PBPlogoBeing comfortable is not a bad thing. Sofas, beds, sports bras. But this election has shown me that I’m too comfortable in my very blue bubble. Not enough exploring of perspectives vastly different from the ones clearly visible through the suburban New York window in my home office where I work each day in my very comfortable sweats.

As I considered my goals for 2017 (things like sell the third novel and write the fourth), I decided to challenge myself to explore points of view to which I’m otherwise not sufficiently exposed. How best to do that? I considered activism, volunteering, and travel, but eventually settled on the solution that while being the most comfortable is also the most realistic, achievable, and in my case, enjoyable: reading.

Simply, my goal is to read a wider variety of authors and subject matters in 2017. It’s not that I don’t already venture beyond the New Releases in Fiction table, but I could certainly venture further. Unfortunately, I read too slowly to make this more comprehensive, and my list may even be too ambitious as it is. There’s my own writing to do. And my kids need to eat and get places. And I often find myself like a moth to light when a word-of-mouth with a fetching cover comes out, so I have to leave time for those. While I realize this is just a start, it’s also just that, a start.

For structure, I’m mostly following the “monthly observance” calendar that we Americans use to schedule rallies and social media posts. I filled in my own topics for months that don’t have an official designation. (I’m like that.)

See below for my preliminary list. And, the more the merrier at this party, so please read and follow along throughout the year at my blog. Have better suggestions? Please tweet me @susieschnall or leave a comment.

[Methodology: I chose books that deal with the subject matter or are written by authors from that realm/region. I have read extensively in a few of these subject areas so some of the obvious selections might not be listed.]

JANUARY: Slavery and Human Trafficking


  • Stolen: The True Story of a Sex Trafficking Survivor by Katariina Rosenblatt
  • Girls Like Us: Fighting for a World Where Girls are Not for Sale: A Memoir by Rachel Lloyd
  • The Road of Lost Innocence: The Story of a Cambodian Heroine by Somaly Mam

~~Read my summary from January ~~

FEBRUARY: African-American/Black History and Awareness/Racism


  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • The Mothers by Brit Bennett
  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  • Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
  • The Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou

MARCH: Women’s History and Feminism


  • A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
  • We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
  • You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson
  • My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem
  • How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

APRIL: Muslim Heritage


  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
  • I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
  • Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
  • The Essential Rumi by Jalal al-Din Rumi

MAY: Asian Pacific Heritage


  • Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam by Andrew X. Pham
  • What Makes You Not a Buddhist by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse
  • Rashomon by Ryunosuke Akutagawa
  • The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang

JUNE: LGBTQ Awareness


  • The Laramie Project and The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later by Moises Kaufman
  • This Book is Gay by James Dawson
  • Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family by Amy Ellis Nutt

JULY: Working Class America


  • Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance
  • Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich
  • Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

AUGUST: Indian Heritage


  • Gandhi:  An Autobiography by Monhandas Karamchand Gandhi
  • The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
  • The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • Beyond the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo

SEPTEMBER: Hispanic-Latino Heritage


  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
  • The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
  • The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez
  • The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
  • In the Country We Love: My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero

OCTOBER: African Heritage


  • A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park
  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • One Day I Will Write About This Place: A Memoir by Binyavanga Wainaina
  • Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela by Nelson Mandela

NOVEMBER: American Indian Heritage


  • The Round House by Louse Erdrich
  • The Toughest Indian in the World by Sherman Alexie


*Leaving this open for books I didn’t get to

[Originally published on The Huffington Post.]

More from The Perspectives Book Project:

January: Human Trafficking
February: Black History Month
March: Women’s History Month