In the words of a spam comment, we have some nice and valuable content!
Amanda and I are catching up. What are we talking about? Shoes we are trying to break in, video games we are playing, and all the books we’ve been reading this summer! Amanda’s into sci-fi mysteries, and I’ve read a whole bunch of different genres. Grab a beverage and come visit with us!
What about you?
What books have rocked your reading time? Have you broken in Birkenstocks? (Am I doomed to agony for eternity?) What are your most comfortable sandals? What is your preferred Mario Kart course? What kind of cracker is the greatest kind of cracker, and why is it Ritz crackers?
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Here are the books we discuss in this podcast:
Links! We have some!
- The complete (whooo damn) Twitter thread from @JohnHMaher on the DOJ v. PRH
- Mod your copy of Stray so you play as Garfield? Yup!
- Tara’s review of Hades.
- The D&D YouTube campaign Amanda’s been watching.
- And, pictures of my Kindle with iron bits stuck to the magnets from the beach at Puerto de Tazacorte, La Palma, in Canarias, Spain:
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Sarah Wendell: Hello there and welcome to episode number 523 of Smart Podcast, Trashy Books. I’m Sarah Wendell, and today Amanda and I, in the words of a spam comment, we have some nice and valuable content. Amanda and I are catching up, and we are talking about shoes we’re trying to break in, videogames we want to play, and all the books we’ve been reading this summer. Amanda’s been into science fiction mysteries, I have read a whole bunch of genres, so grab a beverage and come visit with us; we’re talking about summer reading.
Hello and thank you to our Patreon community. Each pledge makes sure that the show keeps going and that every episode has a transcript hand compiled by garlicknitter; hello, garlicknitter! [Hello, Sarah and Amanda! – gk] Thank you so much to everyone in the Patreon community for supporting the show. If you like what we do and you would like to support the show, monthly pledges begin at one dollar. Have a look at patreon.com/SmartBitches.
This episode is brought to you in part by my favorite comfortable, washable shoes, Rothy’s. I have never been someone who gets obsessed with shoes, really? Foods, absolutely; romance pairings, no question. Shoes? Not so much, until I found Rothy’s. They are comfortable right out of the box, they have incredible styles, they have colors that I like so much I want to own all of them, and they are, as you may have heard me say, washable. I went on vacation recently, and did I bring Rothy’s? Yes! Yes, I did: I brought two pair. I brought blue Points because they make every outfit look I am dressed up. They are stylish, they are comfortable, and they weigh nothing, so it is not a big deal to pack them. I’m not alone in loving the Point either: People magazine named the Point the best flat for their first ever style awards in 2021! But the pair I wore the most were my Lace Up sneakers. They stretch, they’re comfortable, and they’re washable, and after wearing them around volcanic dust, sand, and airports, they needed a visit with the washing machine, and they came out looking like new! I love Rothy’s a lot, not only because of how they look but because of how long they last. Step up your shoes and accessories this summer and get ready to be asked, are those Rothy’s? Plus, get twenty dollars off your first purchase at rothys.com/SARAH. That’s R-O-T-H-Y-S dot com slash SARAH.
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All right, let’s get started on all of the things we’re catching up on, but especially all the books we’ve been reading on vacation this summer. On with the podcast with me and Amanda!
Sarah: I have to tell you that I have a rule – I have a lot of rules; you know this – but I have a rule that I only check on Twitter twice a day, mostly for my mental health.
Amanda: Good rule!
Sarah: Now, if some shit is going down, then I might look at it a couple more times?
Amanda: Oh, for sure!
Sarah: Because it’s –
Amanda: Love mess.
Sarah: Right, like, oh! There is a drama. But John Maher’s live tweeting of the DOJ, the Department of Justice versus –
Amanda: Oh, yes, yes!
Sarah: – Penguin Random House? Every day I look at, like, the, the previous day’s recount of this trial, and I’m like, wooow! This is so wild, and I cannot imagine what this is like for people who work inside publishing to watch executives testify who, like, like, we don’t know how a book becomes a bestseller! It just happens like magic!
Sarah: So I just wanted to begin by thanking you for all of that magic that you have apparently created –
Sarah: – as a book reviewer and a bookseller and a bookstore person and an events coordinator. Clearly you’re shooting unicorns out your butt here, right? Just, unicorns are just flying out your butthole! Making books bestsellers –
Amanda: I wish.
Sarah: – with magic!
Amanda: I wish that were the case.
Sarah: Just magical wishy wishiness! It’s all, it’s all, it’s all random! That’s why we’re Random House.
Amanda: If I, if I had magical, like, unicorn butthole magic –
Amanda: – I would not be using it well.
Sarah: Well, there’s the title of this episode: Amanda and Sarah, Unicorn Butthole Magic.
Amanda: Butthole magic! I would not be wasting it on making people’s books a bestseller. Sorry!
Sarah: [Laughs] If, if I had, if I had magical butt, butthole, unicorn butthole bestseller magic, I would make different books bestsellers than the books –
Amanda: Oh, for sure!
Sarah: – that sometimes are! But you know –
Amanda: I’d do, like, a whole, like, Men in Black, you forget you saw this book even exists. It’s gone from your memory.
