Book Review: Everyone Brave is Forgiven

Cleave wields words like a miner wields a pickax: he strikes hard and sharp. His descriptions leave you feeling as if you experienced the setting not from the comfort of your living room sofa, but in all the grit and passion of place itself.

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

As I wrote in this post and this post, I never tire of WWII stories. Everyone Brave is Forgiven tells the story from the perspective of those who stayed in London and experienced the war on their own front porches.

Back Cover Description

“The day war is declared, Mary North leaves finishing school unfinished, goes straight to the War Office, and signs up. Tom Shaw decides to ignore the war—until he learns his roommate Alistair Heath has unexpectedly enlisted. Then the conflict can no longer be avoided. Young, bright, and brave, Mary is certain she’d be a marvelous spy. When she is—bewilderingly—made a teacher, she finds herself defying prejudice to protect the children her country would rather forget. Tom, meanwhile, finds that he will do anything for Mary.

And when Mary and Alistair meet, it is love, as well as war, that will test them in ways they could not have imagined, entangling three lives in violence and passion, friendship and deception, inexorably shaping their hopes and dreams.”


Mary North is a delightfully rebellious socialite who has more backbone than many soldiers. Her relationship with her disenfranchised students—African Londoners and children with disabilities—shines a light on the period. Even Nazi bombs couldn’t destroy prejudice. It’s no wonder Tom Shaw, a soft-hearted sloth of a man, falls for her. She loves him too, until Alistair’s quick wit sticks to her heart and forms a love-triangle that crosses oceans.

Mary’s high society rebellion, Tom’s “why’s everyone so upset about all this” attitude, and Alistair’s stark irony each give a striking perspective on the war. Cleave’s characters are well-rounded and realistic.


The plot reminds me of digging in the rocky soil of my landscaping. Every page reveals a stone, a new ugly truth about the war. From prejudice, to war crimes, to overblown bureaucracy, Cleave leaves no room to romanticize war. This book made me think.

As a romantic myself, I wanted things to work out better for Tom, Mary, and Alistair. Like all well-written characters, they became my imaginary friends, and I wanted a fairy tale ending for them. Don’t misinterpret this to mean that I didn’t like the ending. It was a satisfying ending, but like the rest of the plot, reflected the difficulties of life at war.

Writing Style

Cleave’s writing has a no-nonsense feel to it that differs from the female authors that I typically read. He is particularly gifted at Alistair’s wit, which reminds me of my older brother. His writing style reflects the overall tone of the novel. With little in the way of flowery fluff, Cleave wields words like a miner wields a pickax: he strikes hard and sharp. His descriptions leave you feeling as if you experienced the setting not from the comfort of your living room sofa, but in all the grit and passion of place itself.


I like the cover image, though I wish it showed London in its damaged state. That was one of the more striking parts of the book, experiencing the bombings of London.


My grandmother loaned me this book, but it would be worth buying a used copy, unless you’re one of those people who can’t resist that new-book smell. If you’re stingy like me, this could be a library read, though I wouldn’t have regretting purchasing it.

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Similar Books I Enjoyed

(still working on writing the reviews)

Click HERE for my review for this book about the making of Winston Churchill

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Book Review: The Language of Sycamores

Like the book, hate the cover. Karen is a middle-aged career-focused woman who burned out of a high-stress job in the tech industry. The cover image makes her look like an over-zealous millennial about to snap an Instagram photo of her avocado toast. I could forgive that, but the depiction of Dell is a crime.

The Language of Sycamores by Lisa Wingate

Another one from the library of Grandma 🙂

Cover Description

“Karen Sommerfield has been hiding from the big questions of her life—the emotional distance in her marriage, her inability to have children, and her bout with cancer. Getting lost in her high-powered career provides the sense of purpose she yearns for. Until the day she’s downsized out of her job and the doctor tells her the cancer may be back. It’s a double blow that would send anyone reeling.

It sends Karen to Grandma Rose’s old farm, where her sister has made a seemingly perfect life. Opening herself to the unexpected, Karen finds a lonely child in need of nurturing and insights into her family’s past. In the quiet of the Missouri Ozarks, where the sycamore leaves whisper their soft, secret language, she discovers answers—and a joy to make her life complete.”

