Happy Wednesday everyone! I can’t believe that we will be welcoming a new year in a couple of days. The future holds a lot of uncertainties but it also beacons with hope; hope, after all, springs eternal. But as the year slowly draws to a close, I hope that the rest of the year will be kind to everyone. I hope that you get repaid for all your hard work this year. I hope that all your prayers have been answered or that you have reached a level of peace. More importantly, I hope that you are all doing well, in body, mind, and spirit. Let’s rock the rest of the year!

It is time for another WWW Wednesday update as it is a Wednesday. Woah. This is my last WWW update for 2022! 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?

The year is slowly drawing to a close. Thankfully, I won’t be closing the year cramming to complete my reading challenges. It has been a while. There was an air of finality (somehow) when I finished Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy as it was the last book in two of my reading challenges. It was also my 100th read for the year, a new achievement I have unlocked this year. I have since slowed down although I also managed to complete another minor reading challenge, which was to complete at least 15 new books. My last two reads and my current read are all new books. When I obtained a copy of Tara M. Stringfellow’s Memphis, it was out of sheer curiosity. I had no iota about what the book was about. It did not stop me from purchasing the book. My interest in the book was further piqued when a fellow book reader said the book was one of their favorite books in 2022. As I just started reading the book, I can’t offer much more insight although I did note that there were shifts in time periods. I will share more in this week’s First Impression Update.

What have you finished reading?

Back in 2020, fashion designer-turned-novelist Douglas Stuart made his grand entrance into the world of literature with the publication of his debut novel, Shuggie Bain. It was a trailblazing start to a fledgling literary career as he would go on and win the Booker Prize, one of the most prestigious literary prizes out there. Needless to say, it was imperative for me to read the book which I found to be just okay. It was good but I wouldn’t call it great. This, however, did not preclude me from wanting to read his succeeding works. That opportunity came in 2022. Earlier in the year, while researching for books to include in my 2022 Top 10 Books I Look Forward To list, I learned about the Scottish writer’s upcoming release. I then included Young Mungo on my watch-out list. Thankfully, I was able to obtain a copy of the book and was even able to make it part of my 2022 reading journey.

In several aspects, Young Mungo shared parallels with Shuggie Bain. First off, Stuart transported the readers to 1990s Glasgow. The community where we first meet the titular Mungo was permeated with the smell of poverty, alcohol, and other substances, reminiscent of the setting of Shuggie Bain. The main characters were also mid-teenage boys who looked up to their mothers. Their mothers were spitting images of each other: alcoholic and helpless. It was no wonder that Mungo’s older siblings resented their mother. It was, at its heart, the coming-of-age story of a young boy who simply does not fit in with the dark backdrop. The exploration of sexuality amidst the strife between the Catholics and the Protestants was a seminal part of the story. It was no surprise that Young Mungo had overtones of romance. The similarities between Stuart’s two works did not escape me but I still saw two distinct works. I find Young Mungo surer in its execution. It was palpable that Stuart’s prose this time around was more well-rounded.

After spending two weeks reading A Suitable Boy, I am back to normal business. I complete two books in the past week; this was despite my being lax. After a familiar writer in Stuart, I ventured into the work of a writer whose prose was not familiar to me. It was midway through 2022 that I first came across Gabrielle Zevin and her latest novel, Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow. It was receiving overwhelmingly positive feedback from readers and critics alike. However, I was a little apprehensive about the book. I found the title whimsical and the cover a little puerile. In a way, I felt the book was not my cup of tea. My perception of the book changed toward the end of the year when literary publications started sharing their Best Books of 2022 list. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow was repeatedly listed as one of the best reads of the year. Okay. I get it. I have to dip my toes into the novel. I immediately obtained a copy of the book and made sure that it forms part of my 2022 reading journey, making it the 15th new book I read this year.

At the heart of the novel were Sadie Green and Sam Mazer. The two protagonists first met when they were young teenagers, in the most unexpected of circumstances, when Sadie, helping nurse her sick sister Alice, came across Sam who was recovering from an injury. Together, Sam and Sadie bonded over video games. Video games were integral in the story as it was the single thing that kept the two together. The novel then captured three decades of their tumultuous relationship as business partners, friends, and colleagues. For some reason, the novel kind of reminded me of Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay with a sprinkling of Cecilia Ahern’s Dear Rosie sans the epistolary narrative. I must say that I am thankful I changed my mind about the book. I was impressed by the story and although there were parts where I had to fill in the gaps, I was nonetheless riveted by Zevin’s prose and storytelling. It was easily one of my best reads of the year.

After Memphis, I am hoping to read Barbara Kingsolver’s Demon Copperhead, a book, like Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, which I was really not intent on reading. My mind changed after the book was listed in several Best Books of 2022 lists. The tip of the iceberg, I guess, was the book’s inclusion in the New York Times Notable Books of the Year. And man did I lose it when I realized what I missed at the onset: the homage, or at least the reference to one of the most beloved works of literature, Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield! I was beside myself when I was reading the synopsis. You see, David Copperfield was my first Dickens novel – which I read way back in the late 2000s – and the first one that made me fall in love with his prose. Now I can’t wait to dip my toes into Kingsolver’s latest novel, my third by her if ever.

Lastly, I have a book I have been meaning to read for the longest time. David Diop’s At Night All Blood is Black first caught my attention when the book was announced as the winner of the 2021 International Booker Prize. I have never heard of him before. This presents a good opportunity to explore a new literary territory, something that I am always up for. That’s it for this week’s (late) WWW Wednesday. I hope you are all doing great. Happy reading and always stay safe! Happy Wednesday again!