Smart Podcast, Trashy Books: Best of 2019

We’re recapping all kinds of stuff this week, and today: our top ten podcast episodes from 2019! 

Smart Podcast Trashy Books where we talk about romance novels and cause all sorts of trouble

Episodes toward the end of the year are at a slight disadvantage, of course, though my late-November conversation with Alyssa Cole in Episode 379 is one of the most recently popular and continues to be shared and linked (with good reason – it’s a great conversation).

But looking at the year overall, these are the top ten most listened to Smart Podcast, Trashy Books episodes of the year – and thank you to everyone who listened, recommended, shared, and posted about the show. Special thanks to all our Patreon community members, who helped shape this season and keep the show going each week!

#10 – 354. Six Books Amanda’s Excited About, and Other Stories from BEA 2019 (June 7)

Amanda was at Book Expo America 2019, and she has books to recommend, titles to squee about, and a definite predilection for candles and reading cover blurbs, too.

We talk about her impressions of this year’s BEA, who it’s for, and how it’s changed over her time working in various parts of publishing. We also talk about how much Amanda likes reading blurbs on the covers of new books.

We talk about so many upcoming releases that aren’t available yet, so we’re very sorry in advance. Key terms to listen for: “claustrophobic thriller” and “snakes are having a moment.”

This was the episode where I first learned about Gideon the Ninth, which went on to become one of Amanda’s and AJ’s and many other people’s favorite books of the year. Amanda and AJ did a whole podcast episode about that book, too!

#9 – 346: Fuchsia has Followed Us Everywhere: Deep Diving Into Romance Cover Art with Kelly Faircloth (April 12)

Kelly Faircloth takes a deep dive in a Jezebel article into the knowledge gap between what we think we know about romance cover art history, and what her research has revealed about what is presumed and what happened. Kelly also examines the individual women whose leadership and artistry shaped what romances looked like then, and now.

Kelly Faircloth is one of my favorite people to talk to about all things romance, and this episode was inspired by one of her articles, this time on the history of romance cover art. It’s fun, funny, and utterly fascinating – mostly because Kelly is a terrific and engaging guest!

#8 – 338. “We’re All Unlikeable Heroines Now:” An Interview with Rachel Hawkins (February 15)

Today I’m chatting with New York Times bestselling author Rachel Hawkins about All The Things. You might know her name from the Hex Hall series, the Rebel Belle series, or the Royals series, or maybe you were as excited as Elyse and Carrie when she announced her next project would be rewriting Jane Eyre as a Southern Gothic feminist rage story. Either way, we have a LOT to talk about.

Speaking of engaging, terrific guests: Rachel Hawkins should have a show where she just talks about everything she’s doing, because it’s all fascinating. In this interview, she talks about her Jane Eyre retelling, The Wife Upstairs.

#7 – 367. The Vagina Bible, Shoes, and Other Essentials: A Conversation with Dr. Jen Gunter (September 6)

The Vagina Bible
A | BN | K | AB
Today I’m chatting with Dr. Jen Gunter, author of The Vagina Bible, and host of the new CBC show Jensplaining. Yes, it’s a Canadian show, and yes, I’m jealous.

We talk about debunking junk science, and how pervasive bad information is about vaginas and vulvas. We talk about vagina pain, caring for trans patients, and sources for good information. And we take a long detour through shoes, because obviously. Priorities.

The Vagina Bible was a highlight of my reading year, and I know some of the SBTB review staff were also blown away by what they learned from it. One of my favorite quotes from this episode from Dr. Gunter: “Misinformation and disinformation about your body is the opposite of feminism.

#6 –339. Gathering in Person With Actual Humans: Amanda and Sarah on Book Clubs, Self Care, and Organizing the TBR (February 22)

This week, Sarah and Amanda are talking about the book clubs, crafting classes, and reader gatherings Amanda is coordinating, running, or attending, and how much she is enjoying all of them. She has advice for anyone who might be thinking of joining an existing group, or starting their own romance reading group, too!

Podcast episodes with Amanda are always fun, and in this one, we talk about forming and finding groups devoted to your favorite things, like reading, or crafting – and how to run one if you’re thinking of starting your own!

