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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: VintageAnchor an imprint of Random House Publishing Group on
ISBN: 9780307269478
List price: $11.99
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A memoir around writer's love for running, his training and participation in marathons and triathlons etc.more
Loved it. Anyone who is a fan of Murakami's fiction will find this book interesting.more
Very simple and unpretentious but inspiring (and not in the smurfy way).more
A great story of running and writing and how they are similar, but mostly a great story about running. I've listened to every Murakami novel available in audio and two of his short story collections, so it was interesting to hear his "real" voice. He comes across as someone humble, lucky and determined. His dedication to running (and writing) is inspiring, and his struggles with motivation and inspiration are heartening because they are familar. The story of how he got into writing novels and his views on talent and practice are different from what you usual get from writers. After running a bar for years, he just decided to try writing novels. And I'm so glad he did!more
I enjoyed this a great deal, but it's a three star affair because I enjoyed it less than I thought I was going to. I think the most interesting parts for me focused on Murakami's writing thoughts, but the book is quite engaging overall. Probably would have enjoyed it more if I had read it one sitting, instead of putting it aside for a month.more
A very good motivator for both writing and running. Includes some very sage advice about a life of goals and maintaining vigor in old age.more
This book isn't just about running. It's also about writing. And a little bit about triathlons and running a jazz club in Tokyo. I think it would have universal appeal, not just to runners or writers. But then, I enjoy running and writing, so I'm probably not the best judge of this.

I also really like Murakami's novels. I found it reassuring to find that he seems to be just kind of a regular guy, even though he writes pretty off-the-wall books. It has helped me feel like I can write off-the-wall books without being any more odd than I already am. As my friend helpfully pointed out, just because I think Murakami sounds kind of like me doesn't mean he's not strange.

Overall, I found this memoir to be very accessible and conversational. It showed me a lot about Murakami's process as a writer and as a runner and how these two things feed into each other. I just liked it.

Oh, and here's a quote from the book that I think applies to many people, not just runners or writers:

"To be able to grasp something of value, sometimes you have to perform seemingly inefficient tasks. But even activities that appear fruitless don't necessarily end up so."

