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Publisher's Summary

From the best-selling author of Kafka on the Shore comes this rich and revelatory memoir about writing and running, and the integral impact both have made on his life. Equal parts training log, travelogue, and reminiscence, this revealing memoir covers Murakami's four-month preparation for the 2005 New York City Marathon.

Settings range from Tokyo, where he once shared the course with an Olympian, to the Charles River in Boston, among young women who outpace him.

Through this marvelous lens of sport emerges a cornucopia of memories and insights: the eureka moment when he decided to become a writer, his triumphs and disappointments, his passion for vintage LPs, and the experience, after age 50, of having seen his race times improve and then fall back.

Translated by Philip Gabriel.

©2007 Haruki Murakami (P)2008 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the critics say

"Murakami crafts a charming little volume notable for its good-natured and intimate tone....An early section recounting Murakami's transition from nightclub owner to novelist offers a particularly vivid picture of an artist soaring into flight for the first time." ( Publishers Weekly)
"A brilliant meditation on how his running and writing nurture and sustain each other....With sparse, engaging prose....Murakami shares his runner's high." ( Sports Illustrated)
"Provides a fascinating portrait of Murakami's working mind and how he works his magic on the page." ( The Plain Dealer)

What listeners say about What I Talk about When I Talk about Running

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    1 out of 5 stars

Hoped for insight – got monotony

“I did not like this book. I can’t quite put into words why, and yet: there’s something about this book that was not likable, for me. Now, please don’t misunderstand me – I’m not saying that no one will like this book! Everyone is different, and we all have different likes. That’s just the way life is.”

I wrote the above review inspired by the author’s writing style.

I’m a runner who’s currently averaging about 25k per week and was hoping for some philosophical insights on running or hearing how someone else would describe the physical and mental journey of a long race. There’s a little bit of that (the marathon in Greece, the ultra-marathon in Japan) but I found much of this book to be monotonous diary entries.

Especially frustrating to me was the number of times the author “can’t put something into words“ or “can’t quite describe it” – please TRY! As a self-described *professional writer of fiction*, I’d have loved it if you tried!

4 people found this helpful

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Meditation for running

If you are interested in hearing the thoughts and reflections of a runner as he transitions through life… this is your companion.
Beautifully written.

2 people found this helpful

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  • FT
  • 2020-11-02

Well produced but... lacking

Murakami is definitely not for everyone, and that applies to this "memoir". It is hard for me to put my finger on, but something bothered me about the prose. If you enjoy his books, you may enjoy a peek into his head.

1 person found this helpful

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great listen while running

this is a great audiobook to listen to while you run. interesting read and good for motivation. Alos the perfect length for a marathon

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Honesto y real

Me gustó el libro porque muestra la idea de correr desde el punto de vista de un corredor que le gusta correr como parte de su rutina diaria.

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As much a writing memoir as a running memoir

Really enjoyed this, and I'm not even a Murakami fan really. His reflections on the experience of running and the relationship between running and writing is his life were compelling for me as I do both. I do think you probably need to tick one of those boxes to get something from this memoir (fan, runner, writer/work involves writing), but if you do it's great.

Was worried at first about the narrator being a bit flat, but the performance is effective.

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If you are a runner.

You will be able to relate to this author if you are a runner or into endurance sports. I listened to it during my running sessions but I don't think I would sit down a read it in one setting.

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Great story, just not all about running…

Great life story and memoir, relates to running but also writing and other various personal events and his outlook on his own life.

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  • B
  • 2021-09-27

relaxing read

It was an ok book. lacked depth, but good enough that I finished it.
on the same veins i much preferred Why We Swim, and also and Diana Nyad's story. so I thought I'd try one about running. Maybe it's just the male perspective that didn't work for me, or maybe just the author, who is remarkably self-centered.
Definitely a relaxing listen.

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Great running companion

Listened to this over a few runs , inspiring and insightful. If you run, write or enjoy his novels I’d recommend giving it a go.

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  • Rick
  • 2009-03-10

It is what it says it is

I don't understand the negative reviews that some other people have given. This book is exactly what it claims to be: the memoirs about running of a writer who runs. It's not meant to be motivational or educational, nor is it either.

