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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.

Critic Reviews

"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 Ratings

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  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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  • Overall

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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • techchic
  • Grand Rapids, MI USA
  • 10-03-08

Good read if you're a runner

If you like this author or are a runner, you'll enjoy this book. I run daily and enjoyed listening to it while I run. It's a memoir more than anything, but it was interesting.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Kyle
  • Seattle, WA
  • 09-04-08

Great memoir.

To my great delight, I found this memoir on running nearly as interesting as Murakami's fiction. I have no interest in running, nor did this book inspire me to pull out my running shoes, but there was plenty to chew on both as an avid Murakami reader and as an individual. Some of his insights on life unexpectedly struck strong chords with me. We are such different people, yet some things are the same.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • S
  • 09-26-17

Pure Murakami

Would you consider the audio edition of What I Talk about When I Talk about Running to be better than the print version?

I'm trying to start a running habit and this book was helpful. Murakami talks about his 25 years of running, how much he runs, how he runs a marathon each year, his feelings about aging. It's helpful to think of running as a lifelong habit instead of a momentary lapse in reason. I hope I can have a long running career. The book comes off as a bit braggy in places but I think it may be a culture/language issue. Anyway, he certainly does have room to brag so it's ok if he is being braggy. For a Murakami fan, it was nice that it was a bit of a memoir too, talking about his travels and how he became a writer. I'm used to reading Americans' humble origin stories about how they had to work their way up to things, and Murakami does not talk that way at all. Like, he decided to become a writer and he was almost immediately successful! He decided to become a runner and it was pretty easy! He does work hard in his life, so I have a hard time believing that these were easy things for him, but there is no overcoming adversity aspect to the story.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

If you are a runner, you will enjoy this book

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

Fantastic stories that I could relate to.

What did you like best about this story?

Applicable life lessons

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

It made me laugh and smile throughout.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

What a Cool Book To Accompany a Run

Would you consider the audio edition of What I Talk about When I Talk about Running to be better than the print version?

I've not read the print version.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The main character is the writer.

What about Ray Porter’s performance did you like?

He is meditative.

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

I got into the book during my run and forgot I had gone for 3 miles. The first part of the book especially.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

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.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

I enjoyed this book.

Would you try another book from Haruki Murakami and/or Ray Porter?

Yes

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

It was fine, not anything that is going to change my life but a short, easy, enjoyable read.

Any additional comments?

I was honestly expecting a little more from this book. But it was enjoyable and fast to get through. I thought combining his passion for running with a memoir about writing was very intriguing. I'm not a runner now but I used to be and I also like to dream of being a writer..someday. Unfortunately both subjects were talked about in very superficial ways. I still enjoyed it. I would still recommend it if you are a fan of the authors but it left a lot to be desired.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • KC
  • 01-28-10

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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Annoying

"I hope this doesn't come off as pretentious" sorry buddy it came off pretty pretentious. And to quote a great creative work "Life. Like most folks I've always been different, not the same..." pretty much sums up this memoir, a total Chompsky-Honk.