What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, by Haruki Murakami
Topics: Running, Writing, Aging, Rejection, Success
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is the journal novelist Haruki Murakami kept while training for the New York Marathon. I discovered this memoir while researching agents for my manuscript and recovering from my first 15k. So many literary agents included it on their lists of book favorites, and I wanted to know why.
As a writer and runner, I found unexpected solace and inspiration in Murakami’s words. He’s generous and authentic in this behind-the-scenes look at his own life of writing and running—practices that inform each other in ways I hadn’t considered. My favorite line of the whole book: “There’s no need to be literature’s front runner.” Logically, I know this. Connecting it to the physical experience of running a race with thousands of participants helped me embody this assurance and believe it like never before.
I was riveted by Murakami’s transparency in how his practices evolved through success, rejection, publication, and aging. Because I found his memoir via literary agent recommendations, I had a pre-primed respect for him as an author. As I read further, I found myself wondering whether or not I would have been as open to his words if I had no idea who he was. What if I had no reason to suspect his work was admired by people who carry weight in the publishing world? What have I been missing by not treating all writers as if they have something worthwhile to convey to me?
If you are a runner or a writer, and especially if you are both, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running should be on your required reading list. Whoever said nobody wants to read somebody else’s diary hasn’t yet read Murakami.
Want This Memoir?
Consider purchasing from Femme Fire Books or your local independent bookstore.
Like This Memoir?
Find more of this author’s prolific collection at HarukiMurakami.com, and preorder his latest book, Novelist as a Vocation, due to arrive November 8, 2022. You can also see what it’s like to blur the boundaries between memoir and fiction in First Person Singular, his 2020 book described as part story, part autofiction.
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FYI, I earn a small commission on books purchased through any IndieBound links provided in posts. Links to Femme Fire Books are purely to support the growth of a store I want to see succeed.