Sarah: [Laughs] That’s one of the –
Sarah: – weirdest things about bookselling and book production: the amount of moral pressure – you should read this book; you should like this book; you should do this job for a very low wage because it is your passion. I have just unilaterally decided to excoriate “should” from my, my motivations in life? I feel like businesses might want to dial back on the moral should of reading books.
Amanda: Like, don’t get me started on my, like, opinions about classics? I think classics are overrated; I think they’re boring –
Amanda: – and I think you shouldn’t waste your time! Life is too short to read books that people think you should read.
Amanda: Like, who cares? I don’t!
Sarah: Oh yeah.
Amanda: I mean, if that’s, if you’re genuinely interested in that’s what you want to read? Sure, have at it, but, like, the whole literary canon bullshit, like –
Sarah: You are a superior person because you have read these superior books.
Amanda: I’m making jack-off motions on camera –
Sarah: I can see that! [Laughs]
Amanda: – to Sarah. Like, that’s how I feel. [Laughs] It’s just, like, so much self-importance, and I think it’s unnecessary.
Sarah: It’s also super racist.
Amanda: Oh, for sure.
Sarah: Hella racist?
Linus! Is he leaving or entering?
Amanda: Yeah. Leaving.
Sarah: Okay, so you can’t see this, but we record over Zoom, and over Amanda’s shoulder the door just very slowly opened and I was like, cat or ghost? [Laughs]
Amanda: I mean, well, I think I mentioned to you, the minute I start talking, whether it’s on a podcast or Discord –
Sarah: He has to leave.
Amanda: – he, he leaves. He’s like, I don’t want to listen to you yammer on.
Sarah: Well, I’m getting yelled at by Wilbur, so that’ll eventually be on the mic. He does not –
Amanda: Wilbur is so – like, he just has a very chill disposition. Yes!
Sarah: For this episode I wanted to do some catching up and talking about –
Sarah: – what we’ve been reading, but –
Sarah: – I have to tell you, one of the other things I do first thing in the morning is go through the comments and, you know, release things from spam that have been caught in the spam filter. So someone commented in our, in our spam comments today that we have nice and valuable content. So thank you for the –
Amanda: Oh, that’s great!
Sarah: – nice and valuable content. I won’t go to the rest of the comment, because the rest of the comment was spam and had nothing to do with us, but I’m just going to pretend that the nice and valuable content was meant for us personally.
Sarah: So go us! Nice and valuable content.
So I have two things to tell you.
Amanda: Also a good, a good podcast title.
Together: Nice and Valuable Content.
Sarah: That’s a whole show: Nice and Valuable Content: A Podcast. Because you know what we need more of?
Amanda: Nice and valuable content!
Sarah: And podcasts.
Amanda: There’s so many! [Laughs]
Sarah: There’s so many podcasts; we need more!
So I have decided to do something truly terrible to myself.
Sarah: I have decided that I’m going to try to buy and wear and break in a pair of Birkenstocks.
Amanda: Ooh! That’s how I feel – where are they? My, I bought some Doc Martens. [Laughs]
Sarah: Oh, same, same thing! Same thing!
Sarah: It’s a process.
Sarah: And I’m like, okay, speaking of, like, speaking of moral authority, there is a certain person on Birkenstocks subreddits and groups that is like, no, the torture is the point –
Sarah: – and I’m like, no! [Laughs] My life is too short for torture! But here’s –
Sarah: – here’s where it was! It gets warm here earlier than it did in New Jersey, it stays warmer here longer, and I can’t walk around barefoot ‘cause I will start to hurt, so I’ve been just wearing out sandals! I would buy sandals and then, like, by the end of the summer they would be toast, and I’m like, this is really kind of annoying. The thing about Birkenstocks is, is you by them, and allegedly they last forever, but you have to go through the torture first. So I bought a pair, and I have flat feet. My arches collapsed a long fucking time ago, and I used to dance, so, like, my, my feet are a process, and I was en pointe when I was ten until I was eighteen, so, like, my feet have been through it. I have to say, this is not fun, the breaking-in process? They’re supposed to, like, warm up and mold to your feet, and one is fine, and the other is like, what are, what is this? This is terrible. Let’s have some blisters. More blisters. How ‘bout a straight line of blisters?
Amanda: I –
Sarah: How about a whole strip – and I’m like, this is terrible! What am I doing wrong? And the only answer I’ve found is keep going, it will be worth it! And I’m like, o-, okay!
Amanda: Where are my sandals? I, I know you’ve already purchased your Birkenstocks. I –
Sarah: Yes, they’re actually on my feet right now, and I’m wearing socks and Band-aids because –
Amanda: I am Team Chacos.
Sarah: Oh, I like those!
Amanda: My brother is Team –
Sarah: What the sole look like? How, how, how good is the sole? Is it smooth, or is it grippy? No, the, the bottom of the shoe. The bottom. That’s not too bad! That’s not too bad.
Amanda: No! So my brother is Team Chaco. He has, they’re kind of like Tevas, where, you know, they’ve got, like, the colorful straps and stuff like that –
Amanda: – or you can get the more fashionable, like, leather version like I had?
Sarah: Right. Right.
