What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Book - 2008
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From the best-selling author of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and After Dark, a rich and revelatory memoir about writing and running, and the integral impact both have made on his life. In 1982, having sold his jazz bar to devote himself to writing, Haruki Murakami began running to keep fit. A year later, he'd completed a solo course from Athens to Marathon, and now, after dozens of such races, not to mention triathlons and a slew of critically acclaimed books, he reflects upon the influence the sport has had on his life and-even more important-on his writing. Equal parts training log, travelogue, and reminiscence, this revealing memoir covers his four-month preparation for the 2005 New York City Marathon and includes settings ranging from Tokyo's Jingu Gaien gardens, where he once shared the course with an Olympian, to the Charles River in Boston among young women who outpace him. Through this marvellous lens of sport emerges a cornucopia of memories and insights: the eureka moment when he decided to become a writer, his greatest triumphs and disappointments, his passion for vintage LPs, and the experience, after the age of fifty, of seeing his race times improve and then fall back. By turns funny and sobering, playful and philosophical, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is both for fans of this masterful yet guardedly private writer and for the exploding population of athletes who find similar satisfaction in distance running.
Publisher: Toronto : Bond Street Books, 2008.
ISBN: 9780385666275
Additional Contributors: Gabriel, Philip 1953-


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Apr 25, 2019

Sometimes Murakami's pessimism is just exhausting, but this is a good memoir. It feels very real and honest.

Jun 05, 2018

The most thoughtful and lyrical book about running you are likely to read.

Andrew Kyle Bacon
Jan 25, 2018

I'll preface this by saying that I am not a runner. I've done some long-distance hiking and backpacking, but have never gone running. I wouldn't even say I'm much of a walker either, but I do, on occasion, enjoy getting outside and moving around. This book, though, was inspiring and fascinating, and has motivated me to spend more of my time moving. Perhaps, one day, I'll even run a marathon (but I won't hold my breath).

This is the third book by Haruki Murakami that I've read, is the only non-fiction work of his that I've read, and is by far my favorite so far. The book is so warm, personal, and inviting. It's serves as both an interesting look at what drives an athlete, as well as a look into the mind of a great author. Murakami seems like a cool guy. I love this book.

Jul 09, 2017

Murakami really captures the psyche, the mindset, the motivation of the runner (and probably the novelist, as well). I think a more appropriate title might have been What I Think About When I Think About Running.

ChelseaJM Apr 09, 2016

I read this short memoir by the famously mind-bending novelist Haruki Murakami several years ago, but I still think about it often. From its first sentence, it is an example of stunningly clear writing in which the author meditates on running, and running as a metaphor for writing and for life.

LPL_EliH Jan 15, 2016

Reading this succinct meditation on running (and writing) is no marathon; Murakami deftly recounts his journey as a long distance runner and how he came to be a renowned novelist in 179 pages. No one point is overthought or pushed with unneeded emphasis. This is not a guide to writing, or a confessional history of Murakami's life; it is a simple personal philosophy of human endurance.

Jul 08, 2015

Wow! It's interesting to see so many negative review of this audio book. It is actually the 1st book I read/listen by Murakami. I like how he connected his physical conditioning to his life and writing. I then started reading/listening his other work.

Nov 20, 2014

Even at 180 pages the book still feels a bit long. It's probably rude and incorrect to say that there's nothing much profound about it, but nonetheless, the conversational tone kinda makes it feel that way. Murakami mostly sticks to the topic of (long distance) running, venturing out into territories regarding his career as a novelist and experience as a person by using running experiences and training techniques as a springboard. There are a couple of compelling stories about experiences he's had as a runner (for example: running the original marathon path backwards from Athens to Marathon, and his first time running a 62-mile ultramarathon). There are also interesting pieces about his daily life in this period (basically 2005-2007), like descriptions of his leaky roof due to a lingering storm's arrival while his apartment building was under construction. Overall, the book succeeds in giving insight into what attitudes propel this man, introduced metaphorically and detailed (nearly) directly. Slightly tedious, but perhaps exactly as he intended (which if this is the case, he took it easy on us).

Jul 31, 2014

I was surprised at the negativity throughout this book. I expected pain of training but also joy of training, feeling good about a run, for example. But this was mainly about pain and disappointment. The man runs well, he accomplishes a lot of running, he's dedicated and focussed.....but he doesn't seem to enjoy one minute of it, he's constantly disappointed in his runs, he's forever beating up on himself about not doing better. It was a bit depressing, really.
His final words were surprising: "My time, the rank I attain, my outward appearance -- all these are secondary. For a runner like me, what's important is reaching the goal I set myself, under my own power."
I applaud what he says; this is a true runner. I just wish the rest of the book was this positive and encouraging,

Jul 12, 2014

I liked it. I respect Mr. Murakami as a writer and was surprised that on top of being a writer, he was also an athlete and he had a few side jobs. Nice touch.

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Dec 11, 2014

And I always think this: They put up with such strenuous training, and where did their thoughts, their hopes and dreams, disappear to? When people pass away, do their thoughts just vanish?

Dec 11, 2014

Maybe the only thing I can definitely say about it is this: That's life. Maybe the only thing we can do is accept it, without really knowing what's going on. Like taxes, the tide rising and falling, John Lennon's death, and miscalls by referees at the World Cup.

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