Graduate College Staff Picks for Summer Days & Cool Stays

Sunglasses sitting on the edge of a pool

Written by Susan Helmick, Graduate Assistant for the Graduate College 

Searching for ways to elevate your summer? The Graduate College has you covered with a curated list of recommendations. From music and books to local favorites and wellness apps, there's something for everyone to enjoy. Each suggestion comes with personal insights from fellow students, staff, and faculty. Dive into our top picks and make the most of your downtime, whether you're basking in the sun or staying cool indoors.

Artists & Bands

  • Tracy Chapman:” Her music and lyrics were the soundtrack to my college experience and imprinted a call for social justice on me.”


Podcasts & Episodes

  • Code Switch, NPR: “Hosted by journalists of color, tackles the subject of race with empathy and humor." 

  • The Happiness Lab, Pushkin Industries: “Based on Yale professor Dr. Laurie Santos’ psychology course, Professor Santos discusses the science of happiness, features fascinating research, and insights from around the world.” 

  • Spooked, Snap Judgment:  “Listeners share their personal stories of ghosts and all things supernatural.”


  • Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass: “A wonderful mix of memoir, history, and Indigenous knowledge with compelling calls to action for sustainability and caring for our world and community.”

  • Johan Hari, Stolen Focus: Why You Can't Pay Attention:” A good reminder to not lose sight of what matters most in life, and to reclaim some sense of power and control from external mediated forces taking away valuable resources of time, attention, and self-concept.” 

Films & TV 

  • Band of Brothers: “A gripping miniseries that follows Easy Company, a group of American paratroopers, from their training to the end of World War II in Europe. The series highlights their harrowing battles, deep camaraderie, and personal sacrifices.” 

  • Black Mirror: “An anthology of thought-provoking stories based on science and technology.”

  • Inside Out 2: “Tackles mental health challenges (anxiety) in a way that is easily digestible and relatable while also being funny and nostalgic.” 

  • Man Up: "A fun, quirky, slightly chaotic, British rom-com with a great cast.”

  • Origin: “This film adaptation of the book Caste provides valuable insights into the way we categorize and divide ourselves across cultures, leading us to celebrate our interconnectedness.” 

  • The Sandlot: “A classic coming-of-age story that follows a young boy who learns valuable lessons about friendship, community, and baseball.”

  • 3 Body Problem: "A thrilling sci-fi series exploring humanity's first contact with an alien civilization, filled with suspense and cosmic mysteries.” 

YouTube Channels

  • UC Campus Recreation: “Need a workout but can't make it to the gym? Work out with fitness instructors from the UC Rec Center. Many workouts require little to no equipment.” 

  • JunsKitchen: “Check out this channel for relaxing cooking videos and cats.”

Health & Wellness Apps 

  • Finch: “Makes your daily (or weekly/monthly) self-care routine more enjoyable, and you can connect with friends to encourage each other. There is a free version or you can pay for more perks, but the free version has been great!”

  • Calm: “The app has many cool and usable options for winding down and relieving stress.” 

Local Favorites

  • Mazunte Taqueria: “Delicious food with a salsa bar and outdoor covered seating.” 

  • Esoteric Brewing:” This place has a cool vibe and is really approachable if you're new to breweries.” 

  • Casablanca Vintage: “My favorite vintage shop in the city, so close to campus in Northside. You can find many cool, quality items.”

  • Devou Park: “A massive park with great trails and a beautiful view of downtown Cincinnati.”