Amanda: No break-in process, so comfy; I wear these to the bookstore. The, like, other ones, the, like, hiking sandals have, like, a lifetime warranty.
Amanda: My brother’s already gotten, like, his replaced. Like, Team, Team Chacos!
Sarah: Good to know! I will, I will consider this option. I’m still –
Sarah: – I’m still wedded to the break-in process. I’ve given myself to the end of the month before I, like –
Sarah: – go seek real help.
Amanda: You’ve committed –
Sarah: I’ve committed!
Amanda: – for now.
Sarah: I’ve committed to new shoes. And I –
Amanda: My Docs are, are no closer, I feel like. I’ve tried the, like, wearing several socks to stretch out the leather, and it’s still so tight.
Amanda: So I got them thrifted, so they weren’t full price, but –
Sarah: I love that!
Sarah: I love that! That’s, that’s one – I could not buy used Birkenstocks because that’s someone else’s footprint literally in the shoe –
Sarah: – and I can’t. Cannot, cannot, cannot!
Now before I recap what did you read on the beach, I also want to tell you, I am trying a new recipe tonight?
Sarah: We are making gnocchi, but using instant mashed potato flakes for the dough.
Sarah: I am very curious how this turns out.
Amanda: I make a sweet potato gnocchi –
Amanda: – and I just –
Sarah: Is this from the Cravings cookbook?
Amanda: Yes! And I just get the sweet potatoes that are in the plastic that you just pop in your microwave for eight minutes.
Amanda: And then you peel ‘em and mash ‘em. And it’s, like, that, ricotta, and flour.
Amanda: That was it.
Sarah: Let’s talk beach reading, shall we?
Sarah: I just spent roughly two weeks on a beach –
Amanda: It’s true, you did, yeah.
Sarah: – in two different beaches. And I was on volcanic beaches – I was in Canarias, which are part of Spain but off the coast of Morocco – and both, all the islands are volcanic, so there’s a lot of iron fillings and shavings in the sand, so if I left –
Amanda: Oh my gosh.
Sarah: – my Kindle on my blanket, iron would start adhering to the magnets on the front of the Kindle. I can tell you –
Amanda: Oh my God.
Sarah: – (a) I can tell you where all the magnets are and (b) how much time I spent trying to get the magnets, or the iron off of my kindle. It was like a small piece every day. Like, you know when you plug in a USB and you have to keep flipping it over until it goes in right?
Sarah: I used that amount of time trying to keep the iron off the face of my Kindle, and then I had to get a Q-tip and wipe the iron shavings out of the charging port. Like, this thing was like –
Amanda: Oh my God.
Sarah: – I love this beach; I wish to become part of it. Like, if I left it alone, my Kindle would snuggle into the sand.
Amanda: [Laughs] It’d become one with the beach.
Sarah: It would. It would become one with the beach. But I did a lot of reading. So I have books to report.
Sarah: And I know you went to the beach!
Sarah: What did you read?
Amanda: I did! I don’t think I did a lot of – I am that person that’s like, I’m going to bring a book when I travel, and then it sits untouched.
Amanda: It sits untouched. I did pick up a book, so the book that I carted with me to the beach that I did not read – [laughs] –
Sarah: Your traveling companion book?
Amanda: Yeah! I picked up on recommendation from Estelle at Forever – wonderful publicist Estelle – she had texted me if I had heard of or picked up this book called How to Fake It in Hollywood by Ava Wilder?
Amanda: She’s like, have you read it? I need to talk to someone about it ‘cause I loved it. And so I picked, I bought this book with my own dollars based on Estelle’s recommendation. Have not started it, have literally just been carrying it everywhere. It’s my little bus companion, my subway companion –
Sarah: [Laughs] It’s your – wait, what is it that you get in –
Amanda: – beach companion –
Sarah: – in Portal with the little heart on it?
Amanda: Oh, the Companion Cube!
Sarah: Yeah, this is your Companion Book.
Amanda: [Laughs] My Companion Book! So that’s with me.
Sarah: Yeah. Well, that’s good! That’s good.
Amanda: Yeah! I’ve most-, I’ve mostly been videogaming it up.
Sarah: Yeah? What have you been playing?
Amanda: Yeah. Well, several things. So there’s three things that I’ve been playing. At my partner’s place I started Super Mario Odyssey? And I am, have turned into a, a nightmare person for this game. Like, you beat the game, and you have to find these little moons! You find moons by, like, finding secrets or doing levels or whatever –
Amanda: – and there’s 999 moons in the game, and I am just on a quest for moons all the time.
Amanda: So, like, I’ll go over to his place and like, yeahyeahyeah, you do whatever you need to do; I don’t care if you play Warcraft. What I, I need to get moons! And I’m just –
Sarah: I need to grind for the moon.
Amanda: And I’m just sitting around like –
Sarah: Grinding for the Moon, by the way, would be a great podcast.
Amanda: [Laughs] It’s probably a Chuck Tingle book, let’s be honest.
Sarah: Grinding for the Moon by My Butt?
Sarah: No, I, I, we, we have to incorporate the sparkly unicorn magic! [Laughs]
Amanda: Butt magic.
