The best books to read before hibernating

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an Irish novelist and poet. Fiction writers are perhaps better described by their fascinations than by any expertise as such. I can’t claim to be an expert in anything, but I am easily fascinated. My educational background is in philosophy, but I’ve always had a tremendous interest in the natural world too, and my writing tends to reflect that. When it comes to fiction, I love books that throw new layers on old surfaces. With nonfiction, I love anything that can explain something. Nonfiction loves to adorn itself with fiction, while fiction tends to cling to nonfiction like flesh on a bone. So my list is mostly bones, and one big sea pearl.        

I wrote...

Book cover of Hibernaculum

What is my book about?

Seth has finally decided to do it. Yumi has already done it. Walt’s wife is doing it right now, again. And Meghan wants to understand why anyone would want to do it at all, and why one particular consortium is so eager to make sure they do. 

Set in a very near-future world where synthetic human hibernation has become a reality, with purpose-built hibernation facilities in most major cities, Hibernaculum explores the many facets of a technology that promises to unburden a world on the brink of collapse. Where wellness meets pure practicality, and despair finds a corner to curl up in, hibernation means different things to different people. But perhaps this sleep has dreams of its own…

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Origins of the Sacred: The Ecstasies of Love and War

Anthony Doyle Why did I love this book?

Science fiction envisions the future. The best way to imagine future change is to look at how and when change occurred in the past.

The drivers seldom change: climate, war, and famine. None of those indicators are looking particularly good for humanity right now. Dudley Young’s masterful, poetic, and irreverent scholarly work about the origins of the sacred in human history is the most enjoyable and rewarding book I have read on human evolution and development. So many things began to make sense to me after reading it.

Young is a steamroller of a writer, sloshing through millions of years of paleontology and thousands of years of early human culture with the same vim and swagger as he does Yeats’ poetry (his field of expertise)—and all in wonderful prose.   

By Dudley Young,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Origins of the Sacred as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Tracing the origins of mankind's identity through evolutionary biology and mythological literature, Dudley Young examines the primitive mind and the development of religion and sacredness as seen through our ancestors. Attempting to unearth the origins of violence and to answer the question "Are we born violent?", Young begins millions of years ago, with the transformation of the arboreal monkey into a chimpanzee. As man's brain grew and became more advanced, his most basic instincts - sex and violence - became unharnessed and unprogrammed at the same time that human civilisation emerged. The book concludes on a tragic theme, with the…

Book cover of What a Plant Knows: A Field Guide to the Senses

Anthony Doyle Why did I love this book?

This wonderfully quirky book does something that drives my character Seth Macy around the proverbial bend: it talks about what plants know, see, feel, remember…

You will never look at your garden the same way after reading this book. I certainly didn’t. Chamovitz’s argument that plants are “aware” in their own way gave me a whole new appreciation of plant life and the “world” that goes on under our limited radar.

I would put it up there with Merlin Sheldrake’s Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds, and Shape Our Futures. It’s one of those books that make you see things differently. 

By Daniel Chamovitz,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked What a Plant Knows as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How does a Venus flytrap know when to snap shut? Can it feel an insect's spindly legs? How do flowers know when it's spring? Can they actually remember the weather? And do they care if you play them Led Zeppelin or Bach? From Darwin's early fascination with stems and vines to "Little Shop of Horrors", we have always marvelled at plant diversity and form. Now, in "What a Plant Knows", the renowned biologist Daniel Chamovitz presents an intriguing and refreshing look at how plants experience the world. Highlighting the latest research in plant science, he takes us into the lives…

Book cover of Ideas to Postpone the End of the World

Anthony Doyle Why did I love this book?

I’m biased here, because I translated this book from Portuguese, but it’s a slender little thing with a huge personality.

Ailton Krenak is an indigenous leader from Brazil, and this essay is his attempt to show where human civilization has gone wrong and what we might do to save it.

In a mix of sigh, outburst, yawn, and eulogy, Krenak suggests some simple paradigm shifts that could make all the difference, but the basic idea is clear: there’s no point in trying to change what we do without first changing how we see—and that’s maybe a stretch too far for us. 

By Ailton Krenak, Anthony Doyle (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ideas to Postpone the End of the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Ailton Krenak's ideas inspire, washing over you with every truth-telling sentence. Read this book." - Tanya Talaga, bestselling author of Seven Fallen Feathers

Indigenous peoples have faced the end of the world before. Now, humankind is on a collective march towards the abyss. Global pandemics, extreme weather, and massive wildfires define this era many now call the Anthropocene.

