As a Harry Potter fan (is there really anyone who isn’t?), I thought about reading J.K. Rowling’s book for adults, The Casual Vacancy, for a long time before finally plunging in. Small-town politics didn’t strike me as the most fascinating of subjects compared to wizards, magic wands and an epic struggle between good and evil. But a good writer is a good writer and once I started, I couldn’t put The Casual Vacancy down. The quote from Time on the front cover pretty much sums it up: “A deeply moving book… big, ambitious, brilliant, profane, funny, very upsetting, and magnificently eloquent.” And this novel taught me a lot about writing more vividly.