It's this general thought that keeps me going as a mother. I also see my daughter learning this lesson as she practices her flute every day. That may not be exactly universal, but it's broader than just runners and writers.more
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.more
The title of Haruki Murakami's memoir, What I talk about when I talk about running, seems unnecessarily long and clumsy. It was modeled after the title of a collection of short stories, What we talk about when we talk about love by Raymond Carver. It's somewhat cyclical, repetitive structure is indicative of the structure of the memoir.Referring to the composition of the memoir, the author suggests that he wrote it intermittently over a number of months in 2005. This may be true and untrue. The first five chapters and chapter 7, were written between 5 August and 31 October 2005. Chapter's six, eight and nine were written in June, August and October 2006. The foreword and afterword were written in July 2007. Written intermittently, indeed. The quality of all chapters is somewhat varied. Some may have been written or rewritten for publication, possibly with this title in mind, while others may have been occasional pieces or even diary entries. This is not explained. However, as a result the books has a very weak structure, and is repetitive.The book is not very focused. Besides running, it talks about a lot of other things. Biographical data about the author's life before he started writing, were interesting to read, describing how he ran a bar and gradually developed his career as a writer. He writes about his own writing as well as translating the work of Raymond Carver into Japanese. Many descriptions of his running are set in the United States, particularly referring to the NYC Marathon. There are some interesting observations on how he developed the skill and endurance to run a marathon.A light, entertaining, somewhat unbalanced read.more
A worthwhile read and meditation.more
THIS IS A REVIEW OF THE AUDIOBOOK VERSIONBOOK DESCRIPTIONWritten over the course of several months in 2005 as Murakami prepared for the New York City Marathon, this memoir is about more than just running—though it is most certainly about the mindset of a long-distance runner and the type of commitment and life a dedicated runner leads. The book is just as much about aging, being a novelist and Murakami himself. Providing an insight into the kind of person Murakami is while also sharing his particular worldview, this memoir is a must-read for his fans and runners alike.MY THOUGHTSAfter being unjustly accused of stealing this book from my brother, I downloaded the audio version from Audible, and I’m actually glad I did. I listened to it while walking my dog, and it was a perfect fit. The memoir unfolds in a meandering, stream of consciousness way that was fulfilling and gave me much food for thought as I walked. Listening to it while outside and active seemed like the ideal way to fully appreciate the book—giving me a view into the experience of running as I simulated it on a much slower and less punishing level.I liked that the book wasn’t just focused on running. Many times, Murakami asserts that running and being a novelist are two similar activities. In fact, he began long-distance running when he decided to become a novelist, and the two have gone hand-in-hand ever since. As Murakami says, you have to be a certain type of person to be a novelist and a long-distance runner—one who has the stamina and endurance to go the distance, whether in a marathon or in a long-form novel. The process for both is often punishing and requires significant training and preparation. Both require a significant amount of pain.In addition, since Murakami wrote the book later in life, it often muses on the process of aging—when you realize that no matter what you do, your body is just not going to respond as well as it once did. Coming to terms with this is one of the main themes of the book, and I think Murakami’s attitude of acceptance but unwillingness to stop pushing himself is one that we should all consider.For people searching for a narrative about running, the memoir also provides detailed information about Murakami’s extensive running experiences—from his participation in an ultramarathon (which ended up becoming an almost out-of-body experience) to his recent decision to do triathalons. He also discusses the rhythms, pleasures, pain, and solitary nature of long-distance running.About the Narration: Ray Porter was an excellent narrator. He read with a commitment that made it seem as if he had written these words himself. In fact, it felt like someone talking to you rather than someone reading another person’s book. The translation from Japanese must have been top-notch too as I found the language to be wonderfully lucid and flowing. After hearing so much about the strangeness and weirdness of Murakami’s fiction, I feel relieved that he was so accessible in this book. Hopefully this is the start of a beautiful relationship between the two of us.Recommended for: Murakami fans, runners and those who appreciate well-written memoirs.more
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.more
A strange memoir describing the part that running has played in Murakami's life. Strange because it is a curiously simple, almost naively written account, with the prose coming across as rather flat. Still, if you are interested in running (like I am) you will find it to be a moderately engaging way to spend a few hours.more
Reading this book felt a lot like sitting down and having a conversation with someone. A conversation that is ostensibly about running and races, but is really about life and approaches to it. Maybe one of the things that makes it interesting is that when Murakami started writing this, he was already at an age where he's just not going to get any faster at running. How to accept gracefully that your best days are behind you? That's a struggle everyone faces.It's a slim volume and I read it in a few short sessions, but some of it will stick with me for a long time, I'm sure."Whenever I see students in gym class all made to run a long distance, I feel sorry for them. Forcing people who have no desire to run, or who aren't physically fit enough, is a kind of pointless torture. I always want to advise teachers not to force all junior and senior high school students to run the same course, but I doubt anybody's going to listen to me. That's what schools are like. The most important thing we ever learn at school is the fact that the most important things can't be learned at school."more
Likely a poor choice for my first Murakami read. I picked it up on a whim while myself training for a marathon, based on the title and a quick flip-through. I blew through it over the course of a couple of evenings, and now, a few weeks after running my own marathon, can't seem to remember a single thing that he was writing about.more
Within the first chapter I felt bored by this series of essays by Murakami on what he thinks about when he is running. Murakami has set a standard for himself to run every day for one hour (something he has done for a very large number of years), and has run at least one marathon a year for that same amount of time. And the initial chapter felt as though I was going to have to endure my own marathon.Somehow, without my realizing it, Murakami (as he has time and time again) drew me into the story. What had seemed to be idle musings became an interesting introspection into Murakami himself, the challenges of running, and the parallels to writing.This was a book that I looked forward to reading, began reading and dreaded continuing, and, within short order, devoured. The overall arc is good, the insights are fascinating, and, if you are looking closely, you will find within each chapter a nugget – a quote – worth taking back with you.more
Enjoyed reading this memoir which is really not about running but the challenges of growing old and challenging oneself. It is an interesting insight into the personality of Murukami.more
What an amazing memoir, but not quite a memoir! What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is the memoir of Japanese author Haruki Murakami. But even Murakami admits that it's not a "traditional" memoir, and in fact his original concept was to publish it as a book of essays. The story has its roots in Murakami's training for the New York City Marathon, but what makes this story so interesting is his veering off the track to share thoughts about his life, career, his childhood, music, and love. He reflects on living in Boston and Hawaii. He shares his views of the world around him, and in doing he innocently gives the reader food for fodder for our own lives. And all cleverly linked together by his training."Once you set the pace, the rest will follow. The problem is getting the flywheel to spin at a set speed - and to get to that point takes as much concentration and effort as you can imagine."What's particularly interesting to me is the insights he gives on writing and the origins of his writing. Not knowing much about Murakami except for his being a brilliantly popular writer, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running really let me get to know the man behind the writing. The bar owner turned writer, who loves to run even though his aging body is slowing down. And even a book "about running" in the hands of Haruki Murakami is beautifully written. It's inspiring, it's humbling."Sometimes when I think of life, I feel like a piece of driftwood washed up on shore."I listened to the audiobook of What I Talk About When I Talk About Running as part of the Haruki Murakami Reading Challenge, which includes listening to audiobooks. But I enjoyed the story so much I intend to buy a copy of the book! The audiobook itself is a little over 4 hours, and is narrated by Shakespearean actor Ray Porter, who has an extensive audiobook background. Although the voice of the narrator is pleasing, at first I was a little taken aback, because I really expected a different type of voice to represent Murakami, but I slowly got use to Mr. Porter, who did a great job with all the subtleties of sharing the story with us.I would definitely recommend What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami to any runner or athlete, because it's a wonderful love story to the hard work of training for any event, but it's also a love story of living. There are so many other reasons to praise this book- it's inspiring, it's beautifully written, it's a great way to get to know the man behind the wildly popular books you can find in any bookstore. I loved it for all those reasons. And, if I could I would put on a pair of running shoes right now and go out running!more
"What I Talk About What I Talk About Running" is aptly titled -- it is a no-frills memoir about running, about being an author, and about being an author who runs.For the better part of the book, Murakami effectively uses running as an analogy to the task of writing, and creates, in my opinion, one of the most frank portraits of a writer's life. Unfortunately, the last quarter of the book is devoid of references to writing, and ends in a heap of praise for running for running's sake.more
I've enjoyed every single one of Murakami's works of fiction, so I put off "What I Talk About" for a long time - I wasn't sure I wanted such a personal connection with someone whose work I've come to love so much, and feared it might change my relationship with his other pieces. But I needn't have worried. It's written in the clear, frank style found in his novels, and it presents the right balance of introspection and reflection on what it means to run - just as the author hoped it would. I'd recommend it to runners and readers alike.more
Received as a gift, this is the first book that I read by Murakami: it is a nice read and not much longer than the title :) Intertwined with stories about the personal life and the running experience of the writer, the book explores the many ways in which running is similar to writing. Discipline and perseverance are fundamental. This reminded me also of "On Writing" by Stephen King where King discusses how he writes a fixed number of hours every day, even when the 'fire of the muses' does not inspire him. The book got me thinking that I should still run a triathlon one day… and made me understand that I still have time. Murakami started running only when he was 33. By the time he wrote the book he run more than twenty marathons, one ultra-marathon, and several triathlons. In more general terms, the book shows that it is (almost) never too late to enter a completely new field as long as you are willing to persevere at it. With enough time, you might even get to world-class level.I found it very interesting, how for Murakami his racing times are a mirror of his aging. Throughout the book he seems to come to terms with the irreversibility of aging.more
I couldn't get into this book - I'm not sure if it's because I'm not a runner, or a middle-aged cynic, but it didn't appeal to me. I do like Murakami's other works, so maybe I'll pick it back up for a re-read in twenty years or so.more
Typical meandering essay by Murakami. Interesting to hear how and why he started running, and developed into a marathoner, and also to hear the intersection between his running and writing. His style is sort of like David Sedaris, goes one way, then another, then another, before finally getting to a point. But unlike Sedaris, not side-splittingly funny.more
A must read for any fan of Haruki Murakami.more
Running and philosophical journey of a writer's lifemore
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.more
i listened to the audio version of this book during my training sessions leading up to my first marathon. it was so great that i listened to the whole book during the marathon itself.the tales of running that murakami recounted touched me very personally and, as a novice runner who has been overwhelmed with the personal triumph of becoming a runner, i appreciated the humor and depth of emotion that both running and writing evoked in him.i would definitely recommend this book for anyone who is thinking about running, or has ever run. and this will definitely make a perfect gift for one friend of mine in particular who is both a runner and a writer.more
Strictly for runners only, I don't see anyone else interested in these musings. About surprising little other than his thoughts on running, don't expect alot more. As a runner for many years I did really enjoy it, it reminds me why I love to run and how I share this love with so many others.more
I liked this book. I do not usually like memoirs – they seem self-serving. This book is an introspective collection of linked essays that move forward through the author’s training for marathon and triathlon. It is plainly written and elegantly composed. Murakami lays his insecurities and defeats out alongside his triumphs. He presents an honest view of himself as a runner/writer/human.The book was engaging and any runner would enjoy reading it.more
Read all 51 reviews