Characters and Plot

Karen is a typical middle-aged burn-out with family issues. Years of competitions for her father’s approval strained her relationship with her sister, a perfectionist homemaker. These characters were relatable, but my favorite character by far is Dell, the shy little girl who comes alive with music. The author does a phenomenal job of building empathy for Dell, and I found myself routing for her the entire book. I also like how Dell brings out different sides of the other characters, like Karen’s husband, who plays guitar and does Elvis impressions.

I am a sucker for found family stories, so I enjoyed the plot. The perfect story for curling up on the couch with a mug of hot tea.

Writing Style

The writing style of this book was too explanatory for me. The author seemed to think I needed her to explain how Karen was feeling. I would rather she depicted more dramatic scenes and let me experience Karen’s emotions for myself. Also, flashbacks litter the beginning of the book, which made the pace slow to start.

Despite containing a sermon, this book is not preachy. The single sermon helps drive the plot. My only criticism is the ending, where the author gives God credit for everything that happens. It felt forced, as if the author finished the story and thought, “Shoot, I was supposed to make this a Christian book” and slapped three inspirational paragraphs together. I would rather Karen spent more time throughout the book questioning God about her circumstances, or had the final scene in a church or near one. Then her reflections would be more natural.


I liked the book, but I hate the cover. Karen is a middle-aged career-focused woman who burned out of a high-stress job in the tech industry. The cover image makes her look like an over-zealous millennial babysitter about to snap an Instagram photo of her avocado toast. I could forgive that, but the depiction of Dell is a crime.

Dell comes from a low socioeconomic status in an abusive home. We only ever see her uncle’s verbal abuse, but the storyline hints at worse. She also cares for her ill grandmother. The cover image, however, gives no hints of her home life, no dirt or patches on her clothes, no tangles in her hair, no ill-fitting or mismatched clothes.

The worst by far is the girl’s skin. Dell is half African American. The girl on the cover? Paler than I am after hibernating through a nine-month long Montana winter.

Dell is half African American. The girl on the cover? Paler than I am after hibernating through a nine-month long Montana winter.

Dell’s uncle disparages her for having a “n—r father.” His constant verbal abuse affects her confidence, her self-worth, and her ability to trust others. Even the way she moves, silently, and the way she interacts with a group—staying on the edges and covering her face with her hair—reflects her poor self-image. Her skin tone is an integral part of her character, one that affects the way she behaves in the story. Simply put, Dell cannot be white* and still be Dell.

Dell cannot be white and still be Dell.

How many people on the publishing team gave that cover their approval? Don’t get me wrong; it’s a good image. The title is clear; the tone is consistent with the genre; and the image evokes the desired emotion. It’s a good cover, just not for this book.

Our media is whitewashed enough. People shouldn’t have to take a brown sharpie to their surroundings to see themselves depicted, especially not when the character in the book is already described as having “cinnamon-colored skin.” You can’t tell me there were no pictures of adorable brown girls they could have used.

People shouldn’t have to take a brown sharpie to their surroundings to see themselves depicted.


Did I enjoy the book? Yes. The explanations and flashbacks were not disruptive enough to detract from the storyline, which was heartwarming.

I enjoyed the book, but I’d be lying if I said that cover didn’t make me want to rage out of my winter den like a grizzly on the hunt for stupid tourists.

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The Language of Sycamores

You may also like

Same author. I actually liked this one better.

Great book. Stay tuned for my review!

*By “white” here, I mean 100% white like the girl on the cover. Dell already is 50% Caucasian.

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Book Review: Hero of the Empire

Holding a millennial’s attention with a biography is no small feat, but Candice Miller did so effortlessly. She brought Churchill to life with prose both intriguing and informative.

Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill

by Candice Millard

At the age of twenty-four, Winston Churchill was utterly convinced it was his destiny to become prime minister of England. He arrived in South Africa in 1899, valet and crates of vintage wine in tow, to cover the brutal colonial war the British were fighting with Boer rebels and jumpstart his political career. But just two weeks later, Churchill was taken prisoner.  Remarkably, he pulled off a daring escape—traversing hundreds of miles of enemy territory, alone, with nothing but a crumpled wad of cash, four slabs of chocolate, and his wits to guide him.
    Bestselling author Candice Millard spins an epic story of bravery, savagery, and chance encounters with a cast of historical characters—including Rudyard Kipling, Lord Kitchener, and Mohandas Gandhi—with whom Churchill would later share the world stage. But Hero of the Empire is more than an extraordinary adventure story, for the lessons Churchill took from the Boer War would profoundly affect twentieth century history.” –Amazon Description

Every time I visit, my grandmother gives me a stack of books, which I return on my next visit. The Library of Grandma is the best because, as a school librarian, she knows good literature. We have similar tastes, by which I mean, we’ll read anything that’s well written.

