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What I Talk about When I Talk about Running: A Memoir | [Haruki Murakami]

What I Talk about When I Talk about Running: A Memoir

From the best-selling author of Kafka on the Shore comes this rich and revelatory memoir about writing and running and the integral impact both have made on his life. Equal parts training log, travelogue, and reminiscence, this revealing memoir covers Murakami's four-month preparation for the 2005 New York City Marathon. Settings range from Tokyo, where he once shared the course with an Olympian, to the Charles River in Boston, among young women who outpace him.
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Publisher's Summary

From the best-selling author of Kafka on the Shore comes this rich and revelatory memoir about writing and running, and the integral impact both have made on his life. Equal parts training log, travelogue, and reminiscence, this revealing memoir covers Murakami's four-month preparation for the 2005 New York City Marathon.

Settings range from Tokyo, where he once shared the course with an Olympian, to the Charles River in Boston, among young women who outpace him.

Through this marvelous lens of sport emerges a cornucopia of memories and insights: the eureka moment when he decided to become a writer, his triumphs and disappointments, his passion for vintage LPs, and the experience, after age 50, of having seen his race times improve and then fall back.

Translated by Philip Gabriel.

©2007 Haruki Murakami; (P)2008 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Murakami crafts a charming little volume notable for its good-natured and intimate tone....An early section recounting Murakami's transition from nightclub owner to novelist offers a particularly vivid picture of an artist soaring into flight for the first time." (Publishers Weekly)
"A brilliant meditation on how his running and writing nurture and sustain each other....With sparse, engaging prose....Murakami shares his runner's high." (Sports Illustrated)
"Provides a fascinating portrait of Murakami's working mind and how he works his magic on the page." (The Plain Dealer)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (477 )
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4.1 (230 )
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Performance
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  •  
    A. Yerkes Singapore 06-09-09
    A. Yerkes Singapore 06-09-09 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "pretty good"

    I had no problem with the narrator -- his reading is unaffected. I loved the first half of the book, as the writer made philosophical connections between running and writing. His claim that writing is like summoning up a toxin from deep inside will stay with me forever. But in the second half of the book, it succumbed to the common error of fitness books by focusing only on the details of his own training, goal-setting, disappointments, and I stopped caring. Still, compared to the jockish egoism of so many running books, I was impressed and identified strongly with Murakami's individualist outlook and will now check out some of his novels.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dianne O Canada 09-09-10
    Dianne O Canada 09-09-10 Listener Since 2009

    Dianne in Canada

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    "Wow!! Was this ever boring!"

    Yes, this was really boring. I kept listening trying to figure out if there was any point to his story. But it wasn't a story it was more like the ramblings from someones diary, or even more boring you could say it was someone writing because he thought what he had to say was worthwhile. I had to skip a couple of chapters but eventually managed to get to the end. Good thing it was a shorter book. If you want an autobiography type of story about an athelete try Lance Armstrong's books - they are good! This one is not that good.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    KC 01-28-10
    KC 01-28-10 Member Since 2009
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    "Engaging insight into an enigmatic writer"

    This is the first Murakami audio book I've ever listened to and I wasn't disappointed.

    I won't repeat the summary of what this book is about (the title pretty much says it all anyway), but I really enjoyed Murakami's anecdotes. Being a Murakami fan for many years now beginning with Norwegian Wood, it was refreshing to know more about the writer behind all the beloved books I've read over the years.

    The narration is excellent. Ray Porter does an admirable job, embodying Murakami's "voice" so much that I find it hard to believe it isn't Murakami narrating these anecdotes himself.

    When I listen to the book, it feels like I'm hearing an old friend recounting his stories. I've had this audiobook for close to a year now, but I return to it time and time again. Just like an old friend, I find comfort in his words and motivation in his trials/triumphs.

    Perfect for those who wish to appreciate Murakami at a human level.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott Canada 03-31-14
    Scott Canada 03-31-14 Member Since 2012
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    "A wonderful book to listen to while running."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I would definitely recommend this audiobook to a friend. Haruki Murakami's books don't always lend themselves to an audiobook format, but this book was well served by it. It is a wonderful personal meditation on running and the routines of life. For anyone that runs regularly this book will feel like a dear companion. My only criticism is that it ended too soon.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    WRB Tyler, TX USA 02-23-14
    WRB Tyler, TX USA 02-23-14 Member Since 2012
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    "yawn"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    A non-runner who wants to see how someone got into it & why they enjoy it.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Haruki Murakami again?

