The Mic Is On: We’re Talking Fiction Books . . .

It’s Like Open Mic Only Different

The Mic Is On

Here’s how it works.

It’s like any rambling conversation. Don’t try to read it all. Jump in whenever you get here. Just go to the end and start talking. EVERYONE is WELCOME.
The rules are simple — be nice.

There are always first timers and new things to talk about. It’s sort of half “Cheers” part “Friends” and part video game. You don’t know how much fun it is until you try it.

We’re Talking About Books . . . What’s Your Favorite Piece of Fiction?


We might also talk about

  • favorite authors
  • What we’re reading now
  • What we read on vacation
  • What we read as a kid
  • Whether we like mysteries, detective stories, romance, suspense, science fiction, or westerns
  • How many books we read last year
  • And, whatever else comes up,

Basil the code-writing donkey.

–ME “Liz” Strauss

Related article
What is Tuesday Open Comment Night?


  1. says

    This is just amazing, as I am stuck this moment trying to create a piece of fiction for my blog.

    Anyway, my favorite would have to be girlie romance novels like In Her Shoes, or Jemima J, or PS, I love you.

    I recently read Babyji by Abha Dawesar about a teenage girl coming of age in India.

  2. says

    It’s saying this is a dup comment, but I posted it first and the other 2 are showing.

    BTW Liz, how come your comment screener is so smart? Is this a plugin? Don’t want to derail the discussion, but…

    Here’s what I said originally:
    This is just amazing, as I am stuck this moment trying to create a piece of fiction for my blog.

    Anyway, my favorite would have to be girlie romance novels like In Her Shoes, or Jemima J, or PS, I love you.

    I recently read Babyji by Abha Dawesar about a teenage girl coming of age in India.

  3. says

    Good evening, everyone! No telling how many posts there will be by the time I can type this one, but here goes…

    I am a big sci-fi fan. But NOT the “horror” stuff the Sci-Fi channel usually has. My favorite author is Peter F. Hamilton, especially his “Night’s Dawn Trilogy” and Greg Mandel detective novels.

  4. says

    Hi Nneka,
    I just deleted my own comment. :)

    I was saying what a great feeling iit is to have a comforter and good a book when it’s raining. . . . Though I don’t know any of the books that you mentioned. Who wrote them? :)

  5. says

    Hi Robert.

    My favorite book of all time is “A Room With View” by EM Forster. I also liked “The Great Gatsby” and “Murder on the Orient Express”

    I do more online blog and magazine reading these days than book reading.

  6. says

    Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

    It’s the only book I’ve recommended that more than one person has told me they’ve actually read it twice, cover to cover. In our house, when you entered high school, you were given a copy and instructed to read it while you were a teenager.

    Favorite saying from the book – “Who’s John Galt?”

  7. says

    Step away for a while and the posts start flowing in :-)

    In Her Shoes is by Jennifer Weiner. I really fell in love with Good in Bed and followed from there.

    Jemima J is by Jane Green. Same kind of story.

    PS I Love You is by Cecilia Ahern, great love story.

    I like my fiction extra light because I read pretty heavy non-fiction. It’s a guilty pleasure.

  8. says

    Char, I’ve never read “Murder…” but ironically it’s on TV tonight! (The good version, too.)

    Joe, the LOTR is fantasy, not sci-fi, but still ranks up there with the best, most well-written story of all time.

    Which brings up a good follow-up for discussion: which of your favorite books survived being turned into a movie? I think, for the most part, Lord of the rings made the translation fairly well.

    Liz, the detective stories are set in the (relatively) near future, so may be more palatable. I like them because of the “possible” technologies he includes in the stories. And, as detective stories go, they are first-rate. Hamilton is an excellent writer.

  9. says

    Sorry all,
    When I think fiction, it usually has something to do with Sci-Fi or Aliens or Netherworlds of the past.
    Never a “love story” ie the girl dies and the buy climbs in her hospital bed…

  10. says

    When I get away from sci-fi I also enjoy some of Tom Clancy’s novels, particularly Debt of Honor, Executive Orders, and Rainbow Six. He seems to have an amazing grasp of geopolitical issues and is able to fill the pages with plenty of plausible detail.

  11. says

    I’ve got a library of Elizabeth George — all of her mysteries are spectacular.

    Then there’s Nelsom DeMIlle’s, he’s like the poor man’s Ludlum. You just can’t read two Ludlum books in a row.

    But a great is Lee Child’s hero, Jack Reacher, He makes Jack Bauer look like a wimp.

