Quarantainment - A Summer Reads, Listens, and Watch (And more!) List from WCET

Published by: WCET | 6/12/2020

Tags: COVID-19, WCET

Welcome to Quarantine

Lindsey and I (Rosa) began plans for this blog very soon after quarantine began back in March. We wanted to put together something fun to share that would contrast with the other conversations happening about the future of higher education that would hopefully help people decompress from the stress of life and work during a pandemic. It made sense to wait a little while until people really had a handle on work, and so we decided to make it a summer blog, replicating the style of our summer reading lists and summer listening list. Unlike past years, we haven’t included much in the way of higher education or professional development related recommendations. This year is more focused on distraction!

However, as protests have broken out across America in reaction to the police killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor and in reaction to the systemic racial oppression that has brought about that type of violence, the idea of entertainment and distraction means something a little different than it did just last month. It feels strange and inappropriate now to be blindly promoting distraction from this very important moment – and hopefully turning point – in American history. But it’s important now more than ever that we are keeping up with our emotional well-being and mental health. With that being said, please read and enjoy our Quarantainment blog as a temporary distraction before you return to focusing on this movement. Even during immensely important and heavy moments such as this, it is still essential to take care of yourself, to know your limits, and enjoy some entertainment.

We additionally have included a few recommendations that will help you to reflect on and better understand this movement and moment in history. However, you can find many more articles online about how to educate yourself about race in America that we would strongly suggest checking out including a list of recommendations from NPR, recommendations posted in Medium, recommendations from scholars and researchers at the Smithsonian, and resources listed on the Black Lives Matter website. Additionally, JSTOR Daily has a reading list of articles on institutionalized racism that has been made free to all readers.

We have broken our suggestions into categories this year, from TV shows, great listens, great reads, and even have some recipes for you! Thank you to the WCET team and the WCET Steering Committee who provided us with these excellent recommendations.


~ Rosa and Lindsey

TV Shows


A problem I’ve been having recently is that even when I am watching TV and supposedly relaxing, I’m also reading news headlines on my phone at the same time. This has been uselessly counterproductive in my effort to relax. So I’ve been enjoying watching TV shows in other languages beside English because it forces me to stay focused and read the subtitles. Forced relaxation! But it’s worked, and it’s been fun. I’ve really been enjoying Korean dramas (K-Dramas). There are a lot of them on Netflix in a variety of genres. I’m currently watching Crash Landing on You – a romantic comedy about a successful South Korean woman who accidentally paraglides into North Korean territory. Comedy and romance ensue. The show is a delight, with loveable characters, beautiful sets, and intriguing plot lines. Check it out, and you are sure to be distracted in a delightful way.

If this gets you hooked on K-dramas, another one I’d recommend is called Misaeng, which is also available on Netflix. It is a workplace drama, which takes a look at South Korea’s highly competitive workforce. It’s a captivating look into another country, and has its own share of loveable characters.

-Rosa Calabrese, WCET

Salt Fat Acid Heat

 A limited series on Netflix, Chef Samin travels all over to share these four key ingredients to all cooking and how they interact to make what you eat delightful. It’s fun and educational and appropriate for the whole family if you wish. But fair warning, it will make you HUNGRY.

Available on: Netflix.com

-Cali Morrison, Associate Dean, Alternative Learning, American Public University System


Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

poster reading keep calm and read on with a pile of four books

I actually read this book before quarantine started, but I would definitely recommend anyone who hasn’t yet read it to go for it now. It’s the first book in a trilogy, and the second book, Children of Virtue and Vengeance is available now as well.

It is set in an imaginary version of Africa, and the main protagonist is a girl named Zélie, coming of age and exploring her own power. It’s been compared to Harry Potter as it is also young adult fiction that centers around magic. In Children of Blood and Bone, the magic is ancient and was previously thought to have been wiped out. Many of the themes, which center on racial inequality are relevant to today’s America, now more than ever. Appropriate for ages 14 and up, so if you have kids at home this summer looking for something to do, I would definitely recommend this book for them as well.

