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.