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?

It has been almost, or perhaps more than half a decade since I read my first work by Ruth Ozeki, her sophomore novel, A Tale for the Time Being. While my memory of its details is sketchy, I can recall being a little underwhelmed by the story. This was the reason why was initially apprehensive about reading her latest novel, The Book of Form and Emptiness when I learned about its release in 2021. A fellow blogger’s positive review of the book finally made me overcome my reservations and without more ado, I acquired a copy of the book. The novel revolves around Benjamin Oh, or Benny for short. In his early teens, he lost his father in a freak accident. After his death, he started hearing voices from things around him. The book was structured as a dialogue between Benny and a book, which I surmise was the titular Book of Form and Emptiness. The story is promising and I hope it holds up because I am not even halfway through the hefty book.

What have you finished reading?

After losing momentum in the latter parts of 2021, I have recently regained my reading momentum. Again, I managed to complete two books in the past week. The first book I completed was Sally Rooney’s Beautiful World, Where Are You. This was my second novel by the Irish writer, after her sophomore novel, Normal People formed part of my 2019 reading journey. I can recall being disappointed by the book, which, like in the case of Ozeki, made me dismiss Rooney’s latest novel when news of its publication made it to my newsfeed. The mixed reviews also did not help the book’s case. In the end, it was these mixed reviews that made me decide to find out what is causing these divided opinions of the book. Rooney’s third novel introduces a quartet of characters – Eileen, Alice, Felix, and Simon – who are all in their twenties or early thirties. The story revolved around them and their plethora of concerns, ranging from sex to beauty to love. The quintessence of the “millennial” voice, the major theme of the novel was connections, relationships, and the challenges of keeping them amidst the anxieties that trickle into the characters’ lives. It was a good story but the thin plot and the lack of character development again undermined my appreciation of Rooney’s prose. Her language, however, was stellar.

Unlike Rooney, I have never heard of Gabriela Garcia until 2021, when her debut novel, Of Women and Salt, was lauded by many literary pundits. It kept receiving positive reviews that it didn’t take much to convince me to acquire a copy of the book and read it. Of Women and Salt was actually my 10th read of the year; I can’t believe I have already hit double digits in just the first month of the year. I guess it is my way of making up for the slump experienced in late 2021. Anyway, Garcia’s debut novel involved an eclectic cast of female characters who are all immigrants. Carmen left Cuba and her mother after a misunderstanding. Her daughter, Jeanette, has fallen deep into addiction. Their relationship was far from ideal as Jeanette was determined to know more about her roots. On the other hand, Gloria and her daughter, Ana, returned to Miami, Florida from Sonsonate, El Salvador after being deported the first time around. They would meet the same fate again and during their second deportation, Jeanette and Ana’s paths crossed. The book was very promising as it grappled with a seminal subject. While Garcia’s prose was far from lacking, I felt that the book fell short. I wouldn’t have minded had it been longer and explored the subjects more extensively.

For the second month running, my focus will be on catching up with more 2021 titles. It has been half a decade since I read Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, All the Light We Cannot See. I was hardly impressed by the quick-paced novel set during the height of the Second World War, which made me apprehensive about reading Doerr’s latest novel, Cloud Cuckoo Land, released in 2021. However, I was slowly convinced by the positive feedback on the book that I have been reading. Moreover, the book’s premise sounded like a 360-degree flip from All The Light We Cannot See, although the main characters remain to be children. Cloud Cuckoo Land’s length poses a challenge but then again, I was able to survive The Lincoln Highway so there is no reason for me to be daunted. Haha.

It was in late 2021 that I have encountered Chibundu Onuzo’s Sankofa. I have never heard of Onuzo before nor have I read any of his works. However, there was something mysterious about Sankofa that piqued my curiosity. With the book being available, I didn’t hesitate in purchasing a copy of it and I have lined it up for my 2021 catchup reading list. I wasn’t intending to purchase Elif Shafak’s latest novel, The Island of Missing Trees. I was a little underwhelmed by my last Shafak novel, The Bastard of Istanbul, but then I decided to give her latest novel a try as I have been reading very positive reviews on it. It was even said that it is the best of Shafak’s entire repertoire. I have always been fascinated by Shafak as she has the tendency to examine the tenuous relationships her native country has established with its neighbors.

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!