In fiction or non-fiction, two subjects never fail to fascinate me: World War II, and La Guerra Civil de España (The Spanish Civil War, and subsequent years under El Generalísimo Franco. Click HERE for a great book set in that period).

Hero of the Empire doesn’t touch WWII, but reading it gave me a deeper understanding of Winston Churchill. Not only that, it convinced me that the Boer War is a fascinating tale in its own right, not just a precursor to WWI and WWII.

After finishing, my first thought was “Why isn’t this a movie?” The book read like an action film: bravery (or male stupidity disguised as bravery), political intrigue, culture clashes, class wars, imperialism, explosions, and daring escapes. With so much in a true story, it’s a wonder anyone writes fiction. I came away with two impressions of Winston Churchill: 1) Either Someone was watching over him, or he abounded in sheer dumb luck; 2) pardon my French, but that guy had serious balls.

Churchill threw himself into danger countless times, yet somehow escaped unscathed. He was as arrogant as the aristocrats from whom he descended, and stubborn as a toddler in the candy aisle at the grocery store. In other words, he was exactly what the world needed at that point in history.

Holding a millennial’s attention with a biography is no small feat, but Candice Miller did so effortlessly. She brought Churchill to life with prose both intriguing and informative. I highly recommend this book, and I can’t wait to read her others.

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Hero of the Empire

Other books by this author that my grandmother recommends (I haven’t read them yet)

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Book Review: Between Sisters

I have yet to read a book by Kristin Hannah that I didn’t love. This one is no exception.

Between Sisters by Kristin Hannah

Back Cover Description

“Meghann Dontess is a woman haunted by heartbreak. Twenty-five years ago she was forced to make a terrible choice, one that cost her everything, including the love of her sister, Claire. Now, Meghann is a hotshot divorce attorney who doesn’t believe in intimacy–until she meets the one man who can change her mind.

Claire Cavenaugh has fallen in love for the first time in her life. As her wedding day approaches, she prepares to face her harsh, judgmental older sister and their self-absorbed mother. It is the first time they have been together in more than two decades. Over the course of a hot Pacific Northwest summer, these three women who believe they have nothing in common will try to become what they never were: a family.”


A former lawyer herself, Kristin Hannah includes lawyer characters in many of her books. Meghann is a believable character who uses the sword of her own bitterness to slice through other people’s marriages. Claire, a single mom, is more practical, until she falls in love at first sight. Her practical nature sides with her sister, but the little princess in her can’t help leaping at her chance for true love.

Kristin Hannah has a gift for creating nuanced characters with thorough backstories. Though the backstories impact they way each character behaves, she doesn’t waste time with endless explanations and flashbacks. The backstories emerge naturally, when relevant.


The overarching plot is the sisters’ reconciliation, riding on the themes of love and second chances. A disaster in Meghann’s work and Claire’s wedding bring the siblings together, but the forge that fuses them solid is an unrelated medical even that occurs in the latter half of the book. I wish the author had included more foreshadowing for this, but I will admit that it raised the stakes and made the story more interesting.

Writing Style

As I mentioned earlier, Hannah doesn’t waste time on endless explanations of why the characters act the way they do, she drops natural hints along the way that make her characters feel like real people. Her prose is as polished and pressed as a lawyer’s suit, beautiful in its precision.


The cover is nearly identical to True Colors, and I don’t like the beach. A more appropriate setting would be the woods, as Claire runs a resort near the mountains. The colors are vibrant, but a bit too intense, as if screaming “this book’s for women.”


I have yet to read a book by Kristin Hannah that I didn’t love. This one is no exception. My favorites remain The Great Alone and The Nightingale, but Between Sisters is perfect for a book club, well worth the money to buy and the time to read.

