some ways, using this tone hel
Sep 03, 2015 Heather rated it it was amazing
Shelves: disabilities, ill, memoir
Written in a pleasing combination of poetic and scholarly language, this memoir was a delight to read. Mairs writes, that "This is not, however, a 'feel-good' book...I suppose you might call this instead a 'feel-real' book..." (18). Love it. Evidently "feel-real" books are just my kind.

Mairs addresses topics from sex to morality to travel as a woman with progressively advancing MS. Her musings are personal but also thoughtful in all of the best meanings of the word. One of the things that I love
Feb 16, 2011 Aimee rated it really liked it
Nancy Mairs, Goodreads

In this memoir by Nancy Mairs we are given an in depth view of what it means to be labeled as "crippled". Mairs takes us along on her journey, from her life before her diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, the strange and difficult journey she took in finding a diagnosis for her disease, and how she views herself now, wheel-chair bound. This is not just an exploration of how Mairs now fits into society, but even more one on how she accepts herself and how she works with the dis
Aug 30, 2013 Bonnie rated it it was amazing
Only two days into reading this book, I already knew I'd read it again. Probably immediately after finishing it. Several times a chapter there's a section I want to go write down for myself.

Strongly recommended to anyone who uses mobility aids, or faces the prospect of using them, or loves someone who does. In fact, strongly recommended, period.

A friend told me for weeks that I needed to read Nancy Mairs, until I finally went to the library and got the book they had on the shelf. I'll be getting
Jul 04, 2011 Meggan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
Superb writer. Glorious message. Wonderful person. A must-read for everyone, since the "Nondisabled" will be disabled at some point in their lives. Wisdom abounds on every page. I especially enjoyed her skewering of American attitudes toward "cripples" and America's resentment toward social welfare. Every critic of "entitlement" programs should be forced to reckon with Nancy's fury in this scathing passage:

"Look at me. Do you think being like this is worth the paltry goodies society hands out? D
Oct 28, 2013 Stephanie rated it really liked it
I read this book many years ago for my book group..What Im left with is the memory of the author's ability to slip the reader under her skin...One literally feels you are experiencing her joys and sorrows of being living with a physical disability in a lookist world obsessed with appearances...She notes the awkwardness of behaviors of the abled bodied upon her condition with good graces and humor..I found myself thinking this was such an important book for us "nondisableds" to read because it ...more
Dec 12, 2008 Del rated it really liked it
This book was given to me when I started suffering from symptoms that are very similar to MS. (I do not yet have a diagnosis.) The author writes a lot like I do; honestly, openly, unabashedly about her experience of having a full, beautiful life that isn't centered around her ability. She uses the word "nondisabled" to talk about those with less health challenges, because she feels that being disabled is such a blessing that those who do not share it are lesser, not the other way around.

I highl
Feb 15, 2011 Peggy rated it liked it
A good autobiographical book about Nancy Mairs who is dealing with MS. This is a very personal story, but yet Nancy Mairs never feels sorry for herself. She's always looking forward and being positive about her experiences.That doesn't Ms. Mairs doesn't honestly tell how difficult it is to be disabled and the barriers she has had to overcome. She has a great support group and she values the importance of that group.

