Saturday, December 31, 2016

A Vacation with my Sister and the Kiddos

The week leading up the New Year was quite a delight for me. I enjoyed Christmas quite a bit - spending time with both my own family and my boyfriend's family. The day after Christmas, my sister, her kids, and I went to a lodge to celebrate her 40th birthday. It was a lot of fun. We did some chillaxing, took the kids to a bouncy house and to the pool and basically just enjoyed ourselves. And then, bonus, I had the day after my vacation off of work (just the way the schedule worked out) so I got time to rest from my vacation. Climbing after a toddler in a bouncy house is a lot harder than you'd think!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Packing for Mars, by Mary Roach

Packing for Mars is a hilarious and informative book about the difficulties astronauts face in outer space. It covers most bodily functions, eating, and what happens to food (and bodily fluids) in zero gravity. However, it has very little to do with visiting Mars. 

I admit that I found this book a bit slow at the beginning, but it perked  up around the time she started talking about the sleep studies NASA is performing. I want $7000 to lie around in bed all day for 3 months! I even called up the number provided on the NASA website to volunteer, but the number didn't work. *sigh* Oh well, I really didn't want to ruin my bones. Having studied bones for my dissertation, I recognize the long-term effects of a study like that. I was also thrilled when Roach quoted my dissertation adviser on the effects of hibernation on bear bones. How funny!

I definitely recommend this quirky book to anyone who enjoys knowledge for the sake of knowledge and isn't easily grossed out. 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Hope in the Dark, by Rebecca Solnit

Hope in the Dark is a short book of essays about the importance of recognizing small victories in the face of what seems insurmountable challenge. Solnit is a radical activist who passionately protests many issues such as NAFTA, the destruction of the environment, and war. The book was beautifully written - Solnit surely knows how to compose a sentence. 

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate

Happy holidays to everyone! Personally, I celebrate Christmas as my seasonal holiday, and it happens to be Christmas, so Merry Christmas to all! 

Friday, December 23, 2016

Around the World in 80 Books - A 5 Year Project

Last year, Book Riot published a list of books entitled Around the World in 80 Books, a Global Reading List. I was thinking today about what I'm missing out in my reading habits, and I decided I need to read about other places / cultures more often. So I think I'll make a 5 year project out of this. Here is my modified list. The books in bold are the ones I already own and will start with - though I can't promise much this year. 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Back to the Classics 2017

I have some pretty full plans this coming year, and none of my plans include reading classics. That's a shortcoming I ought to rectify, and Back to the Classics (hosted by Karen @ Books and Chocolate) is a great way to do that. I don't know if I'll actually be able to finish the challenge (I didn't last year either) it's a great goal regardless. We only have to read 6 to "complete" though! Surely I can do that.

The Righteous Mind, by Jonathan Haidt

The Righteous Mind explores the polarization of American politics with a focus on the different moral foundations of conservatives versus liberals. He explores the question of why both conservatives and liberals tend to think they are morally in the right and that the other side is morally wrong. Haidt spends the first two chapters providing experimental evidence of why Hume was right to say that reason is the slave of passion. He suggests that you can't make reasoned decisions without emotional backing. Haidt uses Damasio's findings, presented in his book Descartes' Error, to back this up. Damasio found that people who do not feel emotion due to brain damage are flummoxed by even small decisions like what brand of milk to buy or what order to perform a set of tasks. Haidt then references studies that suggest that people will use emotional intuition to come up with a point of view, and then look specifically at evidence that supports this intuition, ignoring evidence that contradicts their own views. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

#Readers' Workouts: Issue 1

Despite my minimal-meme policy on my blog, I've decided to participate in Joy's Readers' Workouts meme to help me be held accountable in my workouts. As I said in my update this weekend, I have decided to get healthy again by training for a 100 mile bike ride in September. Part of that choice is just enjoyment in the accomplishment, but part of it is because I want to lose weight. Ever since I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and went on medications, I have been gaining weight. I would like to lose that weight again and be back to the person I was. So I will eat healthier, exercise more, and mostly give up diet soda (not altogether - failed attempts in the past have taught me that giving up soda altogether only leads to relapse later). I'm giving up the diet soda because I've heard rumor that it negatively affects one's metabolism so that people gain weight when drinking it. 

Friday, December 16, 2016

Polar Vortex Baby

So Polar Vortex 2017 has hit Minnesota. And on top of that Winter Storm Decima is coming! We're supposed to be pelted with ice and snow tonight and then have temperatures down to -23 degree Fahrenheit tomorrow. Mmmm. I look forward to going to work at 4:30am. At least I don't have to drive far! 

