I happen to like James Herriot's books. It has multiple elements that attract me: animals, medicine, veterinarians, country life, Great Britain, humor, life, death, joy, sorrow, and so much more.
But one thing that makes them special -- a combination that I think not even Herriot realized would help make his books successful -- is the portion of his own life that is incorporated in the books. It not only listed the amazing cases that he saw, and it not only gave a peek into the lives of the dale farmers, but it also followed James through his own life changes (new job, courtship, marriage, family, and so on).
Which leads me to make two points:
1. Put yourself into your books. Don't be afraid to share pieces from your own life. Don't be afraid to be included in the story -- people care more than you think they might.
2. Your hero -- the person that your readers are following through the tale -- needs to speak to them in a way that makes them care about him. They need to want to see what happens to him next. They need to feel like they know him.
Are you doing this in your stories? Leave a comment and tell me about it!