What We’re Bingeing Over the Holidays

With services like Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video already squaring off in the streaming wars, holiday bingeing isn’t just about cookies anymore—and books aren’t the only thing members of the Pitt community are looking forward to over the break.

From Baby Yoda to Ta-Nehisi Coates, here are the books, shows, podcasts and games your colleagues will be enjoying during their downtime.


Markeisha Everett, Assistant Athletic Director of Marketing

“The Rise of the Revenue Marketer” by Debbie Qaqish
“Unstoppable Teams: The Four Essential Actions of High-Performance Leadership” by Alden Mills
NPR Planet Money (Podcast)
Ted Talk Daily (Podcast)
History Extra (Podcast)

Everett noted Qaqish’s book challenges readers to think about their current marketing structure and business model. “It does a good job of showing how marketing can be proactive in contributing to an organization’s success overall bottom line,” she said.

Fumi Kimura, Associate Athletic Director for Administration

“The Watanabe Name” by Sakura Nobeyama
Anything by Lee Child
“The Sinner” (Netflix)
“Mindhunter” (Netflix)
Killing Eve (Amazon Prime Video)


Health Sciences Library System

Malgorzata Fort, Head, Digital Resource Development

“Polski El Greco” by Katarzyna J. Kowalska.
“Podróże z Herodotem” by Ryszard Kapuściński
“Remains to Be Seen” (Podcast)

“’Polski El Greco’ is a fascinating story about the discovery of El Greco painting in Poland and its long and tumultuous journey from oblivion and neglect, to conservation and public display by a Polish journalist,” said Fort, who additionally recommended the medical humanities podcast “Remains to Be Seen” by Pitt colleagues Jeff Aziz, Jake Dechant, Emma Wolinsky and various guests.


Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

Kay Brummond, Associate Dean, Faculty Affairs

Music by Trans-Siberian Orchestra
“These Truths: A History of the United States” by Jill Lepore

Adam Leibovich, Associate Dean for Faculty Recruitment and Research Development

“The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark” by Carl Sagan

Dana Och, Director of Undergraduate Studies, Film and Media Studies, Department of English

“Ready or Not”
“The Irishmen” (Netflix)
“Peaky Blinders” (Netflix)
“The Mandalorian” (Disney+)

“I look forward to watching the media I have been saving for when I could pay proper attention (versus all the things I watch with half my brain while multi-tasking),” said Och. “’The Irishmen’ is a three-and-a-half hour time investment that I have not been afforded during fall term, and ‘Peaky Blinders’ is plagued by the masculine quality TV trait of muttered dialogue with high background sound, so closed captioning is a must. I enjoy the dark turn in international film dealing with the family, nation and economics, like ‘Parasite,’ ‘Dogtooth’ and ‘Shoplifters,’ so I am excited to watch Lanthimos’ early Polish film where people recreate murders and ‘Ready or Not’s’ horror comedy take on it. And, I plan to rewatch ‘The Mandalorian’ over and over because I, like the rest of the internet, am obsessed with Baby Yoda.”

Todd W. Reeser, Professor of French and Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies and Chair, Department of French and Italian

“The Body of the Beats” by Audree Wilhemy
“Girl, Woman, Other” by Bernadine Evaristo
“The Nickel Boys” by Colson Whitehead
“The Sunlight Pilgrims” by Jenni Fagan
“What’s the Use: On the Uses of Use” by Sarah Ahmed

Of Wilhemy’s book, Reeser noted “The novel is said to narrate in deeply poetic terms relations between humans and animals, or more precisely how humans are or can be animals (not like animals, but actual animals). Ms. Wilhelmy is coming to campus to talk with students and to do a reading of her work in early April (as part of the Year of Creativity), so I am looking forward to reading the novel and then hearing her discuss it.”

John Twyning, Associate Dean, Undergraduate Studies and the College of General Studies

“Guesswork” by Lloyd Cole
“Lucky Per” by Henrik Pontoppidan


Learning Research and Development Center

Elizabeth Rangel, Director of Communications

“Spying on the South” by Tony Horowitz
“Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead” by Olga Tokarczuk
“The Water Dancer” by Ta-Nehisi Coates
“Achilles” by Madeline Miller

’Spying on the South’ is about the Civil War, Frederick Law Olmstead and the current cultural and political climate in the southern United States—a hard-to-resist trifecta,” said Rangel. “’Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead’ is shortlisted for the 2019 Man Booker International Prize and ‘The Water Dancer’ is Ta-Nehisi Coates' latest book. And a re-read of Madeline Miller's ‘Archilles’sometimes even a modern take on Greek mythology requires more than one reading.”


