491. Book Recs, Wishes, and Jokes: Farewell to 2021, and Wishes for 2022

Amanda and I are saying goodbye to 2021, and looking ahead to 2022! We talk about exciting things coming in January, including the 17th anniversary of Smart Bitches, plus we talk about books that got us through 2021.

Super bonus: we’ve got messages from Tara, Catherine, Sneezy, and Martin who have book recs, wishes for the new year, and lots and lots of jokes. This episode is our New Year’s wish for you: stay safe and happiest new year to you wherever you are.

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This Episode’s Music

This is Deviations Project’s Adeste Fiddles, and this track is “My Favourite Things.”

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[music]

Sarah Wendell: Hello and welcome to episode number 491 of Smart Podcast, Trashy Books, the last episode of 2021, and Amanda and I are here to send off the year and make some reading recommendations; it’s going to be a fun episode.

Hello and thank you and Happy New Year to you and to our Patreon community, who makes this episode possible. If you would like to have a look and join us in the new year, have a look at patreon.com/SmartBitches.

This podcast is brought to you in part by Quip. Quip is the smart electric toothbrushes for adults and kids that have Bluetooth smart monitor that connects to the free Quip app so you can track your brushing. You get tips, daily coaching, and earn rewards for good habits, like brushing two minutes twice a day. The Quip electric toothbrush is loved by over seven million mouths and has timed sonic vibrations with thirty-second pulses to guide a dentist-recommended two-minute clean. A lightweight, sleek design with no wires or bulky chargers to weigh you down, and it comes with a multi-use travel cover that doubles as a mirror mount so there’s less clutter. Treat yourself to Quip’s line of sleek, sustainable oral care products when you bundle and save up to forty percent online through the holidays. If you go to getquip.com/TRASHY right now, on top of their holiday savings you’ll get your first refill for free! That’s your first refill free and up to forty percent off bundles at getquip.com/TRASHY, spelled G-E-T-Q-U-I-P dot com slash TRASHY. Quip: the good habits company.

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And now it is time for our end-of-the-year clip show extravaganza with me and Amanda. Let’s get started: on with the podcast.

Well, happy end of the year! This is our, this episode is literally going to air on the last day of 2021.

Amanda: Thank –

Sarah: We are saying good-bye to 2021!

Amanda: – Fuck. Get the fuck out, 2021.

Sarah: I mean, it’s been a bit of a year, right?

Amanda: Ugh. It sure has, and –

Sarah: [Laughs]

Amanda: – it doesn’t look like it’s going to be any better in 2022, but –

Sarah: Can I just tell you, ending the year with yet another holy shit variant, everybody, this is bad, is, is, it’s like, oh! Oh, this? This is not the sequel I wanted.

Amanda: It’s a real, like, Bitch, You Thought moment.

Sarah: [Laughs] Did you make any New Year’s resolutions for this year that we’re still in?

Amanda: No, I don’t, I don’t do that. [Laughs] I think we talk every year, but I don’t really make resolutions? I feel like if there’s really something that you want to do or make a goal of, like, you know, like, why wait for the new year? Just do it –

Sarah: Yeah.

Amanda: – when you feel like. And, like, I have terrible self-willpower, so I’m, I know myself enough not to put that pressure on me at the start of a new year.

Sarah: I am of the opinion, like you, that if you’re going to make a change, just make it? Just, all right, if that’s what needs to happen, let’s do it now. Rip the Band-aid, off; get it done.

Amanda: Yeah.

Sarah: If that’s what needs to happen, that’s what needs to happen. But I treat the secular new year and the Jewish new year as reminders to sort of look at what I’m doing and look at all of my habits and my routines and be like, is this still working? Does this, does this still –

Amanda: Yeah.

Sarah: – do what it needs to do? Are there things that I could do better? Am I getting routinely annoyed by something that I could change or alter or improve? So usually the Jewish new year is internal stuff, like all of my inner problems and am I, am I addressing my anxiety? Am I taking care of my depression? Am I taking care of my body? Is there anything else I need to do to, to feel better? Do I need more sweaters? Yes, I probably do need more sweaters.

But then the secular new year, I think about my, my routines out in the world, and I don’t go out in the world that much? [Laughs]

Amanda: Yeah.

Sarah: So mostly that is things like workflow: am I working too much? Because it’s really easy to just get in the habit of working all the time, and then I’m like, wow, why am I so burnt out? ‘Cause you’ve been working –

Amanda: Yeah!

Sarah: – all the time. That’s why.

So I don’t necessarily make New Year’s resolutions. I did decide that I was going to try very, very hard to do one kind of workout every day of 2021, and I think I just counted the other day, and I missed eight days total of the year.

Amanda: That’s a good run!

Sarah: I’m very pleased. And, and that’s anything; like, restorative yoga? Counts. Taking a really long walk, hitting my step goal? Counts. Like, I’m very relaxed about what it is?

Amanda: Yeah.

Sarah: I know there are people who work out who are, like, not happy unless their heart rate is in the purple and they sweat buckets and they’ve just completely emptied the tank, and sometimes that feels great, but most of the time my body would be like, why, why are you doing, why are you doing this? Why?

Amanda: So, like, you’re emptying the tank, but you also have so many other things that you have to get done. Like, you have two smallish humans.

Sarah: They’re both taller than me, but yes, they are young.

Amanda: Yeah. I, I mean smallish with age.

Sarah: Yeah.

Amanda: So it’s like, yeah, you emptied the tank, but what does that mean for the rest of your day? [Laughs]

Sarah: Yeah! I, I, I do need a certain amount of energy to get through. So restorative yoga? The Down Dog Yoga app is my friend. I love it so much.

Amanda: I think for 2022 – and we’re starting early – I was talking to my therapist, and we’ve had some sad changes lately in my personal life that haven’t been great. So I want to give myself something to look forward to each month.

Sarah: I love this strategy so much. I use it myself.

Amanda: Yeah!

Sarah: I think it is so great.

Amanda: So it could be like small or big, and so for the first four-ish months of ’22 I have, I think, like something each month. So January I’m getting a new piercing, which I’m very excited about; I’m going to get my septum pierced.

Sarah: Yay!

Amanda: Yay! Tuesday – or Tuesday – [laughs] – I wish – February, I’m getting my tattoo finished, which I’m very excited about. I’m putting color in it, and I don’t know what the artist has planned, but they knocked the design out of the park the first time around, so I feel super comfortable in whatever they choose for colors and shading.

Sarah: You’re going out to Salem for that, right?

Amanda: No! They switched shops, they’re moving shops, so now they will be actually in Cambridge –

Sarah: Oh, that’s not so far!

Amanda: – which is super close to me. No! It’s – they’re going to be like off of a T stop that I know exactly where it is, so –

Sarah: Ohhh, that’s fabulous!

Amanda: – I don’t have to rent a car or travel. Especially ‘cause I’m sitting longer for this one?

Sarah: Yeah.

Amanda: And my other, the outline was like two and a half hours, and they budgeted five hours? So yeah, I’m going to be so jazzed that they’re local so I don’t have to travel really as far.

March, going to see my dear, sweet brother, who I haven’t seen in years.

Sarah: Yay!