    Yes, I hear his other works are much stronger.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Ray Porter?

    sure


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from What I Talk about When I Talk about Running?

    so many...


    Any additional comments?

    Not worthwhile for me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris ROchester, NY, United States 02-02-14
    Chris ROchester, NY, United States 02-02-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Interesting. Thoughtful."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I would recommend this book to friends who are good conversationalists and enjoying listening more than speaking. It's very entertaining if you are interested in other people who share your interests, but who have differing perspectives.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of What I Talk about When I Talk about Running?

    You know the cliffhanger as soon as you hear it, no mysteries there. But my favorite really is the great reveal. It wasn't whether or not he met his goal, but what would he think of the outcome? How would the outcome of this major effort affect his future plans?

    I also liked Haruki's mention of living up to the standards you have set for yourself. The matter-of-fact,-no-excuses,-you-are-accountable-to-yourself way he set that was quite an eye opener.

    (BTW... I did NOT expect Lovin' Spoonful to be one of Haruki's inspirations. Awesome.)


    What does Ray Porter bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Ray Porter brought a good balance to the narration. (It's weird to write this next part, but I want to be honest with reviews)
    I wanted authenticity without being stereotypical. I was a little hesitant about a book narrated by a "guy named Ray" written by an author who was Japanese.
    What I really liked is that Ray brought a 'matter of fact' narration to Haruki's words. He emphasized where he should have and he just spoke well. "Enunciation" comes to mind first. But also Ray brought the conversational pace and tone of a man's memory.
    I'm not sure how the whole thing fit together, maybe Haruki (Japanese) -> Philip Gabriel (printed english translation) -> Ray Porter (audio narration)
    Overall, I think Ray Porter was a good fit and enjoyable.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Not really. But I generally ended each listening session with a good feeling.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. Bisson Richardson, TX 09-17-13
    M. Bisson Richardson, TX 09-17-13 Member Since 2008

    Book Lover

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    "Makes me want to try running."
    Would you listen to What I Talk about When I Talk about Running again? Why?

    Yes. I am interested in running, however I'm not a runner. Doesn't make for a good combination. However I found it interesting to get Mr. Murakami perception on this habit and why he does it for himself. I could use some of his perception to rub off on me.


    What did you like best about this story?

    It's non-fiction and didn't bore the hell out of me.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    When he pointed out when you exercise everyday you don't have to worry so much about what you eat.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anna Nashville, TN 06-18-13
    Anna Nashville, TN 06-18-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Interesting memoir for runners"
    Would you listen to What I Talk about When I Talk about Running again? Why?

    I really need all the help I can get as a runner to stay motivated especially with my crazy schedule, I enjoy running and though I try to do what I can when I can, I felt the need to widen my horizons a little and went ahead and spent my credit on this book. What I found was a beautifully written understanding of all the struggles one has when attempting to strive to become a better runner. I found myself shaking my head and agreeing with many things the author conveyed. I wasnt disappointed as a listener and as a runner. Its just one of those things that only runners can relate to and the author expressed it so explicitly. Its short and just perfect enough to keep anyone motivated.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joseph C. Stewart Modesto, CA 05-25-13
    Joseph C. Stewart Modesto, CA 05-25-13
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    "Great book to listen to while you run."
    Where does What I Talk about When I Talk about Running rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I enjoyed listening to Murakami talk about his journey through life and running.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of What I Talk about When I Talk about Running?

    The most memorable moment of this book was Murakami's detailed description of what is going on or not going on in the runners head as he or she runs.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Douglas United States 02-13-13
    Douglas United States 02-13-13 Member Since 2011

    dalsingdj19

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    "Brilliant"
    What did you love best about What I Talk about When I Talk about Running?

    This is a must for any runner. Murakami's insight is brilliant and incredibly accessible. He has a knack for explaining complex feelings that I can only dream of replicating one day. The narrator beautifully relays Murakami's dry sense of humor.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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