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Between Sisters by Kristin Hannah

Other books by Kristin Hannah I have read and enjoyed

(still working on writing the reviews)

The Nightingale

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Book Review: The Fountains of Silence

When your criticism of a book is wanting more, you know it’s a good one. If you’re looking for a story to make your heart pound with apprehension and burst with love at the same time, look no further.

These Are a Few of My Favorite Books

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon Associate links, meaning that if you purchase this book through the link in this site, I earn a small commission.

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

“Madrid, 1957. Under the fascist dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, Spain is hiding a dark secret. Meanwhile, tourists and foreign businessmen flood into the country under the welcoming guise of sunshine and wine. Among them is eighteen-year-old Daniel Matheson, the son of a Texas oil tycoon, who arrives in Madrid with his parents hoping to connect with the country of his mother’s birth through the lens of his camera. Photography–and fate–introduce him to Ana, whose family’s interweaving obstacles reveal the lingering grasp of the Spanish Civil War–as well as chilling definitions of fortune and fear. Daniel’s photographs leave him with uncomfortable questions amidst shadows of danger. He is backed into a corner of decisions to protect those he loves. Lives and hearts collide, revealing an incredibly dark side to the sunny Spanish city.” – Amazon Description

Me: Nooooooooo!

My Husband: Are you okay?

Me: I finished the book.

I am not a binger. My husband can watch an entire season of a TV show in one day. I’m lucky to get through half an episode. I say this so when I tell you I binge-read this book, you understand the implications.

Two subjects, whether fiction or non-fiction, never fail to cause an abrupt end to my to-do list: World War II, and La Guerra Civil de España (the Spanish Civil War and subsequent years under El Generalísimo Franco). A summer in Madrid was enough to capture my heart, but not enough to satisfy my curiosity. Alas, student loans kept further study abroad experiences beyond my reach, so I learn vicariously through books.

Many readers know of the Spanish Civil War thanks to Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls, but life under the dictatorship is often overlooked. This book fits into the gap, telling the stories of young people who inherited the consequences of the previous generation’s war. Their struggles are no less impactful for taking place in “peace time.”

The setting made this book a guaranteed win for me, but the writing itself gave it the addictive quality of heroin. Originally, I was bummed this book wasn’t written in Spanish. Now I’m glad I read the original English. Sepetys’s prose is a work of art, beautifully constructed. Her entrancing narrative voice presides over the storyline, yet each character’s perspective is unique. For example, she uses the phrase “hair as black as crude oil” when writing in the perspective of the young Texan.

I felt part two wrapped things up rather quickly, but I was okay with that because after part one I was dying for a happy ending. If I had to list a criticism, it would be that the dialogue of the younger characters, Rafa and Buttons, was so similar it made it hard to separate them as distinct characters. Both speak with the boundless enthusiasm of energetic youths, but when the story switches to Rafa’s perspective, we meet a thoughtful young man braving to transcend his troubled history. Other characters note the dichotomy between his past and his carefree personality, but they could have been better blended. I would have also liked to see more of Daniel’s mother’s reaction to conditions in her home country.

When your criticism of a book is wanting more, you know it’s a good one. If you’re looking for a story to make your heart pound with apprehension and burst with love at the same time, look no further. I highly recommend The Fountains of Silence, and I can’t wait to read more from this author.

Click below for the Amazon link!

The Fountains of Silence

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15 Quotes to Start the School Year

To all my teacher friends, I hope these quotes help you start the year off well.

Borrowed Words: Quotes on Learning

This month I am taking a break from my usual weird word posts and borrowing some inspirational words from others. As a speech-language pathologist in an educational setting, I have acquired a tremendous respect for teachers. They have a challenging, but essential job. To all my teacher friends, I hope these quotes help you start the year off well.

The key is to get the kids thinking learning was their idea 😉

Anyone who teaches kindergarten knows not all questions are on-topic. Turn those moments of distraction into learning opportunities!

Remember, that snotty kid in the back row could be our next president.

An oft-used quote, but a good one. People learn best when engaged.

When you teach a child, you change their future.

Not only are you changing a child’s future, you are giving them a gift they will keep the rest of their lives. If you’re lucky, they’ll re-gift it to a friend.

My idea of heaven includes a massive library.

