Happy midweek everyone! Wow. We are already halfway through the week. Speaking of mid, I can’t believe that we’re already midway through March. Time does fly fast. Nevertheless, I hope your week is doing well. I can’t believe that we have already chalked up two months of the year. I hope the year has been kind to everyone. I hope that the rest of the year will be filled with nothing but good news and good tidings.

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?

My foray into the works of British and Irish literature continues this March. This journey has brought me to a book that I first encountered through must-read lists: J.G. Farrell’s The Siege of Krishnapur. The Siege of Krishnapur is my first novel by James Gordon Farrell who rose to prominence for his series of novels collectively called as the Empire Trilogy, of which The Siege of Krishnapur is the second book. The three books, however, can be read independently, the reason why I read the second book despite not having read the first book in the trilogy, Troubles. The book transported me to the Indian subcontinent. The subcontinent’s historical tie with the British Empire has made it the constant subject of many a British writers; Salman Rushdie and E.M. Forster also come to mind. I just started reading the book and I understand that it was built around an actual historical event. I will share more of my impression of the book on this week’s First Impression Friday update, that is if I haven’t finished it by Friday.

What have you finished reading?

From one book completed the week prior, I was able to redeem myself in the past week as I was able to complete four books, the most I had in the same span of days. The first of these books was Muriel Spark’s The Mandelbaum Gate. Like J.G. Farrell, Spark was a writer who I first encountered through must-read lists. Several of her works (like The Prime of Miss Brodie) were listed in the 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. This naturally piqued my interest. Moreover, I recently learned that Spark was of Scottish descent, making her a rarity among the scores of British writers whose works I have previously explored; the only other Scottish writers on my list are Irvine Welsh, Douglas Stuart, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who I just learned was Scottish just today.

Anyway, The Mandelbaum Gate is not one of Sprk’s books listed on the 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. Nevertheless, I am using it as a springboard into her oeuvre. The titular Mandelbaum Gate is an actual gate that separates the Jordanian and Israeli sides of Jerusalem. Knowing this, one could surmise that the book has historical overtones, with the Adolf Eichmann trial in 1961 used as the backdrop. The story, however, involved Barbara Vaughan, a half-Jewish Catholic convert who was planning to meet her fiance Harry Clegg, an archaeologist working in Qumran. To do so, she must cross the Mandelbaum Gate which is rather complicated because of her heritage. The book meandered a little bit but it had some elements of adventure which kept my attention. Interestingly, the book was cited by many as unique, at least in the ambit of Spark’s oeuvre. It makes me wonder what more she could offer.

Finally, nearly five years since I read the first book in Douglas Adams’ popular science fiction series, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, I was finally able to complete reading all five books in the series. For the record, there is a sixth book titled And Another Thing… written by Eoin Colfer and published in 2009 with the express permission of Adams’ widow Jane Belson. However, from a personal point-of-view, I will only be considering the original five books in the series although who knows what can happen in the future. I just might read And Another Thing… in the future. Anything can happen; I previously read the second book in the series, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, in late February. I then decided to read through the rest of the series, making Adams the first writer in over six years for who I read at least four books in a year.

The last three books in the series further recounted the adventures, and misadventures of Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect, Zaphod Beeblebrox, and Trillian (formerly known as Tricia McMillan). To the uninitiated, Ford and Zaphod are both aliens while Dent and Trillian are humans. Dent and Trillian were also the only survivors of the Earth. The Earth was destroyed by the Vogons, a race of unpleasant and bureaucratic aliens, to make way for an intergalactic bypass. The rest of the series introduces more interesting subjects. In the third book, for instance, the space-time continuum allowed Ford and Arthur to travel to prehistoric Earth. Douglas cleanly ties up the series in the final book of the series, Mostly Harmless which introduced the daughter of Trillian and Dent (which rather caught me off-guard). So how about the book in the series called The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (a book within a book!)? Well, the Vogons took over it with the goal of completing the obliteration of the earth. It was a series full of fun moments although the humor belied the bevy of dark and complex subjects the series covered. It was, overall, a satisfying read, a step out of my comfort zone that was worth it.

After my first Farrell novel, I am contemplating reading Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock. I have never read any of Greene’s works previously although he is a name I keep on encountering on must-read lists. I am looking forward to what his book has in store for me. Lastly, I am planning to read Virginia Woolf’s Orlando. I just realized that it has been over four years since I read a work by the popular English writer.

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!