Reviews

A memoir around writer's love for running, his training and participation in marathons and triathlons etc.more
Loved it. Anyone who is a fan of Murakami's fiction will find this book interesting.more
Very simple and unpretentious but inspiring (and not in the smurfy way).more
A great story of running and writing and how they are similar, but mostly a great story about running. I've listened to every Murakami novel available in audio and two of his short story collections, so it was interesting to hear his "real" voice. He comes across as someone humble, lucky and determined. His dedication to running (and writing) is inspiring, and his struggles with motivation and inspiration are heartening because they are familar. The story of how he got into writing novels and his views on talent and practice are different from what you usual get from writers. After running a bar for years, he just decided to try writing novels. And I'm so glad he did!more
I enjoyed this a great deal, but it's a three star affair because I enjoyed it less than I thought I was going to. I think the most interesting parts for me focused on Murakami's writing thoughts, but the book is quite engaging overall. Probably would have enjoyed it more if I had read it one sitting, instead of putting it aside for a month.more
A very good motivator for both writing and running. Includes some very sage advice about a life of goals and maintaining vigor in old age.more
This book isn't just about running. It's also about writing. And a little bit about triathlons and running a jazz club in Tokyo. I think it would have universal appeal, not just to runners or writers. But then, I enjoy running and writing, so I'm probably not the best judge of this.

I also really like Murakami's novels. I found it reassuring to find that he seems to be just kind of a regular guy, even though he writes pretty off-the-wall books. It has helped me feel like I can write off-the-wall books without being any more odd than I already am. As my friend helpfully pointed out, just because I think Murakami sounds kind of like me doesn't mean he's not strange.

Overall, I found this memoir to be very accessible and conversational. It showed me a lot about Murakami's process as a writer and as a runner and how these two things feed into each other. I just liked it.

Oh, and here's a quote from the book that I think applies to many people, not just runners or writers:

"To be able to grasp something of value, sometimes you have to perform seemingly inefficient tasks. But even activities that appear fruitless don't necessarily end up so."