Amanda: He’s in the military, for anyone catching up, and stationed in Germany. He’s going back to Korea, though, at the end of the summer, and he’s so excited. And he’s going to be at the, like, fancier base, which will let him live off-base?

Sarah: Oh, so he gets an apartment.

Amanda: He gets an apartment. He says he has a friend who has, like, a three-bedroom apartment with, like, her living stipend. I’m like, shit!

Sarah: Damn!

Amanda: Yes! He was like, you can come over and visit anytime! It’s like, I will!

Sarah: Make sure when you go to Germany that you go cosmetics shopping in the drugstores, because apparently they have gorgeous cosmetics with really wonderful herbal scents?

Amanda: Okay. All right! I don’t have anything planned for Germany yet. I have a friend who used to live in Germany, and she’s like, you have to go to Berlin! I was like, okay.

Sarah: ‘Kay.

Amanda: Noted.

Sarah: All right.

Amanda: And then April, I think for late April, ‘cause that’s my birthday month, I might go to Los Angeles and see my friend Emma, who lives there now.

Sarah: That’s awesome!

Amanda: Yeah! So I might do that for April. Her aunt has, like, a beach house that we could stay at –

Sarah: Oooh!

Amanda: – so might just enjoy Laguna Beach in April –

Sarah: Nice!

Amanda: – out in California. I’ve never been to California. I don’t think it’s my vibes, but to see my friend, hands down, and I know she’s, she’s having a rough time too, so –

Sarah: That’s awesome!

Amanda: – I’d like to go and see her.

So those, that’s the first four months of 2022. There’s something each month that I get to –

Sarah: So you’re doing quarterly planning for 2022.

Amanda: [Laughs] I guess, yeah! I guess I am!

Sarah: I mean, I do that all the time business-wise, but personal-wise, I think that’s very smart.

Amanda: Yeah, so we’ll see what, you know, second quarter 2022 will have in store, but that’s my first four months of things to look forward.

Sarah: The site anniversary? I got the prizes; they arrived. I’m so excited! They’re so cute!

Amanda: It’s not, is it seventeen? No.

Sarah: Yeah.

Amanda: It’s seventeen?

Sarah: Seventeen. Seventeen years.

Amanda: It’ll be fucking a legal adult –

Sarah: Yeah!

Amanda: – in 2023.

Sarah: Yep! Seventeen!

Amanda: Holy shit.

Sarah: Yeah! It’s going to, going to graduate, going to graduate high school, go to college, get a job?

Amanda: I think 202- – so next year is my ten-year anniversary with the site.

Sarah: Wow!

Amanda: Yeah, next, next September.

Sarah: Oh wow! We’ll have to celebrate!

Amanda: That was my, I think my first post on the site was September 2012.

Sarah: Wow.

Amanda: I know.

Sarah: That’s so cool!

Amanda: Ten damn years!

Sarah: I know! And you know, every year I take stock of, you know, the business, and I look at things. I have to do end of year, like, you know planning –

Amanda: Yeah.

Sarah: – and quarterly planning and all that. You know, business-y stuff. Every year I sort of sit down and go, holy fuck, we’re still here. We’re still here! We’re still here. I mean, we’re a blog, right? Like, that’s a old technology. That’s a very –

Amanda: Yeah.

Sarah: – we are, not only are we a blog, we’re an independent form of media; we’re self-supported. I’m the owner. Like, I’m the owner of the company. Like, it’s not, I don’t, I don’t belong to anything else; it’s just us? And we’re still here! We’re still here! Like, in generally!

Amanda: Like one, one human year is like fucking ten internet years –

Sarah: Oh, I know!

Amanda: – or something like – what’s the conversion on that? It’s –

Sarah: You know, that’s a really good question: what is the conversion between internet years and human years? Like, if the site is seventeen years old, is it like, is it ready for a rocking chair and, and retirement –

Amanda: I don’t –

Sarah: – and unlimited supply of wine?

Amanda: Speaking of old, like –

Sarah: The site is so old! I’m so proud of it! Did, did I mention it’s still here? Still here!

Amanda: Still here. I, so I was playing Warcraft yesterday, and I –

Sarah: I am shocked!

Amanda: I know.

Sarah: Shocked at this development!

Amanda: And as I was playing Warcraft yesterday and, like, I have all of these old characters that are like level four. I’m just going to go through them and delete them. So I’m going, I’m, I log onto each character, make sure, like, if they have any money I get rid of it, whatever.

Sarah: Yeah.

Amanda: I logged on to a level-six, little, stupid mage that I made on my old server from when I played in high school, and in her bags was a mount that you can no longer get in the game –

Sarah: Whoa.

Amanda: – because they discontinued it in 2011.

Sarah: Holy shit, that was ten years ago! [Laughs]

Amanda: And it was still sitting there.

Sarah: Oh my gosh.

Amanda: But to use it and, like, add it to your mount collection, you have to be level ten. So I spent an hour leveling this stupid character –

Sarah: [Laughs]

Amanda: – so I can use this dumb mount that I forgot had been – but yeah, the character had been sitting there untouched for a decade. [Laughs]

Sarah: Okay, that’s hilarious.

Amanda: That’s how long I’ve been playing this game is over a decade, but, like, just to be reminded of it, I’m like, they don’t even let you have this anymore! Like –

Sarah: Oh my God.

Amanda: – it’s been out of the game for ten years!

Sarah: [Laughs]

Amanda: Oh boy.

Sarah: When I look back at the start of the site, that was 2005.

Amanda: I was still in high school, Sarah

Sarah: You were still in high school in 2005?

Amanda: I graduated in 2007.

Sarah: Wooow!

Amanda: I know!

Sarah: So anyway –

Amanda: I’ve been reading the site since 2005, so.

Sarah: That’s amazing!

Amanda: I know!

Sarah: So I look back; so the site was started in January of 2005. I got pregnant in February, and my older child was born in November. The site coincides with my becoming a parent, and –

Amanda: Oh!

Sarah: – starting my own business, and all of this stuff started that year, and I kind of look back, and I’m, I’m like, what would I say to my, my 2005 self? Like, what would I say? Like, keep going; it’s going to be awesome? This is go-, this really will turn into something. This is going to change a lot of things about your life; it’s going to be great. Just keep going; it’s going to be okay? But I also feel like I would say that to myself in 2021: it’s okay, you’re still here.

Amanda: It’s okay!

Sarah: You’re doing all right. Just keep going. It’s going to be okay.

Amanda: Yeah, I mean, depression-wise this year, one of my, you know, like, daily affirmations has been like The Only Way Out Is Through?

Sarah: Yep.

Amanda: So you just, you’ve got to keep plugging along.

Sarah: Yep.

Amanda: Yeah.

Sarah: Just keep going.

Amanda: That’s the only way.

Sarah: So what books have gotten you through 2021?

Amanda: So I did a lot of, a majority of my reading for the year happened at the start of the year, and then – [falling hum] – just, like, took a nosedive. But there are three books that I absolutely loved this year. We’re going to start with, I think, Battle Royal by Lucy Parker.

Sarah: Oh, such a good choice! That book –

Amanda: Fucking delight.

Sarah: – made me so happy.

Amanda: And then Farah Heron’s Accidentally Engaged, another food contemporary romance. So cute.

Sarah: She’s going to be engaged, she’s going to be, she’s going to be a guest in 2022; I have her on the schedule.

