They Don’t Make ’Em Like That Anymore

Volunteering at my local mall’s free bookshop, I see all manner of outmoded books and cover designs. I seem to be in a blogging slump*, so to keep things ticking over, I’ve compiled a selection of amusing period covers and blurbs I’ve come across there and elsewhere. (I got the Iris Murdochs in a bargain bundle from Oxfam years ago and read them for Liz’s recent readalong; the L’Engle children’s novel, a university library book, was recommended by Buried in Print.)


The dated:

The provocative:

The lurid:


I can’t imagine that making it into a blurb or book review today…

From the inside jacket of Meet the Austins.

From the back cover recommendation … “like a fruit punch”?!

An entirely unilluminating first paragraph on The Country Girls.


* More like a general life slump. January is tough for me: after all the cheer and socializing of the holidays, it’s back to the boring everyday and (often) to inescapably damp, cold weather. Many mornings it’s a struggle for me not to go back to bed after my husband leaves for work, and I’m more likely to leave assignments to the last minute. I was unsurprised to recall that today is called “Blue Monday,” while tomorrow is the fifth anniversary of my brother-in-law’s death from brain cancer.

At least it’s been sunny and frosty rather than gray and rainy for the last few days; I even managed to bundle up, don my wellies and spend half an hour reading with the cat on our garden bench this morning. (Our canalside garden is 1/3 flooded, but we’re on slightly higher ground so ours is nowhere near as bad as our neighbors’, which is a lake.)

In terms of books, I’m not particularly excited about at least half of the ones I’m reading. I’m sure I’ll get through them all eventually, but for now I’ve been bingeing on the few that appeal most. I’m working on a couple of thematic roundups (one on winter and another on love and marriage for Valentine’s Day), and will also report on a few recent releases I’ve enjoyed. I am finding, though, that with fewer review copies around, I have less direction and easily find a week or more passing before I think, “what can I blog about?!”

22 responses

  1. Cheer up – we all have blogging slumps. At least you have a cat for company and cuddles. I enjoyed this post. How’s your assault on the TBR working out?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, the cat’s company is much appreciated. He loves to snuggle up for naps and reading, and enjoys walks in the garden.

      Let’s see, 16 of the 21 books I’m currently reading are from my shelves (with the rest from libraries or on an e-reader), so if I continue with a similar ratio I should get through a ton this year!


  2. January can be very grim, I find (and a flooded garden probably doesn’t help). I am nursing the chest infection from hell, so not that happy either. But those ghastly old covers brought a smile – I come across stuff like this regularly in the charity shops, but sadly it’s often stuff i@m old enough to remember first time round! :s

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had a cold that lingered for several weeks in November and December. It’s felt like a rough winter all around.

      Some of these books (microwave cookbooks, especially) you can’t even give away — literally! We dispose of tatty copies that are falling apart, but eventually we’ll be so full that we may also have to recycle outdated stuff like this.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sorry to hear that you’re experiencing a January slump. I’m going through a similar thing with blogging at the moment – I read a couple of really good books this year, but am now stuck in a rut of mediocre ARCs and the mediocre biography I’m reading for book club. Hence my turn to film and TV 🙂

    I love old cookbooks. My mum has an excellent old microwave cookbook from a similar time period to that one that has a page on ‘unusual vegetables’ that includes aubergine and peppers…


    1. I found the desiccated fish on the cover of this one dreadfully unappetizing!

      I guess I’m waiting for more books to really wow me. In the meantime I’ve got Library Checkout coming up as usual, and will keep plugging away towards some themed reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m so sorry about your sad anniversary, and that January’s tough for you. But the first part of your post did make me giggle!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I imagine my sister is having some very complicated emotions this week. Her birthday is the day after the anniversary, so it’s a weird time.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The period of damp greyness we’ve all been through recently is enough to drive anyone into a slump but anniversaries like the one you’re about to pass are hard. I think you deserve a break and a treat of some sort

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope you got some sun these last few days? I got in a few hours of volunteer gardening in the frosty morning on Saturday and it felt very good for me.

