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on 11 May 2017
This book is always there when I'm looking at running books. I really enjoy autobiographical books of this type. I found this book - and the author's story and thoughts - excruciatingly dull, I really don't understand why it's so popular. Avoid.
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on 14 January 2018
Besides being a phenomenal writer, Murakami is an avid runner, as well as triathlete, and in this book, he documents his experiences participating in marathons and triathlons. It may seem like a book exclusively for runners and others who pursue distance sports, but even for a casual short distance weekend runner like me, the essays in this book gave me several nuggets of wisdom to contemplate.

At the heart of it, Murakami makes comparisons between his work as a writer and the discipline he hones when he trains for these sporting events. What comes across, and would likely endear him even more to his fans, is the self-deprecating humour and honest manner he documents his ups and downs in his relation to his great passion as he ages, and his stoic acceptance of the toll of time on his fitness. The neat and clean prose of his novels and short stories (at least the translated ones which I believe are true in spirit and intent to Murakami’s voice) are in fine form here, and the same fuss-free and exacting attitude he has towards his running shows the constancy of character of this much-loved writer in other areas of his life.

For someone who values efficiency and shuns complications, it is refreshing to read Murakami’s admittance that marathons and triathlons may seem pointless or futile pursuits to others, because when the race ends, the triathletes go back to their usual lives and then start their training cycle all over again. However, he says, “... in the final analysis what’s most important is what you can’t see but can feel in your heart. To be able to grasp something of value, sometimes you have to perform seemingly inefficient acts”. And that is no small lesson for us to learn in a world that just can’t seem to stop rushing on in pursuit of what is deemed urgent and important, with scant regard for what is valuable.
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on 4 October 2017
“What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” was the second book I read from Murakami and it was such an unexpected lecture experience. The author made a self-portrait of the writer who cultivates the appetite and discipline of writing by running. Haruki Murakami considers him a usual writer, a more pragmatic one than the others, who needs to cultivate and take his inspiration by doing something with himself. So that’s why he considers the act of running a good way to find inspiration and gain the power for writing down. I loved the simple style of writing in this book, which I admit, I didn’t find at Murakami in “The Norwegian Wood.” I highly recommend anyone to read it, as the book covers two important subjects: writing and running, two topics which will meet at a point.
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VINE VOICEon 19 February 2015
This is a series of reflections of living a life shaped by writing and long distance running.
Mr Murakami writes in a clear and calm way about how the disciplines of writing and running, for him, inform each other. Writing a novel involves sustained effort and calling on reserves of concentration. Running involves a focus and concentration and a delving down into reserves of energy that is not dissimilar. And of course for both, practice/ training is essential.
The writer is quick to point out that is not a training manual for writing or running, or a series of steps for others to follow. Rather it is an attempt through writing to understand himself better, and in doing so, share what he has learnt along the way. And so he recounts how he sold his jazz bar to begin writing and how he later began running, and how the disciplines informed both. The book is a series of chapters that have been written between longer jobs at various places, and as he says in his Afterword, therefore took a long time to write. And so it has a purposefully disjointed to and fro feel, reflecting someone rifling through their memories, and finding linkages. And so we find ourselves training in Tokyo gardens, then participating in New York marathons, then Japanese Ultrathons, then jogging by the Charles River whilst lecturing in Harvard.
As someone training for their first marathon I found the book both scary and helpful. Marukami’s account of his first marathon, following the same route as the very first in Athens, is a vivid and memorable sequence. He ran in incredible heat, the salt of his sweat drying in the heat. He describes the various stages, the long busy motorway at the start, the segue into the country, and recounts his mood of irritation and anger with everything towards the end.
The other stand out chapter is the ultrathon. This is terrifying, even for a marathon a year runner like him. He describes in scary detail the physical symptoms of knotting muscles, swelling limbs, legs going dead. He pumps his arms so hard to keep moving his wrists swell!
There are also vivid insights into the writing process, the hard work and ultimate satisfaction of writing, especially a novel. He also writes on the peculiar psychology of writing, how he has learnt to deal with the morbidity, he calls it the toxicity that occurs in the mental health of writers. And he writes on the no small matter on dealing with the human condition, of looking to the sky for kindness and seeing only clouds, of ageing and accepting its rigors and demands.
In short it’s a rich and rewarding read, not to be confined to the sports shelves alone.
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on 4 December 2013
I had high hopes for this book, but it's absolutely terrible; a complete waste of time.

