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What I Talk
About When I Talk About Running - Book Review
An interesting read for runners is What I Talk About When I Talk About
It is written by Japanese writer Haruki Murakami.
His work has been translated into over forty languages.
And he has
received many prizes like the Franz Kafka Prize.
So, what is the book about?
Murakami starts his story by telling he was a jazz bar owner. In 1982 he sold
the jazz bar and became a full-time writer. He says he had an "unhealthy
lifestyle". To balance things out, he
He has run a solo run from Athens to Marathon, over twenty-five
marathons to date, a number of triathlons and an ultra-marathon of
sixty-two miles in the north of Japan.
In this book
Murakami reflects upon the influence running has had on
his writing and on his life in general.
He is a middle of the pack
runner who when he is "seriously running", does six
miles six days a week. In the book he describes, amongst other things,
his preparations for the New York City Marathon.
The interesting thing about this book is that Murakami seems to write
about running, but really writes about himself: about the
truth when he decided to become a writer, about coming to terms with
not being able to beat personal bests anymore after he turned fifty,
This is a
great book for runners who love reading a good book.
I loved the many moments of recognition I had when reading What I Talk About When I Talk About
describes some things very well, like the unwritten bond you have with
people you meet every time you go for a run, the feeling
people get in
the past few miles of a marathon, the small battles you have in a race
with certain people, the feeling of runner's blues, etc.
The stories about some of the races, like his run from Athens to
Marathon and his 62 mile ultramarathon in the north of Japan are good
short stories on their own in which you will recognize yourself if you
have ever gone through gruelling race experiences.
ultramarathon he suffered from runner's blues for
years and years.
It had that much of an impact on him.
read the story about the race, you can sort of understand why.
(I guess you
probably need to experience a race like that to truly understand).
In order to not spoil that part, you will have to get the book to read
His descriptions are interesting.
E.g. in his run from Athens to
Marathon he describes a cat flattened by a car, "like some misshapen pizza".
counts the number of dead cats and dogs on this road, questions, as you
might do as welll when the going gets tough, why he ever got himself
into this run, why the sun is so hot, etc.
I think you'll be
able to relate to the writer in many parts of this book whereas
non-runners will have a bit more difficulty with that.
In amongst it all are some good quotes and little lessons to be picked
up. I love the quote in the preface of the book:
Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.
It is not his, a friend of his uses it as a mantra.
But it is a phrase
that has stuck by me and I sometimes (m)utter internally when things
As said before, What I Talk About When I Talk About
Running is not all
At some points Murakami describes the process of writing
How painful it is to get the right words out.
And how it
requires more from him than running or physical labour.
All in all this is a great book written by an interesting, humble,
There are people who have run only one marathon (don't
get me wrong, a great effort) and go boasting about it until it drives
Murakami has done over twenty-five and acts like it is
nothing out of the ordinary.
Click here for more information
about this book.
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