Smart Podcast, Trashy Books: Reviews, Interviews, and Discussion About All the Romance Novels You Love to Read
Smart Podcast, Trashy Books: Reviews, Interviews, and Discussion About All the Romance Novels You Love to Read
Sarah Wendell - Romance Novel Reviewer, Reader, and Author
Each week on Smart Podcast, Trashy Books, Sarah Wendell interviews authors, readers, reviewers, bloggers, publishing professionals, editors, and librarians about romance novels, which are among the most popular genres in fiction worldwide. Popular guests include: Ilona Andrews, Robin Bradford, NPR's Barrie Hardymon, Jaye Wells, and Rachel Aaron. Amanda, Carrie, Elyse, and RedHeadedGirl, the crew of reviewers at, also make frequent appearances with maximum silliness. Frequent topics include romance novels, the way the genre is changing, and the brilliant and interesting people who read, write, and produce it, and issues common among romance readers. Plus, we always recommend some books we're reading and really enjoying. Learn more at
467. Realizing Sexuality Through Romance with Tara Scott
Tara joins me to talk about how reading lesbian romances helped them realize their sexuality after having grown up in a very conservative religious environment. Side trips include Robin Hood in many varieties, Don’t Stop Believing, and movies to watch while kinda stoned. Romances help people understand a lot of aspects of themselves, and I love hearing about how reading has helped Tara live more authentically. TW/CW: we talk about growing up queer in a conservative church environment, the specter of conversion therapy, and the discovery of mass graves at Indigenous residential schools. ... Music: ... SHOWNOTES:
Jul 22
54 min
466. Recipes, Seasonal Reading, and Adventure Romance with Amanda and Sarah
It’s part three of what I called “AMA with AMAnda and Sarah.” We’re chatting about our favorite recipes, cooking blogs, and cookbooks, favorite french fries, seasonal re-reading, contemporary cozy mysteries with romantic elements, trends, and adventure romance recs. Plus, how to snowboard while holding an onion. Thanks to Bransler, Cheri, Norette, Manda, and Laura B. for the questions! SHOW NOTES? Yes, show notes! Yeah, that URL is long. Here's a shorter one: ... Music:
Jul 15
49 min
465. TV, Book, and Mayo Recs with Sarah and Amanda
We’re back! With more of your questions! We’re going to talk about tv shows we recommend, book recs of course, mayonnaise of course, summer treats, and middle school favorites. Thanks to Laura B, Karelia, Christina B, and Phoebe for the questions! ... Music:
Jul 8
51 min
464. Guilty Pleasures with Dr. Arielle Zibrak
Arielle Zibrak is the author of Guilty Pleasures, a new book in the Avidly Reads series from New York University Press. She’s also a former editor of romance fiction, and a professor of 19th century popular fiction. Her new book - which is terrific - examines the concept of the “guilty pleasures” and seeks to unpack and answer the question, “What is it about ribald romance novels, luxurious interior design, and frothy wedding dresses that often make women feel their desires come with a shadow of shame?” This is one of those conversations that made my brain go all jiffy pop with bunches of ideas. I hope you enjoy it as well! You can find Avidly Reads: Guilty Pleasures wherever you get your books, and I’ve got links in the show notes, too. ... Music:
Jul 1
49 min
463. Women and Poison in History with Mikki Kendall
Today, we’re going to talk about food safety law, and the history of women who probably poisoned their husbands. Allegedly. Mikki Kendall, on Twitter as @Karnythia and the author of Hood Feminism, is an eager historian into the mysteries of what women got away with, and so we cover poison clusters, dying of fever, and the poisons hanging out in your back yard. This conversation was inspired by two Twitter threads, and I’ll link to both. As Mikki said in an email after we recorded, “we have evidence of poison clusters with inorganic poisons from autopsy reports & you can look at death record indexes when hunting for clusters of odd deaths.” CW/TW: Food safety, horror stories, actual murder, questions about what’s in vaguely labeled food, and discussions of signs of intimate partner and child abuse. ... Music: Show notes with book info: Twitter thread about food safety law: Twitter thread about MURDER:
Jun 24
462. An AMA with AMAnda and Sarah, Part the First!
I asked the Patreon community what they’d like to ask Amanda and I, and howdy damn, I got some really thoughtful and fun questions! In this conversation, we’re talking about astrology, apps, allergies, and all the book recs. If you like hanging out while we chat, this episode is for you. Thanks to everyone in the Patreon community for their questions! ... Music: ... Show notes, links and book recs:
Jun 17
59 min
461. Gods, Demons, and Retirements with Lois McMaster Bujold
Catherine and I chat with Lois McMaster Bujold (!!!) about The Assassins of Thasalon. If you like the Penric & Desdemona books as much as we do (which is a LOT) you’ll love this episode! We cover the origin story of Penric and Desdemona, how her retirement partially rests on self publishing, and how much manga she’s reading and watching - with recommendations. Thank you to our Patreon community for the transcript, and to Laura G., Francene, Jamie, and Agnes for the questions! ... Music: Full show notes with links to books:
Jun 10
58 min
460. A Lowcountry Bride and Fulfilling Dreams with Preslaysa Williams
Author and actor Preslaysa Williams joins me to talk about her new book, A Lowcountry Bride, which she calls “a love letter to Charleston.” We discuss the beauty and pain of complicated history, the process of writing this book over ten years, and the weirdness of seeing your younger self in animated gifs. Find the books and show notes: ... Music:
Jun 3
48 min
459. Facts, Feminism, and Menopause with Dr. Jen Gunter
Tara and I exclaimed at each other about Dr. Jen Gunter’s latest book, The Menopause Manifesto, so we figured we should exclaim at her, too. In this conversation, we cover the book, the facts and science about menopause, and the history of how predatory patriarchal bullcrap has influenced how we think, talk, and learn about menopause. We also talk about pseudoscience, getting health advice from Facebook and Instagram (bad idea jeans), and curly hair! TW/CW we talk briefly about weight changes during menopause, and how people in medicine treat people based on weight (not good). That section is at about 27:00 in and lasts for two minutes. ... Music: ... Check out Tara's review of The Menopause Manifesto:
May 27
48 min
458. Hard Sell and Revolutionary Romance with Hudson Lin
My guest this week is author Hudson Lin (she/her) whose new book Hard Sell is out 25 May! Hard Sell is a trope-tastic queer romance between Daniel and Tobin, who have a secret affair while working opposite sides of a business deal. Lin and I talk about the writing process and how she portrays Daniel’s professional burnout in the story (no spoilers, I promise). We also discuss why Lin thinks romance is a revolutionary genre, and how it’s disruptive to existing power structures. Plus: book and Netflix recs galore! Show Notes: Music:
May 21
51 min
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