  12. says

    Liz; I know he writes in a similar vein, but I’ve never picked one up. I have a tendency to stick with authors I already know are great… a shortcoming, no doubt, but it keeps my choices (and consequently my time in the bookstore) down to something manageable! My wife cringes when I go into a bookstore…

  13. says

    Hi, Liz… Hi, Robert… Hi, everyone! Woohoo! I made it!

    Been away for a couple of weeks, and was sorry to miss this wonderful opportunity to “chat” with fellow bloggers.

    As for books — I’m with Robert… I’m a sci fi fan (although I’m told that calling it “sci fi” dates me, and that the younger crowd refer to it as “SF”). I also like some non-fiction — biographies and memoires and such. I read an astounding book on elephants in South Africa that was just amazing… I’d have to run to my bookshelf to get the title. It’s escaping me at the moment.

  14. says

    Last book I read — hate to admit it but it was Barbara Coloroso, and it’s a book on parenting… (I think the hero must be every parent who manages to stumble their way through the art of parenting, and end up with kids who have their heads screwed on right.)


  15. says

    Liz – the last book I read was If You Give A Mouse a Cookie – had to read it to my 5 year old. I can’t remember the last book I read for myself.

  16. says

    If you want a great love story — not too mushy and really well written — try “All We Know Of Love”. Can’t remember the author’s name at the moment, but it was vaguely spanish sounding, if I remember correctly. An excellent book… It was really very moving.

  17. says

    Hi Monique! “T–I–M–E/ab_de” (long time, no c)

    I still like, but rarely use, the term “speculative fiction” – it’s actually the more accurate title. But SF is easier if you speak “text”.

    The book I’m finishing now is Moonfall, by Jack McDevitt. Alas, there is no ONE hero in this one.

    Greg Mandel is the main character and hero in those detective books I mentioned: Mindstar Rising, A Quantum Murder, and The Nano Flower.

  18. says

    Liz, it is kind of like:

    If you give a blogger a comment, she’ll want a link to go with it. And if you give her a link, then she just might get inspired…

    I’m sure you could write a better version.

    Monique – read to you little one daily – it will pay off ten times over as they get older.

  19. says

    Favourite book as a teenager — Robert Heinlein’s “Stranger in a Strange Land”.

    Favourite book as a kid — “Black Beauty”.

    Oh, oh… Baby is not settling for the night here… I might have to go early!

  20. says

    You never cease to intrigue me.
    Nneka you and Monique always add things to my list.

    Char, I’m going to have to continue the story.

    If you inspire a blogger, she might a manifesto . . .

  21. says

    Hey, Monique, are you still looking for more “(fill in the blank) and Insurance” subjects? I still laugh out loud every time I read the “Belly Button Lint and Insurance” post. And “Crop Circles..” was very creative.

    How about
    Dr. Who and Insurance
    Captain Kirk and Insurance
    “Alien” and Insurance

  22. says

    Good evening, everyone. I’m sorry I’m late. Today was snowstorm day and of course the furnace decided it was time to not work.

    I’m partial to SF&F. “Stranger in a Strange Land” is still one of my favorites. There is a Heinlein Society. I loved Kate Wilhelm, especially “Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang”. I thought she was dead until tonight. Nothing can beat Jerry Pournelle’s “Lucifer’s Hammer” for a disaster book. Orson Scott Card is a favorite, too.

    Now I’ll probably be stuck in Askimet.

  23. says

    Oh, Liz I’d be honored! In fact, here’s a handy guide called The Top 100 Things I’d Do If I Ever Become An Evil Overlord filled with good practical advice in case anyone else wants to make that particular career choice.

    I particularly like #85: I will not use any plan in which the final step is horribly complicated, e.g. “Align the 12 Stones of Power on the sacred altar then activate the medallion at the moment of total eclipse.” Instead it will be more along the lines of “Push the button.”

  24. says

    When I was a small fry, I used to read a lot of the classics. It been quite a while though since I’ve read a fiction book though. I’m a non-fiction book collector now. So I’ll just read on… maybe I’d find some good suggestions as to what’s a great read nowadays.

  25. says

    I’m late. AGAIN!
    Apologies Liz!

    “Favourite book as a teenager — Robert Heinlein’s “Stranger in a Strange Land”.”

    Me too, me SO too.

    Right now I’m rereading Ernest Hemingways’ “For Whom the Bell Tolls”

    I don’t remember it being this boring, but it’s riveting late at night. I can’t put it down until I force myself. Around, say, midnight or later.