There is always that kid. Winston Churchill was that kid. He read several grade levels above his class, yet he was often failing. Keep that in mind when you get frustrated with a student’s stubbornness.

So true. I have learned so much from the elders in my life.

I love this quote because it legitimizes my love of stories. You can’t argue with Einstein.

A great reminder that learning never stops.

A wise colleague of mine once said, “The minute you think you know everything is the minute you need to retire.”

Learning should be fun.

I’ve had the privilege of accompanying some of my students on field trips. They’re exhausting, but I’m amazed at what kids learn by exploring the world outside of school.

Break free from the standardized tests once in a while 🙂

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Bad Lip Reading and the McGurk Effect

Lip reading is much harder than the movies make it look. Read on to find out why.

Lip reading is much harder than the movies make it look. The youtube channel Bad Lip Reading pokes fun at this by matching funny lines to lip movements. Watch this clip bellow to get a better idea.

The reason they are able to do this, and the reason lip reading is so hard, is that there are few visual cues for English speech Sounds, and many sounds share the same visual cue. Consider the following:

Pressing the Lips Together

Sounds made by pressing the lips together, or bilabial sounds, include /b/, /p/ /m/.

Lip Rounding

Sounds accompanied by lip rounding include:  /w/ and vowels in the boot, boy, cow, and boat. There is also a little with “sh” and /r/, though /r/ is mild and more puckered.

Lip Spreading

Sounds made by spreading the lips apart include the vowel in “eat.”

Teeth and Lip

Sounds made by contacting the teeth and lip are called labiodental and include /f/ and /v/.

Tongue Tip Behind Front Teeth

If a speaker opens their mouth wide enough, the lip reader can see when the tongue tip touches the bony outcrop behind the front teeth called the alveolar ridge. Sounds produced this way include /t/, /d/, /n/, and /l/. /s/ and /z/ are also made in this location, but the mouth is usually too closed to see them. That closure is necessary to create the friction needed to create those sounds. 

Open Mouth

Sounds produced towards the back of the mouth, /k/, /g/, and to some extent /r/, are accompanied by an open mouth.

How Bad Lip Reading Works

To create a Bad Lip Reading video, the youtuber merely has to watch for the few visual cues described above and match the sounds to them. As long as they choose sounds with the same visual cue, they can substitute almost anything they want. This makes it easy to put words in other people’s mouths.

Before dismissing the importance of visual cues in speech, however, consider the McGurk Effect.

The McGurk Effect

The McGurk Effect occurs when the visual cues don’t match the audio. When this happens, our brains integrate the information, and we perceive a sound somewhere in between. Watch this video, created by professor 
Arnt Maasø at the University of Oslo, twice. The first time, keep your eyes closed. Open your eyes for the second time. 

The first time you probably heard /ba/ because that was the audio. The second time you likely heard something closer to /da/ because your brain integrated the audio for /ba/ with the visual for the /ga/, so you perceived something in between. 

There may not be many visual cues for lip reading, but they are important. Next time you speak to someone who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing, be sure they can see your mouth. 

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5 Reasons People Change Their Accents Without Realizing

Over the holidays I was mercilessly teased for my diphthongs. Before you imagine something far worse than necessary, let me clarify that a diphthong is a combination of vowel sounds spoken in one syllable—think the “ah-oo” in “cow.” Minnesota where I was raised, monophthongs predominate, particularly the “long o.” A Minnesotan says boat as “b-oh-t,” where many others would use a diphthong “b-oh-oo-t.”

Only four years after trading Minnesota’s mosquitos for Montana’s mountains, diphthongs have weaseled their way into my speech, much to the amusement of my friends and family. My brother mistakenly characterized my new accent as“twang.” My best friend was closer, saying, “You’re adding extra sounds now.”

As with most areas of speech and language, how and why people acquire a second dialect in their native language is a multifactorial process involving linguistic, social, and developmental factors that the speaker may not even be aware of.*


Human beings are masters at getting what we want, when we want it. If someone with a strong accent has to repeat themselves to be understood, they may change their accent out of sheer frustration. In my case, I was perfectly intelligible to people in Montana (though many initially thought I was Canadian), so my accept convergence resulted from other factors.



