What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, Haruki Murakami

I’m on vacation though October 25, so for the next few posts, I’ll be sharing brief reviews of some of my favorite books.

I asked for this book for Christmas in 2010 after finishing Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles. It took me months to get through Chronicles, not because Murakami isn’t a mind-blowing writer (he is), but because it is one messed up story. I could only handle it in small doses. I would read a chapter, or even less, then sit for an hour staring out the window thinking about how some actions are so clearly the ones we take right before diving head-first into disaster; momentum seems to keep us from avoiding those first small bad decisions until we’re suddenly in it to our necks.

It reminded me of my own struggle with depression in college and in the year after – how clearly I could see, in hindsight, what awful choices I was making – but at the time, they seemed like the right thing to do. I was fascinated by the person behind this novel. I felt he must have experienced life in a way very familiar to me before using his remarkable skills as a writer to turn those memories into some very trippy literature.

This introduction to Murakami happened to coincide with my foray into the Couch to 5k running program. All through the fall of 2010, as I slowly worked up to running for five minutes, then fifteen, and finally, to a very slow forty-four minute 3.1 miles, my interest in reading about other runners was piqued. And here was a runner who was also a writer. I had to read his book.

And it was wonderful. Of course, he’s a long distance runner who has been at it for many more years than I have  – the same could be said for his writing, of course, so that didn’t matter much. What did matter was that his book brought together his career, the tempo of his writing, and heartbeat of his running in a way that was magical to me. Each of those elements sustained him and his work, and made him better at all of the things he loved. It was the first book about running that I ever fell in love with, and it remains one of my favorites to this day.

To learn more about Haruki Murakami, head over here. (FYI: This site has music, so if you’re heading over there during work, when you’re supposed to be finishing those TPS reports, mute your speakers first.)

15 thoughts on “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, Haruki Murakami

    1. :) I hate it when I click on a link and all of a sudden get outed that I’m not doing what I should be because of background music! It’s our duty to keep non-work related browsing at work safe for the next generation!

  1. I started reading 19Q4 once on my Kindle. I’d gotten it as a library loan and I had no idea how long it was. I was reading and reading and reading and only like 11% done. I realized I’d never finish it in two weeks and gave up. He’s one of those writers that’s so smart it makes my brain hurt and then I need a nap. Someday I will tackle it again. Someday…

    1. I heard very mixed reviews about 19Q4, and having read one of his novels already, I knew I wouldn’t read another unless it was one of his best (many people have recced Dance Dance Dance to me), but his memoir is much more readable. I love the beautiful weirdness of his fiction too, but there’s a reason why this book is one of my all-time favorites rather than one of those ;)

  2. The first Murakami book I read, oddly enough. It piqued my interest to see another artist running marathons. After this one, I read his entire collection. Anyone want a recommendation?

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