Something I think about all the time:

I was working at the public library when the final Wheel of Time book came out. And when the book hit the shelves, the people who were first in the holds queue were FEVERISH for this book in a way I had never seen anybody be for any book.

I vividly remember this one guy who was waiting at the door the minute we opened on the day we got the book.

Thing is, we're still processing delivery and holds throughout most of the morning, well after opening. As often happens, I had no idea where this guy's book was. Could be in a pile waiting to be scanned in at somebody's computer. Could be on somebody's cart waiting to be placed on the holds shelf. Could even be lost in transit! No idea.

I told him what I tell everybody in that case.

Super sorry, but not sure where your book is right now. We're still processing lots of stuff. If you give us a couple hours, or even better, check back tomorrow, I'm sure it will turn up.

I remember the look on his face. The absolute, no room for negotiation, refusal to accept that answer. There was no room in his universe for such an answer. It simply did not compute. I had attempted to divide by zero.

What I didn't know then was the legacy of The Wheel of Time and that this guy had probably been reading it his entire life, and had been waiting for this book to be delivered into his hands for just as long. Now that it was finally here, he was not going to "check back tomorrow."

Out of compassion, I tried again. I scoured every surface, looked at every cart, checked every pile of books, processed or not. Called in help.

Found his book.

Went back to the circ desk all triumphant.

When I checked it out to him, he locked eyes with the book as I placed it in his hands, and without looking up from it, he turned and walked out of the library.

I had worked at the library for years at that point and had never seen such single minded devotion to a title, author, or series.

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Later I learned what the Wheel of Time actually is.

Lauded by some as the best fantasy series of all time.

Learned about how Sanderson saved the series and completed it after Jordan died.

I was intrigued and curious.

Still later, decided to do it. Read the first three books waiting for it to get good. Or even tolerable. But it never did.

These books were bad. The characters were bad, the writing was bad, the plot was bad. It was all bad, and laborious and tedious to read.

Which means it was a "place and time" series, boosted by its longevity.

The series spanned 15 years of real life. Anybody starting it in childhood or adolescence grew up with these books.

There's serious power in that, I get it. The comfort and familiarity of something you have loved for a long time, there's nothing better.

And those things are more often than not best left in that place and time. It's painful to go back and revisit them and discover they don't hold up.

So yeah, I always think of that one guy. And I continue to feel happy that he had the experience he had. That he got to grow up with this series over the years, and that I found his damn book, which I'm sure he read several times in the two weeks you're allowed to have it.

I'm sure I could have been him if I had started the series when he did.

I kind of regret that I didn't, and I kind of mourn the version of me that could have been as enraptured as he was by this book.

END

@dozens This was a great thread, thank you for sharing it!

And for giving a name to the phenomenon.

New episodes of Kentucky Route Zero were like that for me -- every year or so some new part would come out and I would get excited and play it for a few hours.

Now that it's finished and you can just buy the game, there are many negative reviews out from people playing from start to finish in a couple of sittings and not enjoying it at all. Maybe the space between books or games matters.

@dozens this is making me re-evaluate my desire to re-read the Gergő books...

@dozens I felt sick to my stomach when I tried to re-read A Spell for Chameleon as an adult. Piers Anthony was a horrible dude but kid me had no idea. I'm sad the Xanth series isn't something I can share with my son.

@dozens you didn't catch it at the right time in your life. Some series are like that. If you didn't read Dragonlance when you were a tween there's not much point now.

@tomasino You were one minute ahead of me with this toot 🤣

Yeah, that's kind of the whole point of this thread.

This dude obviously had an intimacy with this series born of what I'm calling "place and time" that I can never aspire to.

The other phenom I keep thinking of is whether kids who were fanatic about Harry Potter 20 years ago, who have now seen the JKR implosion, will pass those books on with as much fervor as they otherwise would have.

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