Happy Wednesday everyone! How are you enjoying 2022 so far? I hope that you are all doing well and are all healthy despite the risks that surround us. I hope that the pandemic will end soon. I am also praying that 2022 will be a year of hope, healing, and recovery for everyone. I hope that it will be a great year.

As it is a Wednesday, it is time for another 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?

In 2021, Robert Jones, Jr. published his debut novel, The Prophets. The book caught my interest while I was searching for books to add to my 2021 Top 10 Books I Look Forward To List. Ultimately, I did not include the book on my list because there were too many good books to choose from. However, I was still on the lookout for the book and thankfully, I was able to acquire a copy of the book before the year ended. I just started reading The Prophets, which is a part of my 2021 books reading catchup. The story revolves around Isaiah and Samuel, two black African American slaves working on a Deep South plantation. I gather that they are in love with each other; the premise reminded me of Nathan Harris’ The Sweetness of Water, another 2021 debut novel about a homosexual relationship in post-Civil War America. I haven’t gotten far into the story but I can sense that it is laced with religious elements and this piques my interest as Jones, from what I understand, was inspired by James Baldwin. I will be sharing more of my impression in this week’s First Impression Friday update.

What have you finished reading?

It is no secret that Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is one of my all-time favorite young adult fiction reads. When I randomly picked up the book, I didn’t realize that I was in for a ride but I felt that the story ended too soon. I was hoping for a continuation to their story and the gods of literature finally heard the clamor. Six years after reading the novel, I learned that Sáenz was releasing a sequel to his beloved book. Needless to say, I was one of many who was looking forward to it. Thankfully, I was able to acquire a copy of the book but unfortunately, I was unable to read it last year. The new year opened the opportunity to tick off all 2021 releases waiting to be read, including Aristotle and Dante Dive Into the Waters of the World. While the first book was poignant in its reminding the readers about falling in love, its sequel grappled with more serious themes. It dug deeper into what it means to be in love and be gay in a society that does not yet openly embrace the LGBTQ community; I had to keep reminding myself that the book was set in 1980s El Paso, Texas. Sáenz also addressed racism and discrimination in the book while subtly juxtaposing the story to historical events seminal to the LGBTQ community. I liked how Sáenz underscored these subjects but I felt that the love story took the backseat. I also lamented the fact that Dante felt more like an afterthought. Nevertheless, the sequel was still riveting.

Early in 2021, Amor Towles impressed me with A Gentleman in Moscow. He captivated me with his brand of historical fiction, drawing me in with his prose. Yes, it did take time to develop but once it did take off, I was hooked. When I learned that he was releasing new work, The Lincoln Highway which was his third novel, later in the year, I was excited because I wanted to explore Towles prose. Thankfully, I was able to acquire a copy of the book without much trouble but then again, I was unable to read it before the year ended. Like Aristotle and Dante, I lined up The Lincoln Highway for my 2022 opening salvo. The titular Lincoln Highway is an actual highway that connects the American East Coast with the West Coast, one of the earliest highways to do so. connects It runs from New York City’s Times Square to San Francisco’s Lincoln Park. It was this highway that brothers Emmett and Billy intended to take on their journey to a new life. Emmett was recently released from the correctional after the untimely demise of their father. However, a series of unfortunate events resulted in several detours; the journey to San Francisco turned into a journey to New York. It was an interesting story with an eclectic mix of characters. There is plenty of humor but the story kept on meandering. The highpoint of the story was the relationship between the brothers.

I will be pursuing my Beat the 2021 Backlist challenge with more 2021 titles. One of the books I have been looking forward to in 2021 was Imbolo Mbue’s How Beautiful We Were. I believe the book was supposed to be published in 2020 but was postponed for some reason. I loved Mbue’s Behold the Dreamers and was one of the reasons why I was looking forward to How Beautiful We Were even though it sounds different from her debut novel. Another 2021 book that piqued my interest was Gabriel Garcia’s Of Women and Salt. It is actually one of the 2021 books that I acquired the earliest. Unfortunately, I never got around to reading it (HAHA). But now, I am resolute in reading the book.

It has been almost five years since I read Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, All the Light We Cannot See. In the years thence, I have not encountered another Doerr novel until that Top Five Tuesday update. I learned about Cloud Cuckoo Land and although I wasn’t keen on it at the start, I was slowly convinced by the positive feedback I have been reading. Moreover, the books’ premise sounds like a 360-degree flip from All The Light We Cannot See. The book’s length does make me apprehensive but then again, I was able to survive The Lincoln Highway so there is no reason for me to be daunted. Haha. Other 2021 books I have lined up include Sally Rooney’s Beautiful World Where are You, Chibundu Onuzo’s Sankofa, and Ruth Ozeki The Book of Form and Emptiness.

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!