Any novels/book series that now seems out of date/risque that wasn't back then?

the subject came up with books my friend and I grew up with in the past decades. Oddly, we talked about the Baby Sitters Club that we read as preteens. It was very youthYA and seemed simple right? Until we brought up Stacey, who was 13yrs old and meets her bud Kristy’s brother who was 17 for the first time and she’s instantly smitten with him, and how she figured he was too with her (he does appear to be attracted to her). (nothing came of it in the series, they say hi from time to time with her saying if she was just older) And my friend and I were surprised we didn’t much of it reading back then, but now we’re stunned.

And Sweet Valley High, where we were laughing today that they had over 200 books from that series and they managed to have zero stories dealing on sex/and who was sleeping with whom. Or even teen pregnancy?(correct me if I’m wrong) It was never discussed in their high school times. Only when they went to college and beyond.

In the Little House on the Prairie series(set in the late 1880s) 25 year old Almanzo Wilder begins courting Laura Ingalls when she was 15. They marry each other when she is 18. (This based on Laura Ingalls’ actual life and the ages are the same.)

To go way, way back, Samuel Richardson’s novel Pamela is about a servant girl whose employer tries to harass and coerce her into a sexual relationship (using methods up to and including kidnapping). That part is surprisingly modern, I thought. But the “happy ending” to the novel is that the employer agrees to marry her and she is suddenly ecstatic and basically worships the ground he walks on. I thought it was a pretty creepy ending by today’s standards!

That is far and away the worst book I have ever read. Hands down, bar none. Thanks for reminding me of it.

Several Heinlein novels have not aged well due to his … unusual … views of sex.

And this wasn’t his strangest book on the subject.

You know today novels have teenage girls sleeping with 200-year-olds, right? But it is okay, because they look young, and rarely murder anyone any more.

There’s nothing at all shocking or inappropriate about a 13-year-old being smitten by a 17-year-old. He absolutely shouldn’t follow through on that, but getting crushes on people who wouldn’t actually be good partners is what 13-year-olds do.

There was an old man a few cabins down the lake from my dad’s place, who wrote “Books For Boys”. Good ol’ rootin-tootin’ Adventures!

The really “neat” thing was… when he finished a chapter, he’d invite all the kids who summered at the lake to his porch, where he’d read it and ask for opinions. Now, this was over fifty years ago, so there was lots of chapters with boys skinny-dippin’ and stealing girls’ undies off the clothesline. A lot of young kids casually “borrowin’ Pa’s rifle to shoot critters”. Oh, and some of the plots took place in the “colored” neighborhood… which was called “Zulutown”!

But that wasn’t just a case of the books being dated, it was real life that was. I doubt modern parents would smile and shake their heads at all the neighborhood boys heading down to “Bare Ass Beach” like my dad and his friends did.

eta: “B.A.B.” wasn’t at some remote lake, it was the sandy bank of the river that ran right through town.

I went to a Babysitters Club wiki page (yup there was one) becuz I hadn’t read the series in ages and didn’t know what became of the characters at the end. Didn’t know they were featured in a super series and the whole family went to a summer vacation house where Stacey and Sam shared a dance. Guess that’s how far it went. Some comments in the wiki that they were cute but thankfully Ann M Martin knew this was just YA fun lit, not Judy Blume territory!

Pretty much by definition, a book that seems out of date will not have seemed out of date at some point in the past and, commonly, will not have seemed out of date when it was written.

Furthermore, a book that was written decades ago, and was contemporary then, is highly likely to seem out of date now; the novels of Jane Austen, for example, or the works of Enid Blyton, are set in social worlds which have entirely vanished, and display very clearly the prejudices and preconceptions of those worlds, which can seem bizarre to us.

That would be I Will Fear No Evil.

Yes, that’s the one I was thinking of.

Although, The Door into Summer, Farnham’s Freehold, and Time Enough for Love are also pretty disturbing.

A tangent, but someone thought this sounded too idyllic…

But it’s true. the old guy was Leo Edwards, the books were the Poppy Ott series (and Trigger Berg and Tuffy Bean and others) and the cabin was on Lake Ripley, Wisconsin.

And it was idyllic. My dad and his siblings (one sister got a book dedicated to her) have so many memories of summer afternoons spent lazing with cookies and lemonade, listening as so many books took shape.

Several early Star Trek novels seem oddly out of place, in this digital era.

They were too busy with stories about girls who die the VERY FIRST TIME they tried a line of cocaine.

The nudity of the female characters in Edgar Rice Burroughs books was fan service even back in the the early 1900’s. But you notice that there’s never been a serious movie adaptation where they did that. Unless you count Bo Derek in Tarzan.

Oh, now he was only 120,

I seem to recall a Wilbur Smith book set in the early 1800s where a runaway / indentured slave is pedophilically abused, beaten half to death and then sold into slavery.
And then ends up marrying the protagonist - although (from recall) her age is never explicitly stated, she would only have been pubescent (13-15 maybe?)


Coincidentally enough I was just speaking to a friend today about Joseph Wambaugh’s “The Choirboys.” Written in the '70s but whoa Nellie there are things in that book that do NOT pass the 21st century sniff test! Still a funny ass book though.