Amanda: [Squees] She’s so good. I’ve, I’ve moderated several panels with Farah? So good. Always has a fucking bomb-ass lip color.

Sarah: Okay –

Amanda: Like –

Sarah: – not on-, not only did I, I was talking to her publicist? And I was like, listen, this is a weird one, but I need you to ask if we can talk about her curl routine, because her hair is –

Amanda: Hair’s gorgeous.

Sarah: – exquisitely gorgeous, and we’re going to talk about lipstick and hair, and then maybe we’ll talk about books!

Amanda: Yeah, lipstick –

Sarah: Poor Farah! [Laughs]

Amanda: – always on point, like for real.

Sarah: I follow her on Instagram, and I’m just like, I, I underst- – hair! Wow! Gorgeous!

Amanda: She’s so much fun. I think you’ll have a lot of fun with Farah.

Sarah: You should do the episode with me!

Amanda: Happy to do it! She’s just a delight. Like, she’s one of those people that I just love talking to. Sonali Dev is another one; she’s just so –

Sarah: Oh yeah.

Amanda: – fucking funny. Sonali’s so funny.

Sarah: Oh, I know.

Amanda: And then the last one, which is totally out of character for me, is The Heiress Gets a Duke by Harper St. George, the historical that I reviewed in like the very beginning of this year, 2021. And that series has just been so good. I know Elyse reviewed book two and loved it, and so, like, kind of like finding a series in a genre that I don’t read as often very much –

Sarah: Mm-hmm.

Amanda: – that I really like has been really incredible.

Sarah: I still re-, remember you saying, like, I’m going to write a review for The Heiress Gets a Duke, and I went, isn’t that a historical?!

Amanda: Yeah, I mentioned that in my review, like, Sarah’s like, that’s a historical. And you’re like –

Sarah: Yes, yes, it is.

Amanda: – you put an editor’s note where you were like, yep, I did say that.

[Laughter]

Sarah: I did!

Amanda: So those are the three books that I really, I read this year and I just loved, and honestly, it’s interesting because you know my reading tastes, and I don’t lean towards light and fluffy –

Sarah: No!

Amanda: – very often?

Sarah: No, you, you want the world will end if we bone, and the world will end if we don’t bone, and also the slow excavation of all of your emotions through your ribcage.

Amanda: Yeah!

Sarah: Yeah! Oh yeah, that’s, that –

Amanda: So, like –

Sarah: Not my jam! Totally yours.

Amanda: – both, both Accidentally Engaged and Battle Royal are pretty, like, low-stakes, low-angst, food-y, fluffy contemporaries –

Sarah: Yeah.

Amanda: – and those are, you know, two of my three choices for 2021.

Sarah: I read Battle Royal on a, on a beach this year on our vacation, and it was – okay, so I read that, and I read the, the lady of Rooksgrave Hall? Or the Rooksgrave Manor? It’s the, it’s, in my brain it’s the monster-fucking book.

Amanda: I’m sorry. I don’t remember you telling me about this book!

Sarah: It’s A Lady of Rooksgrave Manor. I’m part of a separate Discord that has nothing to do with romance, but there’s a channel that’s all about romance, and people are all starting to read this book? It’s like a word-of-mouth –

Amanda: Okay!

Sarah: – thing. I think, I think it’s been on TikTok. So A Lady of Rooksgrave Manor – [laughs] – by Kathryn Moon is literally, in my brain, the monster-fucking book. It’s part of the –

Amanda: It’s, the Goodreads – I saw something about this like, she’s a nymphomaniac!

Sarah: Yeah, well, this book has too much sex is this kind of, yeah, that’s the kind of review this is going to get. So –

Amanda: I’m really upset at you, Sarah, that you have never uttered this book to me.

Sarah: I thought you knew about this! I could have sworn I found a, I, I could have sworn I found out about this through you maybe? But –

Amanda: Nooo!

Sarah: Okay, this is literally the monster-fucking book. Like, I will give you a small spoiler: there is literally a scene where the heroine, it’s a reverse harem with, with monsters –

Amanda: Yeah.

Sarah: – there’s literally a scene where she says out loud, I want to fuck my monster, and I sort of put the book down a minute and was like, well, there it is! There’s the theme for the whole book. That was – this whole book existed for this one line. I am here for it.

Amanda: Hard same, Esther! Okay, adding to my –

Sarah: All right, I need you tell me –

Amanda: Ooh, it’s on Kindle Unlimited!

Sarah: Yeah, it’s a KU! And I think, I think you need to read it, and I think we need to talk about it on a podcast episode, because I don’t read a lot of reverse harem; I don’t read a lot of monster-fucking. I was reading this on the beach, and I remember looking up at my husband and saying, I don’t know what the fuck I am reading right now, but I am so here for it!

Amanda: [Laughs] You could, you could also save this one for the Heaving Bosoms crossover.

Sarah: Oh shit! That’s a good idea! Oh, you have good ideas!

Amanda: I know. You know I do.

Sarah: You have really good ideas!

Amanda: [Laughs]

Sarah: Because seriously, that’s another thing that’s coming in 2022, doing another Heaving Bosoms crossover.

Amanda: Yeah! I think you –

Sarah: Will there be a bonfire campaign? By the way, my Stay Golden, Horny Girl hoodie is the –

Amanda: Yeah.

Sarah: – most comfortable hoodie. I love it so much.

Amanda: My sweatshirt is so good. I love it. I remember I, when I went to Texas I wore it to the Renaissance Fair –

Sarah: As you do.

Amanda: – that we went to?

Sarah: Yeah?

Amanda: And, you know, a woman who was, like, serving the funnel cake was like, what does your shirt say? I was wearing, I was wearing the shirt version, not my sweatshirt, ‘cause it’s fucking Texas. And I was like, oh, it says Stay Golden, Horny Girl, and she’s like, ooh, I love that!

Sarah: Hell yeah! [Laughs]

Amanda: But, like, peop-, let’s be honest, people who work Renaissance fairs are very horny, so.

Sarah: [Laughs] It is a very horny hobby, isn’t it?

Amanda: Yes! They’re very horny, so I feel like anyone who works at a Renaissance fair would appreciate it.

Sarah: Is going to be the target audience for Stay Golden, Horny Girl!

Amanda: Yeah.

Sarah: Yeah! [Laughs]

Amanda: Yeah! I feel like most of the time I wear it, like, no one pays attention to, like, what’s on it.

Sarah: But I should say –

Amanda: Which is maybe for the best, but –

Sarah: – I, I can say I read A Lady of Rooksgrave Manor and Battle Royale, or Battle Royal, back-to-back, and my brain –

Amanda: [Laughs]

Sarah: – was absolute –

Amanda: [Laughs] Like, what?! Whiplash.

Sarah: Yeah, my brain was, it was just so happy; all of this happy chemicals. Now, I was at a beach, and there were people bringing me alcohol, so that may influence the positive state –

Amanda: Maybe.

Sarah: – of my brain. There was a lot –

Amanda: We can’t say for certain, though.

Sarah: Can’t say for certain. But reading those two back-to-back, my brain was so happy. It didn’t know what I was putting in it, but it was very happy!

[Laughter]

Sarah: So any other books you want to mention?

