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What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (Vintage International) Paperback – August 11, 2009
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In "What I Talk about when I Talk About Running", Murakami shares his philosophy of running and life! Something while I was reading his book turned me on to the culture of running in Japan, and I have since read and reveled The Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei. I think these two book are great readers for the runner who is gearing up for marathons or looking to maintain their stride. Murakami fans will especially appreciate the deeper insight into his true self.
Murakami is humble, candid and straightforward exposing his mistakes, flaws and shortcomings - - one passage: "But this wretched story of feeling I had as I stood in front of the mirror at sixteen, listing all of my physical shortcomings, is still sort of touchstone for me even now. The sad spreadsheet of my life reveals how my debts outweigh my assets."
You get into his mind and his incredible determination to complete marathons and triathlons - feeling the sun baking his skin and the water filling his lungs - yet he keeps his feet and arms moving despite his mind and body telling him to stop.
You also learn about the impact that advancing middle age has on his performance times and that they are no longer improving despite a rigorous training regimen - "even if, seen from the outside, or from some higher vantage point, this sort of life looks pointless or futile, or even extremely efficient, it doesn't bother me. Maybe it's a pointless act like as I've said before, pouring water into an old pan that has a hole in the bottom, but at least the effort you put into it remains. Whether it's good for anything or not, cool or totally uncool, in the final analysis what's most important is what you can't see but can feel in your heart.Read more ›
The book is 1/3 travelogue, 1/3 self-help, and 1/3 runners guide. We read about the running environments and typical weather patterns where Murakami has trained: New York, Boston, Japan, Greece. We read about the mental discipline and courage it takes to be a long-distance runner. But, most of all, subtly emerging on each page, we read about Murakami the philosopher. His favorite topic is the merciless and stubborn passage of time and its effects on the body and mind. He writes candidly about his thoughts on training as he grows older (Murakami was in his late 50s when he wrote much of the book). He writes about what he thinks about as he runs (ususally nothing); he writes about discipline. To paraphrase one of Murakami's favorite quotes (I forget the source): "...pain is inevitable; suffering is optional."
Murakami tells us that he was neither a natural novelist nor runner. He has had to work hard at both, but both are things which require a steady effort, skills with which Murakami prides himself.Read more ›
I found it clearly written and engaging but disappointingly slight -- the kind of book an author writes to make a few extra bucks when he's become well-known and successful enough to sell just about anything on the strength of his past record and reputation.
There are a few nice observations about life and running and the connection between them and some mild philosophizing on encroaching old age and how to approach it. But in general, I had the sense that the author was as much hiding his true self as revealing it.
His description of writing his first novel is fairly typical. He's watching a baseball game (he gives the exact date) and it's the top of the second inning and someone gets a hit and at that precise moment, Murakami decides it would be fun to write a novel. A few months later, it's written; a few months after that, it's won a prize. Just like that, easy as pie.
Running is much the same. Occasionally there's some pain but mostly it comes easy, mile after mile after mile. He gives his muscles their marching orders and usually they obey. A couple of times, there are relative failures (in running but not in writing) and the legs seize up. But in general, no challenge is too great that it cannot be overcome.
As the book wore on, my general envy passed. One can't be jealous of Superman. At the end, I found myself regarding Murakami, not as a fellow runner and writer, but more of a phenomenon whose brain and body are constructed of different materials from mine.
And I found myself, while admiring him, also somehow disbelieving him.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As a writer and runner, this is one of my favorite books about anything ever. I buy it as a gift a lot to give to friends. I've probably read it at least 5-6 times. Read morePublished 15 days ago by Ryan P. Dolan
I'm not a runner. Not in the least sense am I a runner. But this book was still highly enjoyable. In this book Murakami talks of his life as a runner. Read more
Nicely written great author and great stories, especially for those who love running and maybe some jazz. Recommend to murakami fansPublished 1 month ago by Moises Herszenhorn
Interesting book, recommended for any serious runner, especially the ones who took up the sport late in life. Book came on time.Published 1 month ago by Chau Trinh
Exactly how I feel when I run alone. It's amazing how we all feel the same or at least to a certain extentPublished 3 months ago by Michael Jason Tee
Very boring and shallow. No single original or inspiring thought. I hear Murakami has been considered many times for Nobel Prize. Seriously?Published 3 months ago by Chris
This is the first non-fiction of Murakami that I've read, and I enjoyed it so much I read it in one sitting (granted on a long train ride). Read morePublished 3 months ago by Jesse Gibbs