What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
Today on The Tattooed Book I review What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, a non-fiction book by Japanese writer Haruki Murakami.
Murakami is best known for his novels IQ84, Norwegian Wood and Kafka on the Shore but he’s also a highly accomplished long-distance runner (yes, he’s one of those people who has an enviable amount of skills). This running memoir follows his journey across the world, documenting his highs and lows, his ambitions and unwavering commitment to pushing himself as far as his body can go.
As you may have gathered from my previous reviews, it’s not often I delve into the world of non-fiction but recently I’ve been trying to push my own running, and pairing that with how many people have recommended me this book I thought it was about time I gave it a go.
The first thing that struck me about this biography is what appears to be Murakami’s natural affinity for running. There’s no ‘how I started’ or obvious beginning to his running. It comes across as something that has just always been in his life. At first, I found this slightly disappointing as I wanted to hear someone who struggled as much as I did but became a running master. To call me a natural runner would be the same as calling a fish a natural runner. No, it took evolution, pain and ugly, sweaty moments (as well as good trainers, but that doesn’t quite fit into the fish metaphor). The book begins with him running across miles of beautiful Hawaiian beach – I struggled to relate. However, once I got over my expectations, I found myself completely caught up in his achievements. Instead of a running lesson, this book is an incredible insight into a genuinely fascinating individual.
Murakami admits he’s lucky to have never struggled in his younger years with injuries or extreme exhaustion. While he discusses training for marathons he simply drops the fact he ran 62 miles in one day but he wouldn’t recommend doing it again, that it changed him in some way and put him off running for some time. I listened to the Audible audiobook of What I Talk About When I Talk About Running that is read by Murakami himself and I honestly couldn’t recommend it highly enough. The way he casually admits to achievements most couldn’t even dream of, with no hint of bravado is mind-blowing. If I ever managed to achieve a feat so physically and mentally draining I think I’d have the medal implanted in my chest (Iron Man-style) for the whole world to see.
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running doesn’t provide you with running advice, your breathing won’t be improved and your chances of falling over on the treadmill when you check your watch won’t lessen. Although that’s what I wanted to begin with, I’m so happy I didn’t get it. Instead, I was smitten by Murakami’s accounts of a sport that has had such an impact on his life. A beautifully written and inspiring book, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running didn’t give me what I expected, but a whole lot more.
Buy the book of What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
Buy the audiobook of What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
If you’d like to read some Japanese fiction try Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata.