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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 (643 )
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4.1 (362 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Maria 03-16-15
    Maria 03-16-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Perfect motivation and philosophy"

    The must piece of art to be read/ listened. Each time i find smth new and deep in this novel.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christina 02-05-15
    Christina 02-05-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Straightforward, brief memoir"

    I was underwhelmed with this book. :(. I might be the only person... He presents very relatable experiences and is very humble but the book was not particularly thrilling or interesting. It was a straightforward brief memoir about the author and his endeavors in running.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steve 01-24-15
    Steve 01-24-15
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    "So much more than I expected"

    I already know the worst day of my life. It is the day that Haruki Murakami does one of two things; dies, or stops writing.

    Even something that I had absolutely no interest in, he can write about it in such a fascinating, emotionally profound way, that I'm instantly engaged.

    Buy it, read it, you'll enjoy it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    shannon piercy 01-22-15
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    "Narration was annoying; lovely insights on running"

    It is a memoir so I expect the story to be very self centered, but the narration made Murakami seem downright pompous. That said, the book did have some wonderful insights about the practice of running and writing. I liked getting a glimpse into what Murakami's rituals are and how that figures into his creativity.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 11-24-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Unfortunately very disappointing"
    What disappointed you about What I Talk about When I Talk about Running?

    A runner myself, I have received the book as a gift several times and even in different languages. I got bored the first time I tried to read it but wanted to give it another go, and listened to the entire book, but disappointingly so, it never got any more interesting than in those first few pages. It contains lengthy and not particularly insightful descriptions of Murakami's running experiences – many of which compare to my own. This book may possibly be interesting for people who either are Murakami fans or don't run themselves and want to get a sense of what that is like – I didn't get much entertainment or new learning out of the book.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Haruki Murakami again?

    Probably not.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    The narration was a bit too dramatic in its intonation.


    Any additional comments?

    I recommend not gifting this book to actual runners.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen 09-06-14
    Karen 09-06-14 Member Since 2015
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    "Interesting peek into Murakami's life experiences"

    Until I listened to "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running," Stephen King's "On Writing" was my favorite nonfiction memoir-like book by a novelist. Both books are a rare treat, peeling back the veil on the novelist's mind to reveal something of their daily life and motivation for writing. While a significant portion of Murakami's book is indeed focused on running and his thoughts during his runs (which are usually quite philosophical), he also shares experiences from his stay in Cambridge MA, his earlier career as a tavern owner, his search for a swim coach, and how he runs in order to do his "day job" more effectively. I found this book absolutely fascinating and like King's "On Writing," it gave me a greater appreciation for Murakami as a writer. Highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Burt Schwartz Canada 03-31-14
    Burt Schwartz Canada 03-31-14 Member Since 2014
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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
  •  
    Chris ROchester, NY, United States 02-02-14
    Chris ROchester, NY, United States 02-02-14 Member Since 2012
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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 2012

    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 06-18-13
    Anna 06-18-13
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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

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