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I got rid of a lot of things before I left to travel. It was a nice feeling to purge everything unnecessary, everything unneeded, from my life. In the end I sold, threw out, or donated over two-thirds of my belongings. Still, I kept many things, a couple of boxes of books included. (Plus a few more boxes dedicated entirely to The Baby-Sitters Club...

It's back! It's been over a year since my last installment of Val Reads The Baby-Sitters Club. And I have one bad reason and two good as to why it's taken me so long to continue. 1. I've been lazy. (That's the bad reason.) 2. I left to travel shortly after finishing book 25 and my quest to pack light didn't include stuffing my backpack with a BSC library. (That's a good reason.) 3. I knew what was coming next...

Mallory gets a steady job baby-sitting for a couple of twins. And boy are they cute: they dress alike and look alike. There is no way to tell them apart! But soon Mallory learns that just because they are cute on the outside, doesn't mean they're cute on the inside. They are terrors! They throw off their name bracelets so no one can tell them apart, they speak in their own special twin language, and they switch places. Mallory is ready to give up. They are too much trouble for her to handle. But then she discovers a secret: the twins aren't...

I'll admit, I started reading the book once before. I'd found a copy on a take one leave one shelf in a Medellin hostel and grabbed it without replacing it. I got maybe 100 pages in before giving up and the paperback spent the next six months buried at the bottom of my backpack. About a month ago, I dug it out, determined to finally finish. It was taxing, though. The writing was so trite, grade-school level vocabulary with interspersed big words that had to have been copied straight from the thesaurus. On every single page someone gasped or gaped or...

After a year-long hiatus, I'm back in business with my life goal of reading every Baby-Sitters Club book ever written. In order. From the start. I was stuck for a while because, while I had a few books in the series, I didn't have number 5. And because of that, I couldn't move on. (And, you know, there was that little fact that I was traveling most of the year and couldn't fit an entire library of Baby-Sitters Club books in my backpack...

Baby-Sitters Club was one of those things that was mine. I read all the books, watched the TV show, begged my parents to let me audition for a role in the movie. Dawn had me wishing I was a California girl. Stacey and Super Special #6 had me dreaming of New York. My sisters were older and had Sweet Valley, but this series, which began in 1986, when I was five, was geared a little more towards the younger set (I've confirmed this by reading every Sweet Valley book I could get my hands on in used bookstores abroad). Though,...

1. "If neurotic is wanting two mutually exclusive things at one and the same time, then I'm neurotic as hell. I'll be flying back and forth between one mutually exclusive thing and another for the rest of my days." Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar 2. I came across this picture while searching through my old laptop. I quite like it...

"Ouch, you naughty lion. You mustn't bite." It's funny when three people all have the same memory and it turns out to be wrong. For probably twenty now I've been searching for a book. It was one of those things that was published well before I was born and was read to my two sisters and finally to me. I had a vague idea that it was a Golden Book (because, really, what children's book wasn't a Golden Book?) I had a vague recollection of what the child in the book looked like. And I remembered one line: "Ouch, you naughty lion....

On my way to the Printer's Row Book Fair, I pondered why anyone would walk on the street when if they took about 10 steps to the east they could walk through the park. I also figured everyone thought I was a tourist because, as always, I was snapping pictures of everything. (Seriously, I was taking a photo of the bridge and this Asian dude asked if I wanted him to take my pic in front of it...