Posted in Books I Loved in Middle/High School, Reading, Sweet Valley Confidential

Books I Loved in Middle/High School, Part 2

My Big Sweet Valley News!

Since I started this series just last week, I have some exciting news to announce! I was contacted by the PR team for Sweet Valley Confidential, the re-launch of the Sweet Valley franchise, to see if I’d be interested in reviewing the brand new The Sweet Life novella ebooks coming out this summer. Since I’d been meaning to check out the re-launch for some time now, in a sort of nod to my childhood self, this is the perfect excuse to see what the Wakefield twins are up to now that we’re all about 30. Wow. I feel like I won some sweepstakes I didn’t know I even entered! Who knew nostalgic posts about books I loved as a kid could prove so worthwhile?

Watch for reviews in the upcoming weeks, then! And be sure to check out the books yourself if you were a fan as a kid like me.

And speaking of sweepstakes I didn’t even know I entered, this brings me to the first series I’ll talk about loving in middle school today:

The Baby-sitters Club by Ann M. Martin (and ghostwriters… What, I didn’t even realize a man wrote over 40 of them!)

The Baby-sitters Club was my pre-Sweet Valley obsession, which actually began when I was in elementary school. Unlike with Sweet Valley, I started with the younger reader spin-off books, Baby-Sitters Little Sister. (I’m looking at Wikipedia here for all of the odd grammatical choices in the titles, by the way!) And it was this book series that must have prompted me to enter a fan contest through the publisher, although I don’t remember doing so. I do remember that in autumn of one year, I got a huge box from Scholastic saying I had won the “Birthday of the Month” honors or something of the sort for fans… But my birthday was in April. In the included letter, they explained an oversight had resulted in the delay. My prize, though, was worth the wait: box sets of the entire Baby-Sitters Little Sister series out thus far, in addition to an autographed copy of the first book in the series. (Some of that may have been a bonus for the delay, if I recall.) Wow! The package definitely made my belated-by-half-a-year birthday!

I don’t remember precisely when I “graduated” to The Baby-sitters Club, but I was definitely into it by 5th grade, as I remember reading one of the books for a book marathon after school. I loved every girl in the series—whether because I felt similar to them (Mary Anne’s shyness, Kristy’s tomboyishness, Mallory’s geekiness, Stacey dealing with a medical condition) or because I thought they were radical and fun to read about (Claudia, Dawn and Jessi all had confidence and style). I actually never babysat a day in my life (unless you count helping a grandparent babysit a younger cousin… But on second thought, I was actually being babysat, too!), but I doubt it could have lived up to the adventures these girls had. I loved the (albeit short) TV series so much I could practically quote it. I enjoyed the movie version, too, but maybe not as much. I stopped reading sometime in middle school, but I have to admit I picked up the last book in 2000, despite being a senior in high school by then, because I never really stop loving the things I loved in my childhood!

I love all of that crazy ’80s and ‘90s fashion and lifestyle, too. I specifically remember that the girls met in Claudia’s room because she was the only one with her own phone line. Her own household phone line! It was a big deal. I imagine the updated version (which apparently exists? I did not know this) would have all of the girls with cell phones…

Goosebumps by R.L. Stine

Goosebumps. If you know me, you’d know how odd it is that I was ever into a horror series, however tame it might be. I avoid horror movies because I don’t like being scared or grossed out, thank you very much. I only recently sat down to watch the A Nightmare on Elm Street series and discovered they were pretty awesome (the second movie excepting…) and not terrifyingly scary like I was afraid they’d be. But tell that to my middle school self who couldn’t even look at Freddy Krueger without shuddering or who was haunted by a billboard of Chucky she saw at night while on a trip to New York in the ‘80s, and it’s a wonder I ever gave Goosebumps a chance at all.

The first one I picked up was Attack of the Mutant because the premise (it featured a comic book fan and a supervillain who comes to life) was right up my comic book-loving alley. I remember writing in my diary how surprised I was that I read a “scary” book without being too scared, as if this were something to document for perpetuity. (It wasn’t at all scary, now that I think about it. Hardly worth congratulating myself over!) I liked it enough to go back and pick up earlier books, and I spent a year or two reading the books in the series that struck my fancy. I particularly liked the Choose Your Own Adventure-style ones called Give Yourself Goosebumps. (And I admit. I’d “cheat” and go back and choose a better ending!) My love for the series led me to watch Are You Afraid of the Dark? on Nickelodeon back in the day, and yes, I watched some of the Goosebumps series too. (They did Attack of the Mutant! It was so cheesy…) I never really “graduated” to more sophisticated horror books, but the thrills and chills I got from these tame versions were just enough for childhood me.

Were any of you fans of Goosebumps or The Baby-sitters Club?


Author of YA speculative fiction and cozy paranormal mysteries.

4 thoughts on “Books I Loved in Middle/High School, Part 2

  1. I read both of those series! I’m not sure if I started with the Little Sister series first, but I definitely remember reading both of them at the same time! I read the Baby Sitters Club series all the way up until those twins showed up (but only one joined the club, right?). I don’t think I stopped because of them, but probably because I had finally grown out of the series. I never watched the TV show, but I know I saw the movie!

    I got into Goosebumps because of my classmates! They kept talking about it so I ordered one from Scholastic Book Club. I think the first one i read was Say Cheese and Die. (Why do I remember that?!) And it probably did scare me, but not nearly as much as the Fear Street books! I actually got physically ill from reading one of those due to the mentions of blood (It was one of those Fear Street Saga books that explained why all these bad things kept happening on Fear Street. One of the characters got trampled by a horse and the description grossed me out!). I can’t handle horror movies at all, but I guess reading about them isn’t as bad? I’m weird…

    1. I think I didn’t totally stopped Little Sister when I started Baby Sitters Club, too. And that sounds about the same time I stopped reading, when the twins showed up, and for the same reasons. Didn’t Dawn and Mallory leave, too? Or maybe Dawn and Jessi? The TV show was only 13 episodes long and it was so good! I first found it on VHS at a music store and I bought as many as I could every time we went to the store. Then I saw it was on TV. In one of the first episodes, Mary Anne gives Logan (I think) her phone number and for once it wasn’t one of those 555- numbers, it was a real number, and during a sleepover we watched it and my friend called it and asked for “Dawn or Mary Anne” and the lady on the phone said “Just a minute” and my friend got scared and hung up. So there really was one there or it was a business and the lady had to look up if there was one there….

      Say Cheese and Die sounds a little familiar, but I barely remember any besides the comic book one. Maybe the ventriloquist dummy ones because he was like a recurring villain, right? I was too scared to progress to Fear Street! Did you watch Are You Afraid of the Dark? I used to think I couldn’t handle horror movies (and I still don’t like gross things or the “jump out and scare you” moments), but the older ones aren’t so bad. I’ve no interest in something modern and gross like Saw, though.

      And I remember book club through school! I got a lot of books I liked through that.

  2. I loved the Baby-sitters Club! But maybe you knew that, since I actually knew you in 5th grade…I can’t remember if we ever talked about it or not. 🙂

    Ironically, even though I loved the books, I never liked babysitting, and still don’t to this day. I’m just not a little kid person. (My own son is an exception, of course.)

    1. Heh heh, yes! I think you may have even gotten me into them (and Sweet Valley)! I did like Little Sister before that, but I didn’t “graduate” to the “big girl” books until 5th grade and that read-athon in the school library, I think. Do you remember the short-lived TV show, too?

      I felt exactly the same way! I’m so nervous around kids (I imagine it’d be different with your own ^^), and I’ve actually never babysat alone.


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