Baby-Sitter Club nostalgia

A tiny, little “barely-anything” in yesterday’s post left me nostalgic for…

…the Baby-Sitters Club books. 

Did you see that one coming?

The combination of the simplicity of the BSC world and the simplicity of my world at the time that I first read them keeps a place in my heart for the series, and even the cheesiest VHS renditions.

I don’t remember paying much attention to the quality of the writing as a kid, but for books to be as engrossing as these were– particularly the “super mysteries” (which I loved!)– Ann M. Martin must have been doing something well.

You may not share my appreciation of the BSC, but I’m sure you have your own childhood book nostalgia.

What are some of your fave childhood/YA books?

(If you have kids, have they read them and loved them, too?)

P.S. There was a Baby-Sitter’s Club Mystery Board Game. Check out the original commercial for the game! Did anyone out there play it? Along with “Mystery Date” (check) and “Mall Madness” (check, check)?


The most mysterious mystery

Happy October, folks!Bird pumpkin in birdbath

Here’s a mystery and a tragedy to start off the season of spookiness.

…or, as I like to think of it, the month of ambiguous decorations– “Can I make a Jack-O-Lantern soap holder count for autumn and Thanksgiving, too? Is my neglected landscaping finally acceptable as a spooky-house decoration? And, we’re back… a mystery and a tragedy.  Prepare yourself. This may be traumatic. Unless you’re an expert on Charles Dickens, in which case, read on for a good chuckle… and thank your English professors, your favorite Charles Dickens blog, or whatever it is that has preserved you from experiencing the repercussions of the mistake I made last month.

During a perusal of a few shelves at the library, I stumbled onto a pleasant surprise– a book that seemed to combine a beloved genre and a beloved writer. How had I managed to avoid the knowledge that Dickens wrote a mystery? I’m  no Dickens expert– clearly– but I didn’t think I was so oblivious as this discovery suggested.

I took a class on Dickens in college.

I took a Dickens-themed tour of London.

Yet, never had I heard of his forray into the world of straight-up murder mystery. That’s Poe’s realm, isn’t it? And Agatha Christie’s? And, of course, the Hardy Boys, and– you know you want to judge me– the Babysitter Club Mystery Series.

The sad, tragic point is this: I began reading The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens, with no clue [ha, ha, get it? clue?] that Mr. Dickens died of a stroke in June, 1870, exactly half-way through writing the book. Summary: After reeling you in for twenty-two chapters of mysterious motives, a missing (murdered?) character, and several other “loose ends,” nothing gets solved.I was on page 220 when I made this discovery through a careless glance at the synopsis on the back cover of the book. The paragraph began with something along the lines of,

“The most mysterious thing about the Mystery of Edwin Drood, is what happens in the 22 chapters Dickens didn’t write, sucker!”

After recovering my heartbeat… I kept reading the book. I sustained myself with the hopeful idea that the missing half of the book wasn’t really necessary for the story. I mean, I could confidently speculate on who did it and how he did it… what else is there? Um… plenty. My speculations could be wrong. That’s half the fun of mysteries.

And, this is Dickens, after all.

In fact, Chapter 18 (four chapters shy of the middle– which turned out to be the end) brings in a brand stinkin’ new character (although theories suggest that this is actually one of the other characters in disguise!).

All this is to say, if you crave resolution and are already slightly prone to getting caught up in the crazy in your own head, grab A Tale of Two Cities. You may cringe or cry, but you’ll put the book down with a sense of closure, and most likely be able to move on with your life.

But, if you’re up for a challenge, and can easily separate “real life” from “novel life,” you might be able to handle 22 chapters of engrossing Dickens-style spookiness, with no sigh of resolution at the “end”.

Just prepare your loved ones for the inevitable Chapter 22 “What? For real!? That’s It?” rant.

Happy October!

*First image is from Second image from, cover design by Robert Mathias, cover illustration Hereford Cathedral, Floodlit at Night (1994) by Huw S. Parsons.

Lost Book: If found, please read

You know that frustration when you’re looking around your house for a certain book, and instead you find a million other books you’d like to read, or re-read, but never the actual book that sent you on the great book search? It drives me crazy– but I’d miss it if it ever stopped happening.

A related frustration is embarrassingly discovering you’re not the exquisite house-cleaner you thought yourself to be as your hands unsettle dust-bunnies right and left.

I realize this may not apply beyond my little house o’ dreams, and some of you in the Internet cosmos may actually keep your books organized– Dewey-style, even?– and thus never spend precious minutes searching shelves, dressers, car trunks, and under the bed for missing tomes. So, graciously, I’ll let you live vicariously through the fruit of my frustration.

Below is the list of books that drew me in with either the compulsion to re-read them or to experience them for the first time. My favorite thing about a “found-while-looking-for-something-else” booklist is the miscellany of it.

  • Surprised by Joy, by C. S. Lewis
  • From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E. L. Konigsburg (a re-read)
  • Sacred Marriage, by Gary Thomas (we were assigned to read it in our pre-marital counseling class, but, full disclaimer: I didn’t finish it. The chapters that I read blew my mind when I was still single, so I’m anxious about the post-wedding effect.)
  • Cosmicomics, by Italo Calvino (a re-read– I skimmed through his book If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler last night at B&N. So, of course, when I picked up this one to look beneath it in a dresser drawer, I didn’t return it to the drawer.)
  • The Knowledge of the Holy, by A. W. Tozer
  • Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte (a re-read… if we can really count my rushed approach to high-school required reading as a first-read)

Most of these books can be found on or, or alphabetized by author’s last name, labeled by genre, on your impeccable bookshelves.

And at the library.

Or the used-book store down the street, unless it recently changed names and owners and you’re too nostalgic and intimidated by change to cross its threshold.

You know, unless that’s the case.

By the way, the book that launched this post is G. K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy. I’m still on the search for my copy. (I think it still has a pencil marking my place from when I set it aside for something work-related a year or two ago. I also think it might actually be frozen in time somewhere.) If you or someone you know has information regarding its whereabouts, please call the lost-book hotline. I promise the information you share will not be held against you– unless you borrowed it and lost it in the trunk of your car.

How do you organize your books? Do you hang onto them or keep a cycle at your local used-book store– or have you converted to Kindle, Nook, etc…?

[Check out more (and maybe less random) booklists at Reccomended Reading: Booklists from the New York Public Library, National Endowment for the Arts “Summertime Favorites“, TIME Magazine’s Best English-Language Novels (starting in 1923), Christianity Today’s Books and Culture webpage.]