It's this general thought that keeps me going as a mother. I also see my daughter learning this lesson as she practices her flute every day. That may not be exactly universal, but it's broader than just runners and writers.more
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.more
The title of Haruki Murakami's memoir, What I talk about when I talk about running, seems unnecessarily long and clumsy. It was modeled after the title of a collection of short stories, What we talk about when we talk about love by Raymond Carver. It's somewhat cyclical, repetitive structure is indicative of the structure of the memoir.Referring to the composition of the memoir, the author suggests that he wrote it intermittently over a number of months in 2005. This may be true and untrue. The first five chapters and chapter 7, were written between 5 August and 31 October 2005. Chapter's six, eight and nine were written in June, August and October 2006. The foreword and afterword were written in July 2007. Written intermittently, indeed. The quality of all chapters is somewhat varied. Some may have been written or rewritten for publication, possibly with this title in mind, while others may have been occasional pieces or even diary entries. This is not explained. However, as a result the books has a very weak structure, and is repetitive.The book is not very focused. Besides running, it talks about a lot of other things. Biographical data about the author's life before he started writing, were interesting to read, describing how he ran a bar and gradually developed his career as a writer. He writes about his own writing as well as translating the work of Raymond Carver into Japanese. Many descriptions of his running are set in the United States, particularly referring to the NYC Marathon. There are some interesting observations on how he developed the skill and endurance to run a marathon.A light, entertaining, somewhat unbalanced read.more
A worthwhile read and meditation.more
THIS IS A REVIEW OF THE AUDIOBOOK VERSIONBOOK DESCRIPTIONWritten over the course of several months in 2005 as Murakami prepared for the New York City Marathon, this memoir is about more than just running—though it is most certainly about the mindset of a long-distance runner and the type of commitment and life a dedicated runner leads. The book is just as much about aging, being a novelist and Murakami himself. Providing an insight into the kind of person Murakami is while also sharing his particular worldview, this memoir is a must-read for his fans and runners alike.MY THOUGHTSAfter being unjustly accused of stealing this book from my brother, I downloaded the audio version from Audible, and I’m actually glad I did. I listened to it while walking my dog, and it was a perfect fit. The memoir unfolds in a meandering, stream of consciousness way that was fulfilling and gave me much food for thought as I walked. Listening to it while outside and active seemed like the ideal way to fully appreciate the book—giving me a view into the experience of running as I simulated it on a much slower and less punishing level.I liked that the book wasn’t just focused on running. Many times, Murakami asserts that running and being a novelist are two similar activities. In fact, he began long-distance running when he decided to become a novelist, and the two have gone hand-in-hand ever since. As Murakami says, you have to be a certain type of person to be a novelist and a long-distance runner—one who has the stamina and endurance to go the distance, whether in a marathon or in a long-form novel. The process for both is often punishing and requires significant training and preparation. Both require a significant amount of pain.In addition, since Murakami wrote the book later in life, it often muses on the process of aging—when you realize that no matter what you do, your body is just not going to respond as well as it once did. Coming to terms with this is one of the main themes of the book, and I think Murakami’s attitude of acceptance but unwillingness to stop pushing himself is one that we should all consider.For people searching for a narrative about running, the memoir also provides detailed information about Murakami’s extensive running experiences—from his participation in an ultramarathon (which ended up becoming an almost out-of-body experience) to his recent decision to do triathalons. He also discusses the rhythms, pleasures, pain, and solitary nature of long-distance running.About the Narration: Ray Porter was an excellent narrator. He read with a commitment that made it seem as if he had written these words himself. In fact, it felt like someone talking to you rather than someone reading another person’s book. The translation from Japanese must have been top-notch too as I found the language to be wonderfully lucid and flowing. After hearing so much about the strangeness and weirdness of Murakami’s fiction, I feel relieved that he was so accessible in this book. Hopefully this is the start of a beautiful relationship between the two of us.Recommended for: Murakami fans, runners and those who appreciate well-written memoirs.more
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.more
A strange memoir describing the part that running has played in Murakami's life. Strange because it is a curiously simple, almost naively written account, with the prose coming across as rather flat. Still, if you are interested in running (like I am) you will find it to be a moderately engaging way to spend a few hours.more
Reading this book felt a lot like sitting down and having a conversation with someone. A conversation that is ostensibly about running and races, but is really about life and approaches to it. Maybe one of the things that makes it interesting is that when Murakami started writing this, he was already at an age where he's just not going to get any faster at running. How to accept gracefully that your best days are behind you? That's a struggle everyone faces.It's a slim volume and I read it in a few short sessions, but some of it will stick with me for a long time, I'm sure."Whenever I see students in gym class all made to run a long distance, I feel sorry for them. Forcing people who have no desire to run, or who aren't physically fit enough, is a kind of pointless torture. I always want to advise teachers not to force all junior and senior high school students to run the same course, but I doubt anybody's going to listen to me. That's what schools are like. The most important thing we ever learn at school is the fact that the most important things can't be learned at school."more
Likely a poor choice for my first Murakami read. I picked it up on a whim while myself training for a marathon, based on the title and a quick flip-through. I blew through it over the course of a couple of evenings, and now, a few weeks after running my own marathon, can't seem to remember a single thing that he was writing about.more
Within the first chapter I felt bored by this series of essays by Murakami on what he thinks about when he is running. Murakami has set a standard for himself to run every day for one hour (something he has done for a very large number of years), and has run at least one marathon a year for that same amount of time. And the initial chapter felt as though I was going to have to endure my own marathon.Somehow, without my realizing it, Murakami (as he has time and time again) drew me into the story. What had seemed to be idle musings became an interesting introspection into Murakami himself, the challenges of running, and the parallels to writing.This was a book that I looked forward to reading, began reading and dreaded continuing, and, within short order, devoured. The overall arc is good, the insights are fascinating, and, if you are looking closely, you will find within each chapter a nugget – a quote – worth taking back with you.more
