Happy Wednesday everyone! By the way, 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 are 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?

For my May reading journey, I have resolved to read works of European literature. I am currently on my fifth book on this journey. For the longest time, I have been wanting to read Marcel Proust’s Swann’s Way. I acquired a copy of the book last 2015 but I had to push it back after learning it was just the first volume of a seven-volume novel In Search of Lost Time/Remembrance of Things Past. But since I have already obtained six of the seven volumes, I have decided to start reading the series. I even included Swann’s Way in my 2022 Top 22 Reading List and Beat the Backlist Challenge. The book opened with an anonymous narrator painting his childhood in his family’s country home in Combray. The titular Swann pertains to Charles Swann, a family friend. The book was more about establishing the landscape for the rest of the story. It was brimming with long paragraphs and inner monologues. The characters were also being introduced and there is a vast cast of characters although a few stand out. It is certainly not an easy read but I am hoping to get to the heart of the story.

What have you finished reading?

In the past weeks, I was able to complete two books. The first one was Natalia Ginzburg’s Family Sayings. It was my current read in last week’s WWW Update and was also my first novel by the Italian writer. I actually have been planning to read the book as early as March, when I was supposed to include it as part of my Women’s History Month reading journey. Nonetheless, I am happy to finally read the book. Family Sayings painted the portrait of the author’s family from the 1920s to 1950s in Italy. I have learned that Natalia was the last child in a family dominated by the patriarch the renowned histologist, Giuseppe Levi. Despite its seemingly slender appearance, the book was filled with actual characters, from journalists to novelists to scientists, who were seminal in the movements that were taking place in Italy during the period; an endnote elaborated on these characters. Most of them do not make an appearance in the story but the references to them resonated with the most prevalent discourses in the book, that of fascism and the anti-fascist movement. We also learn of personal details of the author’s life, such as the death of her husband, Leone Ginzburg, but she came across as a disjointed observer of the events happening before her. It was an insightful work, albeit a little short, that oriented me with several prominent Italians, like Cesare Pavese who I just might include in this month’s (or perhaps year’s) reading journey.

As part of my reading map, I have also been alternating new-to-me writers and writers who I am already familiar with. With this, my reading journey next took me to Czechoslovakia (before its division in the early 1990s) with Milan Kundera’s The Book of Laughter and Forgetting. It is my third from the highly controversial Czech writer but my first since 2019 when I read Immortality. It is actually a book I have been looking forward to for a long time because it is considered one of his best and it was also listed as one of the 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. In a way, the novel mirrored In Search of Lost Time because both novels were divided into seven parts. However, the Czech novel was fragmented as each of the seven narratives was separate. The interrelation between these seven narratives was through similar themes. Like most of Kundera’s earlier works, politics played a seminal role in the story, and so did lust and sex. Memory and social amnesia were also integral subjects explored in the novel. What set the book apart, compared to the first two Kundera novels I read was its structure. Nonetheless, it was an interesting read and all seven books come full circle in the end.

For my next three reads, I have chosen three influential writers. The first book I have in mind is Italo Calvino’s The Baron in the Trees. The Italian writer captured my interest with his post-modernist novel If on a Winter’s Night A Traveler. For the longest time, I have been wanting to read more of his prose; four years have already elapsed since I read my first Calvino novel. I will be following it up with two new-to-me writers in Spanish writer Javier Marías and French writer Michel Houellebecq. Marías was recommended to me by a fellow reader. He recommended A Heart So White. However, I cannot obtain a copy of the book so I obtained those that are available. One of them was Berta Isla, which I surmise has shades of a spy story. Atomised, on the other hand, was a book I obtained because of sheer curiosity. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to what it has in store.

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!