Amanda: Oh, well, this might be – speaking of, like, monster-fucking, Katee Robert has a monster-fucking book coming out.

Sarah: Oh, the one with the dragon Old School cover!

Amanda: I think that’s such a cute idea.

Sarah: Oh, I love it!

Amanda: I know she’s coming out with another cover, especially for, like, the paperback version, if you don’t want to have that cover in public, but I just, I just love the cover design of that one so much. It’s like an old –

Sarah: It’s so clever.

Amanda: The art is very cute.

Sarah: All right, I have four clips here –

Amanda: Okay!

Sarah: – of people. So shall we play a clip?

Amanda: Yes!

Tara: Hey, everyone. This is Tara. I am in Calgary, Canada, freezing my backside off, as is the thing that we do every year here. I want to wish everyone a 2022 that is filled with perfected self-care practices, hopefully a little bit more kindness, and that we can come out on the other side of the year with at least one thing that we’re really proud of.

So we’re supposed to share a book that’s among our favorites in 2021, but 2021 was more of the Year of Videogaming than it was of Reading, so I’m going to give a game and a book, because I’m also kind of cheeky like that. I always got to sneak in one extra recommendation.

Amanda: [Laughs]

Tara: So for me, my videogame of this year – I played a bunch of games this year, ‘cause I got a Nintendo Switch, and I’ve got to say it was the game Hades, and I think it’s because, yes, I mean, it’s one that you die often and quickly and – [laughs] – kind of brutally, especially at the beginning, but as you learn, as you acquire things, as you grow, you get stronger, you go farther, you go faster, you get better, and I just love what a metaphor that is, because that’s something that I’ve really tried to embrace this year. What can I learn from? How can I grow? How can I take this experience and add to my toolbox of life? So yes, if you haven’t played the Hades – I mean, it won like every game award or something; it just won a Hugo! – you should be playing that game.

In terms of books, the book that made my year in 2021 was One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston. It is very cute. I love the chemistry between everybody in there. The found family chemistry is amazing, but also the relationship chemistry is great. I know some people said that sex on that train is unrealistic, but you know, if you’ve never been to New York City, it’s really easy to get into that book –

[Laughter]

Tara: – and not let that hold you back. Also, there’s drag queens, and also a character from the 1970s punk scene. What more could I personally want? It’s like somebody wrote a book for me.

So talk to you all next year!

Sarah: [Squees] What good choices!

Amanda: Yay! It’s so funny; Tara and I have really bonded over some videogames this year.

Sarah: Yeah?

Amanda: Love Tara. In my review – I mentioned this in links, but Sarah always asks, like, what’s, you know, like, what are some things about the site that you enjoyed this year?

Sarah: Yeah.

Amanda: And this year my answer was, like, community-based things, so I mentioned, you know, like, some of the reviewers have been very, like, I don’t know, like, a, a good source of comfort for me. Like, Lara, who’s in South Africa, right?

Sarah: Mm-hmm, yep.

Amanda: I’m always up super late, and on Slack it’ll show me, like, as available, so Lara messaged me one time and was like, I hope this isn’t, like, weird, but when I’m up in the morning I always see that you’re still on, and I consider you my little morning friend, so I –

Sarah: Ohhh!

Amanda: – just want to say, hi, morning friend! So sometimes Lara will message me when I’m up late and be like, good morning! [Laughs] So sweet. I love talking about videogames and, like, all of the posts that I do like Links and stuff has been so sweet. Yeah, talking about videogames with Sarah and Tara has been a lot of fun too. Especially, like, new Stardew Valley news?

Sarah: Oh my gosh!

Amanda: Haunted Chocolatier? Let’s go!

Sarah: Oh, I’m very excited. I think if there’s a videogame that I’ve gotten through this year with, it’s been a lot of Witcher when I’m really tired and I can’t, I can’t brain? I just go do some side quest or, you know, run around somewhere, kill some, kill some bandits, loot their pants, find a chicken sandwich. I feel much better, I log off, and then the game is still – and I’m going to, I’m going to be playing this game for like five years on my first run because I just do a little bit and then I go do something else.

Amanda: I, the first PS5 game that I got this year that I bought for myself –

Sarah: How do you like, how do you like your PS5?

Amanda: It’s so beautiful. I’m thinking about getting like one of those decals?

Sarah: Heck yeah!

Amanda: To, like, make my PS5 look cute? But I bought the Guardians of the Galaxy game.

Sarah: Ohhh!

Amanda: Only because, like, Chris Pratt has nothing to do with this game, thank God.

Sarah: Win!

Amanda: It is so much fun! It’s so cheeky; it’s so much fun. The soundtrack is so good. Lots of, like, ‘80s music. But it’s a lot of fun; I’ve been having fun playing it. But like you, I haven’t, I don’t play for like hours and hours at a time. Maybe like an hour a couple times a week and then –

Sarah: Yeah.

Amanda: – you know, just set it down and doing something else or whatever. That’s been really fun.

And then One Last Stop? Great recommendation, Tara.

Sarah: Absolutely. Absolutely!

Amanda: I – [laughs] – I had a friend who was at the bookstore, Gail. She’s a woman in her older fifties. Bless her, I love her to death. She called me, or no, she texted me. She’s like, what is that book that you reviewed for that one site? It’s called like Subway Girl?

[Laughter]

Amanda: I’m like, you mean One Last Stop? She’s like, that’s it! Thank you! And I’m like, it’s on this table if you’re looking for it. I guess she was, like, trying to find it for a customer or something, but it was like Subway Girl!

Sarah: That is a really good rec. I sat down to write, you know, make notes for this episode, what are the books that got me through 2021? And as you know, I keep a reading spreadsheet and, fear not –

Amanda: Mm-hmm?

Sarah: – the new 2022 reading spreadsheet will be shared on Monday in January, so you can make yourself a copy and customize it, but I love the reading spreadsheet because it’s such a feeling of accomplishment? Even if I’m like, yeah, I DNFed this and date, put the DNF tag, I feel like, okay, I’ve, I, I’ve finished this; I’ve finished this. It’s a visual representation of –

Amanda: Yeah.

Sarah: – my reading progress, and it just feels really nice to update it. I have a reminder, you know, update your reading every Friday? ‘Cause if I forget it’s like, I don’t know when I read that. Last year? Five years ago? I don’t know! So in my past year, here are the series that I have read or reread: I started off the year rereading the Psy-Changeling series –

Amanda: Yeah, you did! I remember that!

Sarah: Yep!

Amanda: [Laughs]

Sarah: Because my library, in December, had books one through four of the series for, as a boxed set, and I was like, that’s fine! I’ll just go boom, boom, straight through. I think I read them in two days.

Amanda: Oh yeah.

Sarah: And then I read the rest of the series, and I recommend doing this, one, because it is a great series and you get to watch the world evolve and mature, but also you get to see paranormal romance evolve? So, like, if you go back to the first few books, that’s a very specific style of paranormal hero –

Amanda: Oh yeah.

Sarah: – and those characters all evolve as our tastes in characters change, and it’s, it’s just so cool. So Psy-Changeling reread.

Then I reread Murderbot, which I know shocks everyone. Then I read –

Amanda: It won a bunch of Hugos, I think.

