Claire’s book list 2020

I read 24 books and filled 5 journals this year; unemployment and a pandemic really do that to you

  1. Freakonomics, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner: A classic. I loved this book. Legalizing abortion decreases crime, drug dealing is not as profitable as you think, a lot of teachers changed their students’ standardized test answers when there was a financial incentive to do so, and the KKK and real estate brokers lose a lot of power when the information they have becomes publicly available. I also loved how Sudhir lived with the cocaine gang to build his case study. A lot of times in situations where outside academics/ elites come into the contexts of people who are different from them, there is a potential to view them as a group you’re studying rather than whole people made in the image of God- and he portrays them as full human beings with needs and desires to be in community. There are so many fascinating lessons in here, and it encourages me to wonder about the hidden forces behind literally everything else in the world. It’s kind of paralyzing to think about the reality that everything is so nuanced and influenced by millions of other things- so you can never be fully educated on anything. 10/10
  2. An Economist Walks into a Brothel, Allison Schrager: Off-brand Freakonomics but still insightful. Sex workers earn more money when they work with an agency versus freelance, most movies are not profitable, it used to be a viable career to be a paparazzi but now that everyone has phones, it’s not. 6/10
  3. The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan: So good. So informative. Pollan takes a generous approach and doesn’t want you to feel or do a certain thing in reading this. He takes us on a deep dive into the meat industry- from industrial farms to small farms to foragers and shares stories of people who have started eating meat again after learning that there are ways to produce it ethically and sustainably, as well as people who have stopped eating meat as a result of learning about how it is produced. The Omnivore’s Dilemma is that meat is good, but most of it is produced in unethical ways and it has significant negative environmental impacts. It helped me show more grace to myself when I do eat meat occasionally, and embrace the nuance of ethical consumption in our omnivorous society. Rather than striving for the perfectionistic and black and white goal of complete veganism and sustainable consumption in every aspect of my life, I can be content in eating more ethical alternatives. 
  4. Half the Sky, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn: My first awareness of international development. Very informative on women- especially in China, Myanmar, India and West Africa. Microfinance is good. Fistulas kill so many women when this could so easily be avoided. 10/10
  5. Such a Fun Age, Kiley Reid: Such a fun read, well-written, finished it in less than 2 days. Interesting to think about how white people exploit Black suffering. 10/10
  6. Bossypants, Tina Fey: Absolutely delightful. Vulnerable, personal, and so funny. I read this in less than 3 days and laughed out loud multiple times. I will forever have a crush on Tina Fey for this. 8/10
  7. Known and Strange Things, Teju Cole: The most beautifully written book I have read all year. It was dense, but there are a lot of deep ideas and just things that I never even thought about. I also loved that it was an essay collection. Kind of disjointed but that wasn’t a bad thing. 9/10
  8. Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson: I have so much admiration for Bryan Stevenson’s patience to work within the system and serve people who have been unjustly convicted. I also have less faith in our legal system. Invitational and informative. 8/10
  9. I Am Not Your Negro, James Baldwin/ Raoul Peck: Helped me understand the fear behind a lot of anti-Black racism. Also introduced me to the concept that whiteness was invented as a response to Blackness, to reinforce unequal power dynamics. I loved the multimedia format. 8/10
  10. Another Brooklyn, Jacqueline Woodson: This was so good. Heartbreaking. Deals with death, religion, friendship, romance, sex, racism, racialism, abuse and addiction and the intersectionality of all of that. 9/10
  11. Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehesi Coates: I love how this was written as a letter to Coates’ son. Although I didn’t enjoy the act of reading it, it made me uncomfortable and I still think about the unresolved scenarios Coates experienced. Books like these aren’t supposed to have happy endings because they make us think about how we can make changes in our lives to make our country a better place. Also: I learned to always capitalize Black, a fact to which I was previously oblivious. 8/10
  12. So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo: I have been interested in race/ racism in the US since I was a sophomore in high school- but I really learned a lot from this. I realize that I often expect POC in my life to educate me about race: I do it under the guise of “I want to ask you directly because you’ve actually experienced this,” but it is not their responsibility to educate me. I also realized that a lot of the things I do are performative and tokenizing, and have been addressing that since!
  13. A Time to Build, Yuval Levin: Argument: we need unity. People need to recognize that what we really need is better authority figures, and institutions. However, we (especially progressives) think that we need to destroy and abolish institutions. We (conservatives and progressives) need to come together and be vulnerable enough to allow ourselves to be shaped by our institutions and not just use them as platforms for our own performative outrage. A lot of things just called me out, which I appreciated- but Levin acknowledged his biases and did so in a level-headed and non-accusatory way. I realized that a lot of the work I do on Student Senate could be improved if we focused more on working within the system to have more tangible outcomes than using the system as a platform for our ideas and sometimes trying to burn the place down. This was slightly at odds with So You Want to Talk About Race- but I still think there’s a way to work together without forcing the oppressed to fix the problems that their oppressors caused. It’s a tension I haven’t quite figured out, and I don’t think I ever will. 
  14. Evil, Julia Shaw: This is good. Thought: Why do we think of pedophilia as a moral shortcoming when it may have biological bases? Why are some sexual practices and orientations praised, while others are vilified? These seem like obvious questions with easy answers, but this book helped me see the nuance of them. My takeaway: treat everyone with love, don’t rely on what society tells you how to treat certain people because it is inconsistent. 10/10
  15. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Anne Fadiman: So insightful- the first I’ve ever thought about the intersections of culture and public health. Some huge problems can arise from a lack of communication between people of different backgrounds. We need to figure this out. 9/10
  16. Bored and Brilliant, Manoush Zomorodi: We need to have a healthier relationship with technology because getting rid of it is unreasonable. I feel more discouraged because I gained a deeper awareness of my social media addiction- which I had multiple failed attempts of breaking. 8/10
  17. I Am Malala, Malala Yousafzai: Glad I finally read this one! Heartbreaking but inspiring. Many privileges hold up white privilege that white Americans take for granted: education, safety, freedom of religion. I was moved by how Malala clung to faith and loved people even when they hurt her so much. 9/10
  18. Big Friendship, Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow: This was personal and intimate and cute. I had fun reading it but didn’t walk away with a lot of life lessons though. Learned: Your job can make or break your life, and it’s impossible to know if you’ll love your job before you start it. Society values romantic friendships more than platonic ones. Success is not a zero-sum game, and females need to not view each other as competition when we could collaborate. 7/10
  19. Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens: It was naturey and surprising, but overall I didn’t love it. It was very dense and struggled to hold my interest throughout. However, the writing and geographical attention to detail were beautiful, and I loved seeing the story through Kia’s eyes. 7/10
  20. Commencement, J. Courtney Sullivan: Not a great book- I don’t know what I was hoping for out of this, but I didn’t get it. It also took me a while to read and wasn’t that good. Learned: you can be taken advantage of by people who base their personality on being a good person. Wondered: how would I be different if I went to Smith instead of Calvin? 6/10
  21. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, Kim Edwards: Honestly, I have realized that I don’t like novels this year and this was not great. However, I experienced an immense amount of secondhand guilt from the protagonist. 5/10
  22. Who Moved My Cheese, Spencer Johnson: Lesson: take responsibility for your situation! If life changes, then don’t complain and wait for it to resolve itself. Adapt to the changes with creativity and collaboration and view it as a challenge to make your life better. 6/10
  23. The Fall, Albert Camus: I have no idea what happened. This was above my reading level. Existential. But I bought it at Capitol Hill books which makes me feel cool. 1/10
  24. Wealth and Justice: The Morality of Democratic Capitalism, Arthur C. Brooks and Peter Wehner: Exactly what it sounds like. 2/10 because it wasn’t captivating enough for me to even recall the arguments a few months later. Part of that is on me, but if you’re writing a book on something that’s not interesting to a good chunk of people, I feel like you have a responsibility to be more engaging.