– Rosa Calabrese, WCET

Alexander Hamilton, Ron Chernow / Hamilton, THE MUSICAL

I just finished all 700+ pages of the biography Alexander Hamilton. Although published in 2004 and I like biographies and stories about historic figures, I finally got around to reading it. It’s quite a story of a man who was Washington’s right-hand man during the Revolutionary War, participant in the Constitutional Convention, co-author of the Federalist Papers pushing for ratification of the Constitution, first Secretary of the Treasury, and much more. It was time to read the book as I was hoping to see the musical Hamilton by Lin-Manual Miranda. It was supposed to play in Denver again this summer, but circumstances are such that it has been delayed. But, wait! Disney to the rescue. You can catch a filmed version of the original cast performing the musical on Disney+ on July 3rd. I’m looking forward to seeing it streamed.

Winston Churchill – The Splendid and the Vile, Erik Larson

Next on the history book trail is a new historical fiction about Winston Churchill and his experiences leading the United Kingdom through the toughest times of World War II. I enjoyed author Erik Larson’s writing in The Devil in the White City and look forward to another engaging tale. The book has received amazingly good reviews and has been cited as a timely look at leadership in troubled times.

-Russ Poulin, WCET

Food and Recipes

Screens offer a great distraction during quarantine whether it be TV shows, movies, games, or Zoom. But it’s quite nice to take a break from the screens as well and take a deep dive into food. Unfortunately, I have been unable to participate in the sourdough craze because of my gluten intolerance, but I’ve certainly baked a lot – my favorites are cookies and muffins, and I’m still trying to get a handle on scones, and I’ve also been cooking a lot more than I did even before quarantine, though I’ve always loved doing it. But I’ve been cooking more than ever now and studying it as well. Early in quarantine I bought a book from my local independent bookstore called The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen by Sam Sherman, and now I’ve been learning about foods that are native to America, as well as what prepared foods looked and tasted like before colonization. So far, I have only tried my hand at one recipe (probably the most simple one in the book) for amaranth crackers and was quite pleased by the outcome (the recipe is also available here, contributed online by author Sam Sherman). I’m excited to try more once I expand my pantry to include more of the ingredients.

Image reads "This isn't forever, just right now"
This Isn’t Forever Image By United Nations COVID-19 Response

I also like to listen to podcasts while I cook, and one of the ones that I’ve been paying extra attention to recently is Gastropod, so that I can listen to food conversation while I cook. I’ve recently relistened to a couple old favorites. I would highly recommend the episode Here’s Why You Should Care About Southern Food with guests Michael Twitty and John T. Edge about how diets among slaves as well as dishes created by slaves has shaped American food, particularly American Southern food. The other episode that I recently returned to is What is Native American Cuisine? guest starring Sean Sherman, the author of the book I mentioned above. The episode powerfully discusses topics around food sovereignty, colonization, and the importance of returning to the healthful diets that Native Americans ate before colonization, as opposed to the unhealthy diets on reservations today (think government cheese). Lastly, I have also enjoyed one of Gastropod’s recent episodes on Eating the Wild: Bushmeat, Game, and the Fuzzy Line Between Them, which points out issues in the way that we in the West might be critical of how other countries eat meat, but there are issues with our own meat consumption practices as well. One of the things I like most about the show is the way that it deconstructs bias through food. However, even beyond these episodes, I have yet to find an episode of Gastropod that I do not like.

– Rosa Calabrese, WCET

Eggplant Salad and Dip

This eggplant salad/ dip recipe is traditionally Romanian, very common there, and used lots during the summer. It has a smoky flavor and is super tasty and my husband (who is from Kentucky) is just loving it.

Recipe by Adina from Where is My Spoon

-Laura DaVinci, Every Learner Everywhere

Easy Beef and Broccoli

My new favorite dish – gluten and diary free too!

The greatest thing about this recipe is how adaptable it is. I now use the basic idea of this recipe and add other proteins and vegetables as needed. It’s amazing with the original flank steak, or with chicken or vegetarian alternatives. Just make sure to switch out the broth for vegetable broth if you want it to be vegetarian. Even my toddler LOVES it. We serve with the thicker Thai brown rice noodles or jasmine rice.

