I’ve been experiencing a very specific form of nostalgia lately. Coming to mind a lot has been a very particular time of my life, primarily centered around the books I was reading then, and evoking a mood or feeling in me that may be a mix of the feelings I felt then — but most certainly just a nostalgia for that time.

It was about 1998, spring. A crazy and mixed up, but at the same time, incredibly wonderful and hopeful time. My wife and I were living in Des Moines, before we found out she was pregnant. I was working, first, as a shift supervisor at a Waldenbooks, then briefly at a Sam Goody, then as tech support for an ISP. The Waldenbooks gig sucked. I’d been the assistant manager of another Waldenbooks before we transferred to Iowa for my wife’s promotion with her job, and it was a good job! But the Des Moines store was a huge disappointment. The Sam Goody was just a very brief stint while something better was found, which was the ISP support job.

We only had the one car, and wife needed to use it more than I, so I would either walk home from the mall of Waldenbooks, or take the bus to/from the city for the ISP job. And it was during that time that I started reading Mercedes Lackey. Specifically, her “Last Herald Mage” trilogy. I read it walking home, I read it on the bus, I read it between support calls. It was captivating, gripping, tragic, and magical.

Of course, I loved them, but they’re not the best books I’ve ever read. Also, I was still a voracious novel reader then so I’m sure I ate through those three and the “mage wars” books I read next within a week, two at the most — so it MUST have only been during one of those jobs. But, I remember reading them while walking, and I remember reading them while eating at this great little Chinese restaurant in the same building as the ISP job. *shrug* Memory is a funny thing.

Anyway, the nostalgia is partly for the experience of reading those evocative books: they’re the first novels I’d read that featured a gay hero, and that was fascinating. And they’re one of the rare fantasy books/series that I’d read that had such a dramatic and personal story. But also, it was a heady, new, and exciting time of my life that has become linked to those books — or, rather, to the reading of those books, most likely. And for various reasons, that’s been coming to mind quite a bit.

Is there a book or series that you’ve read that is indelibly linked to a particular time of your life?


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