Series fiction, Glee, and the Babysitters Club : a few thoughts

According to Wikipedia, by the time the Babysitters Club series finished publishing in 2000, there had been 213 novels published. Another series, publishing around the same sort of timeframe (ish) was the Thoroughbred series which hit 72 books by the time it finished in 2005.

And Glee finished recently, after 728 musical performances and 121 episodes.

There’s a connection here, a slow ephemeral sort of connection, and it’s something I’ve been trying to think how best to phrase over the past few days that I’ve wanted to write this post.

I used to love Glee. There are moments, still, in it which blow my mind. Moments of pure unbridled character (that moment when she almost howls “Don’t forget me” is perfect, painfully so) and soul-splitting hope (this is just everything, really), expressed all through music and song and dance. I am a soft touch for a song and dance number. Always have been. Always will. And sometimes, when I can come across character moments like that, moments which make you look twice at an emotion which has been all over screen or literature (how many times have we read about love? about hate? How many times has somebody sung a song about how much they love somebody?) then I will always stop. Always. How can I not when I am being given something so new and so different and so glorious and over and over again?

And that was my Glee.

It was also my Babysitters Club, my Thoroughbred series, my Chalet School, my Famous Five, …

(It’s also, in a way, why I remain fascinated with the WWE. It’s a story that never, ever ends. How amazing is that? How *terrifying* is that?)

It’s also the world of the Adam Blade books, the Daisy Meadows, the Jenny Oldfield… (and regardless of how you may feel about them, these books have flown out of every library I’ve ever worked at – and I suspect a lot of that is due to the familiarity of the series, of the structure of the books, and of the sheer fact that there’s always something *more* to read of them. And that’s an amazing thing to witness in a child who is hungry for more, and I will always, always try and facilitate their reading)

But the Daisy Meadows et al are for a younger age group than the Thoroughbred series were, I think. And in a way, I miss those sorts of children’s books that grew with you. That you could dip in and out of, fall in and out of love with, that you could pick it up and put down and have maybe years in between them before coming back and finding that same world there, just paused and ready and waiting for you. Timeless.

I hunger for series fiction; I hunger to go back to that world and to have that experience again I hunger for it. I memorialise it. I am greedy for it.  I’m this far from buying the entire series of Jinny books. And that’s all because I want to go back to it. That I ache for that writing. For those moors. For Shantih.

We binge now on box sets. A weekend of Game of Thrones. Of Breaking Bad.

I wonder what it would be like if we binged on books. I wonder if there’s still a space for something like The Babysitters Club in this world.

God, I hope there is.

4 thoughts on “Series fiction, Glee, and the Babysitters Club : a few thoughts

  1. I also love reading series of books – you’re right, it’s the familiarity of that world and that setting, whatever it happens to be, that draws you back over and over again. My favourite authors are those who have written series: PG Wodehouse, JK Rowling, Terry Pratchett. Just as my favourite authors when I was a kid were those who wrote series: Willard Price, Enid Blyton, Brian Jacques.
    Even if the quality of the series decreases later on (*cough* E.M. Brent-Dyer *cough*), the joy of the first books never quite leaves you.

  2. I work at a library, and the Baby-Sitters Club are still very popular here. I just went through a box of donated BSC books and added some to the collection; we have some gaps, including all but one book about Jessi. (If I had to guess, I’d say those were more often read and worn out because in the 1990s, there weren’t many African-American middle-class heroines of intermediate books.) But I agree with you about series books: I just finished a complete re-read of the Chalet School about a month ago, and even with the worse books in that series, there’s just something so reassuring about series books.

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