Recipe by Chungah Rhee, Damn Delicious

Cast Iron Blueberry Crisp

photo of a castiron pan with blueberry cobbler and ice cream
Lindsey made this! In her opinion, it was great.

This blueberry crisp blew my mind.

It’s very easy to make, you can even use frozen blueberries and don’t need to defrost them first.

I also used gluten free flour and non-dairy butter and it turned out excellent.

The recipe author is correct that your home will smell AMAZING.

Recipe by Jenny Fitzgerald, Fitzgerald Lane

-Lindsey Downs, WCET


I would recommend that if you have the available finances for it, to take out a subscription in your local newspaper if you haven’t already. Local news was struggling before the pandemic, but is suffering now more than ever. Plus now seems like a great time to keep up with local news to keep in touch with your community when everything feels far away.

-Rosa Calabrese, WCET

Podcasts and Radio

How I Built This with Guy Raz

I continue to be obsessed with Guy Raz and his in-depth interviews with people who built brands we all know about how they did it and what life is like as an entrepreneur. Of special attention right now are the episodes he’s running where he is having Facebook Live conversations with entrepreneurs regarding resilience and what the global pandemic has meant for their business.  I laugh a lot and sometimes I even cry, but I always, ALWAYS learn something.

-Cali Morrison, Associate Dean, Alternative Learning, American Public University System

Multitude Podcasts

Multitude is a podcast collaborative of audio artists who work together to produce some outstanding shows. I started listening to them because of the Potterless podcast, which is about a young man who had never read the Harry Potter series, who read them for the first time and discussed them with guests. It’s now one of the most popular fiction literature podcasts. It’s very funny and I really enjoy it. This led me to their additional work:

Spirits – “a boozy dive into mythology, legends, and folklore. I really like listening to the two hosts and their guests share stories about myths and learning new ones from different cultures.

Join the Party – this show is a story told through the role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons. Before you stop ready, think about how interesting this would be. They are basically coming up with a story in real-time, using improv techniques, and the entire story is built around what direction dice send you. I have played D&D before, so maybe I’m biased, but it’s pretty amazing to listen to them creatively tell their stories. They are on their second season and it may be more fun than the first, which I thought was great.

Next Stop: this is new – I haven’t listened to all episodes yet, but this is like an audio version of Friends for more modern times.

“NEXT STOP is an audio sitcom about your mid-to-late 20s when everyone is changing around you—and you worry that you might not catch up. When longtime roommates Cam and Ally search for someone to replace their newly engaged former roommate, they stumble upon the iconoclast and ridiculous Samuel Clemens.”

They have several other podcasts, including a basketball podcast about everything except the wins and losses. Haha!

-Lindsey Downs, WCET

Some Theatre Audio “Silliness”

If you are missing theatre: Seth Rodetsky’s Back to School

Seth Rodetsky has been hosting Seth’s Big Fat Broadway and Seth speaks on XM Radio for years. For those of us that are not XM Radio subscribers, this podcast is a fun substitute. Seth interviews a variety of celebrities with a focus on their high school years. Some of the celebrities Seth has interviewed thus far include: Alison Janney, Sean Hayes, Vanessa Williams, Rosie O’Donnell, and Jason Alexander.

Additional theatre silliness: Oh, Hello: the P’dcast

John Mulaney and Nick Kroll bring their Broadway stage characters (also available on Netflix), George S. Geegland and Gil Faison, to a very silly p’dcast series. I urge you to see the show on Netflix first to understand the humor of these podcasts. These characters are strangely obsessed with Princess Diana. Available on most podcast apps.

-Cheryl Dowd, WCET State Authorization Network

Get Online – a new podcast from Great Plains IDEA

Get Online… is a podcast that helps students and faculty align expectations around online education.  Each episode includes expert advice and creative resources to inform and enrich the online educational experience. Listen from our website at www.gpidea.org/podcast or you can find Get Online… wherever you listen to podcasts.