    I have no answers to ‘why’. Anyone?

  26. says

    Ms. Kirk, by the way, I removed the second ‘y” there. That was a typo — mother of the mother of J.T.

    How the heck are you?

    Hiya! Becky . . .What kind of fiction are you cookin’ up?

  27. says

    Liz, it’s the same title, but not too close to the same story (*sigh*). I had no idea it was recommended by the Marines, either, Rick, but I can understand it.

    Jerry Pornelle and Larry Niven have written some of my favorites, too. I also liked Footfall and The Mote in God’s Eye, and an older one called Oath of Fealty. Larry Niven’s Ringworld series is very imaginative.

    Glad you mentioned Card; Ender’s Game is still up there at the top, too, but the follow up books start getting a little… heavy?

    Nneka, maybe I can make a few suggestions (in addition to the ones already mentioned). Can you tell me more of his interests?

  28. says

    Robert, he has the whole Star Wars and Star Trek series. I wouldn’t doubt that he’s read Starship Trooper. He watches Friday night sci-fi religiously and got me hooked on Stargate. He’s into Anime, vampires, and fantasy, but he’s very well read. So it’ll have to be something that someone familiar with the genre would consider a treasure.

  29. says

    Hi Char!

    Hi Rick!

    “why” is “why does it seem brain numbingly boring, yet I can’t put it down?”

    And “why don’t I remember it being this slow and tedious?”

    Or … “is it?”

  30. says

    I’ve always felt guilty about it, but I think Hemingway is a great writer and I hate his books. I haven’t picked one up since I got out of high school.

    Nneka, L.E. Modesitt, Jr. is good, especially his Order War books (why do fantasy writers have to have entire series now?). I liked ‘The Fires of Paratime a lot, too.

    In terms of mainstream fiction, I’m partial to Chaim Potok for books and Isaac Bashevis Singer for short stories, though I haven’t read any of the latter in years. I think I’ve got most of Potok’s books.

  31. says

    Nneka, of all the Star Trek novels (and I haven’t read that many), the one that stands out as the most unusual was How Much For Just the Planet, by John M. Ford. Believe it or not, it’s written in the form of a script for a musical comedy, if you can imagine that!

    I can’t help with any of those three categories, but could heartily recommend any of Peter F. Hamilton’s books mentioned at the beginning of this thread.

    Rick, I’ll have to look at the Xanth novels again. I never picked one up.

  32. says

    Back for just a moment, and will have to head off.. My husband was unable to get baby to bed, so I’ll have to… (Can’t believe she’s still up!)

    I see Robert is trying to make my head spin in circles with new topics that couldn’t possibly be related to insurance… but, of course, are!

    Hey — I thought I really did a seriously good job on that belly button lint challenge… And crop circles! Inspired!

    Anyhow, I’ll have to see how far I go with this series… and I’ll consider your new challenges, Robert! And if anyone else is interested in challenging me to a topic, just drop by and read one of my interesting posts, and leave me a comment with a new topic…

    So, nice to see everyone! Hopefully, I’ll be here next week…

    And Nneka — do look up “All we know of love”. A very nice read…

    Ciao! 😉

  33. says

    Delaney, since I finished Children of the Mind (fourth in the Enders Game series), I haven’t had the strength to go back for any more of Card’s books in that series.

    For some reason I thought you were in Iowa… There’s a Drake University in Des Moines.

  34. says

    Darren, I love your blog concept! What a great way to give to the world of your experiences!

    What’s to know? It’s fiction, with an overlay of technological stuff the background. Simple!

  35. says

    You’re right on both–I teach at Drake and it’s located in Des Moines. But I took off a year and decided to do a visiting professor position at the University of South Florida. This time of year I have to say it was a good decision!

  36. says

    That’s okay, Darrenh. I talk about things I know nothing about all the time.

    Like Robert said, fiction with technology in the background. I once had fantasies of being a science fiction writer and bought a book by Ben Bova on writing science fiction. His basic advise was to give your character a problem or dilemma and watch them deal with it. Heavily paraphrased, but applicable to all fiction.

  37. says

    I’m teaching a class on Managing Diversity for management students. Next week (Feb 21) I’m doing a module on people with disabilities so am excited to see your blog. Am thinking of showing Murderball in class. Have you seen it? Any other resources/videos/blogs you would recommend?

  38. says

    robert: also thanks for the compliment on my blog. I came across blogging right at the time I was looking to do something on this topic. It seemed like a good way to scratch that itch — and cheaper than starting a print publication or self-publishing a book or something like that.

