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An intimate look at writing, running, and the incredible way they intersect, from the incomparable, bestselling author Haruki Murakami.While simply training for New York City Marathon would be enough for most people, Haruki Murakami's decided to write about it as well. The result is a beautiful memoir about his intertwined obsessions with running and writing, full of vivid memories and insights, including the eureka moment when he decided to become a writer. By turns funny and sobering, playful and philosophical, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is rich and revelatory, both for fans of this masterful yet guardedly private writer and for the exploding population of athletes who find similar satisfaction in athletic pursuit.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
Published: Random House Publishing Group on Jul 29, 2008
ISBN: 9780307269478
List price: $11.99
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Just finished listening to What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami. What an interesting book! Its non-fiction, basically his musings on long distance running, writing, his career, and life in general. Its short (4 discs). If you are a long distance runner (I am) this is a must read. He puts into words many feelings I have about running that I have never been able to articulate. If you like Murakami's work (Kafka On the Shore is my favorite) then it's also a must read. He's a very different person then I would have expected based on his novels! I really enjoyed the story of how he became a professional writer. This one was a good one to listen to, the flow just seemed right for audio.read more
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A must read for any fan of Haruki Murakami.read more
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This has been vaguely in my mind for awhile, for its combination of running (which I do) and Japan (where I've been). I know nothing about Haruki Murakami as either a novelist or a person, and it's maybe for this reason that the book seems rather peculiar in tone, navel gazing without revealing much interior life. For example, he describes the moment when he decided to become a novelist. And that is it. He describes an event, without discernible connection to anything personal. Perhaps he has revealed elsewhere, and he wanted this book to be different. He mentions his wife, but she is fleshed out in only two places: she is from an entrepreneurial family and provided inspiration and support during his years as owner of a jazz bar, and she recommended her swimming coach when he wanted to compete in a triathlon. Otherwise, she makes sandwiches and meets him at the finish line. The section about the swimming coach was actually rather nice, because he was attentive to details of her teaching style, and describes how she gradually changed his form. He links running to writing with the discipline and ritual of each. Which I found mildly interesting, but the essence of both was that if you trudge long enough you'll eventually achieve a marathon or a book. In sum, meh. (read 16 Jan 2011)read more
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Just finished listening to What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami. What an interesting book! Its non-fiction, basically his musings on long distance running, writing, his career, and life in general. Its short (4 discs). If you are a long distance runner (I am) this is a must read. He puts into words many feelings I have about running that I have never been able to articulate. If you like Murakami's work (Kafka On the Shore is my favorite) then it's also a must read. He's a very different person then I would have expected based on his novels! I really enjoyed the story of how he became a professional writer. This one was a good one to listen to, the flow just seemed right for audio.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
A must read for any fan of Haruki Murakami.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This has been vaguely in my mind for awhile, for its combination of running (which I do) and Japan (where I've been). I know nothing about Haruki Murakami as either a novelist or a person, and it's maybe for this reason that the book seems rather peculiar in tone, navel gazing without revealing much interior life. For example, he describes the moment when he decided to become a novelist. And that is it. He describes an event, without discernible connection to anything personal. Perhaps he has revealed elsewhere, and he wanted this book to be different. He mentions his wife, but she is fleshed out in only two places: she is from an entrepreneurial family and provided inspiration and support during his years as owner of a jazz bar, and she recommended her swimming coach when he wanted to compete in a triathlon. Otherwise, she makes sandwiches and meets him at the finish line. The section about the swimming coach was actually rather nice, because he was attentive to details of her teaching style, and describes how she gradually changed his form. He links running to writing with the discipline and ritual of each. Which I found mildly interesting, but the essence of both was that if you trudge long enough you'll eventually achieve a marathon or a book. In sum, meh. (read 16 Jan 2011)
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Murakami has some excellent insight into the art of running. I was surprised to find that he has run two dozen marathons, including at least 8 Boston's. He has put a lot of thought into the subject, and he compares it to writing novels in a couple of the chapters. If you are a runner, this book is a must read.
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I really really like this book. To me, this book is not about running at all. It is about how a mundane activity like running can show us about life and the decisions we make. If you can use the same concept and apply it to any activities that you like to do, you will learn a lot more about yourself than you realise. Great read.