Sarah: I love some sparkly unicorn butt magic while you grind for the moon.
Amanda: [Laughs] And then I picked up a game called Stray, which I’m enjoying playing by myself. You are a little stray cat –
Amanda: – in, like, a cyberpunk world. So it’s a little spooky; it’s spookier than I thought it would be, but yeah! You’re just a little cat with a backpack in this, like, dystopian cyberpunk setting.
Sarah: Oh, that’s cool!
Amanda: And a lot of people have, like, modded the game so you can look like your own cat, or someone made a Garfield mod where you look like Garfield the cat in the game? [Laughs] It’s ridiculous. Let me see if I can find –
Sarah: I love when people make mods that are just, I wanted to look like Garfield, so here you go.
Amanda: Yeah. And then I needed a break from the moons –
Amanda: – and Tara has reviewed this on the site, Hades, and I tried playing Hades –
Sarah: Ohhh, Hades. She loves that game!
Amanda: Yeah. I tried playing Hades a couple months ago at Brian’s apartment –
Amanda: – and I was having one of the worst allergy attacks of my life, so I was miserable –
Sarah: So you weren’t allergic to it, but you were just miserable.
Amanda: Yeah, I was miserable, I wasn’t doing very well, and I’m like, this game is stupid; I’m never going to play it. I’m like, you know what? Maybe I should give it another chance, now that I have all of my faculties. I get it. I get it now. I get why Tara loves it. I love, it’s so much fun. I want to kiss everybody; everybody is so hot in that game?
Sarah: [Laughs, whispers] Everyone is so hot.
Amanda: Everyone is so attractive in that game! And I like the kind of replayability, like – we’ll link to Tara’s review, which is pretty spot-on about why it’s so enjoyable. But, like, two of the three games I can only play when I’m at my partner’s apartment, so I’m always angling to be like, hey, can I just, like, come over for a little bit in your AC and play videogames, please?
Sarah: Listen, I would date a person for their AC and their videogames.
Amanda: Yeah, it’s pretty sweet.
So yeah, just, the one book that I’ve been carting around with me –
Amanda: – and then videogames. Those, that’s a, that’s my relaxing. But you read a bunch on the beach you said –
Sarah: I did; I read a –
Amanda: – so you actually got stuff done!
Sarah: I read a ton. It’s, one of my favorite things about being on vacation is that my responsibilities are like a list of four things: get up, have a coffee; put on sunscreen; go to the beach; read a book.
Amanda: Make sure you eat something at some point.
Sarah: Look at your phone. And the thing about Spanish culture that I missed a lot is that lunch is usually like two, three o’clock; it’s a long meal –
Sarah: – and then there is naptime built into the schedule. It’s just so frigging hot that you –
Sarah: – there’s naptime. Like, I went to school there; even in high school my schedule was like nine to one, and then I went home for lunch and siesta, and then I came back at like five until seven. I had a very long lunch and a very long nap every day.
Amanda: I love that!
Sarah: It was just so civilized. So we would get up, have coffee, put on sunscreen – and of course TSA confiscated our sunscreen ‘cause we fly carryon, and they were like –
Sarah: – oh, this is too big, and I was like, well, shit. So I had to go into the pharmacy in Spain, and I’m not super great on pharmacy Spanish; like, I had to ask for a lot of help with that; but I was like, well, TSA took my sunscreen because it’s so dangerous; and she’s like, well, let me show you more dangerous sunscreen right over here.
Sarah: And they were actually super great, ‘cause there’s, the, the different formulations outside of the US have completely different chemicals and processes in them –
Sarah: – and they, they go on, they’re not sticky and gluey; it’s so nice; so I just, like, bought a bunch of sunscreen? So my, my one thing to do today is put on sunscreen, go to the beach, read a book, get up, eat lunch, have wine, back to the beach, read a book, go to bed! Like, my day is great! Sometimes I read Reddit; sometimes I read a book!
Amanda: I will say, beach reading, Brian was also at the beach, the very pale person that he is. His beach reading was looking on Reddit; so he, he plays a game called Civilization?
Amanda: His beach reading was the Civ –
Amanda: – the Civ subreddit. Yep! [Laughs]
Sarah: I mean, that’s perfectly fine, so that’s perfectly fine. So –
Amanda: So that was his beach reading!
Sarah: – here’s a recap of what I read: so I read two memoirs, some of one series, and some of another series.
Sarah: So I read Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher.
Sarah: I read that –
Amanda: That –
Sarah: – in one day.
Amanda: I feel like I read one of – I listened to one of her, the Star Wars one.
Sarah: The Princess Diarist.
Amanda: Yes. I was listening to that one, and I think she had just died, or she, I think she had died while I was listening to it.
Sarah: Oh no!
Amanda: It was a library hold.
Sarah: Oh no!
Amanda: And it, yeah, I couldn’t finish it afterwards; it was – but, like, hearing her in my head –
Amanda: – like, reading her stuff was really great.
Sarah: I’m getting yelled at by the cat. I don’t know if you can hear this, but he is just –
Sarah: – yelling at me. Could you just –
Sarah: – could you just not yell at me? Here, have food. Throw food on the floor for you, you weirdo.