  39. says

    delaney: I have not seen murderball, but I sense it is generally well received in the community of people with disabilities.

    a couple of resources:
    from my blog niche:, by Scott Rains (a blog). Also see the others on my blog roll

    also, a serious news magazine on people with disabilities

  40. says

    Darren, sorry ’bout the “what’s to know” – I just read it again and it sounded… not good. Rick says it well – at its most basic, good fiction is simply a tale of relationships. The background is what makes the genre.

    Thus Aliens is “Jaws on a spaceship”.

    Delaney, definitely good choice! I once considered a teaching position at a small university in Canada, just north of Minnesota, but couldn’t get past the thought of winter there! I’ll take Houston anytime!

  41. says

    And speaking of books delaney, Make Them Go Away is excellent and is a great primer on how people with disabilities — the activists anyway — think about their rights An excellent, eye-opening read I guarantee.

  42. says

    While I was relaxing, I thought about some other (NON-SF!) fiction I’ve enjoyed. I mean, I like SF, too, but there is a whole world of other categories!

    Some gems that you can find as free e-books at Project Gutenberg include:
    -Sherlock Holmes series – classic mysteries
    -Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman – 1920’s adventures in crime
    -anything by P.G. Wodehouse – great humor
    -horror classics, like Dracula and Frankenstien
    -Edgar Allan Poe’s works
    -Rudyard Kipling will transport you to another land!

    They may not suit your personal taste, but I enjoyed them. :) I put them on my PDA and take them to read when I travel.

  43. says

    Hi Liz!

    Nneka – Happy V-day – yes!


    “I’ve always felt guilty about it, but I think Hemingway is a great writer and I hate his books.”

    Good, I don’t feel so alone then. There are good spots in it, where I keep reading to see what happens. But the writing? I must be missing something.

    “I can’t think of any part of what it’s about.”

    It’s about the Spanish War. In my books it’s a mostly forgotten war when it comes to wars.

  44. says

    It’s for senior management majors. Tomorrow we are finishing our discussion on race diversity. We watched a video by Jane Elliott and then listened to an interview of her and others on race and class at:
    In addition to watching Murderball next week, I’m putting together a number of hands on activities such as sitting in a wheelchair and going down to the restroom and back (should be an eye opener!)

  45. says

    Sorry, I spent my night a workin
    In commenting tonight I sure was shurkin

    Maybe if I read a good book before bed
    The conversation won’t go over my head

    I’ll be ready next week with something to say
    Even if I have to plan all the day

    So forgive my inattention tonight
    Work comes first, the dollars are tight.

    Berma Shave

    Nite Liz
    Nite All

  46. says

    Sorry, Jon,
    I’m going to forward your comment to Delaney make sure she sees it. I didn’t realize you were stuck waiting in moderation.

    Jon, if you’re still here meet Darren and everyone. Darren and everyone meet Jon.

  47. says

    Hi all! I keep missing these so made sure to cram in here tonight even though I haven’t read much fiction lately, other than Harry Potter which my daughter, husband and I fight over; each trying to sneak into the bathroom and read when the new one comes out. Also liked “Deep End of the Ocean.”

    In high school and college I loved to eat up an entire series: James Bond, anything by Leon Uris, anything by Herman Wouk (“Winds of War” & “War & Remembrance” especially) all the VI Warshawski and Sue Grafton detective novels, all the Patricia Cornwell books.

    Once I like an author, I want to read everything they’ve ever written.

  48. says

    I was just talking about this subject (which subject by this time?) :) with a horse riding bud.

    My favorite is the mystery series by Sue Grafton each title a letter for the alphabet A is for Alibi, B is for Burglar, etc. The fictional detective Kinsey Millhone is someone I relate to in so many ways… I always eagerly anticipate the next in the series.

    GP in Montana where a blue sky sunshine day made for a great ride in 8 inches of snow…. Ah, delicious.

  49. says

    Darren and Jon: would love to have you write something directly for my students to read. We have a class blog. Is this something that you would be interested in? Your chance to talk to 40 college students who will be managers this time next year and who need to hear about how to be good managers to ALL employees and applicants.

  50. says

    I’ll email you and give you the password to the blog so you can see what we are doing. I post a question for them to respond to each week (all 40 students are to comment). Perhaps you could develop the question this time? I’ll contact you in the next day or so.

  51. says

    I have to teach two classes that are three hours each tomorrow so I’m off too. Bye Liz. You always know how to throw a party!
    Maybe next time we can have those Klondike bars again?

