Books You Loved When You Were Young
Maybe it had more to do with being alone, with being completely immersed in a world I discovered between the pages of a book. Or maybe it was the fact that, at the end of whatever book I held in my hands, I knew the next in the series was waiting for me. But no matter what is was that made me tear through those Babysitter’s Club paperbacks, somewhere in the back of my mind I imagined a woman at a desk, writing, just barely fast enough to keep up with millions of readers across the globe who were waiting, breath held, for that next great adventure.
Being alone and immersed in a task, without interruption, remains a mainstay of my basic needs. But I think my early infatuations with reading also had something to do with that imagined other—the revered writer, the untouchable author, the one whose fingertips contained multitudes. I could’t have told you what Ann M. Martin looked like at the time (no Internet, no Google—remember?). But that didn’t matter. I could feel her. The way she must have typed for days on end on her Smith Corona, a dog asleep at her feet. The way a zing of new ideas travelled across her mind’s eye, down her arms, through her hands.
There were, of course, others: The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh. To name a few…
No matter what I was reading as a youngster, I think my infatuations had less to do with a literal desire to become a popular girl with loads of babysitting gigs (though I might not have turned that down!), or a spy who caught all the neighbors’ gossip…and more to do with things I loved encountering on the page: unexpected moral quandaries, imaginary friends, secrets or a secret life, autonomy outside the world of adults, and anything that felt like—to my mind—“the greatest idea ever.”
Years into adulthood, when ghostwriters (not Martin) were keeping The Babysitter’s Club series alive, I still held fast to that feeling I’d imagined. Just knowing such a feat was possible, gave the young, book-loving, pigeon-toed, geeky, me a great sense of confidence and permission. I never wanted to meet Ann M. Martin. It was simply enough to know she existed. To know what was possible.