Back in the anarchic days of the '80s and '90s, when Goosebumps terrorized our dreams and the Animorphs covers were considered appropriate for children, one fictional girl squad reigned supreme: The Baby-Sitter's Club. Even if you weren't a BSC super fan, you definitely had at least one to five battered up Baby-Sitter's Club paperbacks on your childhood bookshelf at any give time. You definitely saw that weird terrible movie (I most certainly had a bootlegged VHS tape of it). And you absolutely tried to start your own Baby-Sitter's Club with your real life friends, which promptly fell apart because no one actually wants to pay 13-year-olds all that much money to take care of babies. But now that you're an adult, you're surely keeping yourself up at night asking that age-old question: "What book can I read based on my favorite Baby-Sitter's Club member of yore?"
Now, of course, there were only four core members of the Baby-Sitter's Club: tomboyish Kristy, creative Claudia, shy Mary Anne, and Stacey (what was Stacey's thing? She was from New York?). But other members drifted in and out over the many, many books in the series. And if you're looking for a slightly more mature read based on theses classic characters, look no further:
If you loved Kristy, try 'Curveball' by Martha Ackmann
Kristy was the unquestioned leader of the BSC, as well as a baseball-loving, tough-as-nails tomboy. She was all about getting her way through sheer unadulterated willpower and also playing sports. She coached Kristy's Krushers and built the Baby-Sitter's Club out of nothing with her own two hands. And if you were a huge Kristy fan, you're going to love Curveball. It's the true story of the indomitable Toni Stone, the first woman to play professional baseball on men’s teams, and surely an inspiration to young Kristy Thomas. Toni Stone was repeatedly barred from the sport she loved due to her gender and her race, but through determination and raw talent she made it all the way to Yankee Stadium just the same, haters be damned.
If you loved Claudia, try 'The Blazing World' by Siri Hustvedt
Claudia was Vice President and resident Cool Girl of the Baby-Sitter's Club. Her fashion was always on point, and she was an artistic, talented, junk-food eating, mystery-loving queen among girls. Claudia definitely grew up to be an experimental artist/fashion designer/social media influencer, and she would want you to read The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt. The novel follows an artist who feels unjustly ignored after years in the art world, and decides to conceal her gender behind three male fronts. Her new identities lead to a web of secrets and lies, resulting in a brilliant puzzle perfect for art and mystery lovers alike.
If you loved Mary Anne, try 'Mansfield Park' by Jane Austen
Poor Mary Anne. Her main qualities were "quiet" and "sheltered." She cut her hair once, I think, and then she got a boyfriend? I also remember her reading Little Women one time? If you, like Mary Anne, enjoy classic literature with shy (yet lovelorn) heroines, you can't get much more classic than Mansfield Park. Fanny Price is quieter than some of Jane Austen's other heroines, but she's just as sharp, insightful, and reluctantly romantic.
If you loved Stacey, try 'Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York' edited by Sari Botton
OK, so I remember that Stacey was from New York and that she had diabetes. Regardless, Stacey was a math-genius and a romantic who brought a big city perspective to the sleepy town of Stoneybrook. If she was your favorite for some reason, try Goodbye to All That, a hilarious, insightful collection of essays on leaving the Big Apple from a multitude of writers, including Roxane Gay and Cheryl Strayed.
If you loved Dawn, try 'Gold Fame Citrus' by Claire Vaye Watkins
Dawn was the hippie baby-sitter, a vegetarian Cali-girl who loved ghost stories and the Earth. She would be all over the intensely disturbing dystopia Gold Fame Citrus, set in a parched California of the not-so-distant future. Luz and Ray are camped out in an abandoned mansion, just trying to survive on rationed water. They've accepted the punishing drought as their new way of life. But when they come across a strange child in this dying world, they're forced to start thinking about the possibility of a better future.
If you loved Mallory, try 'The Thirteenth Tale' by Diane Setterfield
Mallory was the one with the glasses and the braces, who (you guessed it) wanted to be a writer when she grew up. As the mandatory nerd of the group, Mallory would probably love to read a deeply eerie book about reading like The Thirteenth Tale. The novel follows Margaret Lea, a young woman who grew up around books, and who now has a once in a lifetime chance to interview reclusive author Vida Winter. But as she starts to unravel the truth of Winter's past, Margaret will be forced to confront the secrets of her own, pulling both of them into a twisted tale about the nature of storytelling.
If you loved Jessi, try 'Swing Time' by Zadie Smith
Jessi was the one who loved to dance, and also the one who had to deal with the extreme racism in Stoneybrook, Connecticut when she first moved to town. Sorry, Jessi. She was also the one who was nice enough to befriend Mallory, the nerd. And she would definitely be into Swing Time, a novel about complicated childhood friendships, race, and dance. Two girls dream of growing up to be dancers, but only one of them has talent—the other has ideas, thoughts about time and rhythm and bodies and what it all means. When their friendship end abruptly in their twenties, both young women are forced to face the world alone, witch their conflicting feelings about the art form they both love.
If you loved Logan, try 'Man Up: Surviving Modern Masculinity' by Jack Urwin
I don't know who's out here trying to claim that Logan is the best character in The Baby-Sitter's Club, but... sure, I guess. He was the boy. He was southern. He dated Mary Anne. That was his whole deal. Oh, and he didn't come to meetings because he "felt uncomfortable" around girls. Cool. So I guess if you like Logan so much, read Man Up about surviving the horrors of toxic masculinity, and the unfair pressure it puts on boys. And then maybe the Logans of the world will stop feeling so uncomfortable with girls that they can't make it to a freaking Baby-Sitter's Club meeting.