This book gave me pause and made me appreciate the life I have. It also made me r
Jan 12, 2014 Lavonne rated it really liked it
Although this book was written in the late 90's, Nancy Mairs experience with Multiple Sclerosis and how it has changed who she is and how she navigates the world is timeless. I would like to think that through technology and updates to the ADA that the world has become more physically accessible for her and other folks who see the world at belly button level. Nancy is quick witted, direct, and articulate. I appreciated this book and will look for more books from her. She was diagnosed with MS at ...more
Feb 27, 2016 Tiffany rated it it was amazing
I loved this! There were a couple little places where I wasn't altogether sure I was bright enough to get what she was saying, but most of this book saw me struggling to refrain from pounding my fist on the table with conviction. People look at you strangely when you do that in public. I got a new way of looking at offers of help, too. I don't know that it'll change how I react to what I see as the more inane ones, but it has given me something to consider.
Garden Girl
Oct 22, 2014 Garden Girl rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction
This was a selection of one of my book clubs. It's written by a woman with MS and relates through a series of essays her experiences in the world. She now lives in a wheelchair and has lost the use of her legs and one hand and arm. Though there is some self-pity the author is very pragmatic and helps the reader understand what life as a disabled person entails. I found the issues provocative and am glad for the opportunity to see her life through her eyes.
Lisa Vegan
Sep 04, 2007 Lisa Vegan rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: those who enjoy autobiographical essays, those interested in ms
Plaintext is my favorite of her autobiographical essay books, but they’re all superb, and this book is probably my second favorite after Plaintext. Nancy Mairs writes incredibly skillfully (she’s a gifted writer), and with complete honesty and a wonderful sense of humor. These linked essays are about her life, especially her ms and her depression. This book, about very serious subjects, is a pleasure to read. Very accessible. Highly recommended.
Aug 01, 2008 Jacqueline rated it really liked it
While I was reading this to preview it for my new diversity class, I found it to be a thought-provoking memoir. The book discusses stereotyping of people with disabilities. The author has MS, and she discusses her transition into the world of disability. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to better understand the complexity inherent in the lives of people with disabilities and wants to move beyond stereotyping.
Izetta Autumn
Aug 06, 2007 Izetta Autumn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
This is a fantastic book and a great example of how to use essays in the memoir form. Mairs writes elegantly, incisively, and honestly. She stands firmly in her experience - as a womyn, as a womyn with a disability, as a writer. When people say some books change their lives - this was one of those for me.
Aug 30, 2008 Michelle rated it it was amazing
I love how Nancy Mairs writes it just pulls me in and I found it hard to put this book down. She has a way of writing that made feel is if I was in the same room with her listening to a familiar friend. This book also helped me to see things from her perspective, of having multiple sclerosis and the limitations and the life changes she has had to go through. It was educational.
Aug 22, 2011 Kate rated it it was amazing
If you or someone you know is newly disabled, then this is a really great collection of essays. It should help sort through not only the real issues people with physical disabilities face, but some of the emotional ones as well.
Ashley Fox
Jul 26, 2015 Ashley Fox rated it really liked it
Nancy Mairs deserves to be understood. Her personal journey with MS certainly unlocks a door to a world most "nondisabled" would like to shut out. Open up and you will discover how Mairs' MS does not define her- rather she defines and redefines herself to fit into the shut out world she lives in.
John Jolly
Nov 26, 2007 John Jolly rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in learning about disabilities
Shelves: thoughtful
I got this book after reading Hockenberry's book, recommended by Amazon. Nancy Mairs's book is somewhat of an instruction book, somewhat of an insight book into disabilities, especially movement disorders. This book, like Hockeberry's, gave me a great perspective of a disabled world.
I like how Nancy Mairs has both a serious as well as a witty attitude in this book.
Some chapters I enjoyed reading more than others.
Some very interesting debates going on, especially the one about abortion and euthanasia.
Drusilla de Veer
Mar 26, 2007 Drusilla de Veer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
another amazing book that will forever make me think about what i have, what i don't have, and the endless possibilities of recognition of oneself. when i met nancy i felt that i was meeting someone larger than life itself, someone who was far advanced in soul searching and had a lesson to teach.
Dec 09, 2009 Michaela rated it really liked it
I am grateful this author was willing to share her very personal experience of what it is like to live with a disability, in particular MS and to require the use use of wheelchair. It popped the bubbles of some common misconceptions and for that alone is worth the read.
May 12, 2008 Leslie rated it it was amazing
Just started this this evening - and am more than 1/2 way through.
My last boyfriend needed a wheelchair to ambulate, so I can understand some of her discussion - at least from the point of view of a sensitive non-disabled person.
She makes some very good points in this book of essays.
Feb 23, 2013 Dulcy rated it liked it
This book was read for school.

I liked the book, but it didn't really make me feel anything or have a major revelation. Sometimes the language was a little too high-brow and I needed to look up terms. I don't regret reading it, but not my favorite book either.

William Freeman
Jun 27, 2014 William Freeman rated it really liked it
Found this a well written book with lots of thought provoking moments the highs and lows from the heart. Do read if you get the chance
Jun 19, 2007 Nicole rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All
This book will seriously alter your opinion on how society accomodates (or fails to accomodate) those with physical disabilities.
Reed rated it it was amazing
Aug 13, 2008
Esther Bradley-detally
Esther Bradley-detally rated it it was amazing
Dec 26, 2009
Autumn rated it liked it
Jan 04, 2010
Becca rated it it was amazing
Jun 10, 2010
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Nancy Mairs is an author who writes about diverse topics, including spirituality, women's issues and her experiences living with multiple sclerosis. She received an AB from Wheaton College, and an MFA in writing and a Ph.D. from the University of Arizona.

She was diagnosed with MS when she was 28, and has written several essays on her experiences as a self-described "cripple", including "On Being a
More about Nancy Mairs...

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