One of the projects I’ve been working on this summer is organizing all of my books. It’s a task that I deal with every couple of years. I’ve tried alphabetizing books by author and by title. Then, I reorganized them by genre. And as I run out of room and can no longer find books I want, I start all over again. It’s an overwhelming process because I don’t have a large house, and I literally have books in almost every room.
This year, I bought a new bookcase and have painstakingly gotten rid of at least five, large bags of books to make the process a little easier. But, it’s still slow going.
One of the good things about pulling all of my books out from shelves, tables, closets, etc. is that I rediscover books I forgot I had. Amidst stacks of books and lingering dust, I squeal and hug my long-lost friends–and I’m sure I look crazy, but that’s okay with me. That’s exactly what I did when I found some copies of The Babysitter’s Club series.
When I was a child, I had several books in the series that I happily collected on birthdays and Christmases. The rest, I carted home from the library by the bagful. These are the few books that have survived being stuffed in bags, left on the floor, and boxed up through many moves over almost thirty years (Sheesh.) I haven’t read them in almost as many years, but finding them delighted me and reminded me that these are the books that first turned summer into a season of reading for me.
The summer between third and fourth grades, my mom remarried, and I left behind school and friends when we moved to a new town. And I gained two step-brothers. When you’re a kid, you make friends at school, which meant I had a long, friendless summer ahead of me in a new house with new rules and people with whom I wasn’t sure I would get along.
One of the first places we visited in our new town was the library where I received my very own library card. That day I also discovered the first two books in The Babysitter’s Club. The series was relatively new (though I didn’t know that at the time) and, for me, timely. The first book, Kristy’s Great Idea, was the first book I remember reading that talked openly about divorced parents, child support, and mothers who work to support their families. These were things I knew about, and it was nice to see them in someone else’s story, too. Also, early in the series (book six, I think), Kristy’s mother remarries, forcing the family to move, and the novel focuses on blended-family dynamics. This series, in other words, helped me to grapple with some of the issues in my own life, but more importantly, these books provided me with something I very much needed during that summer between third and fourth grades. I didn’t feel too lonely because I had Kristy, Mary Ann, Stacey, Claudia, and Dawn. That summer, I read. And read. And read.
In the fall, I started a new school (BSC addresses this topic, too, by the way) and made new friends. But, I still kept reading The Babysitter’s Club. For years.
In some cases, I read the same ones multiple times. See, I never owned all of the books in the series (there were over a hundred published in the end!), though I collected a few. In fact, I never owned many books as a child. I had a small collection, and the rest I found in the library or borrowed from school. Therefore, I often reread the books I had over and over. I knew them by heart. I hardly reread books now. There are too many others I want to read. So, as I organize my books and complain about too little space, it is nice to rediscover some of my favorites and remember fondly a time when I dreamed about owning so many books that I had no place to put them.