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In the introduction, [Haruki Murakami] explains that [What I Talk About When I Talk About Running] is not intended to urge everyone to run and be healthy. "instead, this is a book in which I've gathered my thoughts about what running has meant to me as a person. Just a book in which I ponder various things and think out loud." This turned out to be another long review, so my apologies. I have no excuse this time - this is a slim memoir. It's just he's one of my favorite authors, and such a direct connection from him made me think a lot.[[Murakami]] has become a famous novelist worldwide, and his books frequently feature bizarre and surreal content. [A Wild Sheep Chase] involves a man who dresses like a sheep and a woman with magical ears. [A Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World] has a human encryption system caught up in a data war between the Calcutecs and the Semiotics, which is somehow connected to a surreal walled Town where there are people without shadows and unicorn skulls have a disturbing significance. [Kafka on the Shore], which may be his best, follows a 15 year old boy who runs away and ends up working in a tranquil library, where he gets caught up in a murder investigation, and Zen-like Nakata, finder of lost cats, my favorite [[Murakami]] character. As [[Murakami]] has said, [Kafka on the Shore] is filled with riddles that readers can answer in different ways, depending on the connections they make within the novel. In his most recent one, [1Q84], a woman late for an appointment descends an emergency stair from a busy highway and finds herself in an alternate world that has two moons.That's part of what makes this one so interesting for me. It's totally straightforward, like sitting across the table from him at his home. He has written one other straightforward nonfiction book called [Underground], but it is a report on the 1995 religious cult gas attack on the Tokyo subway system (well worth reading, BTW). But this is the only book he's written in which he speaks simply and plainly to the reader about his life, running, writing novels, and other thoughts that cross his mind. It mostly takes place in the 2005-2007 time period, some of it in Hawaii, some in Boston, some in Japan, some in New York, all revolving around marathons and triathlons and his preparation for them. For more than 20 years he has run "nearly every day". "When I'm running I don't have to talk to anybody and don't have to listen to anybody. All I need to do is gaze at the scenery passing by. This is a part of my day I can't live without."For him, the running is essential to the writing. A novelist must have talent to start with, but he or she must also have "the energy to focus every day for half a year, or a year, or two years." The necessary focus and endurance, like running, "can be acquired and sharpened through training." "Writing novels, to me, is a kind of manual labor. Writing itself is mental labor, but finishing an entire book is closer to manual labor. . . . The whole process, sitting at your desk, focusing your mind like a laser beam, imagining something out of a blank horizon, creating a story, selecting the right words, one by one, keeping the whole flow of the story on track - requires far more energy, over a long period, than most people ever imagine." For him, the running ensures he'll have that energy.For Murakami fans, there's the novelty and fun of getting direct glimpses into his life and insights into his worldview. Many Western influences show up in his novels, and it will not surprise those who have read them that music comes up often, from the Luvin' Spoonful he's listening to as the book opens to the Stones and Eric Clapton and any number of other Western pop and rock performers. He also talks about his famous running of a Japanese jazz club in his 20s and early 30s, before he became a novelist. It seems that the beat of pop and rock that matches up with his running in a way jazz doesn't. In Boston, his big expenditure is for LPs for his collection.He discusses Western novels he loves, like [The Great Gatsby], and this memoir's title is based on the title of a favorite [[Raymond Carver]] book. He talks about his work translating English novels into Japanese, and his preference for public speaking in English - he finds himself overwhelmed with word choices when he speaks in Japanese, and that the simplifying he has to do in English helps him. Of course, he also talks about running, including what he experiences in marathons and triathlons, and the rewards in life of overcoming pain.Throughout he shows characteristic modesty, and - - what's the word, obstinacy? "{I}s it ever possible for a professional writer to be liked by people? I have no idea. Maybe somewhere in the world it is. It's hard to generalize. For me, at least, as I've written novels over many years, I just can't picture someone liking me on a personal level. Being disliked by someone, hated and despised, somehow seems more natural. Not that I'm relieved when that happens. Even I'm not happy when someone dislikes me."The obvious irony is he is likeable, particularly in this book where he brings us into his life. Who will enjoy reading this? Those who like his novels, for one. Those interested in what goes into writing novels, and those who find running or other exercise a significant part of their life. There are some challenging ideas, some philosophical insights, and a fair amount of wisdom based on many years on this planet. But mainly this is a modest book in which he tries to share some simple ideas that have been very important in his life.
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