Enjoyed reading this memoir which is really not about running but the challenges of growing old and challenging oneself. It is an interesting insight into the personality of Murukami.more
What an amazing memoir, but not quite a memoir! What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is the memoir of Japanese author Haruki Murakami. But even Murakami admits that it's not a "traditional" memoir, and in fact his original concept was to publish it as a book of essays. The story has its roots in Murakami's training for the New York City Marathon, but what makes this story so interesting is his veering off the track to share thoughts about his life, career, his childhood, music, and love. He reflects on living in Boston and Hawaii. He shares his views of the world around him, and in doing he innocently gives the reader food for fodder for our own lives. And all cleverly linked together by his training."Once you set the pace, the rest will follow. The problem is getting the flywheel to spin at a set speed - and to get to that point takes as much concentration and effort as you can imagine."What's particularly interesting to me is the insights he gives on writing and the origins of his writing. Not knowing much about Murakami except for his being a brilliantly popular writer, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running really let me get to know the man behind the writing. The bar owner turned writer, who loves to run even though his aging body is slowing down. And even a book "about running" in the hands of Haruki Murakami is beautifully written. It's inspiring, it's humbling."Sometimes when I think of life, I feel like a piece of driftwood washed up on shore."I listened to the audiobook of What I Talk About When I Talk About Running as part of the Haruki Murakami Reading Challenge, which includes listening to audiobooks. But I enjoyed the story so much I intend to buy a copy of the book! The audiobook itself is a little over 4 hours, and is narrated by Shakespearean actor Ray Porter, who has an extensive audiobook background. Although the voice of the narrator is pleasing, at first I was a little taken aback, because I really expected a different type of voice to represent Murakami, but I slowly got use to Mr. Porter, who did a great job with all the subtleties of sharing the story with us.I would definitely recommend What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami to any runner or athlete, because it's a wonderful love story to the hard work of training for any event, but it's also a love story of living. There are so many other reasons to praise this book- it's inspiring, it's beautifully written, it's a great way to get to know the man behind the wildly popular books you can find in any bookstore. I loved it for all those reasons. And, if I could I would put on a pair of running shoes right now and go out running!more
"What I Talk About What I Talk About Running" is aptly titled -- it is a no-frills memoir about running, about being an author, and about being an author who runs.For the better part of the book, Murakami effectively uses running as an analogy to the task of writing, and creates, in my opinion, one of the most frank portraits of a writer's life. Unfortunately, the last quarter of the book is devoid of references to writing, and ends in a heap of praise for running for running's sake.more
I've enjoyed every single one of Murakami's works of fiction, so I put off "What I Talk About" for a long time - I wasn't sure I wanted such a personal connection with someone whose work I've come to love so much, and feared it might change my relationship with his other pieces. But I needn't have worried. It's written in the clear, frank style found in his novels, and it presents the right balance of introspection and reflection on what it means to run - just as the author hoped it would. I'd recommend it to runners and readers alike.more
Received as a gift, this is the first book that I read by Murakami: it is a nice read and not much longer than the title :) Intertwined with stories about the personal life and the running experience of the writer, the book explores the many ways in which running is similar to writing. Discipline and perseverance are fundamental. This reminded me also of "On Writing" by Stephen King where King discusses how he writes a fixed number of hours every day, even when the 'fire of the muses' does not inspire him. The book got me thinking that I should still run a triathlon one day… and made me understand that I still have time. Murakami started running only when he was 33. By the time he wrote the book he run more than twenty marathons, one ultra-marathon, and several triathlons. In more general terms, the book shows that it is (almost) never too late to enter a completely new field as long as you are willing to persevere at it. With enough time, you might even get to world-class level.I found it very interesting, how for Murakami his racing times are a mirror of his aging. Throughout the book he seems to come to terms with the irreversibility of aging.more
I couldn't get into this book - I'm not sure if it's because I'm not a runner, or a middle-aged cynic, but it didn't appeal to me. I do like Murakami's other works, so maybe I'll pick it back up for a re-read in twenty years or so.more
Typical meandering essay by Murakami. Interesting to hear how and why he started running, and developed into a marathoner, and also to hear the intersection between his running and writing. His style is sort of like David Sedaris, goes one way, then another, then another, before finally getting to a point. But unlike Sedaris, not side-splittingly funny.more
A must read for any fan of Haruki Murakami.more
Running and philosophical journey of a writer's lifemore
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.more
i listened to the audio version of this book during my training sessions leading up to my first marathon. it was so great that i listened to the whole book during the marathon itself.the tales of running that murakami recounted touched me very personally and, as a novice runner who has been overwhelmed with the personal triumph of becoming a runner, i appreciated the humor and depth of emotion that both running and writing evoked in him.i would definitely recommend this book for anyone who is thinking about running, or has ever run. and this will definitely make a perfect gift for one friend of mine in particular who is both a runner and a writer.more
Strictly for runners only, I don't see anyone else interested in these musings. About surprising little other than his thoughts on running, don't expect alot more. As a runner for many years I did really enjoy it, it reminds me why I love to run and how I share this love with so many others.more
I liked this book. I do not usually like memoirs – they seem self-serving. This book is an introspective collection of linked essays that move forward through the author’s training for marathon and triathlon. It is plainly written and elegantly composed. Murakami lays his insecurities and defeats out alongside his triumphs. He presents an honest view of himself as a runner/writer/human.The book was engaging and any runner would enjoy reading it.more
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