A Monthly Book Review Publication

March 13, 2020 By Shema Bukhari

WHAT I TALK ABOUT WHEN I TALK ABOUT RUNNING by Haruki Murakami

If any reader comes across this book hoping to read the instructions and guidance by Haruki Murakami regarding his craft as a writer then he will be disappointed. This one can be a gem for running enthusiasts. For me, it was an insight into the life of a legend and a great lesson on how to follow one’s passions.

This book is filled with Murakami detailing his zeal for running: the schedules, routine and the competition. On the surface it’s a memoir and that too a boring one.

Anyone who considers him(her)self a writer, knows very well that writers are the creatures of queer habits. Writers need to record and write down everything to make sense out of it. Before reading this book I used to think that maybe I am not normal. But Murakami, sort of, gave me solace in knowing that I’m not alone. And that I still have chances and time to do what I want and like. Therefore, this book turned out be a very interesting piece for me – far better than all those motivational books we have around in the market.

He claims that in his life, he finds solace by running around the world. If nothing, then at least he has done this practical activity of running throughout life. He went on saying that even his gravestone will read:

Haruki Murakami
1949-20**
Writer (and Runner)
At Least He Never Walked

These statements, right here, made me get out my walls and hit the gym. I didn’t read any detail of the miles and times he wrote (to be honest). I literally skipped them. But the beauty of a good read is that it never lets you go without imparting a lesson. I had many.

At one stage he wrote:

“In certain areas of my life, I actively seek out solitude. Especially for someone in my line of work, solitude is, more or less, an inevitable circumstance. Sometimes, however, this sense of isolation, like acid spilling out of a bottle, can unconsciously eat away at a person’s heart and dissolve it. You could see it, too, as a kind of double-edged sword. It protects me, but at the same time steadily cuts away at me from the inside. I think in my own way I’m aware of this danger – probably through experience – and that’s why I’ve had to constantly keep my body in motion, in some cases pushing myself to the limit, in order to heal the loneliness I feel inside to put it in perspective. Not so much as an intentional at, but as an instinctive reaction.”

I can simply relate to these lines at many levels. Since the day I started reading this book, I was able to come to terms with my running routine (although mine is just limited to a treadmill).

The thought processes during the running sessions are not about any revelation. I rather find myself rejuvenated to work later peacefully.

I feel this book is helpful for eccentric, creative people. Not every person can connect to it. I was also put off at certain points. But I still like it, as the physical and mental exhaustion are directly related to each other. And such memoirs actually help you to stay grounded.

Did I like this book?

Yes! Because it is an international bestseller. Because it is written by Haruki Murakami. Because I am growing old and with that all my faculties hence the inspiration to run from another aging human. And because I like Murakami’s writing style.

Did I not-like this book?

No! Because it has extensive details of numbers and times and durations he ran or walked. Because the book is more mechanical than interactive.

Do I recommend this book?

Yes. Yes. Yes…

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