Saturday, November 29, 2008

What I talk about when I talk about Running : Haruki Murakami

What I talk about when I talk about Running
Haruki Murakami

This is a non-fiction book by Haruki Murakami, describing his lengthy experience with long-distance running (having run almost 1 marathon a year for 25 years) and its effect on his writing. I will be the first to admit that I'm a prime "target reader" for this novel. I'm a big Murakami fan, have lived in Cambridge, MA (where Murakami also lived and talks about in the book) and am a runner to boot, so I found this memoir to be quite interesting on several levels.

A few thoughts:
1) I really liked some of Murakami's insights on running. In particular, he thought that unlike athletes of other sports, a lot of non-elite runners aren't driven by competition with others, but rather are self-competitive. They are most happy when they accomplish the goals that they set for themselves and are driven by self-improvement. This is a spot-on description for me and particularly for my running.

2) Murakami hints at his aging and particularly on its negative effect on his recent marathon performance. For those already familiar with Murakami's other works, his narration here doesn't differ too much from some of his main characters in his fictional works. Like how his characters seem to be very okay with going with the flow in some very odd situations and interacting with odd characters, Murakami comes across as pretty accepting (or perhaps resigned) to his aging.

3) Murakami mentions that he's comfortable with having a difficult and generally "unliked" personality as a writer. This strikes me as particularly strange as he seems like he'd be a generally well-liked person in real life...

Anyways, I suspect for existing Murakami fans, it shouldn't take too much convincing to check out this book. You definitely get some insight into Murakami as an author and I must say that the things he says aren' too far off than what you'd imagine.

But for newbies to Murakami, I would still recommend some of his fictional works, such as Wind Up Bird Chroncile or his short stories floating around the web.

Friday, November 28, 2008

NYTimes 100 Notable Books of 2008

Update Here is NYTimes Top 10 books of 2008.

NYTimes's 100 Notable Books of 2008

Just plowed through a couple of books on my Thanksgiving break. Will post thoughts on them soon.