I know I mentioned my 7 journals (only five of them are full, two are still in commission) but I don’t like talking about what I journal about on the internet. If you’re curious what I learned and struggled with this year, let’s get coffee (tea) and chat (virtually).

claire for president

Hey everyone, it’s Claire, and I’m running for President!

Who I am:

I’m Claire Shigeno Murashima, a Marketing major with an interest in policy and a knack for all things creative. I’m half Japanese and half Dutch: I have grandparents who have gone to Calvin and other grandparents who witnessed the attack on Pearl Harbor from their rooftop. I was born and raised in Orange County, CA and went to high school in Chapel Hill, NC. Since college, I’ve also lived in Chicago and Washington, DC. As an enneagram 3, I’m driven to make things happen and bring lasting, positive change for Calvin after campus reopens. During my time at Calvin, I’ve held several roles in Student Senate, working as a student senator, vice president, and graphic designer. I also hold several other roles: I’m the founder and former president of Dance Marathon, I’m an orientation leader, a Dialogue juror, a dancer in dance guild, and cashier at Fresh Thyme. An entrepreneurial spirit, I started Dance Marathon in 2017, which has since raised over $55,000 for kids in need right here in Grand Rapids. I spent this past semester in Washington, DC, where I interned at the American Enterprise Institute. As a two-time veteran of Student Senate, I hope to continue the positive momentum of this year’s administration as well as invest in Calvin’s future leaders in the ways that leaders have invested in me.

Why I’m running:

losing my first election at age 10 was a real setback to my career, but i bounced back.