      We haven’t planned any holidays for the year yet, but even a short UK break would be something nice to look forward to.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We did, thanks, and what a relief it was!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m sorry you’re in a slump. I’m lucky in that I have a January birthday (today, actually) so that lifts me and my friends, as there’s usually a small get-together. And more books. I hope things brighten for you soon and I loved those book covers! There are loads of terrible lurid IM covers around and I’m struggling not to collect them!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Happy birthday! My sister’s is tomorrow. That reminds me, I need to go order her a gift voucher. (I was thinking you were a December birthday, actually, as you often talk about birthday and Christmas together.) It must be a nice excuse to cheer up midwinter.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Strangely my January has turned out to be busy, busy, busy – I’ve picked up a good amount of overtime at school which is really welcome, and I’m busy writing content for a friend’s website too. So with the return of Shiny after our winter break, my own blogging is not so frequent – but luckily I haven’t got a reading block. These dank days will soon pass I hope your mood will lift soon. I can’t wait to get up in the light again – that I don’t like, I snooze the alarm clock a couple of times rather than make tea and read until I have to get up fully.
    I love lurid 1960s-70s book covers – so do share more of them!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll keep an eye out for more of these dated covers 🙂

      In advance of winter we bought a special fade-in, light-up alarm clock that wakes us to daylight and blackbird song … It doesn’t help with getting up on cold, dark mornings as much as I’d hoped.

      I’m reading about as much as ever, but there have been more mediocre selections than I would like.


  8. I enjoyed seeing those dated/tacky/hilarious covers.

    January is a tough month for many, you’re not alone. I hope you are able to treat yourself/take care of yourself in whatever way is meaningful to you… you deserve it, whatever it may be!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I saw a tweet today that made me laugh. It included “It’s January 75th” and “I have rickets of the soul”.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. We’re very familiar with the “winter blues” around here, although I don’t tend to suffer from it myself. My husband does, though. I hope it doesn’t last too long for you!

    I am also suffering from a blogging “slump”. Mine is quite different from yours, though. I have read a bunch of really good books that I want to blog about very badly, but I have been too short on time. Which also has affected my blog-hopping. I miss reading everyone’s blogs regularly. But I’m sure this too shall pass… sometime. In the meantime I will just do my best!

    I love this post – that knitting book takes me right back to my childhood when my mom would knit us very similar sweaters to the one on the cover. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. At last February shall be here this weekend! It actually tends to be a bit worse, weather-wise, but I will still be very glad to see the back of January. We have a few nice things planned for Feb., including hosting book club and a weekend with friends.

      Something you could consider is posting mini-reviews, and maybe even ‘composing’ them via dictation to your phone. My sister sometimes dictates her e-mails to me while she’s on an exercise machine, for instance. Of course, you have to check the text for errors afterwards! But it would save time and might be something you could do while driving or waiting for your kids at an activity, etc.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve never even thought of that! As long as no one else is around, or else I’ll feel very silly… 🙂


  10. Although I love old cookbooks, my opinions about microwaves extend to cookbooks designed for their usage. LOL So I prefer the previous eras from a collectible perspective (nothing serious, worthy I mean, just old ones that I like and find interesting)…but after reading this – and the comments – I can see where they have their merits too. (Interesting vegetables. *giggles* Haaaaaah.)

    Ahhhh, I would LOVE to have found that copy of the Austins book. I’ve never actually seen it in hardcover! (Not that it’s exceptionally attractive. *smirks* If I can remember, I’ll try to snap a picture of my 80s-soaked paperback. I’m also curious to know if it was revised for paperback publication, although it still reads very old-fashioned in my edition too. I hope, hope, hope that you love the grandfather’s character as much as I think you will (though he’s a secondary character in this volume) and the overall bookish/artsy flavour of their household.

    I’m behind on reading online, so I hope you’ve found your way through your January blues. 🙂


    1. I particularly like this L’Engle cover because the littlest one resembles my nephew. My cover isn’t on Goodreads so I chose the one closest in vintage. It looks like the text is slightly different in the 1990s edition: “A revised edition, including one section of the manuscript that was omitted in the original publication.” I haven’t met the grandfather yet. Having just finished L’Engle’s journals, I could recognize the inspirations for the bustling household and the adopted godchild.

      Liked by 1 person

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