Office of the Chancellor

Lila Rose, Deputy Chief of Staff

“Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind,” Yuval Noah Harari


Office of Community and Governmental Relations

Alex Toner, Assistant Director of Community Engagement

“These Truths” by Jill Lepore​​​​​​​
“Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown
Season three of “Slow Burn” (Podcast)
Episodes of “The Tim Ferriss Show” (Podcast)

Toner called Lepore’s book “a wonderfully written deep dive into the challenges, complexities and failures of the American experiment.”


Office of the Provost

Kenyon Bonner, Vice Provost and Dean of Students

“How to Be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi​​​​​​​
“Keep Calm and Call the Dean of Students: A Guide to Understanding the Many Facets of the Dean of Students Role” by Lori S. White and Art Munin​​​​​​​
“Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Harriet Beecher Stowe
“The Mandalorian” (Disney+)
“God of War” (Playstation 4)

Bonner reported he was struck by an early passage in “How to Be an Antiracist”: “We know how to be racist. We know how to pretend to be not racist. Now let’s know how to be antiracist.” Bonner continued, “Kendi’s argument that people are either racist or antiracist, regardless of their race, is fascinating—mostly because it does not allow people to occupy what he refers to as the ‘in-between’ space of identifying as ‘not racist.’ I enjoy Kendi’s meticulous and intentional writing style, his use of history and storytelling, and the discomfort Kendi creates by radically challenging status quo thinking and consciousness about race.”

In addition to the above, Bonner also included a Spotify playlist featuring Gang Starr, Prince, George Michael, Hooverphonic and Adele.


Office of the Senior Vice Chancellor for Research

Phoebe Fraser, Manager of Communications

“The Goldfinch” by Donna Tart
“The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah
“Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon Prime Video)

Fraser recently finished the books by Owens and Hannah and called them “Wonderful reads.”

Julie Lalo​​​​​​​, Communications Director

Dolly Parton’s America (Podcast)
“Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine” by Anne Applebaum​​​​​​​
Chief Inspector Armand Ganache series by Louise Penny

Lalo plans to use the podcast as a mental palate cleanser following completion of Rachel Maddow’s “Blowout,” and called the Ganache series the book version of “petting a kitten. If there is a heaven, Quebec’s eastern townships are the front gates,” she said.

Rob Rutenbar​​​​​​​, Senior Vice Chancellor for Research

“The Quantum Ten: A Story of Passion, Tragedy, Ambition, and Science” by Sheilla Jones

“Considering Pitt’s commitment to world-class research on quantum mechanics, and the fact that quantum computing is poised to change the world, I wanted to go back to this history of the early years, which I can only describe as a nerdfest with interpersonal drama,” said Rutenbar.


Office of Sustainability

Nicholas Goodfellow​​​​​​​, Sustainability Coordinator

“American Cuisine: And How It Got This Way” by Paul Freedman
“The Kacey Musgraves Christmas Show” (Amazon Prime Video)

Aurora Sharrard​​​​​​​, Director of Sustainability

Holiday music on XM Radio’s nine holiday stations, along with a number of holiday favorite CDs featuring jazz and New Orleans artists
“Love, Actually”
“A Claymation Christmas Celebration”

“We’ll be wrapping presents in fabric bags tied with ribbon (made over the years by my mother-in-law) and reusing and recycling wrapping paper that makes it into the mix,” said Sharrard. “We’ll no doubt sample from the litany of new and old cheesy holiday offerings on Netflix and HBO (sans ‘The Grinch,’ which we have already watched this year). If I’m lucky, I’ll also finally get my husband to watch ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ which he’s never seen.”


Office of University Communications

Susan Jones, Editor, University Times

“Rules of Civility” by Amor Towles​​​​​​​
“The Eyre Affair” by Jasper Fforde

Jones just started reading Towles’ book. “I loved his other book, ‘A Gentleman in Moscow,’ as much for the story as for the language. He really knows how to turn a phrase, like this: ‘Here, indeed, was a formidable sentence—one that was on intimate terms with a comma, and that held the period in healthy disregard.’”

Kate Ledger, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Marketing

“Stories that Stick” by Kindra Hall
“Work Life” by Adam Grant (Podcast)

“A couple of experts I’m continuously learning from are Adam Grant and Kindra Hall. Adam’s podcast ‘Work Life’ is binge worthy. Even his approach to advertising on the podcast is brilliant from a marketing perspective,” said Ledger. As for Hall’s book, Ledger called it “a tactical approach to telling stories to support our brand (something I’m particularly interested in right now!).”