Sarah: I know! I was so excited! So I reread Murderbot, and then I read the Raksura series. Have you read this?

Amanda: No, but there was some discussion on the, on the Slack.

Sarah: I wrote a whole post about how if you like Murderbot, Raksura, the Raksura series will, will scratch a lot of the same itches, so, so to speak. It is matriarchal, pansexual, flying royalty with scales.

Amanda: As you do!

Sarah: I mean, as you do. And it’s also very much a Lost Princess story? If that is your jam, if that is a trope that you like. But wow! I just loved reading that whole series.

Amanda: [Laughs]

Sarah: I stayed up so late.

Then I reread the Lady Darby series with The Anatomist’s Wife. Then I reread the Peter Grant series, which I listened to in audiobook because the audiobook narrator is one of the best I’ve ever heard. I reread and listened to the Penric series. I read The Way of the Househusband manga series on my phone.

Amanda: Oh, that’s so cute! The Way of the Househusband is fucking adorable.

Sarah: Seriously? It’s like visual – what’s the one that makes you happy? Serotonin?

Amanda: Yeah.

Sarah: It’ll just, it just bathes the brain in – it is so cute.

Amanda: There’s also an anime and live action, I think, both of which are on Netflix.

Sarah: Ooh, I’m going to have to look them up.

Amanda: Yeah.

Sarah: Because I just borrowed them one after the other from the library –

Amanda: So fun.

Sarah: – and I just, I was in bed; I just read one after the other, and they are just so cute. So cute. And if you’re not familiar with The Way of the Househusband

Amanda: [Laughs]

Sarah: – it’s a manga about a former high-ranking Japanese Yakuza who leaves his life because he gets married, and his wife is the breadwinner, and so he is the househusband, but all of his quests and all of the things that he does are still through this very sly lens of being a member of the organized crime. It’s so adorable.

I slowly am rereading through the St. Cyr series? Those are very melancholy, so I can’t mainline those; there’s a lot of serious stuff in there?

Amanda: [Laughs]

Sarah: And I just started rereading the Call of Crows, because that’s what I wanted to read, and it’s a –

Amanda: Yeah, sure!

Sarah: – good way to end the year. And it’s, it’s one of my favorite questions that I’ve ever asked myself from a book series: who are my Crows? Who are the people who will always have my back when I need help? Who, who are the people I can absolutely, without question, depend on? Like, it’s, it’s a good question to ask myself.

So there’s no one book that really got me through the year, but rereading series made my brain extremely happy.

Amanda: I read a series this year. I do this thing, which is terrible, is, like, I get into bed, and I don’t immediately go to bed. Like, I take an hour to wind down; I’ll, like, play a game on my phone, do whatever. But sometimes my brain is like, let’s look at your Kindle at midnight –

Sarah: Oh.

Amanda: – and see what’s lurking on there.

Sarah: Ew!

Amanda: And it’s never good to start a book at midnight –

Sarah: Never.

Amanda: – but I –

Sarah: Never. Ever.

Amanda: [Laughs]

Sarah: Very bad.

Amanda: But I do it anyway!

Sarah: Yep, been there.

Amanda: And so I got started on the, the Jock Row series by Sara Ney, N-E-Y. Look, they’re just like potato chips: I can read them in like two and a half hours, and –

Sarah: I love potato chip books! I love them so much!

Amanda: New Adult romances, you know, sports themes. My biggest critique is like, I feel like the endings really pull up very quickly, which, like, I could have read another hundred pages if that’s what you needed!

Sarah: But no, you can’t! It’s two in the morning; it’s time to go to bed!

Amanda: Yeah. So, like, I read –

Sarah: This book is on your side! [Laughs]

Amanda: – probably – how many of them are there? I read a good handful in a very short amount of time. I do like her other series, The Studying Hours [How to Date a Douchebag], better than this one.

Sarah: All right! Another clip; here it comes:

Sneezy: Hello, everyone! This is Sneezy, hailing you from Bobaland, and my wish for everyone this holiday season and going into 2022 is for us all to support each other, because things are still weird –

Sarah: [Laughs] Yeah.

Sneezy: – and we have to keep working for things to get better, so let’s all nap, because we need energy for this shit.

Sarah: [Laughs]

Sneezy: And more than that, I hope we’re all support-, supported and surrounded by our people and great food, great books, naps, beautiful colors, crafting if you’re into that? Any kind of crafting.

Sarah: Oh yes.

Sneezy: I’ve gotten really into fountain pen inks. [Laughs] But I am trying to control my addiction, such as it is.

Right. I can’t really pick out one book that made my year in 2021, but I would like to highlight Rebel by Beverly Jenkins from her Women Who Dare series. It’s the first book in that series. It’s about Drake LeVeq and Valinda Lacy. People who have read Beverly Jenkins’ books before probably recognize the name LeVeq because it’s been in her other series before, and I really love this particular book because Drake is just this bear of a man who roars when he’s happy, which makes me really happy because I’m also loud when I’m happy –

[Laughter]

Sneezy: – and he’s just really cute, and so’s Valinda, and she’s just someone who’s so resilient and, you know, she gets knocked down, but she gets right back up and, you know, she has her people around her, and she cares about her community, and she tries to make the world a better place, and I just think we need more, we need more Valindas in the world, and let’s be a Valinda! Let’s be our own Valinda! Let’s be each other’s Valindas! Let’s all be Valinda! Valinda for everyone! Gay agenda now! [Laughs] Uh, no. As, as far as I know, Valinda’s not queer, but still, gay agenda’s a good thing.

Right. And that’s it from me, except for my bad joke, which is:

What’s it called when kittens get stuck in a tree?

Sarah: What’s it called when kittens get stuck in a tree?

Sneezy: A cat-tastrophe! And that’s it from me, good-bye!

Sarah: [Laughs] Yay! Bad jokes make me so happy!

I agree with her about crafting. So yours was the first quilt I ever made, and –

Amanda: I still, it’s right here! I’m still using it!

Sarah: And I have made so many quilts this year. I sent one to my friend and said hello! Oh, it looks so good! I sent one to my friend in South Carolina. I sent one to my sister. She sent me a picture. She has big, old dogs, and she sent me pictures of her dogs; apparently they take the quilt and they roll up like burritos in it, and then –

Amanda: Ohhh!

Sarah: – another dog will crawl under the blanket, so you have just two little butts sticking out? It’s so cute.

But the thing I love about quilting is that it combines puzzles, because you’re cutting the fabric into a puzzle and then reassembling it, and sewing in a straight fucking line. It’s just, straight line! That’s all you need is a straight line.

Amanda: [Laughs]

Sarah: If you’re going to do machine quilting, like yours is quilted with wavy lines, you can make wavy lines! You can make lots of shapes, but the, the, the quilting part is just a straight line! It’s so great!

And my new, like, ASMR is watching some quilting videos where people demonstrate how to make a quilt. There’s one from this quilting store in Oregon called Jordan Fabrics, and so Donna Jordan is the owner and the quilter. She always has the greatest manicure, and then they do a really close shot of her using the rotary cutter, and the sound of the rotary cutter going through the fabric is so soothing? Like –

Amanda: I feel like if you’re doing close shots, you have to have –

Sarah: Oh, her nails are exquisite!

Amanda: – real good nails.