  52. says

    Did I miss Mic Night? I’m on Australian time and it’s Wednesday afternoon. Just wanted to chip in with Iain Banks and books such as Player of Games and Consider Plebas for mature thought provoking science fiction. He’s the one author whose new books I have to read. I am also partial to Charles Dickens for the eccentric characters and period settings (though he probably thought some of his books were quite modern).

    We recently gave a gift to a friend of the Douglas Adams book Last Chance to See. Her response was “how did you know I would love that book!” That’s because everyone who reads it loves that book.

  53. says

    Hi Liz. How’s it going, eh? Am I too late?

    I think I stopped reading when I hit university level courses .. and definately since 1999 after I stopped reading tech manuals and the like. I actually tell people I’m illiterate so they won’t try to recommend books for me to read. It’s just that there’s enough fiction going on in my life lately, and what I don’t get I can see on TV or in my thoughts.

    So, although I probably can’t contribute towards any fiction writing .. i would be interested in hearing about the adventures of Basil .. the code writing Donkey. Where’s he at lately?

  54. says

    I didn’t hear about “Last Chance to See.” I’m going to have to pay attention to books more. I’ve been so lucky these last few years. So many people I know buy best sellers and give them to me. I don’t have to shop for books anymore. It’s like I’m a magnet — they just come to me. :)

  55. says

    Hi HART!!
    Ben’s working on the secret. He said to tell everyone Hi!

    Meanwhile Basil is being held captive . . . by some guy in a country that starts with a B, who apparently hasn’t forwarded him on.

  56. says

    Snowy.. does that mean taxi business is good? :)

    Here in Winnipeg, Manitoba we’re in an arctic cold front. For the past 12 days it’s been below -32c at night with windchills about -40c or colder. Right now, it’s only -25c and two days left before we get back to normal temps… (-15c etc)

  57. says

    Well .. I wish that little guy godspeed and all the best safety precautions in getting to his next destination in one piece!

    I was out with a client tonight and had 18 Lemon Pepper Chicken Wings and a few beers. There goes my diet. :) I thought in repetence that (1) first I would make up some words like “repetence” and (2) come visit Successful-blog and see how’s it going, eh?.. So, how’s LIZ tonight?

  58. says

    darrenh .. we don’t try to make a point to the world, but .. heck – that’s why they call us “Winterpeg” … we have to live up to is sometimes .. :) We do get a lot of sun though. Sunny Manitoba!

    (and it’s cheap to live here! .. I’d say more, but first I have to procure some salary from the Tourist department here in Manitoba)

  59. says

    Last Chance to See by the late Douglas Adams is at Amazon and rates 4 1/2 stars from 169 customer reviews.
    “The BBC asked this team to film some of the most endangered animal species throughout the world. Adams has recorded their adventures seeking the komodo dragon, northern white rhinoceros, mountain gorilla, kakapo, baiji dolphin, and the rodrigues fruit bat. … He moves rapidly from informal, laugh-out-loud descriptions of his travels to serious pleas for awareness and conservation of all animals.”

  60. says

    Hi Liz! I know I’m a bit late but I wanted to chime in! Heehee.

    My favourite book of all time is Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen! I must have read it more than 5 times! LOL.

    I’m quite frustrated lately since I haven’t had the time to really focus on reading but I’ve started on several books (bad habit, I know. hahaha)Utopia, Thomas More; Sophie’s World, Jostein Gaarder; Competitive Strategy, Michael E. Porter; The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell

    When it comes to books, er, I’m someone who’d join in the conversation. Hehe. I have a goal now — to read a minimum of 500 books (really worthwhile books) before I die. I’m keeping tabs here — :)

  61. says

    Better late than never. Can’t let a mention of fiction go by without casting a vote for my all time favorite author, Nevil Shute. He died some years ago so many have never heard of him, and worse yet many who have only knew him from a book frequently assigned in school .. On The beach .. perhaps his most depressing and scary. But he wrote at least 24 other novels and Valentines Day is especially appropriate to think of him since many of his stories are excellent, off-beat love stories with mostly an airplane or nautical theme … try The Rainbow and The Rose … and love to all on this special day.

  62. says

    Hi Sasha!
    There’s not such as late to Open Comment Night! I’m delighted that you stopped by. :)

    I take two hours every day to read a book. I think it’s more important than reading feeds.

    You sure named some great books. I like Pride and Prejuidice a lot myself. :)

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