Happy New Year everyone and welcome to the first WWW Wednesday update for 2022. I am fervently praying and hoping that 2022 will be a year brimming with hope, healing, and recovery for everyone. I hope that it will be a great year, one for the records. More importantly, I hope that you are all doing well and are healthy amidst the uncertainties surrounding us.

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?

It has been some time since I read my first novel by Kristin Hannah. At least a decade has passed since I read On Mystic Lake. I have since forgotten about Hannah – I found On Mystic Lake a cliché – until I encountered her latest novel, The Four Winds. The novel made quite the buzz that my radar caught it. Reluctantly, I added it to my reading list. I am also hoping to get a better grasp of Hannah’s prose as she had a prolific career since the last time I read On Mystic Lake. Like On Mystic Lake, The Four Winds was set in rural United States. The story commenced in the early 1900s and introduced Elsinore “Elsa” Walcott to the readers. She was the epitome of a plain Jane and was also a sickly child, causing her parents to virtually lock her up in their house. But she has dreams and aspirations she was willing to fight for. So far, I find the story engrossing although I find it predictable as well. Thankfully, I still have about 300 pages or so. The landscape just might change.

What have you finished reading?

In the past week, I made strides and regained the reading momentum I have lost. More importantly, I have finally completed my 900th read, a last minute achievement before 2021 ended. My 900th read was Nuruddin Farah’s Secrets, my first novel by the highly-heralded Somali writer. The novel is riddled with secrets, as the title suggested. The nucleus of the story is Kalaman, who, as a young boy, fell in love with Sholoongo. As life would have it, their fates diverged only to converge later in their lives. Kalaman, now a successful businessman in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, was approached out-of-the-blue by his former flame. As their lives intertwined again, what ensued was a tale where betrayals, hidden agendas, and dark intentions abounded. It was not an easy read for the story of Kalaman, his family, and Sholoongo was a reflection of the tumultuous contemporary history of Somalia. This dark phase of Somali history does trickle into the story, in subtle but vivid details. The story was bogged down by several details before it finally percolated later in the story.

Charles Dickens’ The Old Curiosity Shop completed by 2021 Beat the Backlist challenge two weeks before. A week later, I completed A Christmas Carol, a book I have been waiting to read for a long time, a very long time in fact. My fifth work by the popular English novelist, A Christmas Carol is perhaps his most popular work, and a timely read with the holiday spirit still hanging in the atmosphere. The novella introduced one of the most popular literary characters, Ebenezer Scrooge. Scrooge detested the holiday seasons, even calling it humbug. But with the visit of his former business partner’s ghost, his life is about to turn topsy-turvy. Three more spectral beings visited him and imparted pieces of their wisdom, walking Scrooge through every minute but seminal detail of his life. Indeed, A Christmas Carol is a quick but insightful read. No wonder it has become synonymous with Christmas.

Sara Nisha Adams’ The Reading List was my first book for 2022! Yay! I did plan on reading Colson Whitehead’s Harlem Shuffle first but, in the end, I felt it more just to start the year with an author I am unfamiliar with. With the book, I have commenced with a modified version of the Beat the Backlist challenge; in the coming weeks, I will be focusing on novels published in 2021. Adams’ debut novel, The Reading List, has a simple premise. A group of strangers – including a widower, a librarian, and a student – discovered the titular reading list inserted in a book. This reading list has some of the most popular literary titles such as To Kill a Mockingbird, A Suitable Boy, and The Kite Runner. This list brought together these strangers who previously didn’t care about reading and about books. With every page, they found themselves drawn into literature. Reading brought them together. The story does grapple with heavy subjects such as depression, suicide, grief, and even romance but it does take time to develop. Repetitions bogged down the story but I must say, it reminded me so much of why I love reading, of where I have started, and where I am now, at least as a reader.

After The Four Winds, I will be continuing my Beat the 2021 Backlist challenge with three titles that I have been anticipating since I learned about their publication. Ironically, I wasn’t aware that these three writers were releasing new works in 2021. I would have not known about these new works had there been no Top 5 Tuesday. HAHA. Nevertheless, I have bought my own copies of Anthony Doerr’s Cloud Cuckoo Land, Benjamin Alire Saenz’s Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World, and Colson Whitehead’s Harlem Shuffle. I am looking forward to what they have in store, especially the first two books for these will be my sophomore works of these writers. And yes, I did love Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.

Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See was an “okay” book for me but Cloud Cuckoo Land had so much hype that I cannot help but give in as well. Colson Whitehead is Colson Whitehead. He won the Pulitzer Prize with his last two works prior to Harlem Shuffle. Apart from these titles, I have also lined up Amor Towles’ The Lincoln Highway, Gabriela Garcia’s Of Women and Salt, 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!