Hi, I’m Mike, a former colleague of Jack’s at the South Bend, Ind., Tribune. I am still there, where I am the Food, Home, Family and Faith editor. When I was little, I told my parents that I wanted a job where I got to read all day. Well, I now get to read all day. Some things I would not read unless someone was paying me, but for the most part, I like what I’m doing.
So, what do I like? Well, I’m kind of all over the place, but my first love is fantasy and science fiction. All the important authors are there, of course (Tolkien, Heinlein, Asimov, Dick, Terry Brooks, etc., etc.) but I also love more recent writers too, such as Naomi Novik, John Scalzi, Susannah Clarke and Neil Gaiman. I also have a special regard for the works of Robert Holdstock (may he rest in peace), Greg Bear and Jack McDevitt.
I also like Victorian adventure stories. I like some popular and literary fiction but I don’t read a lot of it. Michael Chabon bridges both of those genres and I will read anything by him. I also quite enjoyed “Big If” by Mark Costello.
I like a lot of non-fiction, especially history, as that is what my degree is in, and food writing, as that is a professional and personal interest. One of my favorite writers who, again, spans both these is Mark Kurlansky, author of “Salt: A World History” and “Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed The World.” I also like the work of Charles C. Mann (“1491”).
I have children, so I read a lot of children’s books. In addition to some wonderful new books, I am getting the chance to discover books that I missed when I was younger.
Also, comic books count as books. I agree with the owner of my local comic book store: People who turn their nose up at comics, especially modern comics, are not smart enough to have learned to decipher pictures. Anyone who has read The Nightly News, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Ghost World, Persepolis or Maus and still thinks comics can’t have depth just isn’t being open-minded about it. That said, the one comic I read month-to-month is Conan The Barbarian (which reminds me: Pulps, I really like pulps).
I don’t really like mysteries, but make an exception for Tony Hillerman (may he also rest in peace), the Inspector Chen mysteries of Qiu Xiaolong and the Inspector O novels (“A Corpse in the Koryo”, etc.) by James Church.
I am also a big listener of audio books.
Finally, one rule I have (which I may have to modify on the Internet): I never turn down a book that someone recommends to me, even if it doesn’t sound all that exciting to me. I have read some really great books that I normally would not have considered that way (most recently “Robert Kennedy: His Life” by Evan Thomas).
Also, if anyone knows any good books about giraffes, Louis Brandeis or the presidency of Dwight Eisenhower, shoot them my way.