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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

Overall

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  • Story

Mildly Depressing

As a runner who recently turned 40, I'm able to related to many of the observations here. That said, I came away with very little inspiration or positive messages from this one. While there's much passive acknowledgement that positive EXISTS and the author is thankful for the experiences, the majority of the words seem to dwell on inevitable disappointment associated with aging.

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Ok

It was ok, but not what I expected. I download audiobooks for 15+ mile trail runs. It was just ok.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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  • sp
  • 01-22-15

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.

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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.

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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.

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  • Chris
  • ROchester, NY, United States
  • 02-02-14

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? <br/><br/>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.<br/><br/>(BTW... I did NOT expect Lovin' Spoonful to be one of Haruki's inspirations. Awesome.)<br/>

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) <br/>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. <br/>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. <br/>I'm not sure how the whole thing fit together, maybe Haruki (Japanese) -> Philip Gabriel (printed english translation) -> Ray Porter (audio narration)<br/>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.

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  • Story

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.