Meg Ringler​​​​​​​, Director of Special Projects

“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon Prime Video)
“His Dark Materials” (HBO)
“Trail Running Women” (Podcast)
“Fleishman is in Trouble” by Taffy Brodesser-Akner​​​​​​​
“The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” by Taylor Jenkins Reid
“How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy” by Jenny Odell
“The Cruelest Month” by Louise Penny
“Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion” by Jia Tolentino

“I’m excited to read all of these, but especially Tolentino’s ‘Trick Mirror.’ She’s just so good,” said Ringler. “And it’s not December until you read a cozy mystery in one sitting, and Penny always delivers. It’s taken all of my willpower to save ‘Mrs. Maisel’ season three for a winter break treat. Since my non-couch-based habit is running stupidly long distances, I’m looking forward to listening to other women share their trail adventures while on mine.”


School of Education

Valerie Kinloch, Renée and Richard Goldman Dean 

“We Want to Do More Than Survive” by Bettina Love
“Jackson Rising: The Struggle for Economic Democracy and Black Self-Determination in Jackson, Mississippi” by Kali Akuno and Ajamu Nangwaya

“Our School of Education began a new initiative, ‘Pitt Education School-wide Read,’ said Kinloch. “For the 2019-2020 academic year, we are all reading ‘We Want to Do More than Survive’ by Bettina Love, a Pitt Education alumna, award-winning author and associate professor of educational theory and practice at the University of Georgia. In preparation for her visit to our school during the spring semester 2020, I plan to reread (for the third time) this amazing text, which centers equity, justice and the educational survival complex within an abolitionist teaching lens. Then, I plan to read ‘Jackson Rising: The Struggle for Economic Democracy and Black Self-Determination in Jackson, Mississippi,’ which examines freedom-fighting and social transformation through ‘organizing and institution-building.’ To top it off, I will also listen (for the millionth time) to albums by Lizzo and Jamila Woods, which should round out my time.”


Lori Delale-O’Connor​​​​​​​, Assistant Professor

“Girl, Woman, Other” by Bernadine Evaristo​​​​​​​
“Make Your Home Among Strangers” by Jennine Capo Crucet​​​​​​​
“Zita the Spacegirl” by Ben Hatke

“I love to read fiction, and it seems like my whole library queue came in all at once in advance of Winter Break, so I have a lot of great possibilities,” said Delale-O’Connor. “’Girl, Woman, Other’ won the Man Booker prize and traces the connected lives of 12 Black women and non-binary characters in modern Britain. I love that it is told in a variety of different voices, and the dedication at the front of the book—'For the sisters & the sistas & the sistahs & the sistren & the women & the womxn & the wimmin & the womyn & our brethren & our bredrin & our brothers & our bruvs & our men & our mandem & the LGBTQI+ members of the human family’—pulled me in right away… My list really could keep going—I don’t think this break is going to be long enough!”


School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

Natalie Baney​​​​​​​, Director of Communications

“A Discovery of Witches” by Deborah Harkness

“A good friend let me borrow this light reading material over the summer and I have yet to dive in!” said Baney. “I look forward to escaping reality and enjoying this magical adventure involving 1500-year-old vampires and witches, and then watching the TV series. (As we all know, reading the book first is best practice).”


School of Medicine

Donna Beer Stolz​​​​​​​, Director, Center of Biologic Imaging and Associate Professor, Cell Biology

“99% Invisible” (Podcast)
“Criminal” (Podcast)
“The Allusionist” (Podcast)
“The Kitchen Sisters” (Podcast)
“Everything is Alive” (Podcast)

“I haven’t been reading anything, but while I’m doing crafts (I make my own holiday cards), I listen to podcasts,” said Stolz, whose favorites are part of the Radiotopia collective.

Jonathan Franks, Electron Microscopy Lab Manager

The Expanse book and Amazon Prime Video series
“Office Ladies” (Podcast)
“The Internet of Things” (Podcast)
“Star Trek: The Next Conversation” (Podcast)
“Making It So” (Podcast)


School of Nursing

Virginia Allison, Assistant Professor, Department of Health Promotion and Development

“The Noel Diary” by Richard Paul Evans

“I love the author and have read everything he has ever written,” said Allison.

Amy Ashbridge

Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications:

“The Testaments” by Margaret Atwood
“BBC Food Programme” (Podcast)
“The Baby-Sitters Club Club” (Podcast)

“I’m a Margaret Atwood purist, and this was the first thing she’d written that I hadn’t read—because I was mad at her for doing a sequel to ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ and thought she’d just sold out. But I think break is the time to rip off the Band-Aid and actually read it,” said Ashbridge, who also looks forward to the podcasts while training for a half marathon. “’The Food Programme’ combines current events with cooking, and is fantastic at looking at food and cuisine through new eyes. ‘Babysitters Club Club’ is my carrot for surviving treadmill runs. It’s a completely irreverent take on the series, but the hosts approach their reviews and plot descriptions like it’s the most serious thing ever. I devoured the original series when I was growing up, and when I listen to them while I run, I often have to remind myself that literally laughing out loud on a treadmill in a crowded gym isn’t quite appropriate.”