Sarah: Yeah, people in the comments are always like, oh, there’s three manicures on this one video! It must have taken you a while to get through this quilt!

[Laughter]

Sarah: Like, first her nails are red, and then they’re green, and then they’re matte, and then they’re sparkly, and, and she does the thing where you have a different accent nail on the fourth finger, so it’s always like, ooh, what’s the fourth finger look like?

Amanda: Does she, does she drop her, like, nail polishes that she uses?

Sarah: No! But we’re going to have to start –

Amanda: You should!

Sarah: – I’m going to start, like, commenting. Donna, Donna, tell us, tell us the nail polish! 

Amanda: Tell us the nail polish!

Sarah: In my, in my, in my most quiet moments, I’m, Donna Jordan’s manicure and also her rotary cutter just shhhh –

Amanda: [Laughs]

Sarah: – going through the fabric, it’s like my – I listen to them while I’m working, they’re so soothing. I understand now why my kids do homework while listening to different Twitch streamers who have really nice voices? I –

Amanda: Yeah!

Sarah: – do work listening to Jonna, Donna Jordan tell me how to make a quilt.

Amanda: I always, when I’m working, or even, like, playing videogames or something, I always have background noise. I always have something else, and it’s – maybe we’ve talked about this before – it’s usually someone talking. It’s not like music or, or anything, or like ambient noise or sounds. I always have to have some kind of like YouTube video or stream or something I recorded on, like, TV.

Sarah: Yeah.

Amanda: Like, I always have to have, like, someone talking in the back. Even when I sleep, I’ll play a Twitch stream on low volume or a podcast on low volume, and that’s, like, how I go to sleep.

Sarah: I can’t listen to voices if I’m working. I can only hear my own voice in my head when I’m working. I can’t listen to someone else, ‘cause talking is very –

Amanda: Oh, I don’t want to hear my own voice while I’m working.

Sarah: [Laughs] Talking is very distracting for me? But when I am doing something that, like, if I’m doing graphics, if I’m doing something that doesn’t require writing? Listening to the – I, I get it now! I get it: having just someone tell me how they’re making this quilt and, you know, here’s a trick for making sure that the ends match and nest your seams and all – oh, it’s so relaxing. It just, whatever the distractible Jack Russell Terrier part of my brain is, it just smoothes it out, gives it a nice little CBD treat, and it takes a little nap on the floor.

Catherine Heloise: Hi. This is Catherine Heloise. I’m recording this in Melbourne, where the weather is currently absolutely beautiful, and by the time you hear this it will either be hailing or we’ll be having a ridiculous heat wave, because that is what Melbourne does.

Sarah: [Laughs]

Catherine Heloise: Sarah asked us for some book recommendations. I’ve written about Celia Lake a few times I think this year, and that’s perhaps because largely everything I’ve read for the last four or five months has been Celia Lake. I’ve had a bit of a rough few months; I broke my ankle and it’s taking forever to get better. But Celia’s books are just marvelous when you’re feeling a bit crappy. They’re really relaxing and gentle, and they’re the sort of stories which you can linger in for a little while and then put down when you’re too tired and come back to them a few days later, and they don’t suffer for that; they’re still just really a beautiful place to spend your time. And the other lovely thing is that Celia writes really fast, so there’s always a new novella to read –

Sarah: [Laughs]

Catherine Heloise: – which is a rare pleasure and one I really like. As for where to start, either Goblin Fruit if you’re a Peter Wimsey fan, because the main character in that one is very Peter Wimsey, or my personal favorite is Eclipse, which is the one about the magical school.

My wish for everyone listening to this for next year is, is reading. Really good reading: relaxing and pleasurable and just generally wonderful. And that might sound like a small wish, but it comes with a wish for good health, so that you have the energy to read; good mental health, so that you want to do nice things for yourself like reading; financial security, so that you have the downtime to read without feeling stressed; and also good friends, who understand that reading is very important and who want to listen to you talking about your books and who will talk to you about their books and recommend really good things that you can read next.

I think some of my favorite things on this podcast are Sarah’s very, very bad jokes. So here’s a very, very bad joke from me, and this is a very old very bad joke. It goes back to the 1980s, when we still had eastern and western Europe. And it’s about a couple who were on holiday in Moscow, and as they were traveling around Moscow they had a, a tour guide, a nice communist soldier called Rudolf, and he was explaining to them about the history of everywhere they went and the culture and so forth. And as they were traveling the weather started to get quite cold, and the man felt a drop of something on his nose, and he said, oh, I think it’s raining, and his wife said, no, I think it’s actually snowing. That, that’s moving too slow to be rain. But the man was adamant; he was sure it was raining. And the woman was just as adamant, and before long they were having a really quite ridiculous argument about exactly what it was that was falling from the sky, as you do. And finally the woman said, look, this is ridiculous. Let’s ask Rudolf. He’s our, he’s our guide here; he knows how things work; he knows what snow looks like in Russia. The man agreed, and they went to talk to Rudolf and said, Comrade Rudolf, can you tell us, is it raining right now, or is it snowing? And Comrade Rudolf drew himself up to his full height and said, it is raining. Well, the woman was rather disappointed by this, it was not the answer she had hoped for, but the man was very smug, and when she began to argue again, he just smiled a very smug and annoying smile and said:

I think you’ll find that Rudolf the Red knows rain, dear.

Sarah: Oh, geeze! Ohhh, so bad!

Catherine Heloise: I’ll just let you sit with that one.

Sarah: Thank you!

Catherine Heloise: I’d like to just wish you all a safe and relaxing holiday season, and hopefully I’ll see you all online again next year! Bye for now.

Amanda: [Laughs]

Sarah: Ohhh!

Amanda: Oh. I had a feeling I knew where it was going, but I did not know how it would work in the context.

Sarah: Yeah. I, I had that same feeling –

Amanda: Oh!

Sarah: – and ohhh, that was a groaner! Well played!

[Laughter]

Sarah: Now, I have one more recording before we get to our wishes for the new year, and I have a bad joke for you.

Amanda: Okay. I’ve, I’ve, have two, but I think one of them you might have told already –

Sarah: [Laughs]

Amanda: – ‘cause it seems, it seems like a very Sarah joke to tell.

Sarah: Among my favorite things!

Amanda: So if I tell it, yeah, you might have to stop me or like, no, I’ve already done this.

Sarah: I, I told that one – and I won’t remember what episode it is, but.

Amanda: Okay.

Sarah: All right, so I have one more clip:

Martin: Hi, Sarah! Hi, podcast! Martin the Romance-Curious Norwegian here. I’m not sure I have one particular book that has made my year, because reading has been little lower priority lately, while on the other hand I’ve been learning how to connect better with the people in my life, and so they are really what has made my year.

There are books I’m glad to have read, though, and one of them is Perhaps the Stars by Ada Palmer, the fourth and final part of the Terra Ignota series. It’s science fiction, not romance. It’s a book about political ideas, about need for change and holding onto the old, about the choice between exploration and comfort. It’s about how reason and passion must work together to make a better world and how both forces need to be guided by kindness. Terra Ignota takes us to a future where humans have lived in peace for centuries, where nation-states are replaced by so-called Hives organized around ideology, which members may join or leave at will, and where gender and religion have been removed from public discourse. Everyone goes by they, and faith is a strictly private issue.

