Comfort, College, & Canada: January 2020 Recap


“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.” -
- John Steinbeck

I can't believe that January is already over. This month was eventful for me: I transitioned from a restorative winter break at home to an increasingly busy second semester of college. Looking back, the days felt slow, but the weeks flew by.

What I Read

This month, I read five books, all over my winter break. For the first time in a while, I'm still on pace for my Goodreads challenge (52 books in 2020) a month into the year. As I head into the busyness of my second semester of college, I hope to continue to make time for myself to enjoy reading. Although classes have just started, I already miss the free time I had to read.

  • The World As It Is by Ben Rhodes / You know a book is good when it leaves you with something to think about. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading The World As It Is. Rhodes's memoir is long, but never felt dense. After reading, I was left with these questions: how does one create an independent identity when their career revolves around presenting someone else's best? What is "doing enough" as someone with influence in the White House? How can we resolve the issue of political polarization when popular discourse and social media undervalue objective truths? ★★

  • Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus / I read McManus's debut mystery, One of Us is Lying, at the beginning of high school. Set against a stereotypical high school backdrop complete with a small town new girl, mean cliques, and outsiders on the fringes, Two Can Keep a Secret didn't stand out to me in the genre of young adult mystery. Still, I liked the ride: I incorrectly guessed the identity of the murderer a few times and the resolution kept me up late. ★★★

  • My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, and Brodi Ashton / I picked up My Plain Jane for similar reasons to why I read Two Can Keep a Secret. I read the first book in Hand, Meadows, and Ashton's series, My Lady Jane, in high school, and I thought it was hilarious. I sped through My Plain Jane in a day. While I did not find the novel to be as funny as its predecessor, it was a page-turner nonetheless. ★★

  • The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid / The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is easily my favorite book of 2020 so far. I spent an entire day of my winter break in pajamas, toting this book to my meals and around the house so that I could continue the story uninterrupted. I hope to write a full review of this book soon. ★★★★

  • Wildcard by Marie Lu / I also read Wildcard with the aim of finishing a series. I read the first novel in this series, Warcross, a year or two ago. I wasn't a huge fan of the story, but Lu's vivid world, filled with bustling, futuristic cities intertwined with virtual reality games, was one that caught my attention. I unfortunately did not enjoy Wildcard much, but I'm glad that I experienced that world again. ★★.5

What I Watched & Listened To

(I took this picture when I visited the TV studio where my aunt works in Korea this summer!)

I don't watch TV that often. My college friends have introduced me to some wonderful movies and the wonders of Hulu and Spotify Premium, though, and over winter break I had the time to consume more media.

  • I watched Knives Out with my family and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I am a sucker for a good mystery, and the movie was a classic whodunnit with social commentary uplifting minorities and immigrant families that I appreciated. 
  • My sister and I started watching Brooklyn 99 which reminds me of a combination of The Office and Psych. My friends always poke fun at me for not having watched The Office or Parks and Recreation, so I suppose this is my first step in the general direction of sitcoms.
  • I also saw Bombshell, a film following Megyn Kelly and Gretchen Carlson's departure from Fox News after Carlson accused Fox News founder Roger Ailes of sexual harassment. I found Bombshell especially striking after reading Ronan Farrow's Catch and Kill.
  • I've continued listening to The Daily podcast from The New York Times and Farrow's Catch and Kill podcast.
  • Angele remains my artist on repeat, but I've also listened to Billie Eilish's "my boy" and "idontwannabeyouanymore" a lot the past few weeks.

What I Wrote

In January, I stuck with my goal to post on clairefy once a week! Let's see if I can continue into February. 

What I Lived

January felt like an abrupt transition. I spent the first half of the month at home, enjoying a winter break away from schoolwork. On the night of my first day of class for the second semester, however, I boarded a bus that drove my peers and I 16 hours to Montreal, Canada, for a Model United Nations conference.

I have now completed my first full week of class since returning from Canada. My classes have been lovely so far (my French class in particular only has ten students). Although the semester has just begun, I can feel it becoming busier already. 
  • I am continuing training with my school's Model United Nations team to prepare for an upcoming conference in Boston. 
  • I recently started as an intern at Global Playground, a nonprofit organization that raises funds to build schools in Southeast Asia and Africa, and I am so excited to be a part of the work that they do.
  • I have officially completed the first month of my 90 day journey to prioritize my personal health and well-being. I have loved making time for myself to enjoy running again, and I am starting to feel stronger. Making a concious effort to get eight hours of sleep has made the greatest difference in my general attitude. In February I will start running more often to complete the Taji100 challenge (100 miles in a month), but I also hope to continue putting my sleep and some time for myself to breathe first, bearing in mind schoolwork and the crazy schedule of Model UN conferences. 
  • Today I accepted an intern position at AidData, a research lab at William & Mary that collects information about countries' financial transactions to better understand their actions and diplomacy. 

Tell me, how was your January? Did you read any good books? What are your goals for February? 


  1. I hope you enjoyed Montreal, and being in Canada in general! I might be a little biased, but I think my country has a lot of beautiful cities to offer :) Did you get to try poutine?

  2. I am looking forward to your review of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. What a fantastic way to spend winter break!

  3. It sounds like you had a busy January and are doing really well with your goals this year. I have had The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo sitting on my shelf for ages. I look forward to your review. Have a great February!

  4. Good luck with college and the internship! I’m glad you liked Evelyn Hugo because I’m going to read that next. I hope you’re having a great February.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  5. I'm SO HAPPY you loved The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo! I'm looking forward to reading your review. :) I *loved* My Lady Jane even when I read it for the second time. My Plain Jane, however, was a big disappointment for me - I cared for only two out of the three characters, but mostly just for Charlotte. Jane was so dull and boring. I did like how they solved the whole "locking the wife in the attic" thing, though.

    Congratulations on your internship! Both sound incredible. And I'm happy you're prioritizing your health, I should start something like this, because my sleep schedule is a mess.

    I hope you're having a wonderful February! :)

  6. You've been crazy busy! Congrats on becoming an intern at AidData! and on finding time for your leisure reads (not always easy as one would think LOL).

    That TV studio in Korea looks so nice and cozy.

  7. I love that Steinbeck quote! I really want to read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo this year. I am so happy you loved it. I have heard such good reviews. Congrats on your intern position! That is amazing. I hope your second semester of school goes well. I definitely miss W&M while I'm abroad.

  8. Wow you've had a busy month and congratulations on your internship! Sounds like important information to research.

    I enjoyed My Lady Jane more than the second book, too. Love Billie Eilish! :)

  9. Brilliant post! It seems like you have been busy! I also loved The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and completely agree with you on how special it is!

  10. I'm happy to hear you enjoyed your breaks and your read! I love the Daily, the host has a great way to delivering the news, I love the discussion with the experts, and I also love the small recaps near the end! It's really my favorite news podcast :)

    Tasya // The Literary Huntress

  11. Congrats on your internships - they sound fantastic!! I haven't read Two Can Keep a Secret yet, but I DO want to read One of Us is Next since it's kind of a sequel to One of Us Is Lying. I really loved Knives Out too! Such a fun mystery and an awesome cast. Sounds like you had a really good month!


  12. This is a great monthly wrap-up! I love reading about all the different ways people spend their month, and of course I love your books! I would like to read the Seven Husbands, I haven't gotten to that one yet.