Book Review – What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

what-i-talk-about-when-i-talk-about-runningMany running books focus on technique, nutrition, and tactics, taking a scientific and analytical approach.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is a series of essays written by Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami. Each chapter is set at a different time and focusses on a specific running event he was participating in.

After providing some context, Murakami delivers an essay on each run or triathlon he participates in, focussing on how he felt at the time, what he learned about running, and what he learned about himself.

Murakami is not an elite runner so it’s very much a dedicated recreational runner’s view.

Murakami is a Japanese novelist who splits his time living in various locales such as Tokyo and Hawaii. He began running on 1982 in order to get fit and now tries to run (he says one of his race aims is never to walk) one marathon each year.

What did I like?

Murakami makes it clear his goal for the book – “this is a book about running, not a treatise on how to be healthy”. There are plenty of books about the science of running. Murakami focusses on his journey as a runner.

In some ways, it’s really a one-way conversation you might hear at a bar with a bunch of runners sitting around after a race. There’s some discussion of tactics and what you learned about racing but there’s very little scientific discourse.

This makes the book very accessible.

The writing style is casual – there were many times when i could imagine Murakami sitting across a table, just chatting.

What didn’t I like?

There were moments, not many but they were there for me, where Murakami’s style felt a little condescending.

But there were very few of those moments and, as that’s a very subjective view, you might disagree.

Would I recommend this book?

In a word – yes.

The nine chapters are short and there’s no need to read them all in one sitting. You can easily read one chapter, leave the book for a while and then come back.

Each chapter is focussed on a specific time and place but they aren’t presented chronologically so you can dip in and out of the book as you like.

Leave a Reply