Welcome to my new guest post segment, Stories That Built Me. Each of these posts will be done by a guest (authors, booksellers, bloggers, and more?) who will talk about how different stories shaped them.
This post is from Amanda Quain, bookseller extraordinaire (who just got married…EEEEEEEE!) She’s gonna tell you about some well-loved friends.
I started this post approximately ten billion times. For real; I’ll show you the word docs. Each with a half-dozen sentences about this book or that show or this podcast, trying to find the Important one, the one that would show how well-read and learned I was.
Screw that. I spent my entire childhood reading the Baby-sitters Club books, and I’m not even a little ashamed.
The Baby-Sitters Club books are hard to describe. Or rather, they’re crazy easy to describe- four girls, and then later more girls and the ever-sensitive Logan, babysit neighborhood kids. Also, friendship. That’s the whole series, really.
And yet those books were a window to a word I always wanted- an endless supply of friends, of independence, of boys, of just about everything I thought was the best ever. I had far from an unfulfilled childhood- it was top-notch. But I grew up in Miami, which is a very different world than that of the Baby-sitters Club, and the world they lived in was one I never thought was even real.
It’s also- get ready- one of the reasons I get so angry when people dismiss books written for girls. I know, I know, I’m not the first one to say this, and I sure as hell hope I’m never the last, but these books were everything to me. If someone had dismissed them as silly, as books for girls who didn’t know better, as whatever misogynistic term is popular these days, I’d have been crushed. I found friendship in these books I didn’t have IRL- and I could make the same argument for Sweet Valley High, for the Thoroughbred series, for Mary-Kate and Ashley detective books… that these made more of an impact on me than the Odyssey ever did.
When my sister was diagnosed with diabetes, when she was six and I was nine, we turned to the Baby-sitter’s Club. When my best friend ditched me for another girl on Twin Day in middle school (long story), I turned to these books. I watched as Kristy was allowed to be bossy and Mary Anne was allowed to be shy but still got the guy, and Claudia could be artistic and… and all of them could be whoever they wanted to be.
So to the people out there who look down on contemp, or books for girls, or kid lit, or whatever it is you’ve decided to be snobbish about today… I’m not even listening. I’ve got a business to run, and since I’ve got my own phone line in my room and all the sweets I can hide (Claudia = goals), I think I’ll be okay without you.
Amanda Quain is a writer and bookseller based in Arlington, Virginia. When she’s not staging elaborate and ridiculous photoshoots for the One More Page Books twitter and instagram account or creating dumb puns about the YA books she’s working on, she can usually be found pointing out every dog she sees. Find her on twitter @quainiac for a lot of nonsense. Amanda is represented by Moe Ferrara at BookEnds Literary Agency.
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