As I've already mentioned, I've started running recently, and it's kind of opening me up to the idea that actually, even though I might think there are certain things I can't do, I actually might be able to do them (after a lot of hard work and maybe some pain, but still. It's a revelation.) It's still going on, so I shouldn't really say too much about it yet, but at the same time it's kind of all I want to talk about- about how 3 weeks ago I could barely run for 60 seconds, and here I am now, having run for 5 minutes without stopping (and still going). It's kind of amazing to me, and kind of ridiculous, all at the same time.
But enough about me, this is about Murakami. Since my mind is on running a lot these days, I decided to pick up What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, which Bex sent me for one of the Ninja book swaps. This book... Well. If I say it was everything I wanted it to be and then some, would you just think I'm on one of my Murakami rants again? Maybe. But it's definitely true. I think what I wanted from this book (which is sold as a memoir of running) was just some assurances that running gets amazing when you do it a lot, and that it makes you feel amazing and also makes sure you write so well that you're mentioned in relation to the Nobel Prize for Literature every year.
I kid. I actually didn't want that last bit, but weirdly, I got that a little bit, too. This really is ostensibly a memoir of running, but it's also intensely personal. From the outset, Murakami makes it clear that this isn't a running guide, that he's not guaranteeing running will change your life, that he doesn't even think everyone should run- just that this is his experience. This is something that has been crucial to his life. This is how he does it. That's awesome to begin with- if this was some kind of terrible 'this is how to run and I've done it and you can too!' self help bullshit, then I would not be impressed. But this is Murakami, so of course it's not.
Instead, it's about his experience of being a writer, and a runner; the way those two things are connected, and the way that they've had a profound impact on his life. The emphasis is much more on the running (hence the title), but there's a definite link that Murakami sees and points out. More than that, actually, he sees a connection between running and life, in a number of ways: for example, after completing an ultramarathon (62 miles), he thinks that, even though races and life both have an end point, it doesn't mean that they essentially have meaning, and that people may think that running is a way for people to prolong their lives, when really it's just another way to live one's life. We've all got to do something to fill the hours.
Essentially, you're going to want to read this if one of three things appeals to you:
Essentially, you're going to want to read this if one of three things appeals to you:
- Finding out more about Murakami, his lifestyle and character and really just what makes him tick.
- Thinking about the kind of philosophy of running and just generally trying to relate to someone who has just kept on trucking all these years, and done a marathon a year since 1982
- You think maybe you want to be a runner AND a writer and want to be encouraged that these two things are really compatible. Which, it seems like, they are.
And other than that? You should probably just read it anyway. Before I started running (so, like, a few weeks ago) I think reason one would have been the thing, but now my viewpoint has shifted a little bit and two came into play, whereas three has kind of played on my mind after finishing the book. To me, it feels like something I'm going to return to more than once, whereas to you it might just be mildly interesting. But still, it definitely is. Interesting, that is.
I *almost* bought this for you in Japan, so I'm glad I assumed you already have all the Murakami and passed on it!ReplyDelete
Dude running is great. I go through waves where I do it regularly and when I don't run for ages, but as hard as it might feel it always feels so good afterwards (and not in a yay-it's-over kind of way!)
GAH, imagine if you had! I would have treasured my Japanese copy all the same because OMG that book was in Japan and now it's in my haaaaands! (is what would have happened...) But yeah, faiiirly good call, really. I have most of the Murakami, I think? But not ALL all.Delete
Ah, running. I'm a bit in the stage where I HAVE to do it three times a week so it is a teeny bit like 'whyyyy?' but afterwards, yeah, even though I'm KNACKERED, I'm definitely like WOAH I'm a fucking superstar! Haha
Ok, I'm very happy about two things here. One, that you've started running and two, that you read this book. I'm not one of those readers who says things like 'oh, that is so [insert author here]' but with this, I did have to think to myself that it is so Murakami. In a completely awesome and I love it kind of way. I really enjoyed learning more about him (I distinctly remember jazz music related stuff?), and his philosophy on running (and writing) was just a joy to read and ingest.ReplyDelete
I'm pleased you enjoyed it and that you're enjoying running. I rely on the running goals I set myself now and the sense of fulfillment/achievement I get when I reach a goal is worth all the pain. Plus, those endorphins are pretty spectacular. By the by, another 'inspirational' running book is Running Like a Girl by Alexandra Heminsley (?).