Holding office has always been something that has interested me, but I haven’t always had the savviness to actually be elected. I ran for spirit director in 4th grade, and lost. This was crushing, but I was only 10, so life moved on. I didn’t run for anything in middle school because my family moved to a new state before 8th grade. I finally held my first seat in student government as a senior in high school, where I planned events (including the Dance Marathon that my friend and I started). Being in Senate as a freshman and sophomore at Calvin gave me 22 automatic best friends, as well as an outlet in which I can turn Calvin’s shortcomings into positive changes that benefit everyone.

raising over $10k at Calvin’s first ever Dance Marathon!

My Platform

Over the past three years, I have done my best to serve our student body as a senator, vice president of external communications, director of freshman council, and graphic designer for Student Senate. I’ve worked on the fall break project, sat on the diversity mandate committee, dining hall improvement committee, facilities taskforce, faculty senate, and external communications team. I have also led freshman council to establish traditions that foster school spirit. Collectively, all of this has taught me that it is possible to make tangible changes for the student body, which makes me want to continue to advocate for my peers as student body president.

serving with the 99th senate team my freshman year.

I believe in having continuity, which is why I built my three goals on the already strong foundation of the Student Senate values. Our Student Senate values being results focused, student centered, and having a collaborative approach: my three goals summarize those values as working, for students, with you.

serving as a vice president on the 100th senate.

Part of my with you focus means I want to decrease the divide between students and the administration, as well as inform students of what Senate actually does. I know that campus may look and feel different in the fall, and a priority of my for students focus will be to find ways to boost morale and feel united after campus reopens. Senate’s best ideas have always come from the student body, and as president, I want to make myself available to the student body so that I can best serve our campus. Already, I’ve already started acting on my goal of working: I have been in contact with student org leaders as well as various students in order to gather ideas to pursue as your president. I am also looking at ways to collaborate more with student organizations so that there is more collaboration across campus. If you have an idea, please email me at csm24 and I would be happy to see how we can make it happen! I can’t wait for us to live the dream(a) with Murashima.

Calvin Dance Marathon
Knight Investment Management Calvin University Model United Nations
Ellen Hekman
Doug Koopman
Edgar Aguilar

Instagram: @claireforpresident2020
TikTok: @claireforpresident
Facebook: Claire Murashima For President (@claireforprez)

the mason jar pour over

Recently, I’ve discovered the sacred practice and art of the pour over. While I’m not proud of my taste in coffee, I am proud that I’ve found ways to take shortcuts so that it can be made without any unnecessary appliances in about 90 seconds. There are 5 main things to keep in mind here: the filter, the brewing method, the beans, the milk, and the pour.

The filter: The type of filter you use can be very important: the 2 main types are flat bottom filter, or a V-filter. I use a flat-bottom, but it’s more like a U-bottom since I do it in a mason jar. The shape is not conducive to allowing water to flow equally over all beans and unlock the secret flavors but you won’t notice a difference anyway. 

The brewing method: You can brew the coffee by using pressure (like an aeropress), or relying on gravity to turn your hot water into coffee as you pour it slowly over the grounds. I use gravity because it doesn’t require special equipment or dishes I need to clean later. I think it is called a pour over because you pour water over the grounds. Super easy!

The beans: I tried 5 different types of coffee, and they were mostly the same. I inherited some old coffee, which I used during the first few weeks of my journey. Once my housemates exposed me to different types of coffee, I could taste the difference. It was subtle, but there nonetheless. Starbucks pre-ground Columbia is not that different from Columbia from a fresh-roasted, small-batch pre-ground local roaster, in my unrefined opinion. We did a smell test of all 8 coffees that were in the house and I only could correctly identify two of them. I was just as happy during week one of bad coffee as I was week four and beginning to taste the subtle differences between bad and good coffee AND good coffee is significantly more expensive. So my advice here is if you can’t taste the difference, don’t ever try good coffee because you might notice a difference and won’t enjoy your bad coffee as much. Real coffee lovers will tell you that you can taste a difference between fresh ground versus pre-ground beans. I borrowed a grinder from my housemate to test this theory and couldn’t tell the difference.

The milk: Once again, true coffee lovers will tell you that a real cappuccino has ⅓ steamed (cow) milk, ⅓ foam, and ⅓ espresso. Because I don’t have a milk steamer, foamer, or the ability to digest actual milk, I break the rules a bit here. I’ve tried to shake the milk until half of it is foamy but this is so much work, and really not worth it. My favorite milk is oatmilk, and Trader Joe’s has the best one, which is thick and creamy but also slightly sweet. Oatly and Whole Foods are also good options. I found Califia (oat flavor pretty strong, too thick, and grainy), Silk (kind of slimy and but otherwise average), and Pacific Foods oat milk to work just fine. The only brand I really didn’t like was Planet Oat, which I found too grainy and the flavor was strong: almost nutty or oily. Also, producing a gallon of oatmilk takes less than 50 gallons of water, whereas a gallon of almond milk requires 920 gallons of water and a gallon of cow milk needs 2,000 gallons of water. Once I have milk, I put ½ cup in a mason jar and microwave it until it’s warm.