The next memoir that I read, it was a lot. It was a lot, a lot, but I had a really hard time putting it down, so incredible amounts of praise to the ghost writer? I read Down the Rabbit Hole by Holly Madison, which is her –
Amanda: Oh, that’s right, you –
Sarah: Yeah, her –
Amanda: – mentioned that on, like, a Whatcha Reading?
Sarah: – her memoir about her time living in the Playboy Mansion and, you know, being Hugh Hefner’s number one girlfriend, ‘cause usually he has several.
Amanda: What does that even mean?
Sarah: Well, I found out in the book! Number one girlfriend means you live in a bedroom in the Playboy Mansion that’s attached to his bedroom, and it’s basically a closet. That’s what the number one girlfriend is. And the house is like, he doesn’t own the Playboy Mansion; he rents the rooms out of the Playboy Mansion. The Playboy company owns the Mansion. There’s just like, it’s dirty, it’s old, there’s dog pee everywhere; like, it’s super gross? And Hugh is ugghhh.
Sarah: But, yeah, it was, it was hard reading sometimes because there’s a lot of patriarchal bullshit standards going on –
Sarah: – in the Playboy Mansion, to put it mildly, but Holly Madison’s memoir is really, really good, so props to her and her ghost writer, ‘cause I had a really hard time putting it down.
Amanda: I’m about to start a memoir that’s getting a lot of buzz, and I got, like, an advanced audio copy –
Amanda: – of it? Jennette McCurdy’s memoir, I’m Glad My Mom Died.
Sarah: I have read so many excerpts of this; I have seen people discussing it in a bunch of different gossip subreddits. It is going to be a rough read, but I –
Sarah: – fucking love the title and the cover.
Amanda: Yeah. I got an advanced audiobook copy of it, so I, I would love to dig into it while I’m working on my craft project. Yeah, so I’m, I don’t do a lot of memoirs, and when I do I do audio. So that’s one that I’m excited for, but very nervous because it seems heavy stuff.
Sarah: Yeah. Well, I mean, the title is I’m Glad My Mom Died.
Amanda: Yeah! Okay, so those are your two nonfictions, and then, okay.
Sarah: Those are my two nonfiction. I am very curious about this memoir too.
Sarah: So then I read – so you know Kathryn Moon –
Sarah: – who wrote A Lady of Rooksgrave –
Amanda: The monster, yeah –
Amanda: – the manor, yeah.
Sarah: Tempting Monsters, A Lady of Rooksgrave Manor.
Sarah: So I read the sequel, The Company of Fiends. I didn’t enjoy it as much as A Lady of Rooksgrave Manor, but if you like monster-fucking there is lots –
Sarah: – at the theatre. There’s a lot of theatre fucking.
Sarah: But then Kathryn Moon also wrote a series called the Sweet Pea Mysteries, and it starts with –
Sarah: – The Baker’s Guide to Risky Rituals, and then the second one was The Knitter’s Guide to Banishing Boyfriends.
Amanda: Are these – they sound very different than the monster-fucking book.
Sarah: They are!
Sarah: There, there was a lot, a lot less fucking? Like, I kept waiting like –
Sarah: – all right, so there’s a lot of emotional development; I’m here for that; and there’s some friend drama; okay? And there’s some lusting, there’s lots of lusting, but the premise is a motorcycle club that’s actually made up of demons from Hell, Bowels of Hell, has arrived in this town of Sweet Pea because Sweet Pea is just so fricking twee and sweet and good and wonderful, Hell is like, uh-uh, now we’ve got to destroy this place. And the reason that it is the way it is, is in part because of a group of witches who live there, one of whom is a kitchen witch, one of whom is a knitting witch, and one of whom is kind of scary and we’re not sure? Like, call her basement witch, and then there’s a, a plant witch. And they’re part of the reason –
Amanda: They’re, they’re like, you are not disrupting our peace here –
Sarah: Yeah. Excuse me –
Amanda: – motorcycle demons.
Sarah: – we worked really hard to keep this place mellow, so y’all can fuck off, but of course the problem is that all of these demons in human form are kind of hot –
Amanda: Yeah, of course.
Sarah: – and they’re kind of into the witches, which is a bit of a problem. So they’re committed to destroy the town, and the witches are committed to defend the town, and then there’s knitting and cooking and patisserie and –
Sarah: – yeah, and there’s terrible, terrible men who get destroyed, which is nice.
Sarah: Which is very nice. Manipulative dudes who groom and, and abuse people, they get, they get destroyed; that’s pretty great. But there was surprisingly little sex? And I kept looking at Adam going, I’m enjoying this, but where’s the fucking? I was expecting more fucking!
Amanda: Yeah. Yeah.
Sarah: But I should have known from Sweet Pea Mysteries?
Sarah: I should have figured that out, but I like them! They’re all right!
Sarah: I wouldn’t recommend them to someone who’s like, I wish to read all of the fucking in all of the ways. That, that’s not what’s in here.
Sarah: There’s some, there’s some, but there’s not a lot. [Coughs] Excuse me.
And then the last thing I have to tell you about is something you will absolutely hate!
Amanda: Ohhh, I was like, love? Huh?
