Recently, I have started reading the Japanese writer Haruki Murakami’s works and I love them immensely. The rather long short stories collection “Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman” and the rather short full length novel “After Dark”. When I saw his [rather short] memoir on the book shelf using running as a central theme, as someone who enjoys jogging once in a blue moon, I bought the book thinking that I may like it. In fact, more than so, I love “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running”.
I often wonder who this person Haruki Murakami is behind the books that are written with such mystery, dreamy abstraction, darkness, and loneliness. The shocking revelation is that Murakami is someone whom I can relate to. In his memoir, he talks about him being a workhorse and not a racehorse; on why he prefers sports and activities that he can set his own goals; on the good things derives from “life is not fair”; and amongst other life philosophy of his. Besides a glimpse of what kind of music he listens to, what products he uses – all in relationship to jogging of course – at the age of 60 (which he did not even mention in his memoir), he has run and completed more marathons and triathlons than most people I know. Majority of the contents evolve around how he prepares for all these races, mantras that he has derived, and some of the jogging journals – success or failure, official or unofficial (such as running from the Greece town Marathon to Athens – the original marathon in reverse direction as well as an ultramarathon) – all of which are inspirational even if you are not a runner.
“Running” is not your typical page turner. Some parts on how much pain he suffered and overcame are rather painful to read. In fact, reading “Running” reminds me of my own rather painful experience back in Mount Kinabalu trip whereby some are touched by my personal journal. If you enjoy running and or writing, “Running” is a strong recommendation. In his book, Murakami shares the quality and attributes a novelist should possess. A humbly written memoir, this book certainly touches me. I especially admire how he would like his gravestone to say. And I won’t spoil your reading pleasant by sharing it here.