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What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (Vintage International) Paperback – August 11, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
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 ›
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.
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 ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I initially bought this as a gift for an influential teacher that ran competitively – think Boston Marathon, etc.. Read morePublished 3 days ago by Rui
I'm a literally voyeur, and I want to get inside the minds of the authors I read. What better author to learn about than Haruki Murakami, who has persistently haunted and awakened... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Patrick J Russell
I almost could have written this book... if I were as talented a writer as Mr Murakami, of course. As a runner, I related to this book very much, often finding myself nodding or... Read morePublished 1 month ago by E.M.B.
It happens just once or twice in a year (in a fortunate year) that a reader finds an author and thinks, "Oh man, I got to read everything this person ever wrote. Read morePublished 1 month ago by kirtida gautam
I’ve never read a Murakami novel before so I had no idea what to expect from his running memoir. I’d seen it on the bookshelf of a number of runners so as I started training for my... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Stephanie
As a runner and a writer, I was keen to get Murakami's take on the subject. What I discovered was a very personal, humble account of his relationship to his physical self as he... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Mia TC
This is one of the best books ever to get you motivated in ANYTHING. I lent this book to two of my friends and they appreciated it a lot. Read morePublished 2 months ago by licoriceleaf