I went through the “Oh, I don’t read fiction” phase. From what I understand, the ability to tell people that you don’t read fiction helps to make up for all of the fun you’re not having. Thankfully, that phase has passed… but it was recent enough that I can tell you *EXACTLY* what book it was that made me stop saying such things: Harry Potter. But, after Deathly Hallows came out, I got right back on the wagon. I can remember *EXACTLY* what book made me fall off again:

Storm Front, by Jim Butcher.

Warning: this recommendation post contains mild spoilers for the Dresden Files series.

It’s a series about a Wizard who also happens to be a detective (or the other way around?). It’s urban fantasy, hard boiled, two-fisted, tough-as-nails detective novel stuff… only with magic. It reads like Raymond Chandler… you find yourself surprised to realize that it’s 1AM. The next day, you find yourself surprised to be in the local Barnes and Noble because you don’t want to wait the 3 days for Amazon to ship you the next one. When you find out that the next book is not, in fact, coming out in April but in July??? *LATE* July???, you get all ticked off and start making comparisons to Robert Jordan. And, of course, you tell your friends that they really should read it.

We start off in Chicago with a handful of bodies murdered by a particularly nasty bit of magic, a mafia boss telling Dresden to not interfere, and Harry’s magic parole officer telling him that if Harry screws up just one more time, he’s *DEAD*.

I finished it on the plane. When we got to where we were going, I made Maribou take me to the local bookstore where I picked up books 2 (Fool Moon) and 3 (Grave Peril). I finished 3 on the plane ride home… and borrowed books 4 (Summer Knight) and 5 (Death Masks) from my buddy who had all of them and had started buying them in hardcover instead of waiting for the softcover to come out. And then I bought Changes, in hardcover, myself.

If you miss Harry Potter, you’ll dig Harry Dresden.

It’s not just the style of writing that makes it interesting, though (the joke I use is a Clint Eastwood voice saying “her kisses were empty like the dry heaves” (this line does *NOT* appear in any of the books but it pretty much gets the idea of the prose across)). We watch Harry in book 1 and he’s obviously only level 2 or maybe level 3… but we see him go up levels as the books progress. He gains experience, knowledge, skills, allies, enemies… all of that. We watch him grow as a character, grow as a detective, and grow as a wizard.

He’s still always a sucker for a pretty face and a sad story, though.

So that’s my recommendation for you this week.


Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to


  1. > I went through the “Oh, I don’t read fiction” phase.

    I have never been through this phase. This is a phase?

    • I’ve encountered more than one person (who wasn’t me) who said such a thing. It was said in the exact tone of voice as the person who explains that they “don’t own a television” with the emphasis on “own”. “I don’t read fiction” needs to be said with the same “I can’t believe you thought we shared the same hobbies” tone of voice.

      • Ah, gotcha. The only people I know who don’t read fiction say, “I don’t read”. I guess I don’t know enough reading… what do we call these people? Reading Snobs sounds nowhere near creative enough. We need a fancy word.

        • At that point in my life, I was reading history, philosophy, and Biblical criticism. You know… reference materials.

          In recent years I have made a concerted effort to lighten the heck up.

    • That was basically me for about 30 years; philosophy to stretch the brain and fiction. Then I started reading adventure nonfiction (Shackleton and Sir Edmund). Lots of war biographies. That led to political science writing. Now I’ve got a rather eclectic list of stuff on my short list.

  2. One of the fun things about the books is that Harry explains things.

    Want to know how a magic punching ring works? He’ll explain it.
    Want to know why a blasting rod is helpful when casting a spell? He’ll explain it.
    Want to know what you need to make a potion and why? He’ll explain it.

    Magic makes a great deal of sense in this universe without ever tipping over into Midichlorian problems. This has the added benefit of making the detective portions work twice as well.

  3. I’m a fan of the Dresden Files (I’m up to Blood Rites), though I think the Codex Alera (Butcher’s other seires) was better).

    But the king of magic that makes sense has to be Brandon Sanderson. In addition to being a brilliant storyteller he creates the most elaborate and imaginative magical systems for his books. Every time you think you’ve identiifeid soem kind of excpetion or wierd loophole it turns out that there’s just a rule you didn’t know about.

    The next time you’re looking for a book, read the Mistborn trilogy. You won’t regret it.

    • Dude! The series gets *BETTER*. There’s a lot of sweeeet stuff yet to happen. Four ‘e’s.

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