January’s Reads – Why These Books?


Ring in the new year with one of the January 2014 #NSBCBC Reads!

I must be honest—putting together the January Read’s list was a struggle and it was a blend of these three issues/goals that made it so. First, I wanted to make sure we started the year out strong. Second, I wanted to select a variety of books that would encourage and enable more people to read. And third, there were just too many options! But with a lot of review reading, sifting through “best of” lists, and allowing my sheer curiosity about these books to take over, I was able to put together what I think is a great list to start the new year with. So without further ado, here are your January NSBCBC Reads!

1. “Cinnamon and Gunpowder” by Eli Brown (Fun fact: Everytime I type the name “Eli Brown” into Facebook, it autocorrects it to “Chris Brown,” which is driving me completely insane.)

This book originally captured my attention because of its beautiful cover. Yes, I know I have judged a book by its cover before, but that was a huge success in my opinion! (For those of you just starting, it was “The Night Circus,” and I loved every second of it.) The beautiful hues of blue and green, along with the flowing red hair of the female pirate wrapping her arm around the shoulders of the stern looking male chef—the whole image just evokes adventure and beauty. But this book isn’t all about its pretty looks. It also caught my attention because of its regular placement on many 2013 “best of” lists.

But even more so, what made me think this had to be on the list was the role reversal of the traditional gender stereotypes. A group of female pirates in the early 1800’s kidnap a renown male chef and spare him his life as long as he provides amazing food for the women? I’m in.

Lately I have been struggling with gender roles in our society. The constant bombardment of sexist images and words in media has made me feel that there isn’t enough respect for women in this country. Blame my new awareness and concern on a viral video by the women’s advocacy group, The Representation Project, (you can find their inspiring video here: http://www.upworthy.com/a-glimpse-at-how-the-media-treated-women-this-year-is-a-look-at-way-too-many-cringe-worthy-moments-aa3-5c-2?c=upw1), and because of the new Beyonce album. What can I say? She really gets me pumped about being a woman.

Either way, I wanted a story that showed strong and powerful women in charge, and so “Cinnamon and Gunpowder” made the cut.

2. “S.” by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst

I have always been a fan of the mysterious, and to be more specific, I have always been a fan of the mysterious worlds that J.J. Abrams has been able to create over the years. Lost, Cloverfield, Super 8—these are the stories that kept me up at night, as I tried to piece together what I just experienced. So when I saw that he had a hand in creating this book, (which has made its way onto almost every 2013 “best of” list I encountered) I knew it had to be a January Read.

This concept book, also authored by mystery writer Doug Dorst, illustrates the experience between a writer and his readers through the story itself, and the conversations written within the novel’s margins. As always with a J.J. Abrams work, I didn’t look too into it for fear of spoiling the experience, but I do think it’s worth checking out the trailer for the book here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/mpd/permalink/m134GPVMJP2P1G/ref=ent_fb_link.

3. “Fun Camp” by Gabe Durham

With winter starting to really hit its stride, I thought we could use a little sunshine in our reading list. Welcome “Fun Camp,” a collection of “monologues, speeches, soliloquies, sermons, letters, cards, and lists” that tells of the highs and lows of the summer camp experience.

I have always been fascinated by sleepaway summer camps. Although I never attended one myself, many of my friends did and as much as I wanted to hide my jealousy of their experiences, I couldn’t. As a child, I coveted their newfound freedom, nightly sleepovers, summer romances, and campfire storytelling sessions. I lived vicariously through movies like “Camp Nowhere” and shows like “Salute Your Shorts” because I knew that would be the closest thing I’d ever experience to summer camp. And even still, as a full grown adult (equipped with a home and all the freedom I can handle!) I must admit that whenever a show comes on about summer camp, I drop what I’m doing and get sucked in.

“Fun Camp” also made the list because it’s great for people with little time to read (this gem is less than 200 pages).

So that is the list! I hope you all enjoy these books as much as I enjoyed picking them out. Stay motivated in your reading and encourage your friends to join the Not So Book Club Book Club as well! Together we can create a community of readers and continue to grow as people by sharing these stories with each other. It’s truly a wonderful experience doing this for all of you.

Happy reading!


Your NSBCBC maestro,

Nina Sclafani


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