It is easier for young children to learn a second language, or second dialect, than for adults. One study found that white women who befriended speakers of African American Vernacular English (AAVE) at younger ages acquired more speech characteristics of AAVE than those who befriended them when they were older.[1]

However, this does not mean adults are incapable of changing their accents. Another study found that adult Canadians living in New York began to differentiate between the vowels in cot and caught, which would be pronounced identically in Canadian (as well as Minnesotan) English.[2] A third study of Canadians in Alabama found similar findings.[3] Remarkably, you do not have to be a speech-language pathologist or linguist to hear these differences. Just as my brother and friend noticed my use of diphthongs, untrained listeners were able to rate the American-ness in the Canadians’ speech.[4]


People are more likely to change their accents if the new accent is considered more prestigious. For example, a person who speaks Appalachian English may useStandard English in the workplace. Another example is newscasters adopting a more standard variety of English to reach a broader audience.


Generally speaking, women tend to be more linguistically innovative than men.[5] If you want to know what people will sound like in the future, listen to teenage girls. Women also tend to more readily acquire prestige dialects, while men may stick with working-class speech.[6] That being said, as gender roles in society continue to change, this tendency may change as well.

Social Connection and Social Distance

Another reason people change their accents is to be accepted into a social group or to emulate someone whom they admire. Simply put, if I like you, I am more prone to talk like you, and if I talk like you, you are more apt to like me. The reverse is also true. If I don’t like you, I will try to distance myself from you by the way I speak.

This phenomenon extends even to the topic of conversation. When speaking of something related to the first dialect, a hometown, for example, the speaker will be more likely to use that dialect if they have positive feelings toward it. If the speaker hated their hometown, however, they may be more apt to use their second dialect when speaking about it.[7]

As society continues to become more mobile, we are likely to see an increase in the number of bi-dialectal speakers. Acquiring a second dialect is a natural, though complex, process, so when one of your friends or relatives returns from a trip abroad with a bit of “twang,” try not to make fun of them too much.

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*Note: I have used the terms accent and dialect relatively interchangeably in this post, but they are different. An accent refers strictly to speech sounds, while a dialect is an entire language variation. For example, Minnesotans refer to sugary, carbonated soft drinks as pop, while someone from the South may refer to them as cokes. This is a dialectal variation that has nothing to do with accent.

[1] Fix, Sonya. “Age of Second Dialect Acquisition and Linguistic Practice Across Ethno-Racial Boundaries in the Urban Midwest,” n.d.,12.

[2] Nycz, Jennifer. “NewContrast Acquisition: Methodological Issues and Theoretical Implications.” English Language and Linguistics, Phonological Mergers in English, 17, no. 2(2013): 325–57.

[3] [4]  Munro, Murray J, Tracey MDerwing, and James E Flege. “Canadians in Alabama: A Perceptual Study ofDialect Acquisition in Adults.” Journal of Phonetics 27, no. 4 (October1999): 385–403.

[5] Trudgill, Peter. “Sex, Covert Prestige and Linguistic Change in the Urban British English of Norwich.”Language in Society 1 (October 1, 1972): 179–95.

[6] Nycz, Jennifer. “ChangingWords or Changing Rules? Second Dialect Acquisition and Phonological Representation.” Journal of Pragmatics 52 (2013): 49–62.

[7] Nosowitz, Dan. “We Asked a Linguist to Explain the ‘Semester Abroad Accent.’” Atlas Obscura, 29:00 500.

12 Quotes on Generosity to Remind You of the Real Meaning of the 12 Days of Christmas

This time of year, I like to remind myself that it is the season of giving, not the season of getting.

This time of year, I like to remind myself that it is the season of giving, not the season of getting.


Simone Weil (1909-1943), a French philosopher, was the first woman ever admitted to École Normale. She worked as a factory laborer while teaching philosophy and advocating for workers’ groups. [1]

This quote is a great reminder that generosity is about more than money. Especially in this busy time of year, generosity includes our time and attention as well.


Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) was the son of a Jewish merchant who immigrated to the Netherlands after the Portuguese Inquisition. His work in philosophy paved the way for modern rationalism. [2]

So often in my work, I am reminded that students will not learn anything from me if they don’t first understand that I care about them. 


Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) was an American novelist best known for The Scarlet Letter. [3]

I like this quote’s juxtaposition of generosity with the bolder image evoked by the word justice. 