Chaos, by D. J. Schuette

Chaos, by D. J. Schuette

Special Agent Nicholas Keegan would like to spend more time with his wife, but he just can't lay off his work as a forensic criminologist for the FBI. When he spearheads an update in the ineffective national criminal database ViCAP, collating previously unentered data, patterns start emerging and Keegan realizes that a brutal crime he's investigating is really just one in a series of murders. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Reading the Bible as Literature: Some supplementary reading

I've only read the Bible through once before, and that was a rushed reading in my youth to say been-there-done-that. I've been wanting to study its literary, historical, and spiritual content more closely for a long time, and in the year 2017 I'll start with a literary group reading. Everyone is welcome to join me for some or all of this project. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

Neurotribes, by Steve Silberman

Neurotribes, by Steve Silberman, read by William Hughes

Silberman explores the history of autism by weaving stories / case histories of autistic people in with stories of psychological and ideological leaps in the understanding of autism. He reveals a lot of details I didn't know about researchers like Hans Asperger and the making of the movie Rainman. It was information that I was intrigued by, though I found his writing style to be a bit winding at times. In the end, I felt a little lost about what the thesis of Silberman's book was - or if he had one at all. Before reading the book I expected to get a history of autism research with a lot of current information on the neurodiversity movement. But because there were so many stories of autistic people woven into the book, I didn't really get what I expected. The information seemed a bit scattered. Not that I didn't enjoy the book - I did. It was interesting reading about all those case histories - it gave the book a personal air. I just expected a more A-to-B-to-C historical account of the history of autism and the neurodiversity movement. 

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Winter has come

Winter has come! It's cold and windy outside, and supposed to drop even lower next week. I've gotten out my winter jacket, and still need to figure out what happened to my gloves. Nothing much happened this week worth noting. Hero has recovered splendidly from her surgery and everything is calm here at Casa Hibernator. 

Friday, December 9, 2016

A Confusion of Princes, by Garth Nix

A Confusion of Princes, by Garth Nix
Read by Michael Goldstrom
17yo Khemri has just become a prince of an intergalactic empire. But being a prince isn't at all what he expected. There's no cruising around the empire in his shiny new ship, having adventures and making his fortune. No, the Emperor will be retiring soon, and Khemri must prepare to compete for the status of new Emperor. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Price of Silence, by Liza Long

The Price of Silence, by Liza Long
When, in December 2012, Adam Lanza rampaged Sandy Hook Elementary, killing 20 children and 6 adult staff members, people blamed the mother for not taking proper care of her child. But how was she supposed to care for her mentally ill son when the mental health system is so broken, argues Liza Long. Ms Long is also the mother of an unstable, mentally ill child who has violent outbursts. She can relate to Adam Lanza's mother's quandary. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Plans for 2017

Due to the complexity of my reading plans next year, I've decided to make categories to organize my thoughts and make sure I read everything: 

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Hero's Fix

Doesn't she look pissed?
This was a pretty good week for me, though not so much for my Hero. I spent a fortune getting her fixed on Thursday. She was sent home wearing an Elizabethan collar, which made her look really cute and forlorn in the kennel, but as soon as she was out she started freaking out and running around the room backwards. Then she kept trying to drink some water, but couldn't get at it. Within a half hour of returning home, I took the darned thing off. Now, she and I are sitting on the bed in the spare bedroom, and she's happily purring away. So things have gotten a bit better. 

Friday, December 2, 2016

2016 #ReadIndie Challenge

I just found this lovely challenge to review indie books hosted by Cornerfolds and Books and Prejudice. AND an indie book I want to read was just released a couple days ago! It's called Chaos, by Julian Kincaid. I had the opportunity to read and comment on the beta-copy, so I know it's going to be good. It's a meta-thriller in which the psychopath murderer has his own real-life blog at Check out the blog. If you like what you see, then read the book. Expect a review here within a couple of weeks.  