In this three-episode series titled Get Online with Academic Advising, we tackle the topic of academic advising.  You’ll hear first-hand from faculty and students as they share their experiences, ask tough questions, and get advice from an array of guests, including experts from several of NACADA’s (National Academic Advising Association) advising communities.  Get Online with Academic Advising will be available starting June 15, 2020, wherever you listen to podcasts.

Get Online with Academic Advising will answer these questions and many more.

  • How is online advising different than on-campus advising from the learner viewpoint?  From the faculty viewpoint?
  • How can students be proactive in their academic advising relationship?
  • How can faculty advisors create a sense of community and belonging for online graduate students?
  • What is the role of the academic advisor in regards to career development?
  • How can students take ownership in career advising?

Get Online… is brought to you by Great Plains IDEA, a consortium of universities who collaborate to offer online, flexible, affordable degree programs for a virtual community of diverse learners.

-Lindsey Downs, WCET

I Weigh with Jameela Jamil

I Weigh with Jameela Jamil (you might know her as the actress who plays Tahani on The Good Place) is a brilliant podcast. She started recording it from her home since quarantine started – the first episode aired on March 26 – so each of her interviews includes awareness to current events, but is not focused on them for the most part. Each interview she speaks with another celebrity, activist, influencer, etc. about their lives, what they care for, and what the struggle with. She brings up topics around gender and gender identity, race, sexuality, mental health, relationships to each other and ourselves, and ultimately discusses what things in our lives have meaning. It has been a great distraction for me from quarantine, but in listening to it, I also feel more engaged with the world even though I am still in quarantine. It’s a great podcast, and the only downside is that since it is so new, there is only a small archive to be enjoyed!

-Rosa Calabrese, WCET

Apps and Games

 Zombies, Run! (app for iOS and Android)

a person running on a path
Running Photo by Arek Adeoye on Unsplash

This is a story-based app that integrates with your music player while you exercise. Walk or run and your music will periodically be interrupted with audio from the multi-episode story. You’ll be dropped into the middle of a zombie apocalypse, and collect virtual items to save humanity while you walk or run from randomly timed zombie chases! If you’re like me and don’t naturally gravitate to vigorous exercise, being chased by zombies in Zombies, Run! is strangely engaging and motivating. Move from episode to episode in the series, and the app also tracks your movement, time and distance.

 iOS store: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/zombies-run/id503519713

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.sixtostart.zombiesrunclient&hl=en_US

-Jory Hadsell, Executive Director, California Virtual Campus – Online Education Initiative

OOTP 21 – Baseball Management Simulator

As a baseball fan, there has definitely been a large hole in my spring without an MLB season to follow. For anybody else out there feeling similarly, I’d highly recommend OOTP 21, a highly-detailed and complex baseball management simulator that encompasses not only the entire history of Major League Baseball (1871-present), but also includes minor and foreign professional baseball leagues. It’s especially fun for any fan of a team -cough Texas Rangers cough – that has a history of making highly questionable player transactions which you can undo in a virtual baseball world.

– Robert Perez, Every Learner Everywhere

Animal Crossing New Horizons

Is any list of quarentainment suggestions really complete without this game? I know, many of you are probably sick of hearing about it, but I do love this game. It’s low stakes and absurdly calming. It’s also absurdly addicting. My toddler laughs hysterically when the characters in the game talk and she loves it when my character catches bugs or chops at a tree for some wood.

If you haven’t heard, Animal Crossing is a virtual simulation game where the player’s character is dropped off on a deserted island and the goal is basically to make it your dream island. You can pretty much make the island into anything you want. Mine is my dream vacation destination. There are also cute little anthropomorphic animals who move onto your island and become your friends. You fish, catch bugs, and go fossil hunting (yes, fossils).

-Lindsey Downs, WCET

Thank you!

Again, thank you to everyone who submitted these great suggestions. Please, stay safe and stay healthy, and we hope you enjoy these outstanding reads, listens, and watches, and we especially hope you enjoy being chased by fictional zombies around your deserted dream island, while managing your virtual baseball team.


Rosa Calabrese

Senior Manager, Digital Design, WCET



Lindsey Downs

Assistant Director, Communications and Community, WCET




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