Barbara Bush (1925-2018), wife of President George H.W. Bush, is an excellent example of generosity. She taught Sunday school and volunteered for a local theater group, YMCA, and the United Way. Appalled by the racism she witnessed on a cross-country trip with two African-American women, she became a supporter of the United Negro College Fund. As the daughter of a magazine publisher and mother to a son with dyslexia, she was also an avid supporter of literacy programs.[4]

I often allow minor inconveniences to blind me to the needs of others. This quote is a good reminder that no matter how hurried I am, I can pause to be kind to others. 


Winston Churchill (1874-1965) was the British Prime Minister during World War II. He is also the author of more than forty books, and he received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953.[5]

Work can be a major source of stress in my life. This is a good reminder that there is more to life than work. 


Muhammad Ali (1942-2016) was an Olympic Gold medalist and heavyweight boxing champion. A convert to Islam, he was outspoken on issues of race, religion, and politics. He spent the years following his diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease traveling the world on humanitarian missions. In 2002, he traveled to Afghanistan as a United Nations Messenger of Peace.[6]

Here is a man who made his living beating people up, yet he still had a heart filled with generosity. 


A World War II baby, Patch Adams became a physician and clown whose mission is to serve humanity through medicine. He founded the Gesundheit Institute, which followed a revolutionary model to integrate medicine with performance arts, crafts, nature, agriculture, recreation, and social services. Now a public speaker, Patch Adams was played by Robin Williams in a movie about his life.[7]

This quote is a reminder of the importance of working and growing together. 


Frank Howard Clark (1888-1962) was an American screenwriter who wrote more than 100 scripts between1913 and 1946.[8]

As a people-pleaser, I am often tempted to be generous to gain the positive feedback from others. This quote is a good motives check. 


Daughter of a British Prime Minister, Elizabeth Bibesco (1897-1945) was a writer and poet who married Romanian diplomat Prince Antoine Bibesco.[9]

For someone who comes from an extremely generous family, this quote reminds me that how I receive a gift is as important as how I give one. 


Martin LutherKing Jr. (1929-1968) skipped the ninth and eleventh grades, entering Morehouse College at age 15. He earned his Ph.D. at only 25 years of age and became a Baptist Minister, Civil Rights Advocate, and all-around superhero. He and received the NobelPrize in 1964, four years before his death by assassination.[10]

It’s hard not to be inspired by MLK. This quote is a great illustration of generosity as a choice rather than a personality trait.


JFK (1917-1963) was the youngest man and first Catholic elected President of the United States. The second of nine children, he planned to pursue a career in journalism, and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1957.[11]

As we gather for the holidays with friends and family on opposites sides of the political spectrum, let’s try to find common ground.


Oren Arnold (1900-1980) was a novelist, journalist, and humorist known for his wholesome sense of humor.[12]

Things to think about as we finish our holiday shopping. 

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1. Rozelle-Stone, A.Rebecca, and Benjamin P. Davis. “Simone Weil.” In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by Edward N. Zalta, Spring 2018. Metaphysics ResearchLab, Stanford University, 2018.

2. “Baruch Spinoza -Philosophers.Co.Uk.” Accessed December 1, 2018.

3. “Nathaniel Hawthorne |American Writer.” Encyclopedia Britannica. Accessed December 1, 2018.

4. “Barbara Bush Biography :: National First Ladies’ Library.” Accessed December 1, 2018.

5. “The International Churchill Society -.” The International Churchill Society. Accessed December 1,2018.

6. Editors, History com.“Muhammad Ali.” HISTORY. Accessed December 1, 2018.

7. “Patch Adams.”Gesundheit! Institute. Accessed December 1, 2018.

8. “Frank Howard Clark.” Wikipedia, October 20, 2018.

9. “Elizabeth Bibesco.” Accessed December 1, 2018.

10. “Martin Luther KingJr.” Biography. Accessed December 1, 2018.

11. “John F. Kennedy |Biography & Facts.” Encyclopedia Britannica. Accessed December 1, 2018.

12. Arnold, Oren. “Guide to the Oren Arnold Manuscript and Galleys of ‘The Golden Chair’, 1954 MS 023.” Accessed December 1, 2018.