Gods Behaving Badly, by Marie Phillips

Gods Behaving Badly, by Marie Phillips, read by Rosalyn Landor

It's hard for the Greek gods in the modern world. They've lost most of their power, and are stuck living in a dilapidated house in London. In order to make a living, Aphrodite answers sex calls, Apollo is a TV psychic, and Artemis is a dog walker.  They still treat humans with the same snide disregard, though. When Apollo insults Aphrodite, she decides to take revenge on him by making him fall in love with a homely young woman, Alice, who is their housemaid. This sets off a storm of bad luck for everyone involved. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Chi's Sweet Home

Chi's Sweet Home Volumes 1-12
by Konami Kanata

Well, it's time to catch up on my reviews. I'm behind by 5, and expect to finish one or two more books by the time I catch up on those. :) Upcoming are Gods Behaving Badly, by Marie Phillips; Confusion of Princes, by Garth Nix; The Price of Silence, by Lisa Long; and Neurotribes, by Steve Silberman. 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Nonfiction November 2016 - Next Year's TBR

Nonfiction November is over! Oh no! I immensely enjoyed the opportunity to co-host and look forward to participating in the years to come. Due to an unfortunate setback in my own reading, I only finished one book so far - The Price of Silence, by Liza Long, but I hope to finish Neurotribes by Steve Silberman and The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt before the end of the month. (Reviews to come.)

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend!

I had lots of pictures to share with you - this one is a bit creepy with the light shining on that missing turkey head. Yes, I'm trying the technique of cooking it upside down and then flipping it the last hour to save juiciness in the breast meat. I'll see in a few hours whether it worked. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

New York Times: 6 Books to Help Understand Trump’s Win

My head has been spinning lately with the election season trying to understand what is happening to our country. I respect the fact that Trump will soon be our president despite outwardly not agreeing with his politics. However, I don't understand the populist movement behind Trump's win. In order to better understand, I wanted to create a list of books to read. My list had gone through several renovations before I discovered this article in the New York Times listing 6 books to help understand Trump's win. Someone did my research for me! Fantastic. Why reinvent the wheel when I had already decided upon three of the six books on the list? So in addition to hosting a literary read-along of the Bible next year,  I will also host a 2017 read-along of these 6 books. As with the Bible read-along, I'm reading them regardless of whether anyone joins me, so if you just want to watch, I'm cool with that, too. Please comment below if you're interested in joining for some or all of them so I know whether I'm going to be making discussion questions. I will read these books in the order listed in the New York Times article because why not? 

Anyone, Trump supporter or not, is welcome to join as long as the dialog remains polite. 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Emerging from Post-Election Blues

Well, I've been absent from the blogging world since the election (besides my pre-scheduled Nonfiction November posts which I'd written earlier in the month). I've been experiencing some post-election blues. It's hard with bipolar disorder to keep my mood within a reasonable range. I went from reading 6 books at once (slight hypomania) to having not picked up or listened to a book since the election. My Nonfiction November reads are definitely going to leak over into December now. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Nonfiction November 2016: Nonfiction Book Pairings

This week's Nonfiction November prompt, hosted by Sarah at Sarah's Book Shelves, is to pair a nonfiction book with a fiction book. Here's a couple of thoughts based on books that I'm reading right now: 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Nonfiction November: What are you looking for weekly wrap-up

Another great week has passed with Nonfiction November! This week we discussed what you're looking for in nonfiction. This is a wrap-up post to give you an idea of what each person answered to this question. Be sure to check out all the blog posts, as well as participating in next week's book pairing prompt hosted by Sarah @ Sarah's Book Shelves.

Rachel @ Hibernator's Library (me!) said that I tend to like well-researched "textbook-like" nonfiction

Lory @ The Emerald City describes how she  prefers to stay away from textbook-like books and focus on books that have more of a personal feel to them.

Heather @ Based on a True Story outlines 4 characteristics that keeps her interested in nonfiction: authors who're writing about challenges that they've taken on for a certain period of time, authors who write about the travels they undertook while researching a book, books about food, and books about fighting injustice. 

Julie @ JulzReads reads about WWII, Romanovs, and Tudors, as well as space exploration, interesting biographies, mountain climbing adventures, Israel, and true crime.

Amanda @ A Bookshelf Monstrosity is not interested so much in topic as in the style in which the book is written. She enjoys the narrative writing style. 

Steph @ B.B. Toady describes what she's looking for in a nonfiction book cover for a variety of non-fiction subjects. 

Nick @ One Catholic Life likes books that have practical uses like books about spirituality and writing. He also likes books about books. 

Stacey @ Unruly Reader shared a great cover from a nonfiction book that she loves: Chasing Water. 

Risa @ The Next Chapter reads mostly travelogues and memoirs and enjoys "lovely, descriptive, evocative prose."

Katherine @ Writerly Reader  lists authors that she specifically looks for when choosing nonfiction books. 

Ellie @ Curiosity Killed the Bookworm likes books that explore niche subjects from many angles. 

