We’re midway through another week. Happy Wednesday everyone! In a few days, many of us will be celebrating Christmas. Happy holidays everyone! 2022 is also a stone’s throw away. I am both excited and anxious about what the new year will bring. Nevertheless, I am praying that it will usher in a year of hope, healing, and recovery. I hope that it will be a great year, for me and for everyone. As 2021 draws to a close, I hope that we spend it healing from the pains of the past year. I also hope that all your prayers were already answered and that you have reached the stars you have been aiming for at the start of the year. More importantly, I hope that you are all doing well and are healthy amidst the uncertainties surrounding us.

As it is Wednesday, I am going to share a new WWW Wednesday update. WWW Wednesday is a bookish meme originally hosted by SAM@TAKING ON A WORLD OF WORDS. The mechanics for WWW Wednesday is quite simple, you just have to answer three questions:

  1. What are you currently reading?
  2. What have you finished reading?
  3. What will you read next?

What are you currently reading?

And yes, I am finally down to the last book in my 2021 Beat the Booklist Challenge! With Charles Dickens’ The Old Curiosity Shop, I will be completing my third reading challenge for the year. Honestly, I have lost hope, thinking that I might not be able to complete this reading challenge. Thankfully, my last-ditch effort brought me to my 90th read of the year, just the third time that I have completed at least 90 books in a year. The Old Curiosity Shop is also my fifth work by the esteemed English storyteller and is also my 899th all-time read! Said to be Dickens’ most popular work during his lifetime, it seems that the book has lost some of its previous glory. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to the book, of which I have completed just three chapters. The book is quite hefty; this is quite expected because my last Dickens, Bleak House, was also thick. Since I haven’t gotten far into the book yet, I can’t share my impressions yet. Do watch out for this week’s First Impression Friday update.

What have you finished reading?

It seems that I have lost the reading momentum that I have gained in the previous weeks. But I guess, with the holiday rush, a slow down is expected. Nevertheless, I managed to complete Charlotte Brontë’s Villette, one of the twelve books I have listed for my 2021 Beat The Backlist Challenge. After Jane Eyre, this is my second work of the popular English writer which I initially thought that Villette was the name of the book’s main character. I, later on, realized that I was wrong. The book’s main character is Lucy Snowe, who the readers first meet at the house of her godmother, Mrs. Bretton when she was just fourteen years old. The story moves forward quickly and we see Lucy as a young lady in her early twenties traveling to and settling down in the town of Villette, the capital of the kingdom of Labassecour. In Villette, Lucy meets an interesting cast of characters who will make her reevaluate her life. Villette, of course, is no simple narrative. It is a fictionalized account of Brontë’s experience living in a pensionnat (boarding school) in Brussels, Belgium. Lucy then occasionally turns into the author’s alter ego. Villette was certainly a memorable reading experience.

After The Old Curiosity Shop, I will be reading my 900th novel. As this is a special achievement, I have been contemplating which book to occupy this special number. Among the books I have considered are Villette, Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Virgin Suicides, and even Anthony Doerr’s Cloud Cuckoo Land. However, when I looked at my previous century mark reads, each book represented a particular region, from South America (Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera, 500th read) to Asia (Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, 600th read) to North America (Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind, 700th read) to Europe (Peter Nadas’ Parallel Stories). I then realized that I haven’t read a work of African literature. Because of this, I have lined up Nuruddin Farah’s Secrets. To keep up with the spirit of the season, I have lined up yet another work by Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol. It is a very popular literary work, to say the least, and I have been crossing my fingers for years, hoping to read it someday. That day has finally arrived as I recently received my copy of the book.

Once I am done with my 2021 Beat the Backlist Challenge, my next goal is to read as many 2021 books as possible because I have quite a lot in the queue. Colson Whitehead’s Harlem Shuffle, as I have mentioned above, was supposed to be my next read after Drop City. However, I am pushing it one book back. I was actually surprised when I learned that Whitehead was publishing a new work this year. I have devoured his two Pulitzer Prize-winning works, The Underground Railroad and The Nickle Boys. I enjoyed them in varying degrees but they both make me look forward to Harlem Shuffle. Apart from Harlem Shuffle, I am also looking at reading Amor Towles’ The Lincoln Highway, Anthony Doerr’s Cloud Cuckoo Land, Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World, Gabriela Garcia’s Of Women and Salt, Kristin Hannah’s The Four Winds, and Rachel Cusk’s Second Place.

That’s it for this week’s WWW Wednesday. I hope you are all doing great. Happy reading and always stay safe! Happy Wednesday again!