Smart Babes Recommend ... Vintage Trash


Let's go back, way back, to a time before Kindles let everyone and their mother furtively or not so furtively read 50 Shades on public transportation, park benches or anywhere else they pleased. Were there still Smart Babes reading their Trashy Books? You bet. Of course. Silly question. While steamy novels may not have been as mainstream as they are today, it's a tradition that stretches back to the ancient world. Here, for your reading pleasure, are a few of our favorite vintage trashy reads:

The PearlThe Pearl, anonymous

The Pearl was an underground Victorian magazine that circulated its scandalous content for a brief 18 months before being shut down by British authorities. The magazine was full of bawdy jokes, rhyme and songs, and serialized novellas of a very adult nature. This volume contains three such novellas.

Fanny HillFanny Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, John Cleland

First released in 1749, Fanny Hill is one of the most notorious works of fiction ever published. A bestseller of its day, it was quickly banned for obscenity and went on to be one of the most banned books in history. The story is told through two long letters written by Francis Hill, a reformed woman of ill-repute who gives an explicit and salacious detailing of her life of sin. Oh la la.

The Autobiography of a FleaThe Autobiography of a Flea,Stanislas de Rhodes

For all their uptight morality or maybe because of it, the Victorians had some terribly naughty works making the rounds. This one is a classic, written from the perspective of a flea who takes up intimate residence on Bella, a beautiful young maiden. From his special vantage point, he sees and reveals everything . . . everything.

The Story of OStory of O, Pauline Réage

Story of O was written by French author Anne Declos, under the pen name Pauline Réage, although, so sordid was the content, she did not reveal herself as the author until forty years after the book was published. The novel centers around a Parisian fashion photographer named O, who will stop at nothing to express devotion to her lover.

Venus in FursVenus in Furs, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch

It's no coincidence that our author's name is "Masoch." Yes, Leopold gave us a new word for his particular brand of exploits. Venus in Furs, published in 1870, remains a classic exploration of desire, control and self-discovery.

The Romance of LustRomance of Lust, anonymous

Written anonymously in four volumes, Romance of Lust is one of the longest (769 pages!) and most risqué novels ever written. The Victorian novel, which chronicles the often taboo and explicitly detailed conquests of protagonist Charlie Roberts, will shock even modern readers and was banned for many years in the United States.

Did we miss anything?

Share your favorite vintage trashy reads in the comments!

Who are the Smart Babes?

We're two smart librarians, whose reading habits don't always match our IQs. Are you a smart babe, too? Do you unwind with mindless reading, rather than reality TV? Do you like to read, but don't want to touch a classic with a ten foot pole? Then follow our monthly blog featuring the best of trashy Romance, and all its sub-genres. Join our book club, Smart Babes, Trashy Books, which meets the third Thursday of every month at 6:00 PM, at the Educational Park Branch Library.

Join us for our May book club meeting, where we'll be discussing Losing It by Cora Carmack.

This post was written by Amanda Choi and Emily Stratford.


"The Pearl" is an interesting Victorian anthology. And Anais Nin's short stories (not sure if they would be considered vintage or trash) are pretty good!

I'll put a few of these in my queue! :-)

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