From Brazil comes Ailton Krenak, renowned Indigenous activist and leader, who demonstrates that our current environmental crisis is rooted in society's flawed concept of "humanity" - that human beings are superior to other forms of nature and are justified in exploiting it…

Book cover of Moby-Dick

Anthony Doyle Why did I love this book?

Moby-Dick obviously needs no recommendation, but every fan of a classic has a personal reason for loving it.

Mine is that it’s a sea novel and an allegory. I also lifted the names for two of my main characters in my book—Seth Macy and Walter Canny—from one of the marble tablets Ishmael sees at the Whaleman’s chapel in New Bedford, raised to the memory of lost crewmen “towed out of sight by a whale”. 

Melville’s novel allegorically blends the tales of Jonah and Job in such a wonderfully enjoyable way. It's a wonder from start to finish, but the chapter “Jonah Historically Regarded” is a gem in its own right. 

By Herman Melville,

Why should I read it?

20 authors picked Moby-Dick as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Melville's tale of the whaling industry, and one captain's obsession with revenge against the Great White Whale that took his leg. Classics Illustrated tells this wonderful tale in colourful comic strip form, offering an excellent introduction for younger readers. This edition also includes a biography of Herman Melville and study questions, which can be used both in the classroom or at home to further engage the reader in the work at hand.

Book cover of Shadow and Evil in Fairy Tales

Anthony Doyle Why did I love this book?

Few books have made such a lasting impression on me as this remarkable work on fairy tales and how to unlock their deep-rooted lessons.

It was like seeing the nuts and bolts of a secret language laid bare. Fairy tales share a similar structure and vocabulary to dreams, and one of the characters in my novel has very vivid dreams that are sending her messages. It’s hard to write dreams effectively. Too obtuse and they lose the reader. Too obvious, and they come off as silly.

But this book by von Franz is so enlightening and intelligent, you come away understanding the language of the unconscious so much better. It was a real eye-opener for me. John Wick fans will recognize the cover illustration from the library scene in Parabellum.

It’s Ivan Bilibin’s illustration of Vasilisa from the Eastern European folktale Baba Yaga. 

By Marie-Louise von Franz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shadow and Evil in Fairy Tales as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A renowned psychologist examines fairy tales through a Jungian lens, revealing what they can teach us about the darkest sides of human behavior

Fairy tales seem to be innocent stories, yet they contain profound lessons for those who would dive deep into their waters of meaning. In this book, Marie-Louise von Franz uncovers some of the important lessons concealed in tales from around the world, drawing on the wealth of her knowledge of folklore, her experience as a psychoanalyst and a collaborator with Jung, and her great personal wisdom. Among the many topics discussed in relation to the dark side…

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A Diary in the Age of Water

By Nina Munteanu,

Book cover of A Diary in the Age of Water

Nina Munteanu Author Of Darwin's Paradox

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Writer Ecologist Mother Teacher Explorer

Nina's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

This climate fiction novel follows four generations of women and their battles against a global giant that controls and manipulates Earth’s water. Told mostly through a diary and drawing on scientific observation and personal reflection, Lynna’s story unfolds incrementally, like climate change itself. Her gritty memoir describes a near-future Toronto in the grips of severe water scarcity.

Single mother and limnologist Lynna witnesses disturbing events as she works for the powerful international utility CanadaCorp. Fearing for the welfare of her rebellious teenage daughter, Lynna sets in motion a series of events that tumble out of her control with calamitous consequence. The novel explores identity, relationship, and our concept of what is “normal”—as a nation and an individual—in a world that is rapidly and incomprehensibly changing.

A Diary in the Age of Water

By Nina Munteanu,

What is this book about?

Centuries from now, in a post-climate change dying boreal forest of what used to be northern Canada, Kyo, a young acolyte called to service in the Exodus, discovers a diary that may provide her with the answers to her yearning for Earth’s past—to the Age of Water, when the “Water Twins” destroyed humanity in hatred—events that have plagued her nightly in dreams. Looking for answers to this holocaust—and disturbed by her macabre longing for connection to the Water Twins—Kyo is led to the diary of a limnologist from the time just prior to the destruction. This gritty memoir describes a…

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