#StayHome Recommendations from the CAHSS: Books and Podcasts (updated 4/20)

We asked instructors, staff, students, and alumni from across the CAHSS to tell us what they are reading, listening to and watching while they #stayhome.

Here are their book and podcast recommendations:


Michelle McQuade Dewhirst (music): Little Weirds by Jenny Slate (book)

“The structure of Jenny Slate’s “Little Weirds” is perfect for my stress-fractured attention span. It’s a series of tiny, poignant, hilarious, and startlingly perceptive vignettes. I’m savoring these just a little bit at a time.”


Alise Coen (political science, PEA): Politics in Question (podcast)

“Check out the recent Politics in Question episode, “Do Ideas Or Interests Drive Our Politics?” The hosts interview Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) and it’s a fascinating conversation.”


Alise Coen (political science, PEA): The Weeds (podcast)

“There is an interesting recent Weeds podcast episode called “How Does This End?” where the hosts discuss post-physical distancing possibilities.”


Ryan Martin (psychology): The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba (book)

“The story of William Kamkwamba who built an electricity producing windmill almost completely out of scraps with the guidance of a a physics textbook he found at his library. It’s a powerful story about an extraordinary guy.”


Alise Coen (political science): Talking Politics (podcast)

“The episode “From Cholera to Coronavirus” provides some great historical context for understanding how pandemics interact with politics.”


Alise Coen (political science): We The People (podcast)

“Check out the “Governing During Social Distancing” episode – it’s a super important discussion of how the branches of the US government are challenged to function during a crisis and what options exist.”


Hannah Malmberg (political science and communication alumni): Las Culturistas (podcast)

“Best friends and comedians Matt Rogers and Bowen Yang invite their guests to discuss the formative pop culture moments in their lives that made them love pop culture. They manage to make you laugh while dissecting cultural moments that have shaped many of us!”


Deanna Yashinsky (music composition): The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang (book)

“It combines fantasy with war to explore war times without getting too historical (it is vaguely based off the Second Sino Japanese war). Kuang is brilliant, writing with intricacy to weave a plot that is somewhat reminiscent of Avatar the Last Airbender, if it were for adults, Aang were angry, and the fire nation looked like it might win.”


Dan Kallgren (HUM-history): Bear Brook (podcast)

“A really compelling real-life “who dun it” murder mystery that just happened to unfold about 3 miles from where I grew up!”


Jessica Lyn Van Slooten (english, wrtiting foundations, women’s and gender studies): Call Your Girlfriend (podcast)

“This “podcast for long distance besties everywhere” centers on conversations about popular culture and politics between besties/hosts Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman. The takes are decidedly feminist and intersectional, the topics varied, and the centering of friendship inspiring.”


Jessica Lyn Van Slooten (english, WF, WGS): Shelf Love: A Romance Novel Book Club Podcast (podcast)

“Host Andrea Martucci facilitates engaging conversations about romance novels with popular romance authors, journalists, academics, and others in Romancelandia. Each episode explores “romances worth reading” and a host of timely topics. Over the next few months Shelf Love is releasing a special series of short, thematic episodes called the “Decameron Quarantine Romance Book Club.” Our very own Jessica Lyn Van Slooten (English, WF, WGS) is a featured guest on four of these episodes.”


Chay Schmitt (theatre and dance): “Music Without Words” A Memoir by Philip Glass (book)

“If you like music, theatre, art, and/or travel, you will love this book! Composer Philip Glass takes us through his life, struggles, travels, and beautiful mind in this captivating memoir. His casual style of story-telling feels as though he is in the room with you, conversing over a nice cup of tea. Heartwarming and insightful.”


Chay Schmitt (theatre and dance): Finding Mrs. Ford (book)

“A unique, thrilling mystery. Sort of gangster, sort of girl-next-door, there is a lot packed into this book, and I could hardly put it down!”


Chay Schmitt (theatre and dance): Michael Perry (Facebook page – book readings)

“Michael Perry, an author from Wisconsin, has been doing live readings of his books and essays on his Facebook page. As a farmer and trucker deeply involved in the arts, he has a well-rounded perspective on life, and a great sense of humor to boot! His soothing voice and fun anecdotes are a perfect remedy for the quarantine blues!”


Amanda Loehrke (political science, DJS, public admin): Joe Exotic: Tiger King (podcast)

“If you have been on social media sites lately, you may have seen posts about the latest Netflix craze, “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness,” that follows two exotic animal zoos/sanctuaries and the wild culture around them. I found this podcast that has more detailed accounts from people on the show and information about Joe Exotic. It is a great listen after you’ve finished the Netflix series!”


Chris Williams (English): The Adventure Zone (podcast)

“This is an “actual play” Dungeons and Dragons podcast from The McElroy Brothers and their dad. What starts out as an irreverent, goof-filled experience gradually transforms into one of the most compelling audio narratives I’ve heard. There are 3 seasons and the first one has 69 episodes, so plenty of hours of listening available.”


