How the Baby-Sitters Club Does Money: Karen

Karen is 35 this year, six years younger than her step-sister Kristy and the other members of the BSC. Karen realizes just how lucky being 35 makes her.

How the Baby-Sitters Club Does Money: Jessi

Jessi knows what her students call her. She can tell by the way they look at her, most of them, the ones that don’t take her class seriously.

How the Baby-Sitters Club Does Money: Stacey

Stacey spends nights alone in the home office, looking at numbers. She keeps thinking that if the numbers can somehow come out differently, her marriage won’t be over—but she’s always been too good at math to hide behind wrong answers.

How Do You Decide Which Books To Buy?

The Millions this morning came out with a list of the most anticipated books of 2014: Part II, and it is exciting and painful in equal measure. Billfold pal Dustin Kurtz captured the feeling well on Twitter. (See left.)

To make matters worse, Book Riot also this morning came out with its list of the Best Books of 2014: Part I. Every one of these volumes would bring a person closer to God. What does one do when faced with the kind of bounty that occasions both greed & despair? Unless one is a billionaire — in which case, according to James Surowiecki, one is too busy grousing about how no one likes you and making ill-advised comparisons to Nazi Germany to buy books — one must triage. But how?

Because of various constraints related to not being a billionaire, my method is to be supremely practical. I get books from the library first; then when I fall hard for one, so hard that I find myself babbling about it at parties and in even less appropriate situations, and I know that I will want to both a) read it again, and b) lend it out to people I love so that they too can experience communion with the spiritual realm, I will pay money for it, usually once it has been released in paperback. Bonus points if the author is a female debut novelist, because karma. I have to be stern with myself, though, because small New York apartments only have so much space and thin freelancer wallets only have so many dollars.

My other hack is to review books for places like Barnes & Noble, because they send me novels for free, and the only catch is that, in exchange, I have to say nice things about them. (The books, not the store.) (Though I also like the store! Wandering around it, I feel like Corduroy: “This looked like a palace. Corduroy guessed he had always wanted to live in a palace.”) How do you feed your book habit? Are you library-only, or e-reader only, or audiobook only, or merely dreaming of the day when you once again have time to read for pleasure at all?

How the Baby-Sitters Club Does Money: Abby

Abby Stevenson lies about her age. She’s about to turn 41, like the other members of the BSC, but she’s always felt years younger. She posts her Buzzfeed “How Big of a ‘90s Kid Are You?” quiz results to Facebook, as if to claim her space in the generation below her.

How the Baby-Sitters Club Does Money: Mary Anne

It was a shock to everybody. A pleasant shock, or at least a “let’s pretend we think this is a good idea” shock, and in fact their wedding, which took place during the summer after Mary Anne’s freshman year of college, was the last time the entire BSC was together. They’re still married. They still live in Stoneybrook, or technically just outside of Stoneybrook, in an old farmhouse that they remodeled together, nearly from the ground up.

How the Baby-Sitters Club Does Money: Mallory

Mallory Pike loves to see her name on a white table tent. She loves to see it in Amazon’s “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” list (yes, Amazon will recommend her own books to her, even after she uploads them to Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing herself). She loves to walk into a hotel ballroom, red hair -- with one gray streak -- tumbling over her shoulders in curls, and answer all of the usual questions. Yes, she knows exactly where she gets her ideas and no, she’s not telling.

An Interview with Leanne Brown, Author of the (Free) $4 a Day SNAP Cookbook

Leanne Brown is a Canadian-born NYU food studies graduate whose masters’ project was Good and Cheap, a free PDF cookbook for food stamp budgets ($4/day). She posted the PDF on her website, and it was downloaded over 100,000 times after being discovered by Reddit. Now, she’s launched a Kickstarter to print the book so she can get copies to people in need, and she’s already well past its initial $10,000 goal. I recently talked to her about cooking on limited incomes, food studies, her experience with Kickstarter, and more.

How the Baby-Sitters Club Does Money: Dawn

Dawn never saw herself as living in “that part” of San Francisco, but there she is. She never thought of herself as being a full-time stay-at-home mom to two children on the autism spectrum, but there she is. She never, ever thought that a family could be earning more money than most people on the planet and still be in debt beyond their capacity to ever pay it back, not to mention the general paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle, but there she is.

How the Baby-Sitters Club Does Money: Claudia

The first time Claudia illegally streamed episodes of Girls she was 39, and didn’t even think about it. The show was great. She was absolutely a Jessa, except without the drugs. Yeah, it was a little white. Whatevs. Two seasons later, she’s 41. She really should pay for HBO. She’s a grown adult. She’s in her 40s. That’s what that means, now.

How the Baby-Sitters Club Does Money: Kristy

Kristy Hansen-Thomas has a mommy blog. She carefully tracks the money she earns from sidebar ads and the occasional product endorsement, which, of course, she clearly identifies as per FTC regulations.

The Realities of Being an Adult With a Job Through Beverly Cleary’s Mr. Quimby

Perhaps a little belated for Father’s Day, but Stephanie Lucianovic has a really wonderful essay about rereading Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books, and getting a new perspective on the theme of being a parent and adult with a job through the character of Mr. Quimby, Ramona’s father:

What we learn in the Ramona books is that Mr. Quimby was once an art major, but when Mrs. Quimby got pregnant with Beezus, he dropped out of school and got a job. We can acknowledge that some of the Ramona books were a product of their time (Cleary wrote them between 1955-1999) when getting married while in college was not as mind-boggling as it might be today, yet also still recognize that having a baby at any stage of life forces a family to completely change their life around in order to accommodate it. Dropping out of college and not finishing his art degree is the first data point in Mr. Quimby’s realistic if depressing career trajectory.

Bit by bit we find out about all the jobs Mr. Quimby has held. In Beezus and Ramona, he has an unnamed position at Pacific Gas & Electric, and in Ramona and Her Father he loses his job in an office of a small moving and storage company, and everything appears to go downhill from there. For what feels like a painfully extended time (all of Ramona and Her Father), Mr. Quimby is standing in line at unemployment, waiting by the phone for interviews and job offers, and smoking. By the close of Ramona and Her Father, Mr. Quimby has finally secured a job as a checker at a grocery store chain with management potential. In other books, we’ll learn how much he hates his checker job — once again a concept which may not mean much to the kids for whom the books were written but one which resonates far too loudly for adults — and how he’ll leave that checker job to go back to art school and then get a teaching certificate while also working part-time at another hated job in a frozen foods warehouse.

Mr. Quimby should have studied STEM. Okay, no, but seriously, I sort of want to read all of the books I read as a kid and look at them through the lens of the parents.