Saturday, October 29, 2011

Book Nerdery

This post is my entry in the Book Nerd Out giveaway hosted by Book Riot: Reviews, Recommendations, and Commentary about books and reading (but, you know, fun).

Dear Kelly,

I have been reading a new book blog, Book Riot, for the past few weeks, and they're offering a $100 gift certificate to the bookstore of your choosing if you win the giveaway. The topic seems like it has the potential to be pretty funny: when's the time you went crazy nerdiest for a book?

I was thinking it would be amusing, considering how long we have been friends and because we are each other's primary audience, to reminisce about my early book nerd days.

Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you the Jenny of the Sweet Valley High years. I was obsessed--Obsessed! I tell you--with those books. There were so many ways I was nerdy about them that I think I might actually have to make a list.

1) According to Wikipedia, the first book came out in 1983. This makes sense, because I seem to most remember these books in 5th and 6th grade.

2) I still can recite from memory that exposition about those damn twins: Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. Beautiful blondes, they are a perfect size 6 (this is sort of funny, now, right? I'm sure this is fat to today's teenagers), they are too wonderful to wear something as pedestrian as lockets...these girls have lavaliers!

3) I had my own little Sweet Valley High library. In fact, I used to pretend I was a librarian, and actually put tape at the top and bottom of the spines of each book. The books just looked a little more professional that way.

4) Obviously, the tape was unnecessary given the weirdest quirk I had as a child: I NEVER broke the spine of a book. I used to hate how a it looked. When the spine was broken, especially on a longer book, the pages would drift outward at an angle. I liked my book pages to be flat and straight. I didn't dog-ear, either. The horror! This is beyond weird. Why did I do that? I vividly remember that it drove you crazy because you used to say that you never could read the words in the gutter of the page. I didn't care, though, I knew it was better to have pristine books.

5) I could read a Sweet Vally High book at light-speed pace. Once, I got the latest release at mall's Waldenbooks, I believe it was #10. I read it while my Mom was getting her hair cut. The lady at the front desk watched me read it and suggested that I should just to return it and get my money back. After all, it looked unread and it was only an hour later. I was horrified at this suggestion for many reasons. Having a complete, unbroken-spined set meant something to me. And, I was a good girl and that would have been stealing. Or something like that.

6) Despite my love of the physical objects that were the Sweet Valley High books, I don't quite remember what I got out of them. I identified with Elizabeth, the good twin. That scheming Jessica didn't deserve her. There was one book where Elizabeth goes bad. Shocking, although I'm sure all was right in Sweet Valley by the end.

7) I started to tire of Sweet Valley High. The thrill was gone, but I was determined to end with a nice round number. I'm pretty sure that I continued to buy up until #30 because I couldn't bear to end with an random number like 28.

8) And yet, I have no idea where they all went. I must have dumped them at some point...or my Mother did. Too bad. I bet a pristine set of Sweet Valley High books would be worth something on eBay. Hah.

9) Today at the bookstore, I saw the new "grown-up" book meant to appeal to readers exactly like me. It's called Sweet Valley Confidential, and it was released sometime this year. You'll be proud to know I wasn't tempted for a minute. I bought The Marriage Plot instead.

10) Okay. I did pick it up and read the back cover. I figure it will land on the remaindered table sooner or later and I can get it then. I'm only semi-kidding.



  1. Oh, the spines! The spines that could not be broken! I know that I ended up actually buying you a fresh copy of several books over the years because I was almost incapable of keeping them in the required original condition.

    I do remember burning through your copies of the SVH books at the rate of 1 per night for a couple of weeks. Probably in 7th grade? (Sort of like when you burned through Buffy years later...) This is actually a *vivid* memory for me: standing outside of St. Peter's (between the school and the church in that driveway there) and giving you last night's book and getting a fresh one. We were on our way to the buses. It almost seems like a drug transaction in my mind. Hah!

    I can't remember if I had to replace any SVH books -- I think it helped that I read them so quickly to keep them in good shape.

    I've always been a dog-ear-er (oh, the horror!) of my *own* books, but not other people's books. I loaned a book to someone once and I remember seeing it in the back of their car, spine completely broken, book laying *flat* open, the cover actually *ripped*. I thought: 1. "Really? That's not your book!" and 2. "Jenny would *die* if she saw this." For the most part, I'm not crazy careful with books, but that was sort of nuts -- that book was trashed.

    In junior high, I remember being hooked on some cheerleader series. Do you remember that? Oh, holy hell. I just looked it up and found Book 1 (Trying Out) on Amazon. Seeing that book cover just whipped me *back* -- so funny! Did you read those? I think all of those those books are still in boxes in my mom's garage. I remember almost *nothing* of the plot, but I recall that I had quite a few of those books.

    I just thought, "Man, I miss Scholastic Books." But I guess the Kindle store is today's Scholastic Books. Plus, *instant* delivery, so waaay better.

  2. Oh, we read all those trashy series. Wasn't there another one called Couples? Hah.

    What's funny now is that although I still keep my books pretty neat, I really don't care too much. In fact, if I let someone borrow a book, I pretty much figure it's gone forever. I just won't lend out books I want to keep.

    I think the reason I started to "let go" was all the moving. I've just dumped books before moving. There's actually only one book I've lent out that I've ever seriously considered rebuying: River Town by Peter Hessler. It's about a guy that does the Peace Corps in China. I love that book! Maybe if I win (ha!) I'll buy myself a copy of it. And Sweet Valley Confidential, of course!


  3. I just clicked on the link to Sweet Valley Confidential and oof! It is not getting good reviews. Clicked through to the 1 star reviews and laughed out loud at the following review title: "Good News - Francine Pascal Still Hates Fat People!" HA!

    The bad reviews actually make for some very entertaining reading -- it's clear that all of the reviewers were *super* into the SVH series and they're very disappointed in this book. I have a feeling that reading these reviews (many of them funny, most of them pretty long and spoiler-y [which is fine by me!]) would be more entertaining that actually reading that book.

    I don't remember the Couples series... just tried to google it, but of course the word "couples" was pretty common for those YA books.

    Have you started The Marriage Plot? It's one of those books that didn't look all that interesting to me, but it seems like everyone is talking about it. So I downloaded the audio book and started listening this morning. Maybe we can discuss it here on our blog! :)

  4. I have started The Marriage Plot! I needed something light, and so far I like it. Hard not to like a book about people who love reading. Would love to discuss!

    I still have to decide which book I'm going to read this month. I can't seem to decide...


  5. By the way, I very much love the idea of reading the reviews rather than the actual book. This strikes me as a *brilliant* idea.