Raindbox text box that says "Helllo Summer"

Hello and welcome to WCET’s annual summer media review and recommendations list!

Each summer we like to share our staff’s recommendations for fun reads, listens, and watches for the summer. These suggestions are a mix of personal and professional development podcasts, books, articles, and shows.

We hope you enjoy our recommendations and that you are enjoying a great start to the summer!

– Lindsey and the WCET team



On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed

I picked this one up last year to learn more about Juneteenth. The short book does cover that history briefly, but goes deeper into racism and struggles to overcome it in her life in Texas. It also gives a deep history of how racism was built into that state’s structures from the first settlers who came to Texas from what became the Confederacy to a state constitution that favored some over others. Since this is being published close to the holiday, it is still a good reminder of what is history and of what persists.

Russ Poulin, Executive Director, WCET & Vice President for Technology-Enhanced Education, WICHE

Brain Rules for Work: The Science of Thinking Smarter in the Office and at Home by John Medina

Earlier this year some members of the WCET team held a book club in which we shared our views on John Medina’s Brain Rules for Work: The Science of Thinking Smarter in the Office and at Home. The author has been a frequent keynote speaker after the success of his original book, Brain Rules.

Medina is a molecular biologist focused on the research on human neural development. Throughout the book he cites research in tackling in the chapters: Teams, The Home Office, The Business Office, Creativity, Leadership, Power, Presentations, Conflict/Bias, Work-Life Balance, and Change. The accompanying website includes two bonus chapters on Grief and Personality. And his 10 brain rules for work include “Teams are more productive but only if you had the right people.”

several multicolored books on a bookshelf

While scientifically based, the book is readable for everyone. The insights and recommendations lead to useful discussions among your team members. Since it is a book for the masses, it does not go deep into the studies he cites. A reference list would help. Enjoy engaging fellow staff members with this book.

– Russ Poulin, WCET

Community as Rebellion: A Syllabus for Surviving Academia as a Woman of Color by Lorgia García Peña

Academia is often called out for its many issues around race. This book addresses that topic, describes several personal stories, and challenges the way that academia tends to exclude and restrict access for many women of color. While framing the chapters as if they are sections of a course syllabus, the author thoroughly describes the need for developing community in academia and the role that these communities play in supporting people of color in an overwhelmingly white space. She furthermore points towards specific things that could be changed to create better equity and inclusion in academia.

– Rosa Calabrese, Manager, Digital Design, WCET   

The Transgender Issue: Trans Justice is Justice for All by Shon Faye

I’m cisgender (the opposite of transgender, meaning that my gender identity is the same as the gender that I was assigned at birth), and as such, I sometimes feel like I don’t understand much about what it means to be transgender. I’d like to be a good ally and found that this book was really useful in helping me do better. This book helped me understand more about transgender experiences and the obstacles that transgender people often face. Author Shon Faye is a transgender woman in the UK who writes about trans “issues.” Faye explains that transgender people themselves are often seen as an “issue,” but she turns that phrase around by explaining the issues that are faced by – not unfairly blamed on – trans people. I highly recommend this book for everyone, but especially for people like me who feel like mainstream media has not done an adequate job of explaining trans rights.

– Rosa Calabrese, WCET   

How the Internet Really Works: An Illustrated Guide to Protocols, Privacy, Censorship, and Governance, published by Article 19

I just completed an MS in cybersecurity and during the program I learned about how the internet works. I think it’s pretty cool that I actually understand how this essential and omnipresent artifact works, and then I think back about how strange it was that I never questioned much about its functionality before I learned about it. While most books out there that describe the internet seem quite dense and difficult to unpack, there is an occasional gem, and this book happens to be one of them. It is a great book for explaining the basics of network engineering and internet governance. Although it covers some very complicated subjects, I think the authors do a good job of putting the information into language and visuals that are easy to consume. Furthermore, with an illustrated cat by the name of Catnip as the central character alongside a cast of other creatures and personified objects, the visual experience creates an adorable setting to learn about any subject.

– Rosa Calabrese, Manager, Digital Design, WCET  

I have not actually read any of these books, but they’ve been on my list for a while and I’m hoping to get to them this summer:

  • Parent Nation,
  • From the Hood to the Holler,
  • The 1619 Project.

– Kathryn Kerensky, Director, Digital Learning Policy & Compliance, WCET SAN

The Last Thing He Told Me, Book and TV Series (Apple TV)

Before Owen Michaels disappears, he smuggles a note to his beloved wife of one year: Protect her. Despite her confusion and fear, Hannah Hall knows exactly to whom the note refers—Owen’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. Bailey, who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother. As Hannah’s increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered, as the FBI arrests Owen’s boss, as a US marshal and federal agents arrive at her Sausalito home unannounced, Hannah quickly realizes her husband isn’t who he said he was. And that Bailey just may hold the key to figuring out Owen’s true identity—and why he really disappeared. Hannah and Bailey set out to discover the truth. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen’s past, they soon realize they’re also building a new future—one neither of them could have anticipated. With its breakneck pacing, dizzying plot twists, and evocative family drama, The Last Thing He Told Me is a “page-turning, exhilarating, and unforgettable” (PopSugar) suspense novel. Also a TV series on Apple TV starring Jennifer Garner.

Patricia O’Sullivan, WCET and Every Learner Everywhere

The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times 2023 ASWE Book Club selection**

We haven’t read this yet, but this book was just selected as the book club read for the ASWE book club for 2023. ASWE attendees will read the book prior to the WCET and ASWE meetings this fall and meet during ASWE to discuss.