This IS so Murakami. It is. I wasn't sure what I expected from a Murakami memoirish type of thing, but reading it I was just like 'yes, this is definitely the way you are and this is what you do and YOU'RE SO GREAT ILY!'Delete
ELLIE, you are definitely one of my 'bloggers who read say that running is cool, maybe I can run too? CAN I?' people, I really need you to know that! But yeah, I'm definitely having the WOAH of having run 5 minutes without stopping (which is where I'm at this week) when a few weeks ago I could barely do 60 seconds. I'm kind of impressed with myself, ya know? And and and I REALLY WANT TO READ RUNNING LIKE A GIRL!! Which I will, you know, eventually.
I am still sort of skeptical about running. But I know lots of otherwise-sane people really like it so hmmmReplyDelete
Maybe if I read this I will be more likely to start running.
I would quite like you to do that and see what happens, because I read it as a kind of motivator to keep on doing it, so I wonder if it would work as a motivator before you've started...Delete
I still highly recommend a couch to 5k programme to learn to run. I've got one now where you can listen to your own music and they just tell you over the top when to stop and when to run and it's awesome because my music is great and sometimes Born to Run comes on and it's amazing.
Congratulations on your running achievement. I've always been terrible at running, and can't see myself getting into it, but I've started swimming this year and gone from 14 lengths of the pool just trying to get myself from one end to the other by any means, to 40 lengths (a kilometre.) So maybe running is not so impossible after all, if I build up a bit at a time. Maybe this book would persuade me to give it a go anyway. I'm really glad it was so inspiring and motivating for you. :)ReplyDelete
I have literally always been terrible at running and I still can't even believe that it's a thing I'm doing now. I don't want to be all cliched about this, but LITERALLY if I can do it, then anyone can. LITERALLY, Katie! And well done on your swimming! I can swim ok but I haaaate it because I can't see a thing and it freaks me out and I don't like it!Delete
I'm an off-and-on runner, so I'm going to give you a heart pat on the back for your progress! I didn't even know that this book existed, but now I really want to know what goes on inside Murakami's head. Have you signed up for any 5K race/walks?ReplyDelete
You should soooooo read this. I'm not sure that Murakami reveals that anything spectacular goes on in his head (at least he makes it seems like his life is very ordinary AND ordered) but but it's so interesting to be in there. And I HAVE signed up to do a 5k (the colour run) and am signing up for another one next week, GULP! I don't even know who I am anymore.Delete
The color run sounds like so much fun! Good luck on those 5k's!! If only I was in town - I would make signs like "Nice legs, Laura!" "Run like the wind!" "The zombie's right behind you!" to motivate you :)Delete
I did the colour run last year, it's so much fun!! Hot tips, bring a zip lock back for your phone to protect it from the powder amd sweat, wear sunglasses (preferably ones that sit close to your eyes to protect you from the powder - some of the kids throwing it get a little excited and end up throwing it right in your face) and make sure you have a water bottle for when you end up with the powder in your mouth.Delete
Kayleigh, I just got so excited about your advice that I nearly deleted your comment instead of replying to it. That is all genuinely useful stuff! Except that I wear glasses, so they'll protect me ok, right? RIGHT?!Delete
Yessss probably, but maybe stick a clean cloth in with your phone so you can clean off your glasses and, y'know, see.Delete
Awesome - that is the book, your review and your running! Woo!!ReplyDelete
3x awesome? I can't ask for any better than that!Delete