I listened to this - where else? - over the course of a few runs. The standout quality was the manner in which its stream-of-consciousness style perfectly mimicked the rhythm my own thoughts take when running - focusing on one subject for a while, then segueing smoothly into the next, and generally circling around a few different themes. Murakami's analogy of the mind as the sky and thoughts as clouds that pass through was beautiful and apt.
Content wise, the author's main thread of the centrality of running to his identity and lifestyle was totally relatable for me. The evocative language made me laugh out loud a few times when Murakami discussed the mental agony of long runs, and the efficiency and succinctness of the writing was a pleasure. Ray Porter was a very good narrator, and his wryness was particularly effective.
I doubt that I would have enjoyed this book so much if I'd read it as a non-runner. But it was a lovely introduction to Murakami's work, and I will definitely be reading/downloading more by this running author.
"Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional"
This quote was my biggest take-away from Murakami's great book; and well worth price of admission alone... and is so applicable to everything in life from running, to writing, to health, and to just 'getting things done'
“The most important thing we learn at school is the fact that the most important things can't be learned at school.”
This book is full of amazing take-aways, and this quote is another one of those.
Being a son of a teacher, the one thing my mother taught me during my schools years, was that school is about teaching us HOW to learn (not about what you are learning) and I think this quote accompanies those parental lessons perfectly.
If you are a runner, athlete or motivated couch potato I can't recommend this book highly enough, and along with 'Born To Run' and 'Finding Ultra', are my 'must read books for runners'
As one would expect from Murakami, the writing is absorbing and pulled me in, but I was surprised how little I learned about running or writing. The narration was excellent and several of the side stories made the work enjoyable (especially since I listened to it while running), but I had hoped for more.
on a quest to read Audible's entire nonfiction science section...
Perhaps if you've read Mr. Murakami's previous works this would be of greater interest to you but, as someone who has not, I was unmoved by this book. I finished about 2-3 weeks ago and I recall few moments of epiphany or inspiration nor have I referred to it in any of my conversations recently. The writing is eloquent and introspective but, in the end, too personal to offer many insights to this reader who is unfamiliar with his novels.
Having said that, I only got this because a friend of mine who admires this author's previous books really enjoyed it. We are both running/exercising enthusiasts and writers of one ilk or another so hopefully I've offered some insights that are helpful as you consider this selection.
This is a lovely autobiography with a running theme, I listened to it more than once.
I was completely enthralled, but I am a runner and a writer. Even though I could relate at that level, there were times when the detail on the process of running and/or writing and/or triathalon training got to be a little too much. Overall, I was very intrigued and thought some of the lessons he applies, and the way he looks at life, if this memoir to be stunning and universal, so I couldn't stop listening...like I can't stop running...like I can't stop writing.
Written 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.
After 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.
I run occasionally, but wouldn't consider myself a "runner," yet still greatly enjoyed this book. Murakami's style is straightforward--more like a conversation than his occasional stylistic excesses. Also, goes far beyond running into its relation to writing and life in general. I'd recommend it, even if you're not a fan of Murakami, as it is not a typical book for him. It's easily accessible and enjoyable.
I haven't been on and off with running for years. One of my mentors is an Ironman triathlete and I had tried to follow his footsteps in vain. During my flight to San Francisco, I listen to this book. Once I landed, I was convinced that I need to make running part of my life routine. Everybody know or heard about benefit of running, but Mr. Murakami's own story give me a very strong belief that any healthy person can run long distance, and that habit will make a person's life change in better direction.Now, I have been running at around 5km a day, 6 days a weeks for months. The distance is gradually increasing and I hope some day I will be able to run a half-marathon, and then a marathon. Until those days, I will keep running.
I haven't read the print version so I can't make an informed choice.
I liked how the running helped him become a disciplined writer and gave structure to his life.
One in which he noticed other regular runners in his running time/spot and befriends them in his mind.