It may be partly down to the translation, but for someone who can write pretty well and is clearly passionate about running he has very little to say on the subject and he says it very inelegantly.
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on 29 March 2015
As I mention in the heading for this review - this is NOT a Murakami book. If you are expecting it to be, or looking for one, then back away slowly and go look somewhere else.

No, this may have been written by Murakami, but it is a very personal piece of writing that is light-years away (not better or worse, just different) from his usual style. It began life as a series of essays written by the author as he gathered his thoughts about his running, and it never really strays far from that theme. It's a collection of anecdotes, observations and general rambling stories about the author's life, why he runs, what he feels he gets from it, his views on training, how it impacts or overlaps with his writing, and more.

For myself, I enjoyed it immensely. It inspired me to get out and run more (a good thing!), and it was good to read a book on running by somebody that isn't judging how you run, how far you run, how fast you run, but merely relating their own experiences and feelings.

If you're open to this and aren't looking for the next Murakami book to read, then pick it up. It's pretty short, and I don't think you'll regret it.

(I actually listened to the audible version of this one - the narration was excellent and captured the tone perfectly).
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on 10 September 2016
An interesting insight into the person life of an author that I had admired for some time. I'd read several of Murakami's fictional works beforehand. This was nice to learn a bit more about his life. I'd hoped it might inspire me to go running more often, but it didn't quite have that effect! Perhaps because Murakami takes his running much more seriously than I do!
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on 24 June 2015
i do not read lot of books or novel. i am not a runner either. murikami is an experience writter with the ability to capture audience like Michael Bay movies. this books shares his part time running passion. Murikami is not an Olympian or Marathon chmpion.however he manages to connect himself as an avid runner to us regular runners. i stop listening to mp3 on my runs and admire the great outdoors. this book inpired me to run and enjoy the anticipation to the next run or race. dont expect trainning tips or nutional plans with this book. its a very well writtn experiencing sharing without the hyped up exaggeration like Born to run. highly recommend this book.
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on 19 September 2011
Well, I liked this and I didn't like this.

I run as do many other reviewers on here and I wanted to hear someone elses take on it and how running has progressed for them and maybe what it means to them too. Running itself is a little insane, though it gives back its not without initial pain to get into things- I have not heard anyone, even a professional runner, not mention the no-pain-no-gain issue even if only in passing through to mention something else, if it was easy, everyone would run without question and injuries caused by running would be far less then they are today.

I liked Murakami for being open and honest, if a little too.....vague at times, he talks about many things which seem to me like boasting and likes to remind us (almost constantly) that he does not do things for competative reasons nor for bettering other people or battling, yet runs a lot and sure likes you to know this! I'd say at the very least he does compete with himself and seems to feel a great deal of failure if he doesn't achieve his goals. Nothing wrong with that, I feel bad if I haven't achieved the aims I set out to do when running/exercising but I don't state over and over again that I don't do things to compete or better others. Obviously I do have a degree of healthy competative nature within me same as Murakimi and maybe he just hasn't come to terms with this yet!

I found the descriptions of a failing body very depressing, its nice to read he is still running but sad to see the effects of age on his running but on reading back, I wonder how much of his problems are totally down to age. He makes it clear early on in the book that he doesn't 'do' stretching. He can't be bothered with it it would seem. He visits a massuse and mentions how much he values doing so and continues to see someone more then once so its obviously of value to see someone about the tightness he has found his muscles in, but it does sound like alot of his issues are brought about bu refusing to aid his body to recover after running rather then age alone.

I think this book is a bit like the descriptions I head of opinion: its neither right nor wrong, it just is. Its important to bear this in mind I think when reading this book: there are many parts of this book which have me even as an amature runner, squeem in horror at what he puts his body through when he clearly refuses to allow it time to recover, but this never did set out to be a set of lifestyle instructions, it was just a personal statement on someones life at several points in reflection.
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on 31 July 2014
Really enjoyed reading this as it was quite different.
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