the Little Red Reviewer

Vintage Reads: Where to start

Posted on: January 2, 2016

Is this your first Vintage Month?  welcome!


You might have a battered copy of The Martian Chronicles, or something from the library or the used bookstore. This post is all about where to find Vintage goodness in both print and electronic forms,  how to take care of your crumbly old paperbacks, and where to find vintage reviews and discussions online year round.

Where to find Vintage Reads

My favorite resource is used bookstores. They are a treasure hunt of wonderfulness, and you never know what you’ll find. This can be good and bad. Not sure where the good bookstores in your area are? Use the twittersphere to your advantage – just ask for used bookstore recommendations in your geographical area.

If you don’t want to make a financial investment, the library is always your friend. Many science fiction classics get a reprint every 15 years or so, so you’re sure to find something that was originally printed pre-1979 at the library. Even better? Many libraries have the “Year’s Best” type anthologies going back decades, if you want to dip your toes into the short fiction of a particular year. Skim the scifi shelves for binding that looks old, and cheesy old fonts on the spines.

It’s hit and miss finding older titles available electronically. If the title is really old (Hi Jules Verne!), the copyright has run out and it’s probably available through Project Gutenberg. A few years ago I found a free (legal!) audiobook of A Princess of Mars through LibriVox, which offers audiobooks of public domain books. Open Road Media is making e-books of a lot of older books, and I’m pretty impressed with their SFF catalog in general.

If you opt to purchase used paperbacks,  be aware, older books should be cared for a little differently.  “Pulp” fiction was called that because of the cheap paper used and oftentimes even cheaper methods of binding. What I’m getting at here is these books are probably more fragile than a book purchased today.  Dried out glue in the binding can be repaired, clear packing tape is a good bandaid for tears in covers, and the ink will probably come off on your fingers.  Beware of mildew and moldy smells, although there are ways around that too.  If the book doesn’t look like it will survive being read, your best bet is probably to purchase something else. (Although I am totally guilty of buying books that won’t survive another reading, the poor things died in my hands. I was the last human they saw.)

I celebrate Vintage Month one month out of the year, and randomly read older stuff all year round, there are a few blogs and websites I’ve found that generally specialize in older science fiction all year long.  If you’re looking for some reviews, some context, or just some fun cover art galleries, check these folks out:

Galactic Journey

Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations

SFF Mistressworks


Looks like you’re ready to be on Red Alert for the Interstellar Patrol!


Vintage SF badge


15 Responses to "Vintage Reads: Where to start"

Thanks for the shoutout — I’d participate if I didn’t participate every month of the year 😉 I look forward to the reviews.

Liked by 1 person

You are my Go To site for reviews of older works, cover art galleries, just about any reference material I need. I don’t think you realize how valuable your work is!

Liked by 1 person

Thanks for the kind words!


Alright! I am pumped even though a lot of the older SF stuff drives me crazy (Heinlein, I am talking to you) but I love Asimov and this is the perfect reason to include some of his books into my reading month. Going to be hard, I have a stack of SF Christmas books that are gleaming and winking at me to read….maybe if I stop cleaning the house….small sacrifice for the greater reading good…..


ooh, SF Christmas stuff, those will be fun!

Have you ever read any Cordwainer Smith? His stuff won’t drive you crazy.


Hmmm, I have not, now a mission for the day! Thanks for the recommendation


I found a fabulous used book store in Sacramento a month or so ago, crammed full of old paperbacks. So I’m reading Heinlein’s Space Cadet (1948!). I’ve also downloaded Voyage to Arcturus free on Kindle, and a collection of Leigh Brackett for after that.


used bookstores are worth their weight in gold.


If I’m reading Sci-fi it is pretty much only things published prior to 1975. I started collecting the older paperbacks just for the cover art, and then started reading them later.


what are some of your favorite titles that you’ve found?


I read ‘Greybeard’ by Brian Aldiss, and ‘Hawksbill Station’ by Robert Silverberg. Both are from the mid ’60’s, but they have held up well.

Christopher Priest, John Brunner, Aldiss, and Silverberg are all worthwhile.

Brunner’s ‘Stand on Zanzibar’ and ‘The Sheep Look Up’ are all time favorites.

Joachim’s blog is a great source for a lot of info on this time period!


Secondhand bookshop pulp sci-fi shopping is my faaaaavourite. With so much out there, though, I generally look out for specific authors. John Wyndham, Harlan Ellison, Cordwainer Smith and Philip K Dick are names i love to spot.


Mmm, interesting I think I have a Cordwainer Smith book – I’m going to have to go and rifle through the shelves.
Lynn 😀


Great post! I am very fortunate to have two of the best SF bookstores in the country within a couple miles of where I live and work: Dreamhaven books, and Uncle Hugos. Both stores sell both new and used books.

One time I asked the owner of Dreamhaven whether a vintage SF paperback by the Strugatsky brothers would hold up to a reading. His response: “That book will probably outlive both of us.”

Another interesting factoid that he shared was that the plastic sleeves that bookstores use to price vintage books and shelve them without damage really aren’t so good for long term book health. He said that books last longer if they can “breathe”.


” the plastic sleeves that bookstores use to price vintage books and shelve them without damage really aren’t so good for long term book health.”

I have heard this too. If the book is in a bag, and any moisture at all gets in there, you are toast.

I used to work not too far from John King Books in the Detroit. I love that place! four stories of used books, stationary, artwork . . . it was like The Cave of Wonders from Disney’s Aladdin.


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FTC Stuff

some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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