Marilyn Dice, Administrative Secretary, Department of Health and Community Systems

“Smoke Town” by Mark Whitaker

Jennifer Lingler​​​​​​​, Professor and Vice Chair for Research, Department of Health and Community Systems

“Mister Rogers and Philosophy: Wondering Through the Neighborhood” edited by Eric Mohr and Holly Mohr

Nancy Niemczyk​​​​​​​. Assistant Professor, Health Promotion and Development, and Director, Nurse-Midwife Program

“Education of an Idealist” by Samantha Power
“Beginnings” by Laurie R. King
“The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition” by Ursula K. LeGuin

Niemcyk noted the Power book, by President Obama’s U.N. ambassador “got great reviews, and discusses her career as a human rights activist who achieves a level of power where she can really make a difference.” Meanwhile, ‘Beginnings’ features Kate Martinelli, the lesbian feminist detective introduced in 1993 “And was a revelation to me. There hasn’t been a new Kate Martinelli book since 2006 until this fall, and I can’t wait.”


Swanson School of Engineering

Melissa Bilec​​​​​​​, Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

“The Testaments” by Margaret Atwood


Mary Besterfield-Sacre​​​​​​​, Nickolas A. Dececco Professor, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Director, Engineering Education Research Center

“The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Anchor
“Deep Work” by Cal Newport
“A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II” by Sonia Purnell​​​​​​​
“The Crown” (Netflix)
“The Good Place” (Hulu)
“Chernobyl” (HBO)
“Jack Ryan” (Amazon Prime Video)
“What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness” by Robert Waldinger (TED talk)
“The Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers” by Adam Grant (TED talk)
“The Happy Secret to Better Work” by Shawn Achor (TED talk)
“Do Schools Kill Creativity?” by Sir Ken Robinson (TED talk)


University of Pittsburgh at Bradford

Joshua Bishop Groffman​​​​​​​, Assistant Professor of Music, Division of Communications and the Arts

“The Eustace Diamonds” by Anthony Trollope 
“A Brief History of Seven Killings” by Marlon James 
Music by Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Peter Tosh, the Skatalites and Koffee

“Come for the keenly-observed satire of social mores, stay for the painstaking accounts of Parliamentary reform in the 1860s,” says Groffman of Trollope’s novel. Meanwhile, James’ novel is based on the 1967 assassination attempt on Bob Marley and “told as a polyphonic oral history with accounts by politicians, gang members, journalists and agents,” which has inspired Groffman to a deeper dive into ska, reggae, rocksteady and dancehall genres of music.


Kimberly Marcott Weinberg, Assistant Director of Communications and Marketing

“The Library Book” by Susan Orlean​​​​​​​
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon Prime Video)

Weinberg called Orlean’s “The Library Book” “a charming nonfiction book that’s like many little essays about the Central Library at the Los Angeles Public Library. It meanders through a description of a devastating fire and a description of the arsonist, the daily activities of such a large central library, the beautiful architecture, the lives of colorful librarians and more. It is mostly a love letter to libraries.”


University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg

Susan Isola​​​​​​​, Director of Media Relations

“Building a Story Brand” (Podcast)
“On Being” (Podcast)

“I always pick up a new idea or a different way of approaching the standard ‘tried-and-true’ as it relates to marketing and storytelling,” said Isola of “Building a Story Brand.” “I also think that Krista Tippett is one of the premiere interviewers of our time, especially because she knows that her role is to ask the probing questions and to let the guest talk. While spirituality is a constant theme in her interviews, I have been introduced to environmentalists, physics, poets, writers, etc. and their work through her show.”


University of Pittsburgh at Titusville

Phillip Atteberry​​​​​​​, Associate Professor of English

The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy

“I am nearing retirement, and some of my reading lately has been returning to books I read decades ago but wasn’t mature enough to understand at the time,” said Atteberry, who noted he had read the book in college but wondered why anyone would publish it, let alone read it. “I have now lived long enough to know that people’s life challenges don’t change all that much—discriminating between the real and the artificial, understanding the limits of wealth, adapting to cultural change as one ages. Among other things, this saga reminds us that—no matter how many layers of humbuggery we wrap ourselves in—we are all human at bottom. I am grateful that I have lived long enough to enjoy these great books. They will make my holiday brighter.”