I’ve been recommended Haruki Murakami, and more specifically one of his most famous books – Norweigan Wood – by a number of people. Yet like many books I’ve been told to read it has remained on my ever growing unread pile of books. However, for our work surprise summer party, my rather lovely boss hired a house in the Cotswolds overlooking a lake where I came across another of his books – What I Talk About When I Talk About Running – and so over the next two sun drenched days I finally read one of his books.
As something of a runner myself – I’m due to run my second half marathon in October in aid of MIND – the topic of the book was one that really appealed to me. Essentially a memoir, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running documents Murakami’s relationship with running, talks in detail about his various training regimes and reminisces some of his most memorable runs. Murakami took up running in 1982 – the same year he became a writer – as a way to both keep fit and aid his writing. In the twenty-five years that followed he tacked over twenty-five marathons, an ultra-marathon spanning 100km and a number of triathlons and he talks candidly about the many challenges he faced when training for such feats.
He also observes the joys that running has bought him – and most poignant for me was the run he spoke of with fellow novelist John Irving – author of one of my absolute favourite books – A Prayer for Owen Meany.
Regardless of whether you run, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is a thought-provoking read that is as entertaining as it is informative and has not only affirmed my love for running, but has also whetted my appetite for more of Murakami’s writing.