I discovered the Harry Dresden series by accidentally picking up Summer Knight late 2002 or early 2003. When I finished the book and realized there were others I went back to the first one and have been reading ever since.
Now for the somewhat amusing "hey isn't that strange" part.
From 1999 to 2001 I was a "volunteer warden" and used to give walking tours of a small wildlife preserve/animal shelter. Often in the fall the weather was less than hospitable so I used to dress for wet and slippery trails with a rainproof hat, coat, and a beautiful carved walking stick that a friend and fellow hiker gave me years before.
In short, this was me on a tour about three years before
I'd ever heard of Jim Butcher or "Harry Dresden".
Just as a note, the carved staff has a "compass rose" symbol carved into the top by my friend (it's hidden under my hand). He also filled in carving with glow-paint so in faint light the compass glows slightly...it's pretty neat.