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 2019, I was looking forward to Sally Rooney’s Normal People; it was part of my 2019 Top 10 Books I Look Forward To. However, I found the story a little underwhelming and when news broke out that Rooney was releasing new work in 2021, I simply shrugged it off. However, after encountering several reviews of the book, both good and bad, I decided to get over my apprehension and try to give Rooney’s prose another chance. The novel’s facet that I am hoping to be explored by Rooney is Alice’s life as a novelist. I have just started reading the book but elements of Rooney’s prose and the qualities of Irish prose have become palpable. I like the lyrical quality of Irish prose, by the way. I can’t offer more impressions of the book since I haven’t gotten far into the story yet; I am still getting acquainted with the characters. Do expect more on this week’s First Impression Friday update.

What have you finished reading?

I have certainly gained badly needed reading momentum for I have completed two books again in the past week. The first book I completed was Robert Jones, Jr.’s The Prophets. The book was supposed to be a part of my 2021 Top 10 Books I Look Forward To list but it failed to make the cut for there were simply too many interesting titles that grabbed my attention. Nevertheless, I added the book to my growing reading list and thankfully, I was able to obtain a copy of the book before 2021 ended. It has now become part of my 2021 Reading Catchup month. The Prophets follows the story of Samuel and Isaiah, African American slaves working on the Halifax plantation (sometimes called Empty) in the Deep South. Their relationship, however, went beyond friendly as they found themselves tangled in throes of love. They were each other’s rock, each other’s source of comfort in a place that unabashedly takes away your freedom, dignity, and sense of self. Rife with violence, the Empty was an apt name for a place that leaves you bare, physically, and emotionally. Samuel and Isaiah’s story was a beacon that shines through the bleakness. Jones, Jr.’s impresses with his debut novel even though, at times, his prose felt overwrought, even melodramatic.

Unlike Jones, Jr., Imbolo Mbue was a familiar name. She initially captured my interest with her debut novel, Behold the Dreamers, which was one of my favorite reads in 2020. When I learned that she was releasing a new work back in early 2021, I didn’t hesitate in adding the book to my growing reading list. Thankfully, I was able to obtain a copy of How Beautiful We Were but, unfortunately, it was left to gather dust on my bookshelf. I finally was able to get to it this past week. How Beautiful We Were is the story of the fictional African village of Kosawa where an American oil company, Pexton, has been extracting oil from their land with the promise of prosperity. However, their promise was never realized and in its stead, the villagers suffered from pollution caused by constant oil leaks. Everything the villagers considered precious – the air, the water, and more importantly the land, were slowly being taken away from them. The environmental impact was severe and one by one, the children of Kosawa started passing away. The villagers must act immediately to mitigate further damage to their domain. It was a raw and honest story of how capitalism, coupled with corrupt government inundates far-flung villages in exchange for pecuniary benefits. The novel was a stark contrast to Mbue’s debut novel but it was, nevertheless, an equally absorbing one.

My 2021 books catch-up challenge will proceed with more 2021 titles. One of the 2021 books that have piqued my interest was Gabriel Garcia’s Of Women and Salt. It was actually one of the 2021 books that I acquired the earliest but, unfortunately, I never got around to reading it (HAHA) despite its length. But now, I am resolute in reading the book. It has been years, half a decade at least since I read Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being. In 2021, she made a literary comeback with The Book of Form and Emptiness, which like Beautiful World, Where are You, did not initially grab my interest. I got over my reservations after reading a convincing review of the book.

Another writer whose works I have not read in almost five years is Pulitzer Prize-winning writer of All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr. When I learned about his newest release, Cloud Cuckoo Land, I wasn’t keen on it at the start. However, I was slowly convinced by the positive feedback on the book that 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.

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!