Whether you’re looking for connection with loved ones over the winter holidays, escapism during trying times, or gift ideas for policy wonks and others in your life, the ITEP list has something for you! Please see below for what our staff members are into this year:

Read Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely
Who isn’t in the mood for some behavioral economics this holiday season? This year I’m revisiting Ariely’s work that in an entertaining, accessible manner explores human motivation–which, as he finds, is often irrational. – Aidan Russell Davis

Watch The West Wing and Listen to The West Wing Weekly Podcast
For those not keen on the incoming administration, watching The West Wing may provide a needed escape into a world of a more humorous and progressive presidential administration. If you want to dig deeper into the show, there is a new weekly podcast that provides thoughtful commentary on each episode and includes guest appearances by people who worked on the show and in politics. You might also find it interesting to skip to Season 2 Episode 20 in the TV show, where the West Wing staff run into trouble with the organization Americans for Tax Justice, a group inspired by a certain real life tax advocacy group you may be familiar with. – Richard Phillips

Watch 13TH
If you haven’t watched it already, take an hour and a half over your winter break to watch Ava Duvernay’s 13TH (a reference to the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which outlawed slavery), a documentary film that explores mass incarceration in the United States, and its disproportionate and pernicious effect on the African American community. The film traces how the U.S. prison population exploded over the last century while simultaneously showing how federal policy funneled billions of dollars to the prison industrial complex, creating financial incentive for the U.S. to have the world’s largest prison population. For-profit prisons continue to find ways to profit from the penal system, including GPS home-based incarceration and detention centers (a euphemism for prisons) for undocumented immigrants. 13TH is available to stream on Netflix. – Jenice R. Robinson 

Listen to the 99% Invisible Podcast with Roman Mars
No matter your interests, you should be able to find at least a few episodes of this podcast about “all the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about” that you’d enjoy. One of my favorites is titled U.T.B.A.P.H. – which is all about new uses for buildings that Used To Be a Pizza Hut. Other memorable episodes explore topics such as the invention of elevators, the I Heart NY trademark, and the art of naming. But I’ve always been particularly impressed by how the podcast manages to keep my attention even when exploring topics that I never thought I was interested in, like barcodes – Carl Davis

Listen to the Invisibilia Podcast with Lulu Miller, Hanna Rosin, and Alix Spiegel
Carl and I are apparently on parallel podcast wavelengths these days! Fans of accessible and fascinating science stories like those in Radiolab will enjoy NPR’s podcast Invisibilia if they’re not already doing so. It focuses on “the invisible forces that control human behavior – ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions” – and is delightfully hosted by three women (Lulu Miller, Hanna Rosin, and Alix Spiegel), who even include a dance party at the end of many episodes. Season 1 was excellent and after a long break, Season 2 was even better this year. – Dylan Grundman

Gather Wisdom from Elder Social Justice Advocates at The Veterans of Hope Project
Vincent Harding was a scholar, historian, and activist working to build an America that lived up to its own vision of itself. Among his work, he cofounded The Veterans for Hope Project — a collection of interviews with educators, religious leaders, community activists, and artists who have worked for decades to advance freedom, peace, and human rights in the U.S. and abroad. Their perspectives and wisdom can be very grounding at a time of political uncertainty.  – Lisa Christensen Gee

Read Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond, edited by Bill Campbell and Edward Austin Hall
Engage in some productive escapism with this collection of science fiction stories featuring minority authors, characters, and issues. Short science fiction is a genre I hadn’t explored before and turned out to be just the ticket for these times. These stories challenge the reader to think flexibly in order to adjust to a wildly different setting and context for each story, a helpful exercise for those of us feeling disoriented in these trying times. With entries by Junot Diaz and many others, and a wide range from pulpy action stories to intellectual thought experiments, some of these stories are sure to stick with you well after reading. – Dylan Grundman

Listen to A Tribe Called Quest’s new album, We Got it From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service
Somehow simultaneously nostalgic and prescient, Tribe’s first (and last) new album in 18 years is excellent and timely. – Dylan Grundman

Listen to The Uncertain Hour, podcast from the producers of NPRs Marketplace
This six episode docupod series (one story told over many episodes, think Serial) is produced by the folks at Marketplace’s Wealth and Poverty Desk. Reporter Krissy Clark takes an in-depth look at “welfare as we don’t know it.” In post-fact America, a podcast that is driven by the idea that we know the least about the things we feel most strongly about seems especially appropriate. Listen in order. – Misha Hill

Listen to 2 Dope Queens, podcast from comediennes Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams
If you want to escape from reality, but not go too far, this stand-up style podcast is for you. Phoebe and Jessica invite a rotating cast of diverse comics to perform in front of a live audience. They talk about everything from the obsession with dad bod to frustration with white people asking to touch their hair. While the range and style of comedy is broad, most of the comics manage to be socially conscious, politically aware, body positive, gender inclusive, and hilarious. But it’s definitely not safe for kids. It’s heavy on adult content and language. – Misha Hill

Listen to the Death, Sex and Money Podcast with Anna Sale
This podcast deals with “the big questions and hard choices that are often left out of polite conversation.” You never know what to expect from week to week topic-wise, but you can always count on a thought provoking conversation that will leave you with fodder for your next dinner party conversation. It also fosters an unexpected sense of community via listener generated lists such as a google doc with favorite short stories and an “Anthems of Change” playlist and through encouraging listener input on topics and feedback on shows. – Meg Wiehe

Happy Holidays! If you enjoy any of our selections let us know! Write to jenice@itep.org or find us on twitter at @iteptweets