#5 – 348. Upbeat Fiction for Unpredictable Times: Live at East City Books with Mia Sosa, Tracey Livesay, and Sally Thorne! (April 26)

This episode was recorded live at East City Books in Washington DC on April 11, 2019. I moderated a panel with Sally Thorne, Tracey Livesay, and Mia Sosa, titled Upbeat Fiction for Unpredictable Times. It was a great panel, and a wonderful audience, too. If you were there, thank you for coming out!

A live show! I did a few events this year, and recorded several of them – including another later-in-the-year episode with Christina Lauren, and with Andie J. Christopher. I love doing live events with romance fans in the DMV – thank you to everyone who made these evenings so much fun!

#4 – 351. Hidden Gems in Romance and Listener Email with Amanda & Sarah (May 17)

Amanda and I are chatting about making recommendations on Instagram, and about hidden gems in romance that maybe don’t get enough attention or mentions. We cover a lot of books here. We discuss books that we love through the lens of nostalgia, and older titles we are wary to suggest to newer readers of romance. We talk about scenery porn, and I also use the word “charming” too much. Sorry.

We received so much listener and reader mail about this episode – and we loved learning what your favorite hidden gems in romance are!

#3 – 364. Love, Romance, and Beautiful Friendships: Melody and Erin from Heaving Bosoms Podcast (August 16)

Today I’m chatting with Erin and Melody from the Heaving Bosoms Podcast and it is so much fun. There is so much laughing.

Does the dog bark? Yes.

Are they each other’s biggest fans? Absolutely.

Is this delightful? Totally.

I had such a wonderful time talking with Erin and Melody – and we plan to do another in 2020, so stay tuned! It’s so lovely to be welcomed into a friendship like theirs with each episode.

#2 – 361. Playing Verbal Poker with Nalini Singh (July 26)

If you’ve ever tried to get answers from Nalini Singh about her books, you probably know she’s a vault in all things. I attempt to find out about the future of the Psy-Changeling world and the Archangel world, and I get exactly nowhere, as I expected. Along the way we talk about making the grumpy heroes melt, our book club discussion of Rebel Hard, how her first drafts are Nalini telling herself the story, and the reader reaction to the time between Archangel’s Prophecy and Archangel’s War. We talk about her upcoming thriller, A Madness of Sunshine, and there’s so, so much in this interview. I hope you enjoy it.

Nalini’s book, A Madness of Sunshine, is out, and Elyse *loved* it. It’s fun to go back and listen to her talk about this book, and the other stories she’s working on, because few writers are as consistently terrific as Nalini Singh

And, the number one most popular episode of 2019?

#1 – 344. Burnout – A Feminist Book about Stress: An Interview with Emily and Amelia Nagoski (March 29)

Burnout
A | BN | K | AB
  Today I am talking with Emily and Amelia Nagoski, authors of Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle. I think this might be one of those episodes you re-listen to, because what Emily and Amelia have to say is incredibly wise and kind and so empowering and soothing – at the same time. No kidding.

Their own description of this book might be the best one. On Amelia’s Medium bio, it says “A feminist book about stress” On Emily’s website, the description reads, It’s for women who feel overwhelmed and exhausted by all they have to do, yet worrying that they’re not doing “enough.”

I have re-read this book, I have re-listened to this conversation, and I’ve started listening to their new podcast, The Feminist Survival Project 2020, which is a wise and kind and soothing and empowering and empathetic as the book and the interview. I’m not surprised this was one of the most popular episodes. It’s definitely one of my favorites.

What do you think of the top ten? What episodes were your favorites this year? Let us know what you’d like to see next year!

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  1. 1
    Katie C. says:

    I would just like to point out the obvious – three of the top 10 episodes are Sarah and Amanda talking – why? Because Amanda is awesome and it is just great to listen to her – hearing Sarah and Amanda talk books is like hanging out with your smart and funny friends! Here is to more Amanda on the podcast in 2020!

  2. 2
    Amanda says:

    @Katie: Oh my gosh, Katie! Thank you so much! Even though I’ve recorded with Sarah a gazillion times, I still get the nervous sweats before we tape an episode. Thank you again for the kind words and for all the SBTB love!

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