While this works pretty well, it’s not free of tension, and the series so far has revolved around what happens when those tensions come to the surface. In Perhaps the Stars we see them erupt in outright war. We see the sacrifices of war, the loss, the betrayals, and some of its heroics, but mostly how we work to overcome it, to do our best to make it as short and least destructive as we can. Oh, and narrator is an eccentric genius, a remorseful former serial killer, has a growingly fragile grip on reality, and an experimental, though elegant, narrative style, launching into personal commentary, Homeric simile, dialogues with the imagined reader, and more.

If this sounds interesting, I’d recommend starting with the first book, Too Like the Lightning. It’s definitely a series that’s at its best as a whole, and I should note that it plays around a lot with gender and pronouns. Narrator consistently, consistently breaks the norm of gender neutrality and gives people pronouns based on their perceived personality. There’s also one character who in private wants to be referred to as it, which I’ve seen some readers react to. As a cis man myself, I can’t really say how these choices read for those who are not, but I can say they are not being left unexamined in the text.

So this is my book of the year. Now for the good wishes: I wish, of course, that global health situation will improve, that vaccines will be distributed more equitably for everyone’s sake, and that things will become less stressful and confusing overall. That kindness, reason, and the right kind of passion will find its way back into politics, and that those who have the spoons will be able to work towards a better world, world. And more personally, I wish that you and your listeners will find new good people to connect with, stay close to the ones you already have, that you will have love and support and material means, be able to live your desire to grow and evolve, but also have fun and just enjoy things in all their uselessness, and great books to read, of course.

And then, at last, the part I’ve been looking forward to: my very own bad joke.

So you go for a stroll along the shore and find a cool-looking cave, and when you check it out, you see the signs that it was once an old pirate lair. Do you know who you have to call?

Well, obviously, you need to call an arrr-cheologist!

Sarah: Ahhh! [Laughs]

Martin: That’s all from me! Bye!

Sarah: [Still laughing] Thank you, Martin! Skal! Tak!

Amanda: Oh my God!

Sarah: That was so great! Thank you, Martin! And thank you to, to Catherine and Sneezy and Martin and Tara for their, for their, for their clips. I love a clip show; this was adorable. Thank you!

Amanda: Mm-hmm!

Sarah: All right, so what are your wishes for the new year?

Amanda: We just make it through – [laughs] – 2022.

Sarah: So your, your goal is me looking at the website? Holy shit, still here! [Laughs]

Amanda: Just, yeah, just keep going. I mean, my, my unexpected joy for 2021 have been, you know, like, I’m – God bless my therapist, first of all – I’m not a person who leans on others easily, but this year has really let me kind of like make baby steps in, like, texting friends or, like, reaching out to people or just, like, recognizing that, like, I need to schedule an extra therapy appointment, or I should just, you know, like, ask a friend if it’s, like, cool to just, you know, have word diarrhea at them for a good five minutes.

Sarah: Yeah.

Amanda: And most of the time, like, you know, my friends are like, yes, tell me. Tell me what’s wrong, and it’s been very scary, but very helpful to be vulnerable, so I want to keep working on that in 2022. And hugs: I love giving hugs and receiving hugs, and I just want more of them next year.

Sarah: Aw!

Amanda: I know it might be difficult with the variant, but, like, anytime I come into work my friend Tildy just gives me the best hug!

Sarah: Aw!

Amanda: So more hugs in 2022! And just, it’s scary and hard, but I think everyone should just work on being a little bit more vulnerable with the people who, who care about them and, and reach out when you need it. That’s my 2022 wish.

Sarah: Aw.

Amanda: Yeah.

Sarah: Can I just tell you, I remember so clearly, one of my oldest friends was a year behind me in college, so I would have known her 1995 maybe, ’96, ’97. She went through, so she went through a really bad divorce. She’s been dealing with a, just a lot of like, as you grow up, you renovate your life in ways that are important but hard?

Amanda: Yeah. I was also thinking about her the other day; I was going to ask how she was doing. [Laughs]

Sarah: She is doing very well, thank you.

Amanda: That’s good!

Sarah: So at one point – this was years ago, ‘cause I remember the conversation happening on the phone, and I was still in my house in New Jersey, so at least six years ago. I was having a problem with a friend, and I emailed her, and I said, can I call you? I, I want to ask for your opinion about something; I want to ask for some help. She’s like, yeah, absolutely! Call me! I’m, I’m not in a meeting. So I call her, and I’m like, I just, I’m really sorry to bother you, and, you know, I feel really dumb asking you for help like this –

Amanda: Yeah.

Sarah: – ‘cause I feel like I should know the answer, and she’s like, Sarah, I have been waiting for this.

Amanda: [Laughs]

Sarah: I have been waiting for a chance to help you, because you help me all the time.

Amanda: Awww!

Sarah: I have, and I was like, oh! Like, I remember her so clearly saying, I have been waiting for this. Tell me everything; I want to help you out. So your friends want to help you is, was a lesson that I had to learn in a very stunning way. Like, I had no real concept that when you are there for other people, they would most likely in many cases be waiting for the chance to be there for you.

Amanda: Yeah! And, like, you know, growing up sometimes, in certain situations, you develop like that stiff upper lip where it’s like –

Sarah: Oh yeah!

Amanda: – don’t show that anything’s wrong –

Sarah: Nope!

Amanda: – everything is fine –

Sarah: Yep!

Amanda: – deal with it in private –

Sarah: Yep!

Amanda: – and that’s how I’ve, how I’ve carried for quite some time, but, like –

Sarah: Me too!

Amanda: [Laughs]

Sarah: Doesn’t always work, does it?

Amanda: No, it doesn’t, and so I found that, like, when I, like, even if it’s not like, I’m not looking for, I don’t know, like, an, an answer, but, like, sometimes, just, like, a reassuring hug or, like, Emma and I, sometimes we’re lazy and we’ll send voice memos back and forth, like, late at night –

Sarah: Yeah.

Amanda: – ‘cause we don’t want to type? But sometimes getting like a voice memo back, it’s like, you’re being stupid; stop it –

Sarah: [Laughs]

Amanda: – like, your brain is being mean to you – has been, like, really comforting, so, like –

Sarah: Yeah.

Amanda: – finding people who I feel comfortable with doing that with –

Sarah: Yeah.

Amanda: – you know, who won’t turn it into something I don’t respond well to, like a, for lack of a better term, like a pity party; like, I don’t want to feel worse than I already do –

Sarah: Yeah.

Amanda: – if you know what I mean.

Sarah: But it’s, it’s hard when you grow up and the people who you are supposed to be able to trust with your vulnerable feelings, you can’t trust them with vulnerable feelings, and you learn very quickly –

Amanda: No!

Sarah: – not to? So that learning how to do that productively in a way that’s safe with people who you can trust is, is really quite a thing to learn; it’s very difficult.

Amanda: Yeah. So if, if anyone has those people in their life, or, you know, they’re, they think they do, but they’re nervous about sharing –

Sarah: Yeah.

Amanda: – I say, you know, just take some baby steps to, to being like, hey, you know, is it cool if I just vent to you for –

Sarah: Yeah.

Amanda: – a second? I’m having a rough time. And I do that more often than –

Sarah: We do that a lot.