Debbie Rodgers @ Exurbanis gives examples of some subtitles that drew her in. 

Katie @ Doing Dewey makes a good point about how the font on a title may affect a reader's choice. 

Eva @ The Paperback Princess shows us five covers that she really likes. 

Jo Ann @ Lakeside Musing says that she tries not to let covers influence her, and gives examples of several good books, some with inspiring covers and some not. 

Sarah @  Sarah's Book Shelves focuses on reading books that are vetted by trusted sources. 

Juliana @ ablankgarden reviewed Aphra Behn: the Incomparable Astrea, by Vita Sackville-West

Sharlene @ Real Life Reading likes books that are funny and those that have the author's personality infused in the writing. 

 Kailana @ The Written World wants to learn something new - she'll even try reading the drier stuff in order to learn. 

Amanda @ Gun in Act One loves books about feminism and biographies of awesome women.  

raidergirl3@ an adventure in reading gave examples of clever titles that drew her in.  

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Death Note, by Tsugumi Ohba

When Ryuk the Shinigami (Japanese god of death) gets bored, he decides to liven up existence by dropping his Death Note on Earth. This Death Note has the power to kill whomever's name is written in the book, as long as the person can visualize the face while writing it. A teenager named Light Yagami finds the book, and decides to use the book for good by killing murderers who have gotten away scott free. But he doesn't account for the police force (including his father as assistant chief) teaming up with L, a mysterious crime-fighting genius. The law wants to keep the law in its own hands, and Light needs to outwit his pursuers. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

What do you look for in nonfiction?

Welcome to the second week of Nonfiction November! This week's topic is:

What are you looking for when you pick up a nonfiction book? Do you have a particular topic you’re attracted to? Do you have a particular writing style that works best? When you look at a nonfiction book, does the title or cover influence you? If so, share a title or cover which you find striking.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Reading with the Cats

This week was a good one. I didn't do a lot of stuff, so I had lots of extra time to read. I didn't do anything for Halloween since I'd expected to work (in fact, the electricity went out and I got to leave work early, but I was tired when I got home and used the extra time to relax). I'm looking forward to election day coming up. This has been an exhausting election season! I hope you all take the time to have your voice heard on Tuesday. Vote!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Men We Reaped, by Jesmyn Ward

First of all, I will have difficulty in this review expressing how good this book is. It is a memoir about the deaths of several young black men that grew up in a lower socioeconomic class. It shows the difficulties of navigating in a world which most of the readers are unfamiliar with. In Men We Reaped, Ward elicits grief and frustration in the readers which makes it a very difficult book to read. I teared up a few times. Definitely a must read for anyone interested in social issues or emotional memoirs. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Stiletto, by Daniel O'Malley

Stiletto is the sequel to the fantastic book The Rook, by Daniel O'Malley, and the review contains spoilers for the first book. In Stiletto, Myfanwy Thomas' truce with their enemies the Grafters is beginning to solidify, but the anger and fear on both sides is difficult to dispel. However, they soon realize they have a mutual enemy to fight. 

Monday, October 31, 2016

Nonfiction November: My Year in Nonfiction

The first prompt in Nonfiction November is to relay my year in nonfiction. Well, there it is, above. Those are all the nonfiction books I completed since last Nonfiction November. Of those, my top 3, in no particular order are: Half the Sky, by Sheryl DuWunn; Men We Reaped, by Jesmyn Ward; and Wild Swans by Jung Chang.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Sense and Sensibility and Payphones

I thought I'd share a picture of this relic I happened to find. Just in case you're strolling down the intersection of Dale and Lexington in Roseville one night, need a phone, don't have yours, happen to remember the number you're calling, and have a quarter with which to make that call. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Pumpkins and Reading

Well, this was a busy week for me. It started out on Sunday with a pumpkin carving party with my friend and my 12-yo nephew. My nephew's pumpkin is on the left and mine is on the right. My pumpkin has already been devoured by squirrels on my front porch. 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon Opening Post

Well, the day of Dewey's 24 hour readathon has finally come, and I'm really looking forward to it. I've never participated for the full 24 hours before, and am eager to see how I hold up (especially since I had a long day at work yesterday). My strategy is simple: read until I need a break, then read again. I have a mixture of fiction, nonfiction, graphic novels, and audiobooks to get through. I don't know if I'll participate in the challenges or not, but this will be my base post which I'll update throughout the next 24 hours. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


I'm reading Men We Reaped, by Jesmyn Ward for the Social Justice bookclub hosted by Kerry at Entomology of a Bookworm. The discussion questions are provided by Kerry, and will contain spoilers. 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Halloween month adventures

Hero with Chi Three

This week was a lot of fun. I had three days off in the middle of the week, and got lots of reading done. I'm also stockpiling my TBR of graphic novels for Dewey's readathon (coming up on the 22nd). No, I don't plan on only reading graphic novels, but I know that if I sit reading for 24 hours straight my eyes are going to be blurring over at the end. Thus, easy reading choices.  