Chris Williams (English): “The Same City” by Terrance Hayes (book/poem)

“This poem, from Haye’s book Hip Logic, beautifully illustrates the sometimes subtle nature of generational warmth and affection. The sense of connectivity and chosen family permeates these lines. Available here: https://litfromthebasement.com/030-the-same-city-by-terrance-hayes/


Tara DaPra (english): “Things to Do in the Belly of the Whale” (poem)

“Because: metaphor Things to Do in the Belly of the Whale by Dan Albergotti Measure the walls. Count the ribs. Notch the long days. Look up for blue sky through the spout. Make small fires with the broken hulls of fishing boats. Practice smoke signals. Call old friends, and listen for echoes of distant voices. Organize your calendar. Dream of the beach. Look each way for the dim glow of light. Work on your reports. Review each of your life’s ten million choices. Endure moments of self-loathing. Find the evidence of those before you. Destroy it. Try to be very quiet, and listen for the sound of gears and moving water. Listen for the sound of your heart. Be thankful that you are here, swallowed with all hope, where you can rest and wait. Be nostalgic. Think of all the things you did and could have done. Remember treading water in the center of the still night sea, your toes pointing again and again down, down into the black depths. “Things to Do in the Belly of the Whale” by Dan Albergotti from The Boatloads.© BOA Editions, Ltd., 2008. Posted at: https://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/index.php%3Fdate=2008%252F06%252F05.html If you want to buy the book, our local bookstore will ship for free: https://lionsmouthbookstore.com/?searchtype=author&qs=dan+Albergotti&qs_file=&q=h.tviewer&using_sb=status&qsb=author


Kablia (psychology): ABG – Asian Boss Girl (podcast)

“ABG is a podcast that speaks of issues/topics of the lives of modern day Asian-American women. Their episodes are extremely insightful to any audience while being sensitive yet empowering.”


Amanda Loehrke (political science, DJS, public admin): 36 Questions (musical podcast)

“I stumbled upon this podcast one day and discovered a new way musicals could be portrayed – in podcast form. In this three-part podcast, the musical stars Johnathan Groff and Jessie Shelton. A great listen for those interested in musicals!”


Amanda Loehrke (political science, DJS, public admin): My Favorite Murder (podcast)

“While this podcast may be a bit macabre, it is in fact a comedy podcast and brings an entertaining way to present true crime stories. Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark tell their favorite murder stories and share hometown murders from friends and fans.”


Amanda Loehrke (political science, DJS, public admin): To Kill a Mockingbird (book)

“Harper Lee writes about small-town life through textured truths about life and comprehensive characters. I read this novel back in high school and hope to re-read it while now spending all of my time at home.”


Chay Schmitt (theatre and dance): House of Leaves (book)

“A complex and compelling tale, told through a dynamic format. The mental gymnastics will challenge you, the plot will drag you in, and you will be obsessed!”


Matthew Kersting (psychology): The End of the World with Josh Clark (podcast)

“A great series that reviews a number of “what if” scenarios that may accidentally (or intentionally) cause the end of Earth as we know it. The podcast incorporates a lot of interesting science and history that will be entertaining on the surface, but has the potential to keep you occupied for hours as you dig deeper into the information being shared.”


Alise Coen (political science): Backstory (podcast)

“Backstory episodes offer in-depth looks at current event topics through the lens of history, such as “Past Pandemics: What Can We Learn That May Help Us Today?”


Alise Coen (political science): Politics in Question (podcast)

“Politics in Question hosts offer interesting and witty discussions of U.S. politics that bridge expert analysis with current events, such as “What are the politics of the coronavirus pandemic?””


Alise Coen (political science): Vox’s “The Weeds” (podcast)

“The Weeds has engaging up-to-date episodes on how COVID-19 is impacting U.S. politics and society, such as “The Coronavirus Election” and “Rescuing the Economy from Coronavirus.””


Bryan Carr (communication and information science): Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend (podcast)

“Conan O’Brien is a reliably hilarious and off-kilter comedic presence, and the intimate nature of the podcast results in hysterically funny and occasionally revealing interviews with his celebrity guests, but the real star of the show is the comedic chemistry between Conan, his assistant Sona Movsesian, and producer Matt Gourley. Easily binge-able, deeply human, and super funny.”


Andrew Teale (alumni): Malazan Book of the Fallen (book)

“If you like game of thrones, this book series will blow your socks off. It throws you into the world and doesn’t hold your hand.”


Noah Simon (theatre and dance): WTF, Heavyweight, This American Life, The Moth, Bird in the Wings (podcasts)

“WTF – Marc Maron (hilarious comedian) interviews people. Some really great ones. Hundreds to choose from. HEAVYWEIGHT: Jonathan Goldstein helps people solve an old or new conflict. Sometimes very funny, sometimes very poignant. THIS AMERICAN LIFE – Good stories THE MOTH – Really compelling stories BIRD IN THE WINGS – Kelli Strickland interviews Wisconsin Arts and Cultures.”


Aaron Weinschenk (political science): Why We’re Polarized by Ezra Klein (book)

“An interesting account of how the U.S. became so polarized and what we could possibly do about it. Written in a nice accessible style!”


Katia Levintova (democracy and justice studies and political science): Jane Austin novels (book)

“Timeless and perfect pacing for our times of slow walks, old fashioned communications and shows that the more things, the more they stay the same.”


Tara DuPra (english): Poems to Live By in Uncertain Times, edited by Joan Murray (book)

“This is a collection I’ve returned to time and time again, to grieve and to be comforted.”


Ryan Martin (psychology): Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend

“Super funny show with great guests.”


Have something to add? Recommend something here and we will add it next week.

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