Happy Wednesday everyone! Wah, today is the last day of August! I can’t believe how time flew past us. We are already eight months into 2022, with the last one-third before us. Anyway, as the year moves forward, I hope that you are all doing well and are all healthy despite the health risks that continue to hound us. Things are starting to go back to normal although one should still throw caution in the air; the virus remains a threat. 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 the rest of the year will be a great one.

It is time for another WWW Wednesday update as it is a Wednesday. 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?

As the year is approaching a close, I have decided to dedicate the last four months of the year to reading books on my reading list and challenges. As such, I am kicking it off with Sequoia Nagamatsu’s How High We Go in the Dark. It was while researching for books to include in my 2022 Top 10 Books I Look Forward to List that I first came across Nagamatsu and his debut novel. With several most anticipated 2022 releases listing the book, it was a no-brainer for me to include it on my own. The book’s premise and book cover did catch my attention as well. Anyway, I also picked the book as my next read because of Nagamatsu’s provenance. He is a Japanese-American writer and since I am going to transition to American literature from Asian literature – most books in my reading challenges were written by American writers – the book seemed the best choice to transition between the two literary spheres. I have just started reading the book this evening, hence, I wasn’t able to get that far into it. I will be sharing more of my impressions on this week’s First Impression Friday update.

What have you finished reading?

For the first time since I started reading, I have finally taken a trip to Central Asia with Chingiz Aitmatov’s The Day Lasts More than A Hundred Years. It was through an online bookseller that I first encountered Aitmatov. I didn’t have an inkling as to who he is but the adventurer in me was awakened by the cover and the title. Before I started reading the book, I learned that Aitmatov was from Kyrgyzstan and that he is one of the most influential writers from the region. It was because of this that I decided to read his book and finally make my breakthrough into Central Asian literature. First published in 1980, the story was set in the Sarozek desert in Kazakhstan, at a railway junction called Boranly-Burannyi. At the junction, we learn about the death of Kazangap, a prominent figure in the junction which was home to a couple of families, the patriarchs of which are all working in the railway station. Kazangap was also the oldest and the wisest member of the group. Taking over the arrangements for his funeral was his friend, Burranyi Yedigei, who was also the novel’s central character. Adding a certain level of complexity to the story was a subplot involving two cosmonauts (one American and one Russian) and their unexpected contact with an intelligent extraterrestrial life form. Together, they traveled to the planet Lesnaya Grud’ (“The Bosom of the Forest”). The book was an insightful look into the clashes between modernization and traditions, with the oppressive presence of Stalinist propaganda lurking in the background.

From Central Asia, my next book took me to India (technically), to a familiar writer who has seized the headlines recently because of an unfortunate stabbing incident. Without a doubt, Salman Rushdie has become one of my favorite writers. In the past seven years, he was my second most-read writer; I read more works by Japanese writer Haruki Murakami. Fury is my ninth novel by the highly-regarded writer. I wasn’t planning on reading any of his works this year but it has been some time since I read one of his works; it was his highly controversial novel, The Satanic Verses. I have just learned that Fury was his first novel about the United States. Now I understand why his commentary on American culture, in general, was scathing. Had I not read any of his other works, this would have been a book that was more difficult to digest. At the heart of the novel was Malik Solanka, a Cambridge-educated millionaire from Bombay who chose to move to New York in an attempt to physically escape from the pandemonium of his life. He did have another form of escape and it was dolls, even creating a puppet he called Little Brain. Rushdie’s eighth novel, it dealt with subjects that would figure prominently in his succeeding works, e.g. The Golden House and Quichotte. It had commentaries on the internet and New York City’s growing role as the nucleus of globalization.

Unfortunately, due to time constraints, I will be holding, for now, my venture into Filipino Literature. Once I am done with all my reading challenges this year, Hagedorn’s Dogeaters will be high on my priority list. For now, my focus is on my 2022 Top 22 Reading List and Beat the Backlist Reading Challenge. James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans is part of both lists. It has been five years since I acquired a copy of the book and after years of gathering dust on my bookshelf, I deem it the right time to immerse myself into this classic of American literature. I can’t recall when I first heard the book’s title. I think it was in high school when it was used as a sort of expression. Anyway, it stuck and I can’t believe I would encounter it years later, as a book.

Another book that is part of my 2022 Top 22 Reading List is Jeffrey Eugenides’ debut novel, The Virgin Suicides. This will be my third by the American writer who first captivated me with Middlesex. The Marriage Plot, his second novel and my second novel by him, missed the spot. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to The Virgin Suicides. Like Cooper, Emma Straub is a writer whose prose is unfamiliar to me. Like Nagamatsu’s How High We Go in the Dark, This TIme Tomorrow was a book I encountered while researching for books to include on my 2022 Top 10 Books I Look Forward To List. It came in highly recommended, hence, its inclusion in my own list.

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!