Happy midweek everyone! Wow. We are already halfway through the week. I hope your week is doing well.

As it is midweek, it is time for a fresh WWW Wednesday update, my first this year. 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?

I just completed reading my 999th all-time novel. This only means one thing: my day of reckoning with James Joyce’s Ulysses has come. It has been nearly six years since I started reading the complex novel as part of my 2017 Top 20 Reading List. Unfortunately, I would end up not finishing the book as it barely made any sense to me. I then promised to get back to the book eventually. I would then promise to make it my 1,000th novel. However, to prepare me for what I expect would be a rough journey, I have decided to read one of his other works, Dubliners, a collection of stories. This is, in itself, already a deviation for me as I rarely read collections of short stories. I am, however, always willing to expand my boundaries by trying other things. Dubliners is comprised of fifteen short stories and painted a vivid portrait of middle class life in Dublin during the early years of the 20th century. While the stories do not allow me to inhabit the minds of any of the characters for more than a couple of pages, I am enamored by the portrait of Irish life that Joyce captured through his storytelling.

What have you finished reading?

In the past week, I managed to complete two novels. The first one was Isabel Cañas’ The Hacienda. It was while researching for 2022 second quarter releases that I came across the book; that is if my memory serves me right. Back then, I have neither heard of nor read any of the works of the Mexican American writer. This lack of background information on Cañas has not precluded me from wanting to read her novel. While I was able to obtain a copy of the book, I was not able to read it last year, hence, I made it part of my early 2023 reading catch-up.

The Hacienda, I would later on learn, was Cañas’ debut novel. One of the first things that caught my attention about the book was its cover. It reminded me of the image I have of Manderley – yes, the famed home in Daphne du Maurier’s classic Rebecca – at least a Mexican version of it. Sure enough, the story did echo some elements of the literary classic. A work of another Mexican writer also came to mind, Silvia Moreno Garcia’s Mexican Gothic. At the heart of the story was the young bride Beatriz who married Don Rodolfo Solórzano to ensure her future. Beatriz’s father was a general during the Mexican War but was executed following the war’s conclusion. Beatriz had then no choice but to move from the city to the Mexican countryside, to the Solórzano’s vast estate, San Isidro, the titular hacienda. What Beatriz did not expect to encounter were the ones that were invisible to the eye. As history clashes with the supernatural, mysteries wanting to be resolved floated to the surface. The Hacienda, overall, was an interesting read that captured my interest. The novel’s romantic overtones gave it an even more interesting landscape.

To be honest, I was ambivalent about exploring Jennifer Egan’s oeuvre. Sure, her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel A Visit from the Goon Squad was listed as one of 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die but learning about the discourse on its classification concerned me; as I have stated above, I rarely venture into collections of short stories. My mind would be changed when I learned about Egan’s latest novel, The Candy House. I learned that it was a sequel to the aforementioned Goon Squad. It seems that The Candy House is a sequel. I gave both books a chance; I would end up liking Goon Squad. A couple of months later, I would read The Candy House.

As it is a sequel, The Candy House involved several characters who were present in its predecessor. It is essentially an update on the main characters in the Goon Squad. Some of them have also grown up and pursued careers of their own. Both books would also share several attributes, such as their digression from traditional literary structures. Time was a relative concept as it would leap years into the future before dipping back into the past. The Candy House‘s structure, however, was not as pervasive as the Goon Squad. Memory was a seminal subject in the story and so was the exploration of the impact of technology to our lives, particularly how living online, i.e. social media, has adversely impacted us. As always, Egan does not fail to reel the readers in with her innovative writing.

As mentioned above, once I complete Dubliners, I will be going back to the only book that I have not finished, James Joyce’s momentous work, Ulysses. Ulysses was originally part of my 2017 Top 20 Reading List. I even started reading the revered classic. However, it tested both my patience and imagination. It barely made sense despite my trying to research more about the story. Midway through the book, I did something I have rarely done, DNFing a book. I set it aside in the hopes of going back to it. A couple of months ago, I resolved to make the novel my 1,000th novel; it is very much symbolical. So yes, daunted I still maybe but the day has come for me to go head-to-head with one of the most difficult books in the world.

From Ireland, I am planning to take my literary journey to Scotland, with Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting. It is a title that I kept on encountering in must-read lists, including the 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. It would, however, take me a couple more of persuasions to convince me to give the book a chance. I am actually curious about what the title means, especially that I can barely remember the blurb for the book, Nevertheless, I am curious about what the Scottish writer has to offer. I badly want to know what made many love Trainspotting. Another book that has long captured my interest is Emma Donoghue’s The Room. The book was adopted into a film and it was through this film that I encountered Donoghue. It naturally piqued my interest, hence, its inclusion in my perpetually growing reading 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!