Sarah: No, this is not for Amandas. There is a mystery series that’s on KU. It is published, I think it’s by Bookouture; yes, Book, Book Couture, Bookouture, Bookouture. I don’t know how to say that! It’s a cozy mystery series in a small town with a heroine who writes obituaries, so of course she has to get all up in the dead people’s business, and of course it’s one of those small towns in England where everyone dies, like every other week someone is murdered –
Sarah: – but no one finds this alarming?
Hello, this is Sarah from later during editing. Did I completely forget to mention the name of this book? Yes. Yes, I did. The book that I am talking about right now is called Mystery on Hidden Lane. It is the Eve Mallow series, and I will link to it in the show notes, but wow! Forgot to mention the title! Good going, Past Me, so Present Me is fixing it. Now, back to the podcast.
So there’s, one, Eve will always tell her dog what’s going on. Like, there’s a chapter where she tells her dog what’s happening in the case. There’s always some scenes –
Sarah: – where she tells the lady who she works at the tea shop and makes all the pastries – she works at the, at the teashop with the person who owns the teashop and makes all the pastries – there’s going to be a scene where teashop lady needs to know the tea, you haven’t told her everything, so they literally sit down with tea –
Sarah: – and then Eve fills her in, and then she always ends up in danger because she is sleuthing without a license, I guess? Or she’s just, she’s an obituary writer.
Sarah: So it’s, it is very predictable, but my goodness, they are – you know how some books are like Pringles potato chips –
Sarah: – there’s one after the other, and then you get to the bottom of the tube and you’re like, well, now I’m out of Pringles; how did that happen? I just started this can, and then like two seconds later they’re gone? This is a step above Pringles, but it’s not like mainlining cookies. Like, what’s a stack of something that is, has some body to it, but isn’t like a potato chip? Maybe it’s like a, a sleeve of Ritz crackers. I could destroy –
Amanda: I was going to say cracker –
Amanda: – like a buttery cracker.
Sarah: These are, these are like buttery cracker books.
Amanda: Yeah, okay.
Sarah: Like, I could destroy a sleeve of Ritz crackers or, or the Club crackers with all the butter; I could destroy those with no –
Amanda: Ooh yeah.
Sarah: – no problem.
Amanda: I have some of those in my pantry that I’m probably going to have after this podcast.
Sarah: I think you should do that! Hell yeah!
Amanda: Cheese and crackers for sure.
Sarah: I also make sourdough discard crackers for Adam, and they’re super, it’s very, very, very simple. It’s two tablespoons of butter and three-quarters of a cup of the discard from my sourdough starter when I’m feeding it. Melt the butter, mix in the starter, add seasoning. So usually what I do is buy a container of the Everything Bagel seasoning and then just –
Sarah: – put that all up in there and then sprinkle a little salt on the top? And then you –
Sarah: – bake ‘em for ten minutes so that you can cut them, and then bake them for an hour, and that’s it. It’s butter and sourdough starter and seasoning. They’re so crispy and little. But I could put away a sleeve of those too.
So yeah, these are more like cracker books. Like –
Sarah: – you could just eat one after the other and be very happy and very snacky, but you’re still mainlining the same flavor, and it’s fine!
Sarah: It’s fine!
So I, I’m really pleased that I can find, like, series like that? I like a good cracker book!
Amanda: A little cracker book! A little plain sometimes –
Sarah: Right. Like, I, I can’t read like ten in a row because then I’ll be like, is it time for her to say – yep, it’s time for her to say that. Oh, are we going to the – yep, we’re –
Sarah: Oh, time to walk the dog and recap the case! Let’s go for a walk!
Sarah: [Laughs] And there’s a lot of descriptions like, like when they’re describing the pastry: oh, and the, the tartness of the cream was set off perfectly by the flaky, buttery crust, and it takes a side trip into –
Amanda: It’s always a flaky, buttery crust!
Sarah: Yeah, like, it, it, it takes a side trip into food porn, maybe? Always. But that’s what I’ve been reading in the two weeks that I was away. Along with magazines.
Amanda: That’s pretty good reading.
Sarah: Along with magazines.
Sarah: So what –
Amanda: Well, you get them from your library!
Sarah: I do; I get all my magazines from my library.
Amanda: But I know you do that, but I still can’t, like, I still picture you with, like, a stack of magazines that you’ve just, like, shoved into your carryon.
Sarah: No. No, no, just a tablet. I did bring embroidery with me. Elyse sent me an embroidery kit for my birthday, so I brought the kit with me, and I would sit on the planes and listen to –
Sarah: – podcasts or listen to an audiobook and embroider. That was very nice –
Sarah: – and my needle and tiny scissors didn’t get confiscated, unlike my sunscreen, which is a clear and present danger.
Amanda: That is wild.
Sarah: Somebody might not get a sunburn; that’s too dangerous. No, no, no!
Amanda: That’s wild.
Sarah: I know!
Amanda: No, I’ve been, when I cross-stitch, I’ve been watching a lot of, like, D&D campaigns?
Amanda: Yeah. So I’m watching Dimension 20’s campaign called “A Crown of Candy,” which is –
Sarah: As you do.
Amanda: – like, set in this, like, candy food kingdom? Very good!
