Right before I ran my half-marathon, one of my best friends, Kate, mailed me a book about running. She figured that it combined two of my favorite things, literature and running, and would be right up my alley!
After slogging through all 1500 pages of “Gone With the Wind”, and then rounding out the tale with 600 pages of “Rhett Butler’s People”, I was ready for a change of pace. Blasphemy, I know. But there is only so much Rhett/Scarlett drama that one heart can take!
So I was excited to start “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” by Haruki Murakami. It seemed like a quick read, and I hadn’t tackled a good memoir in several months. I tend to go in spurts with my book reading: I’ll read three or four food memoirs in a row, then switch over to multiple historical fiction novels, then take on some trendy, book-club-type novels. It would probably make more sense to alternate genres to prevent burnout, but I never seem to do that! Maybe it has something to do with my slightly addictive personality…
I was glad that I noticed in the introduction that Murakami’s book had been translated from its original Japanese, otherwise I would have questioned his credibility as a writer! Some of the passages were clunky and poorly-worded – reminiscent more of a blog than of a memoir written by a best-selling novelist. But I powered through, and tried to read more for the content and for the story, and less for the writing style.
I was correct – it only took me a few days to finish the whole book. “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” reads like a diary, alternating between Murakami’s preparation to run the NYC marathon in 2005 and how he became a runner. The prose is flowing, the thoughts free-form.
Long story short, this book isn’t for everyone. I feel that only people who enjoy running, or who enjoy reading about running, will like this book. But it was interesting to see Murakami’s training style and thought process behind how he approaches long distance running! I wouldn’t rank it above some other running books that I have read this past year (“Born to Run”, “Ultramarathon Man”) but it was a nice little break from my recent string of mammoth historical fiction reads.
I’m ready to get back into some summer reads. Winter is the time for dense, weighty books, but summer is the season of light and fun! I’ll have to pick out some good ones for my flights to and from England next month…