Amanda: – yeah! More often than not you’ll have someone that’s like, yes! Lay it on me! Let’s go!

Sarah: Tell me. And I have done, many times, like, we, my husband and I always walk the dogs together around the middle of the day, and I’ll be like, can I vent? I don’t need construction; I don’t need help. I don’t, I don’t want to solve the problem; I just want to grumble about it. Like, go ahead –

Amanda: Yeah!

Sarah: – grumble away. And sometimes I have to remind him to tell me, are you venting, or do you want constructive help? Because if you just want to vent, I will, I will not make suggestions, but when you come to me with a problem, I want to solve it. I want to help you fix it.

Amanda: Yeah.

Sarah: So if you don’t want me to fix it, if you just want to vent, just tell me, and it’s great. I don’t want to piss you off by being constructive when I’m, I’m genuinely trying to help. And, and that clarifying the, like, the frame?

Amanda: Yeah.

Sarah: I mean, I could just release all of the things that are in my brain. He’s like, all right, you need a snack.

Amanda: [Laughs]

Sarah: Let’s go, let’s go have a snack and talk about this.

Amanda: Everything can be solved with, like, getting a snack, for sure.

Sarah: Oh, I told my son, like, earlier; I said, you know, you – I think I read this on Tumblr – you’re a houseplant with complex emotions; you need water, food, and sunlight. And he, he spends a lot of time in the basement, and he’s like, I’m fine! Like, would you just – you need water, you need sunlight, and you need food. Fix it. [Laughs]

Amanda: Sarah – I will confirm Sarah’s very good: if I rant to her about something, she always says, may I offer a suggestion if you want it?

Sarah: Yes. I always ask, may I make a suggestion? ‘Cause if you don’t want to hear constructive things and you just want to be mad, that’s completely okay!

Amanda: And that’s like a good thing for everyone to take, ‘cause, like, you know, sometimes people just want to grumble, and you want to help, but it’s good to, to check with them first to see if they want it, so.

Sarah: Yeah. So my wish for the new year is that as many people as can possible, possibly, get vaccinated and boosted.

Amanda: Yes!

Sarah: Please take care of yourself and take care of the people around you and, like Martin said, a more equitable distribution of vaccines would be fucking great!

Amanda: Yeah, I would love that.

Sarah: And I also want people to feel able to take care of themselves and the people around them by doing whatever it is that gives them peace, and to not judge themselves for what gives them peace. If what gives you peace is playing videogames and eating Ritz crackers, then you should play videogames and eat Ritz crackers a lot! A lot of the time, my brain or my body will tell me what it needs, and I have been conditioned to deny my brain and my body the things that it says that it needs, and I’ve, I’ve worked really hard to be like, oh! So Witcher is the thing that we’re doing now, huh? Okay, all right! You know, nothing’s on fire; let’s go play videogames!

But also, I wish for everyone to feel comfortable and welcome to take up the space that they need to be who they are. I spend so much time trying to diminish myself. Like, when I edit a podcast, I take myself out so much, and I realize –

Amanda: [Laughs]

Sarah: – no, that’s kind of not the point here! I mean, I’m, I’m a good editor, but sometimes I edit me too much, and I think in all things in my life, I need to stop editing me so much.

Amanda: And it’s, can be exhausting, like, self-editing yourself –

Sarah: Yeah! Yeah!

Amanda: – all the time.

Sarah: So I wish for myself and for everyone to take up the space that they need to be themselves completely.

All right, bring me your bad joke.

Amanda: All right, this is the first one that I feel like I’ve heard you tell before?

Sarah: M’kay!

Amanda: Or it’s, it’s very Sarah-oriented.

Sarah: I love it already! It’s great; it’s perfect. Bring it!

Amanda: [Laughs] How do you track Will Smith in the snow?

Sarah: [Laughs] Tell me!

Amanda: You follow the fresh prints.

[Laughter]

Sarah: Oh, I love it!

Amanda: I feel like you’ve told it before!

Sarah: I might have, but I love it very much! [Laughs]

Amanda: And then there was another one that’s like, what do a tick and the Eiffel Tower have in common?

Sarah: What?

Amanda: They’re both Paris sights.

[Laughter]

Amanda: Those are the two that I brought with me today.

Sarah: All right, I love it! Okay.

So here is my joke. This joke actually comes from a listener named Karen, and I love it. I have, I have just said the punch line over and over to the point where every mammal in my house that understands me rolls their eyes, including the dogs. So thank you, Karen, for this joke; it has made my whole frigging year.

What is the difference between Dubai and Abu Dhabi?

Amanda: Is it a, is this like a spelling joke?

Sarah: No. [Laughs]

Amanda: What is it?

Sarah: What is the difference between Dubai and Abu Dhabi?

Well, people in Dubai don’t like the Flintstones, but people in Abu Dhabi do!

[Laughs] I will, I will just look at my husband and go Abu Dhabi do!

Amanda: Oh my Lord, Sarah.

Sarah: It’s the worst, right?

Amanda: Ewww!

Sarah: [Laughs more] All right –

Amanda: If any – like, I know there’s no video component, but I did just drop my face into my hands.

Sarah: Oh yeah. The, the, the visual groan was very audible. [Laughs]

Amanda: Oh boy.

[music]

Sarah: And that brings us to the end of our New Year’s episode and the end of 2021 for our podcast! Thank you for being part of the podcast community; thank you for inviting me into your eardrums each week and for having me keep you company in all the things that you are doing.

We will have links to all of the books and all of the YouTube channels and everything we mentioned in the show notes; never fear.

This podcast is brought to you in part by Amazon Music. Since you’re listening to this show, I think it’s probably safe to say you like listening to podcasts, so heads up: you can find a ton of binge-worthy podcasts, including this one, on Amazon Music! Amazon Music has more than ten million free podcast episodes to listen to. But Amazon Music isn’t just for podcasts! It has music in the name, and they have thousands of music stations and top playlists to stream for free. I really like listening to very mellow instrumental music in the evening and when I’m working, and one of my favorite new stations on Amazon Music is their Lo-Fi Hip Hop collection. It’s part dreamy and part rhythmic, and it just soothes my brain at the end of the day, and I can listen on my Bluetooth speaker from my phone, from any Alexa device, and on my computer in my office. It’s everywhere! For a limited time, new customers can try Amazon Music Unlimited free for three months, no credit card required. Just go to amazon.com/TRASHYBOOKS. That’s amazon.com/TRASHYBOOKS to try Amazon Music Unlimited free for three months. Amazon.com/TRASHYBOOKS renews automatically, cancel anytime, terms apply.

Thank you again to Tara, Catherine, Sneezy, and Martin for your audio clips. I’m so honored to have had you for this episode, and your jokes were absolutely fabulous.

Happy New Year, be safe, and we’ll see you next year.

Smart Podcast, Trashy Books is part of the Frolic Podcast Network. You can find outstanding shows to listen to at frolic.media/podcasts.

Abu Dhabi do! [Laughs]

[lovely holiday music]

This podcast transcript was handcrafted with meticulous skill by Garlic Knitter. Many thanks.

Smart Podcast, Trashy Books is part of the Frolic Podcast Network. Find many more outstanding podcasts at Frolic.media/podcasts!
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