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What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: A Memoir (2007)

by Haruki Murakami

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,2261702,128 (3.65)126
In 1982, having sold his jazz bar to devote himself to writing, Murakami began running to keep fit. A year later, he'd completed a solo course from Athens to Marathon, and now, after dozens of such races, not to mention triathlons and a dozen critically acclaimed books, he reflects upon the influence the sport has had on his life and--even more important--on his writing.--From publisher description.… (more)
  1. 50
    Haruki Murakami and the Music of Words by Jay Rubin (Jannes)
    Jannes: If you want to know more about Murakami as a person you can either go to his own essay-style semi-biography, or you can try Rubin's more systematic and academic approach. Both are worthy of your time.
  2. 40
    The Rider by Tim Krabbé (gust)
    gust: Krabbé heeft het over wielrennen. Ook autobografisch, maar literair beter uitgewerkt dan Murakami.
  3. 30
    Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall (DeDeNoel)
    DeDeNoel: One of the best books ever about running. Murakami's book and this totally inspired me to become a runner.
  4. 10
    Once a Runner by John L. Parker (ostgut)
  5. 32
    Bench Press by Sven Lindqvist (prezzey)
    prezzey: Writers talk about the place of sports in their lives. I personally prefer Bench Press, but if you're interested in the topic, both are worth reading.
  6. 00
    Flow im Sport by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (JuliaMaria)
  7. 00
    No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters by Ursula K. Le Guin (andomck)
  8. 00
    De halve van Egmond by Bram Bakker (edwinbcn)
  9. 00
    Runningtherapie / druk 1: het standaardwerk voor lopers en professionals by Bram Bakker (edwinbcn)

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» See also 126 mentions

English (138)  Spanish (8)  Dutch (6)  French (4)  Catalan (3)  German (3)  Swedish (2)  Italian (2)  Portuguese (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Finnish (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  All languages (170)
Showing 1-5 of 138 (next | show all)
i thought i logged this already?? ( )
  jooniper | Sep 10, 2021 |
I am a regular but infrequent runner and this book is widely named by the running community as a book to read that is not focused on how to train or run. Murakami is someone who's fiction I have yet to read but interests me greatly as a person.

In this short book (180 pages) he talks about 3 main things in his life, running, writing and aging. I'm not sure if this would interest people who don't have an interest in running but people who would like an insight into how he writes may find value in it. The one thing that comes across strongest in the book is Murakami's level of humility and his self depreacating manner. He maintains that he is an average runner at best despite running 23 marathons and a 62 mile ultra-marathon along with triathlons. The ultra-marathon in particular is something that not many people would even consider, when you factor his age at the time it makes it even more remarkable.

His main motivation for running is to give him the physical health he sees as being required to allow him to write. I think also a big part of it is that it allows him to unwind and take his mind away from day to day things, I've always found running great for mental well-being. He ties the stamina needed for running long distances in with the stamina needed for writing everyday for upto a few years to complete a novel. Maybe this pushing of his physical limits in part explains the length of IQ84.

There is a consistent thread throughout on his thoughts about aging. You can see that he kind of wishes that he still had a young body but says that aging is inevitable so there is no point in being worried by it. Given how busy he is it's pretty incredible that he has managed to keep up his running regime for so long especially given that he also started riding and swimming for triathlons. The style is very relaxed and easy going and I am looking forward to getting into some of his fiction as his style of often discussed.

I enjoyed the book, if you have an interest in Murakami or running give it a go. ( )
  Brian. | Jun 19, 2021 |
On second reading, I like it even more. ( )
  sajith | May 17, 2021 |
Short, and well crafted by the famous novelist Haruki Murakami, this book will appeal to both runners and writers in equal measure.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is Murakami's reflection on his many years as a runner, what running has meant to him, and given to him. Written as a series of essays as Murakami trained for the NYC Marathon, it stands out from other running books both for the easy style of his writing, and for how Murakami relates his running to his profession of writing. Among other benefits of running, Murakami says that running has provided the healthy antidote that allows him to continue to delve into the "unhealthy" elements that support the creative process of writing.

Murakami tells us that he's not really a social person, and is quite happy being by himself - a beneficial trait for both running and writing. He doesn't feel a need to give us his life story. But he does share some things - how he became a successful bar owner who sold his bar after gaining success as a writer, how he is the type of person who wants to give his all to everything he does, how he used to smoke 60 cigarettes a day, how critical he can be of himself. All of this, he feels, is reflected in how and why he runs. And, it seems, writing about running has given him the permission to share these details, and some of his personal feelings and philosophy, with all of us, despite his loner disposition. For Murakami, this is a memoir.

As someone who has done a number of marathons and triathlons myself, I can relate to just about all of what Murakami talks about when he talks about running. I really don't understand how I never knew about this book, published in 2007, until now.

I rate Haruki Murakami's What I Talk About When I Talk About Running 4 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐ - I really liked this book and was glad I read it. I liked the easy, sometimes poetic style of writing. I recommend it. ( )
  stevrbee | Apr 28, 2021 |
One of the surprises of the last year, to me and most people who know me, has been that I have started running a couple of times a week. Not chasing a ball in some sort of competitive fashion – running for its own sake. Unheard of. Being a big Murakami fan, I have orbited the closest thing to his memoir but kept a safe distance because of the title, fearing it would be too focused on running, per se. Finally, I felt that I was ready to take a look. Oh me of little faith, it’s Haruki Murakami and it’s wonderful. It’s accessible, it’s dinky (at 192 pages), it’s thoughtful and informative, it’s philosophical and amusing. One is a better person for reading it. What on earth was I thinking? ( )
  davidroche | Mar 11, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 138 (next | show all)
You need be neither runner nor writer to find resonance in this slender but lucid meditation.
So what does he think about while running? The disappointing answer is not much apart from the rhythms of feet on tarmac and blood pumping round the body.
It is not just these perversely impressive physical feats that sharpen what might otherwise be a dull treatise on a healthful habit; Mr. Murakami's work has always combined the ordinary and the extraordinary, and this memoir is no exception.
To characterize it as briefly as possible: easy on ear and mind alike, it’s the type of prose I would call sort of pretty poor. Running is “sort of a vague theme” (i.e., not just vague but vaguely vague), and the book is “a kind of memoir.” Murakami sort of likes this kind of thing, not just as an indistinct modifier but as a form of category-definition. He’s the “type of person,” “kind of person” — I lost track of the number of times this came up — who likes “sort of laid-back” music and is “sort of a brazen person” who sometimes has “a sort of arrogant attitude.”
added by dcozy | editNew York Times, Geoff Dyer (Aug 10, 2008)
When I closed the book, I found myself fantasising not about athletic feats, but that more readily available satisfaction that Murakami evokes so tellingly: the stinging joy of a very, very cold beer.

» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Murakami, Harukiprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gabriel, PhilipTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Porter, RayNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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I'm on Kauai, in Hawaii, today, Friday, August 5, 2005. It's unbelievably clear and sunny, not a cloud in the sky.
Pain is inevitable.  Suffering is optional.
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In 1982, having sold his jazz bar to devote himself to writing, Murakami began running to keep fit. A year later, he'd completed a solo course from Athens to Marathon, and now, after dozens of such races, not to mention triathlons and a dozen critically acclaimed books, he reflects upon the influence the sport has had on his life and--even more important--on his writing.--From publisher description.

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