Serial novels… or why we love the BSC

A long time ago, in a far away land called Michigan, I was a child. And I, as a child had a subscription to Entertainment Weekly. I remember vividly an article titled “Why we love TV”. (Paraphrased, actually. I can’t be sure of the title. I was a child. My brain now processes information differently, leading to potentially false memories).

Before I went off on a tangent about brains and how they function, I was talking about an article I read a long time ago. For some reason, that specific article stayed with me all these years. That and how they predicted that Titanic could hit or miss but probably hit as it had Leo and was about this thing that everyone has been interested in. BTW, I hated that movie a lot. No offense. But it was Looooong and Leo is kind of annoying. Oh, right, so anyway, this article that I read talked about why people like TV so much, especially serial shows, like Frasier. Hey, it was the example in the article. Why I remember that, I have no idea. I’ve seen, like, two episodes of that show.

I think the reasons they gave are similar to why we love books like the Baby-Sitters Club or Sweet Valley, Saddle Club, The Gymnasts, Nancy Drew, Bobbsey Twins, and whatever serials that people are reading now. I actually only know of one, that I really love. Sammy Keyes. The reasons that I can remember have to do with characterization, familiarity, the feeling that you “know” the people involved, etc. I offer up one other option. They lace the books with an airborne form of heroin so that children crave them. So maybe that’s not the real reason, but there has to be some sort of a reason, right? Millions of books aren’t sold without some sort of hook.

One of the things that Sweet Valley did that isn’t as obviously present in their books is the lead in to the next book. Sure the BSC has some subtle (and not so subtle) foreshadowing, but they never blatantly tried to sell more books by leaving us on a cliffhanger. I rather enjoy that the BSC wasn’t so blatant with their schemes to dominate the YA Level 4 serial novel market for girls. I don’t know why we first read the books as kids, but something made us start. And for most of us, something made us stop.

So, then why is it that we, as adults, are coming back to the BSC? Why is it that children today are swarming the internet looking for used bsc books? Is it the plots? (probably not) the locations? (judging by the diversity in fandom, probably not) The characters? Possibly. Everyone can identify with one or more of the characters. I personally can be bossy and overbearing like Kristy. (I hate to admit this to myself though). I played a lot of sports in school. (Because I was told thats what you did, not because I actually enjoyed them) Like Claudia, I have a tendency to procrastinate. I took a lot of art classes in hopes that one day I would be talented, like Claudia. I actually quite liked her when I was growing up. She had a happy family and liked mystery novels and junk food and she was excellent at something that I was simply awful at. Mary Anne was shy and studious, nothing like me really, but I liked her enough. SHe had a boyfriend. Stacey was the smart, popular, pretty, fashionable, mature sitter. The one we all wanted to be like. I think she might be the reason that I’ve wanted to move to New York City for as long as I can remember. Why I love cities and being around busy people so much more then anything else. Jessi was a ballerina which I thought was great fun. My mom pulled me out of ballet and stuck me in gymnastics when we discovered that I lack grace and elegance. And Mallory. Well, I never really liked Mallory, but I liked her family. I’m basically an only child, and having a bunch of siblings seemed like great fun when I was 7 through 12.

Was our generation just trained to read these books, which is why in turn we love our scripted dramas? Not that I dn’t veg out infront of a tv watching big brother once in a while (shhh, don’t tell), but it seems like both the decline of scripted dramas and serial printed novels is happening at the same time.

Well, that gives me something to think about.

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For anyone who just needed to know…

There are, I believe, 354 books total in the BSC world. Correct me if my math is wrong or I’m missing something.

  • 131 Baby-Sitter’s Club books
  • 122 Little Sister books
  • 15 Baby-Sitter’s Club Super Specials
  • 6 Little Sister Super Specials
  • 36 Mysteries
  • 4 Super Mysteries
  • 3 Special Editions
  • 15 California Diaries
  • 2 Friends Forever Super Specials
  • 12 Friends Forever novels
  • Chain Letter
  • Secret Santa
  • 6 Portrait collection

That’s 354 days, if I read and write about one per day. That’s almost a year. And I forgot to mention the Ann M. Martin biography which I *have* to talk about one of these days.

I guess it’s a good thing I never really got into Sweet Valley then.