The pour: I then take my mason jar with warm milk and put about 2 tbsp in a coffee filter in the outer lid of the mason jar. Once again, true coffee lovers will tell you that the pour is very important, because the speed, amount, and temperature will ensure that the subtle tasting notes have time to emerge and be brewed into your coffee. As an amateur, I really couldn’t tell you the difference between coffee brewed over the course of 30 seconds and 2 pours and a few stirs versus coffee brewed over the course of 60 seconds with 4 pours and no stirs. They also tell you to get a gooseneck hot pot to better control the speed and precise location your water is landing over the grounds in order to get all of the notes and make sure each patch of grounds is equally watered, but honestly you can do it just fine with a normal hot pot. You may see bubbles when you first pour the water over the coffee, which is from CO2 being released, but if you are like me you won’t see any, probably because your pre-ground, hand-me-down coffee is stale or maybe you’re bad at pouring it. I usually do 3 small pours, where I let the water trickle down and give my grounds a stir before pouring again. The stir is a no-no if you are serious about coffee, but I do it to make sure all the grounds are used because I can’t always control the shape of the stream of water. I pour about ½ cup of water in all, because I prefer a 1:1 ratio of coffee:milk, and like the coffee pretty strong. Here are some expert tips if you’re trying to spend more than 90 seconds making coffee.

I’m very proud of this method because it is so easy and quick but tastes almost as good as if you were to do everything right. It’s also worlds better than instant coffee, and using a moderately high quality bean will really enhance the experience. Once you make your pour over, try to finish it within an hour because it tastes more bitter the longer you let it sit out.

Let me know how your mason jar pour overs turn out!

Is oven baked apple crisp that much better than microwave apple crisp? I tested it so you don’t have to.

During all of my time at home, I’ve had time to answer some of the questions I’ve wondered since I was a child. Is apple crisp made in the oven actually better than apple crisp from the microwave? (yes) Can I play the recorder with my nostrils? (yes) Can I suspend myself upside down in a doorway without using my hands? (also yes) When I was growing up, we always made apple crisp in the microwave but I discovered that the two are quite different and in my opinion the oven baked version is far superior.


3-4 apples: about 4 cups chopped. (I’ve tried it with Fuji and Honeycrisp, definitely recommend honeycrisp)

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup oats 

½ cup butter or oil (topping will be more crisp with butter)

1 tsp of cinnamon

1 tbsp of lemon juice

Pinch of salt

Sidenote: I hate how recipes always say “mix your brown sugar” not “mix your 1/2 cup of brown sugar” because that’s assuming that I prepare all of my ingredients before I start cooking, which is unrealistic. But I digress.

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 (convection bake, not roast but if you cook a lot you know this)
  2. Chop and core your apples, and put them in an oven safe container: I used a pyrex because that’s all I had and I usually don’t grease it and it turns out fine
  3. Melt your 1/2 cup or so of butter in the microwave (or in the oven or in a double boiler or leave it outside or stick it under your armpit it really doesn’t matter how it is melted I just need you to make sure it is melted)
  4. Add your ½ cup of brown sugar, your ½ cup of oats, your 1 tsp of cinnamon, 1 tbsp of lemon juice and pinch of salt to the melted butter. If it is not the consistency of chili, add more butter or oats.
  5. Pour your crumble mixture over your apples
  6. Put her in the oven for 30-45 minutes

Thoughts after tasting: 

My 5 roommates (Heather, Abby, Sarah, Carson & Anu) and I found that the microwave one was more syrupy and the flavors were more cohesive, while the oven one had more of a crisp topping and crisper yet soft apples. The oven one also had two distinct components: soft apples and crunchy crisp toppings, while the microwave one was just one big mushy concoction. Because I ran out of butter and used part oil, the microwave one was very oily (no surprise there). 2 people said that the microwave one wasn’t worse- it was just different. However, the other 4 said that the oven one was far superior.

Note: This is not a perfect experiment, in fact, there are many things wrong with it- some of them being: 

  • I used different sized containers for oven/ microwave.
  • I also ran out of earth balance so I used coconut and grapeseed oil for the microwave version.
  • It is pretty hard to mess up. The first time I made this, I eyeballed the crumble and it turned out fine. I’ve tried this recipe multiple times with consistent results each time, so I’m sure you can do it too!

Best of luck, and let me know how yours turns out!