Sarah: Oh, like that one course on Mario Kart where you drive through syrup and –
Sarah: – crash into ice cream cones.
Sarah: That’s one of my fav- – my kids hate that, hate that one, and I love that one.
Amanda: I, I love a Rainbow Road, but in general I’m bad at Mario Kart, so.
Sarah: One thing that my older child always does when we travel is he will pack his Switch and the dock and the cable and then enough controllers so that wherever we are he sets up videogame space for us. Like, if we’re in an Airbnb –
Amanda: That’s so sweet.
Sarah: – he’ll plug it into the TV. So we can play, we’ve played Mario Kart in so many different countries around the world; like, so many.
Amanda: I feel like, yeah, you, when, last time you traveled you were like, yeah, we’re playing Mario Kart right now.
Sarah: Yeah! In Portugal? Played Mario Kart. It was cold and rainy, so we got snacks and wine for me and for Adam and we played Mario Kart! But I’ve played Mario Kart around the world, and it’s really fun, but we all have our favorite courses; mine is the one with the, with the food.
Amanda: It’s like Where is Sarah Mario Kart-ing?
Amanda: Where in the World is Sarah Mario Kart-ing?
Sarah: Where in the world have we played Mario Kart? All the places.
Amanda: Do you have, like, your specific characters so you all pick the same?
Sarah: Sometimes we all pick different colors of the same character; like, there’s different Yoshis, so we’re all a different color Yoshi, and then invariably I will think I’m controlling a character that I am not controlling –
Sarah: – and my actual car is in the wall –
Sarah: – like, spinning?
Amanda: Done, I have done that, for sure.
Sarah: Oh yeah.
Amanda: Like, oh, I’m looking at your box; sorry.
Amanda: Like, definitely not even looking at my own screen!
Sarah: And then my older child prefers – who does he prefer? I think he prefers Metal Mario or, or Bowser, but he, like, researched the best car/character/weight combos.
Sarah: And Adam almost always goes for, for Yoshi.
Amanda: That tracks –
Amanda: – I feel like, yeah.
Sarah: It tracks.
Sarah: So what is next on your reading list, in addition to the book you’re carrying around with you?
Amanda: Yeah, my Book Companion.
Sarah: Your, your Book Companion Cube.
Amanda: The memoir. I’ve mentioned this on the site: I’m very excited about, was it Station Eternity? It’s like a sci-fi cozy mystery?
Amanda: Midsolar Murders? So that one is –
Sarah: Yeah, mid- – let’s just take a –
Sarah: Midsolar Murders.
Sarah: Somebody had a great idea, and I love this. Midsolar Murders?
Amanda: I, I think I might wait for it not to be ninety degrees here before I start reading that, ‘cause it seems like a cozy read, and I want to be cozy when I read it? And it’s hard to do that when it’s ninety-six and you live in an apartment with no central AC. So.
Sarah: I – I understand completely.
Sarah: Like, yes, I get it.
Amanda: Yeah. And then there’s this book that, like, I haven’t bought yet, but I keep eyeing and I want to buy it. It’s called Drunk on All Your Strange New Words by Eddie Robson? And it’s a, like a sci-fi locked room mystery. The main character is kind of like a mediocre translator, and she’s working as a translator for this, like, alien race, like a diplomat from an alien race –
Amanda: – and the act of translating their words, like, gets her like drunk.
Amanda: But then, like, she, you know, forms a friendship with, like, this diplomat, but then the diplomat winds up dying under mysterious circumstances –
Amanda: – and so she winds up, obviously, like, trying to figure out to, like, her friend. The police – you know, I think it’s, like, set in, like, a futuristic New York? It looks very interesting! And I feel like each day I get closer and closer to buying it. So.
Sarah: I mean, I, I, do you need me to enable you? I think you should!
Amanda: [Laughs] So right now we’re in like a sci-fi mystery – I just read a book called Dead Silence, which was like Space Titanic meets like the movie Ghost Ship, which I love. It’s one of my favorite horror movies. So it’s like, yeah, like a salvage team finds this luxury space liner that went missing on its maiden voyage –
Amanda: – hanging out in space, and they’re like, cool! We just hit jackpot! We can salvage all this shit off of this fancy ship, not really thinking about like, why the hell did this ship disappear –
Sarah: Right, like if you inherit –
Amanda: – decades ago? [Laughs]
Sarah: – if you inherit a very creepy house on a hill that no one has been in for a while, your first thought is, well, something’s going to kill me, obviously.
Sarah: I’m going to become haunted.
Amanda: But it’s very, it’s very campy. You, you know, like, you get introduced to the crew and there’s, like, the jaded captain and, like –
Amanda: – the excited newbie and, like, the guy who thinks he can do a better job than the captain can.
Sarah: Yep, always that dude.
Amanda: Yeah. Super campy. It, but it was fine. It was fun. But yeah, I’ve been on, like, a sci-fi mystery kick for sure.
Sarah: That’s awesome!
Sarah: I have also been on a more mystery kick than –
Amanda: Yours are more cozy, though!
