The Best Small Talk Question Ever for Shy, Open-Minded Readers

Please help me welcome romance author Kinley Baker to the blog. Kinley's debut novel, Ruined, just came out with Crescent Moon Press. She's generously offered to give away a copy of her book to a random commenter.

Here's Kinley: In person I’m very shy, and one of the things I struggle with is small talk. I grew up in an isolated environment, so I never had to perfect this skill. From age three to eighteen, I was a competitive figure skater, so all I had to do was talk skating. Well, I could do that in my sleep. No problem.

Then college came, and it still wasn’t that tough to manage small talk. I could usually find something to start a conversation, such as partying or studying. That’s playing it pretty safe at any college. But then I entered the work force, and things changed. Suddenly, people (customers, co-workers, the bosses) wanted to small talk. Whaaat?

But have no fear. Are you a shy person with a fear of small talk? Do you like to read? Are you open-minded to all genres? Yes, this may be a small portion of the population, but I still have a solution. The best question ever!

Q: What are you reading?

This question has worked for me time and again. Whether it’s the woman at my work who loves Amish romance, or the closet romance readers who know I write romance so they whisper what they’re reading, or the guy who reads nonfiction, I can always pass by the dreaded small talk by distracting them into telling me all about what they’re reading. For someone like me, this revelation was critical! So I applied what I learned from my skating days: talk about what you know. Well, I know books. I’ve been through so many book phases I can talk about pretty much any genre. But I also like hearing about the variety of books, which I’m sure is important to the effectiveness of asking the question.

Books saved me from awkward small talk. And usually, talking about books leads to other topics. I’ve created friendships out of listening to someone’s opinion on a book, usually about a novel I haven’t read myself.

My only guideline for asking this question is to make sure you know what the person likes. Talking erotica with a nonfiction reader probably won’t alleviate awkwardness. The open-minded part is important because if you’re not respectful of what everyone likes, you’re just going to create tension, and the point of this is to conquer small talk awkwardness.

Are you wondering what to do if the person doesn’t read? Well, yeah, me too. I’m shy too, after all.

So, since some of you might be a little shy...What are you reading? ;-)



Jessa is one healing away from death. Under the thrall of her gift, the Court's Senior Healer risks giving her life in exchange for her patient's.

Vale is a rebel ruler. When his brother is killed, he's given the throne and the decree from the Court to produce an heir or lose his family's hold on the land--and his deceiving advisors aren't afraid to use murder as a weapon if their directive to stay away from the Senior Healer goes unheeded.

But Vale burns to possess Jessa. The heat between them leaves a wake of smoke, and even the powerful forces above want to bind them in a union that lasts forever. Vale taking another would be a betrayal neither could survive.

Their enemies fear a child born of such a powerful Healer and Warrior, but the true threat lies in the bond forged in shadows and fused in fire.

You can buy Ruined here or here.

About Kinley:
Kinley Baker read her first romance novel at the age of thirteen and immediately fell in love with the hero and the genre. She lives with her husband and her dog, Joker, in the Pacific Northwest. As a firm supporter of all supernatural lifestyles, she writes fantasy romance, paranormal romance, and urban fantasy. You can find Kinley at her websiteTwitter, Facebook, her blog, Goodreads, and her Facebook author page

Thanks so much for being here today, Kinley.


  1. Hey Kinley! What a gorgeous day we're having in the Pacific NW, eh? Wow. Wish I didn't have to go to that darn day job...

    Thanks for being here today.

  2. Hi Kinley!

    Right now I'm reading The Marked Son by Shea Berkley ... but I can't wait to read Ruined!

  3. Hey Kinley!

    I didn't know you were a figure skater!!! Did you kno my daughter Panda is a skater? She's tryign to get an audition with Disney on Ice right now! :) She wants to go tour for a couple years...

    Congratulations on your book!!! I hope it's a huge success for you!!!

    Lisa :)

  4. Thanks for allowing me to visit today, Rebecca! Today is gorgeous! Unfortunately I'm stuck inside an office building. But I can hardly wait to get home and take my dog for a walk :-)

  5. I've heard great things about The Marked Son, Juliana! I hope you enjoy Ruined!

  6. Oh my goodness, Lisa! I didn't know your daughter skated. Several people I know from skating are still touring! I don't think any of them are touring with Disney On Ice, though. Wow! We should talk skating.

  7. Hi Kinley! Huge congrats on the release of RUINED!!!

    Small talk has always been a huge struggle for me too because I'm so shy. I never thought to talk about books, one of my favorite subjects. I'm going to remember that the next time I'm desperate for a small talk topic.

    I'm reading the Medieval romance VOW OF DECEPTION by Angela Johnson.


  8. Great question whether a reader OR a writer! Thanks Kinley. Lovely post.

  9. Thanks for visiting, Jena! I started talking about books to cure small talk on accident. But it pretty much works all the time. Haven't had if fail yet. Although I'm sure it could backfire :-) I hope it works though!

  10. Thanks Susan! It works even better on writers. Kind of like "what are you working on?" Writers can usually get enthusiastic about both questions.

  11. Congrats on your release girl! I just finished "Thorns of Eden" by Diana Ballew-awesome read! I have no trouble with small talk-but I DO have trouble with giving out TMI! Hello-"moderation" anyone??? Lol! Acutally, it's easy to start conversations by discussing someone's jewelry-sometimes there's a great story behind a piece-or even a BOOK- hint hint!

  12. Hi Kinley. I'll have to try your advice sometime. After weather, children, grandchildren, and farming I run out of topics.