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Birthday week

This was a pretty good week for me. On Monday I went to a steakhouse with my family to celebrate mine and my mom's birthdays. I'm one of the lucky ones who can say that I love spending time with my family. And on Wednesday, I went out to celebrate again, this time with my boyfriend and my best friend at a woodfire grill. Yum! On Thursday, I saw my nephew play football. This time the teams were more evenly matched, so it was a good game, even if it did start raining at the end.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

In this timeless story, a little girl named Scout comes of age during a difficult time for her family. Her father, a lawyer, is defending a black man charged with the rape of white woman. Scout learns about racism from both children and adults. 

Monday, October 3, 2016

How to Read the Bible, Chapter 5, by James Kugel

The Confusion of Tongues, by Gustave Dore
Chapter 5 of How to Read the Bible discusses the tower of Babel. In the story, the people were building a city with a tower that reached up to heaven. God saw the tower and decided to confuse their speech so that they couldn't understand each other anymore. 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

How to Read the Bible Chapter 4, by James L. Kugel

The World Destroyed by Water, by Gustave Dore
Chapter 4 discusses the story of Noah's ark, delving into details about how the flood story was predated by a strikingly similar story in the Epic of Gilgamesh. The similarities and differences of these two stories are covered in my earlier blog post about the Epic of Gilgamesh

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Happy October

Happy first day of October everyone! October is my favorite month because I love (normal) October weather here in Minnesota. And who can argue with Halloween? 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

How to Read the Bible Chapter 3, by James A. Kugel

The Death of Abel, by Gustave Dore

Chapter 3 covers the story of Cain and Abel, who were the first sons of Adam and Eve. In a fit of jealousy, Cain killed Abel. Cain was scolded by God, who told Cain that as punishment he would wander the earth for life. (Thus he is interpreted to be the fore-father of the nomadic group Kenites.) Frightened, Cain told God that he, Cain, would be murdered by those who knew his deed. "Then the Lord said to him, 'Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.'" (Genesis 4:15)* This is why the Kenites, who were a brutal tribe, would kill seven people to avenge one of their own.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers, by Robert Sapolsky

In this humorous and informative book, Robert Sapolsky explains how and why stress affects our bodies. The premise is that prey animals like zebras use a stress response in an evolutionary sensible way by upping certain hormones while they are being hunted, but then the zebras' stress levels drop again when they escape. Humans have the same bodily changes, only our stress tends to be small amounts for long periods of time, meaning the effects on the nervous system (lower digestion, higher blood pressure, reduced growth, etc.) remain continuously activated. Therefore, human stress is not sensible from an evolutionary standpoint. Each chapter in Sapolsky's book covers a different bodily system and explains in detail how and why stress affects it. He ends with a rather lengthy description of how lower socio-economic status affects our bodies. Although this section was interesting, it seemed a bit lengthy and out of place from the rest of the book. The subject could be a book all on its own. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

How to Read the Bible, Chapter 2 by James L. Kugel

The Creation of Light, by Gustave Dore

The second chapter of Kugel's tome covers the creation of the world and the story of Adam and Eve (Genesis Chapters 1-3). 

Modern Biblical scholars theorize that the Pentateuch was actually accumulated from four sources: J (Jahwist or Yahwist), E (Elohist), D (Deuteronomist), and P (Priestly). Kugel discusses J and P in his second chapter. The P source is concerned with enumerating (for instance, counting the days of the creation in Genesis 1) and with priestly rules. It refers to God as "God" until the revelation of the name "Yahweh" to Moses later in the Pentateuch. The J source focuses on human corruption and the relationship between humans and the soil. It refers to God as "Lord God." For example: "Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground." (Genesis 2:7)*

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Kitty's first vet appointment

It won't surprise anyone that knows me that I love cats. Sorry dear boyfriend, bunnies are just ok. And even less ok when they eat through the furniture. My precious little babies haven't destroyed anything yet. Except my bank account. This week I took all three of them to the vet. Boy is that expensive!