Sarah: Mine are much more cozy, yeah. I think it’s that my brain wants problems solved. There are so many big problems that I can’t personally solve that my brain is like, no, no, no, we need to solve problems. Let’s solve all the problems. Okay! That’s fine. I’m going to read, like, organizational books, too, ‘cause, you know, I love a good problem solve.
Sarah: And that brings us to the end of this week’s episode. Do not worry: I will have links to all of the books and the videogames that we talked about and the D&D channel that Amanda is watching and the mod of pics if you want to play Stray and look like Garfield. We’ve got you; I’ve got all the links, do not worry, at smartbitchestrashybooks.com/podcast.
But I want to know: what about you? What books have rocked your reading time this summer? What books have rocked your world? And am I doomed to be in agony for eternity while breaking in Birkenstocks? Is that what’s happening here? Do you have a preferred Mario Kart course? I want to hear from you. I just want to hear all your thoughts: [email protected] or Sarah with an H at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books dot com [[email protected]], whatever is easier for you to remember when you’re done doing the things that you’re doing right now. I would love to hear from you!
As always, I have bad jokes, because that is the best part of the show, right? I mean, obviously. This joke is from Alison. Alison sent me jokes. Alison, you’re fabulous. Are you ready for Alison’s joke? Because it’s wonderful.
What is orange and sounds like a parrot?
What’s orange and sounds like a parrot?
[Laughs] It is so silly, I love it! Thank you, Alison! You know you can always send me jokes and it makes my entire week, right? I love it when you do that, so thank you for all of the jokes you send in.
On behalf of everyone here, we wish you the very best of reading. Have a wonderful weekend, and we will see you back here next week.
Smart Podcast, Trashy Books is part of the Frolic Podcast Network. You can find outstanding shows to subscribe to at frolic.media/podcasts.
This podcast transcript was handcrafted with meticulous skill by Garlic Knitter. Many thanks.
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Just magical wishy wishiness! It’s all, it’s all, it’s all random! That’s why we’re Random House.
At this point I had to stop reading the transcript and proceed immediately to the linked twitter thread (not passing Go, not collecting $200). (Also? LOL)
Comfy sandals – Skechers On-the-go slides. So soft.
I’m boycotting S&S for publishing way more than their share of Team Insurrection (no publisher is blameless in that regard, but S&S is noteworthy in their commitment), so I view the testimony through a particularly cynical lens: when they sit in front of those politicians who will decide the future of their business and say things like “We pay AT LEAST $100,000 up front for books, that’s LOW,” it’s effectively a bribe. (And because they can count on that bulk-order dagger on the bestseller list when the speaking engagements are conditional on the host buying thousands of copies, it doesn’t actually cost the publisher anything. The wins just keep coming!) Publishing CEOs couldn’t care less about novels for the plebs, but they’re intimately involved in bestowing gifts on people in a position to do them favors. They’re not really jaw-droppingly detached from reality, they just live in a rarefied one beyond the comprehension of peasants.
On a less burn-it-all-down-and-salt-the-ashes note, my preferred cracker at the moment is homemade flatbread (seasoned according to mood at the time of dough prep) cut into bite-size pieces and thrown in the oven at a low temp for a couple of hours to dry out until crunchy. Those sourdough crackers tempt me to get a new starter going, though…
My feet generally have a very adversarial relationship with new shoes, so you have my good wishes, Sarah.
As for crackers, I’m fond of Pepperidge Farms butterfly crackers…with brie, yum!
I have not had time to listen yet because I am waaaay behind on podcasts but re: Birkenstocks I just had to say that I bought some this summer as well. I L-O-V-E them now but they took a solid two months of regular wear to break in. Like I bought them in early June and literally the other day I was in Target like “OMG wow my shoes are finally comfortable.” I had a pair in college and remember feeling the love, but that was 25 years ago and I wasn’t sure the new ones would hold up. Turns out they are pretty much the same. Don’t know how long you’ve had yours but if it is less than 2 months of regular wear, keep going! I promise it’s worth it.
Re Birkenstocks: I developed plantar fasciitis a few years ago and everyone said “get Birks!” Being on a serious budget at the time I got the EVA Gizehs so there was no break in period. As soon as I could afford them I got regular leather & cork clogs and again no break in. The PF is flaring up again and I needed new sandals anyway so just bought some cork Mayaris. The stiffness is actually helping the PF a lot, though I am getting a little blister where the strap meets the sole. Sounds like I am dodging bullets here!
Courtesy of AO3, a roundup of antitrust-themed fanfic, possibly NSFW: https://archiveofourown.org/works/40775868
My favourite title so far: A Random Penguin Acquires My Ass, by that famously prolific author, Anonymous.
While we’re talking cork sandals, can anyone recommend some with arch support built in? My regular arch inserts would work with sandals but they slide out, and they look funny!
The best sandals are made by Keen and they are called Uneek – that’s Keen backward with a U to start. They are like old style huaraches made with something like a continuous thin bungie cord. They are soft, pliable, and have a supportive foot bed. Since they are stretchy, there is no need to “break them in.” I have walked miles wearing them. They are a bit pricy – but not more than Birkenstocks – and they last for years.
I love my Birkenstocks breaking them in is a pain .When I bought the soft bed Birkenstocks game changer ….they are already broken in. Worth the extra money.