The book overview: Michelle Obama offers readers a series of fresh stories and insightful reflections on change, challenge, and power, including her belief that when we light up for others, we can illuminate the richness and potential of the world around us, discovering deeper truths and new pathways for progress. Drawing from her experiences as a mother, daughter, spouse, friend, and First Lady, she shares the habits and principles she has developed to successfully adapt to change and overcome various obstacles—the earned wisdom that helps her continue to “become.” She details her most valuable practices, like “starting kind,” “going high,” and assembling a “kitchen table” of trusted friends and mentors. With trademark humor, candor, and compassion, she also explores issues connected to race, gender, and visibility, encouraging readers to work through fear, find strength in community, and live with boldness.


Revisionist History by Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell is noted for writing books (The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers) at which he looks at societal and business hidden realities, trends, and changes. He produces only a handful of episodes per year and they are both enlightening and entertaining. I particularly point you to some episodes from Season 6 (2021):

  • I highly recommend two episodes that are critical of US News & World Report college rankings: Lord of the Rankings and Project Dillard. If you didn’t know how hollow those rankings are, Gladwell lays it out. You will especially enjoy the conversation he has with the individual who is the “lord of the rankings.” I have talked to him and that is how it goes. Project Dillard shows how an HBCU can improve its rankings. The answer? Grow. Become exclusive. And don’t worry so much about serving Black students. Makes me mad and is funny.
  • He also has three (yes three!) episodes on The Little Mermaid, which is again timely. The episode is focused on an article about law and morality in Disney animated films. He asks in the first episode…do we need to overthink animated movies of fairy tale? He concludes “Actually, we do.” An illegal contract does not win out over a just outcome. Makes you think and is funny.

– Russ Poulin, WCET

Ruined Podcast with Alison Leiby and Halle Kiefer

Anyone else here who doesn’t like horror movies, but wishes they liked horror movies? I’m too easily terrified by horror to watch it myself, but I always want to know what happens in popular horror movies, so I often find myself reading spoiler articles about them. And I always thought I was the only person who was like this because it does seem pretty weird. But then I found the Ruined podcast! The premise is that one woman tells her friend (who is a scaredy cat like me) exactly what happens in a different horror film each week. Then they discuss things like mistakes the characters made and what they would each do in the same situation. The episodes are typically quite funny, and don’t bring about the same dread inside of me that watching horror movies does.

– Rosa Calabrese, WCET

Headphones next to a phone showing a podcast on a phone screen.

The Laughs of your Life with Doireann Garrihy

In this series, Doireann aims to delve into the beauty of having a laugh, speaking to guests from all walks of life. From first memories of laughter to being laughed at to “if I didn’t laugh I’d cry” moments, these markers shape the interviews, bringing out the best in some of Ireland’s most influential people.

Patricia O’Sullivan, Content Manager, WCET and Every Learner Everywhere

Criminalia Podcast

Holly Frey and Maria Triarchi look at historical crimes and examine them with a more modern viewpoint and the benefit of hindsight. Seasons have included “Treasonists,” “Artnappers,” “Resurrectionists” (or body snatchers), “Witches and alchemists,” “Lady Pirates,” and more! The hosts do a great job of researching and presenting stories from the past that I thought I knew a lot about (in some cases anyway) but common understandings weren’t the whole story. Plus, at the end Holly and Maria present mocktails and cocktails inspired by each story and/or crime, which is a fun little bit for each episode.

– Lindsey Downs, WCET

Some podcasts I like that are related to education are Times Higher Education, Teaching in Higher Ed, and Higher Education Matters. I also like Science Vs, Planet Money, Latino USA, and Stuff You Should Know, but they aren’t super related to higher education.

– Ashley Garhart, Content Specialist, WCET

WCET Frontiers Pod

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention OUR PODCAST. Did you know WCET has a podcast? Check out the WCET Frontiers Pod for our monthly (at least) episodes on solutions and innovations in the practice and policy of digital learning in higher education. Get caught up and subscribe now to get notified when future episodes are released! We’re on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify.

– Lindsey Downs, WCET


I’m looking forward to these TV shows this summer:

  • Crime Scene Kitchen – this is like a combination of cooking show and detective series. Essentially, teams of two work together to try and investigate ingredients, crumbs, utensils left behind in a kitchen to see if they can replicate the dessert that had been made. I will say I’m not one who usually enjoys the typical cooking shows, but this is one that both me and my husband enjoy.
  • Claim to Fame – this was a surprise favorite of ours last year. Essentially, a group of relatives of various celebrities are put together in the house and they have to try to keep the identity of their celebrity relative a secret in order to last to the end of the game and win. Clues are revealed to the contestants throughout the game that hint toward who each person’s celebrity relative is.
  • Stars on Mars – I’m not fully sure of the premise of this show but I think celebrities are essentially competing against each other to see if they could last in a simulated Mars environment.

– Kathryn Kerensky, Director, Digital Learning Policy & Compliance, WCET SAN

Ted Lasso, Apple TV

If there is anyone out there wondering if they should watch Ted Lasso, well, here is your sign to watch it.

I can honestly say that this show was not only one of my very favorite television shows I’ve ever seen, but some of the episodes (especially this season) have, in my opinion, been some of the best episodes of TV ever. I know many would disagree with me, especially on this season, but to me the acting, writing, and production was top notch. They tackled some big topics and did surprisingly well in doing so. Plus even when things got heavy, they found a way to add some humor when it was really needed. Which I think we all need to know how to do sometimes. And you don’t need to know anything about football (/soccer) to enjoy the show. I laughed and cried so many times this season and I’m still a tad in denial that it’s over. It was absolutely lovely.

– Lindsey Downs, WCET

Lindsey Downs

Assistant Director, Communications and Community, WCET




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