Yes, it is obvious that Murakami has control issues. No, his style of running and training will not work for everyone. No, you're not going to gain some existential epiphany from this book. (Unless, of course, you happen to have unacknowledged control issues of your own.)

What it is, however, is well-written, well-narrated, and entertaining. It's a little on the short side, but by the same token it is an appropriate length. None of the stories drag on too far, nor do any of them leave you wanting for more information. The work is concise but not dry, amusing but not cute.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Murakami's other works, with the caveat that it is much more straightforward.

85 people found this helpful

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  • OC Taurumara
  • 2010-03-30

For Runners

I am an avid long distance runner and share books I find on Audible with my wife who is not a runner. Haruki Murakami writes earnestly about running as a void or space in his day. Being the space between his activities he doesn't write about running as a pathway to mind blowing revelations about writing - although running does help him stay motivated to write. The book is about a quest that got underway by trying to use running from Athens to Marathon as a magazine topic piece, leading to an enduring race against his younger self in besting his marathon times; to a transcendent ultra marathon that led to less running. In other words, things mostly dedicated runners tend to understand and have enough interest to listen to or read. Ray Porter was smooth in his reading of the translated material and seamlessly made me think that the author himself was reading. If you are a runner this is a "must read" along with "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall... if you are not a runner you might, like my wife, get a little bored with "all the runner insider stuff." You can always find a writer who shares a hobby you like and read his/her book about it.

46 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Don
  • 2008-11-27

Wow!!!

"Running" is really about being yourself and thinking about it. If you want to reflect honesty in your writing, you have to check out this audiobook! In short, it is about being truthful, not about being liked.

22 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • lindamarie
  • 2009-09-21

Gem

This is a short monologue on endurance and continuing to pursue difficult projects and goals. I listened to it as I ran or exercised and the author stimulated me to continue my work.

18 people found this helpful

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  • S. Yates
  • 2017-09-30

Good but a bit disjointed

3.5 stars. A sort of odd mix of musings on running and thoughts on being a novelist, sprinkled with bits of memoir. I enjoyed getting a look at Murakami's life and a peak into his mind, but it was hard to discern a real thread -- if this were just a set of essays, it would cover a wider range of topics, but it doesn't read smoothly as a memoir or as a manifesto on running or as a chronicle of how he came to be a novelist. Still, for fans of his novels, time well spent.

10 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
  • James C. Maddox
  • 2009-08-28

Murakami Nonfiction

I've found the Murakami's nonfiction can be both insightful and lacking depending on the section you read. With WITAWITAR (whew!), I found the book meters above Underground, which was a bit repetitive. With Running, you get anecdotes that come across as both touching and insightful. These two words are often used to describe Murakami's fiction (along with weird, surreal, etc.), but here they come across through the effort of journaling.
I will say, however, that HM's nonfiction doesn't hold a candle to his novels, or even his short stories, but for the price they're asking here, you can't go wrong with this selection.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Susan Brady, LCSW
  • 2011-11-22

A beautiful treatise on how to be an artist

This memoir is about running and about being a writer, but it is more fully a document on how to manage all the details of life while still keeping ones goals in site.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Raleigh
  • 2012-07-22

i am my own therapist and hero

murakami is a neurotic, nonathletic, indulged and observant guy
he works hard to make a genuine, deliberate life for himself
society's demands for conformity and interaction surround him

in the midst of this struggle he discovers long distance running
he does it because "... it suits me..." / it lets him be himself
in the process of running he becomes his own therapist and hero

the book doesn't try very hard to dazzle or entertain or engage
murakami wants to connect to those who have travelled the same path
he then shares the process by which he came to know his true self

in an increasingly sedentary and interactive world he found a way out
he has created a private, moveable, reliable place to retune his compass
if that speaks to your soul great / if not, murakami would say "...move on..."


11 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
  • A. Yerkes
  • 2009-06-09

pretty good

I had no problem with the narrator -- his reading is unaffected. I loved the first half of the book, as the writer made philosophical connections between running and writing. His claim that writing is like summoning up a toxin from deep inside will stay with me forever. But in the second half of the book, it succumbed to the common error of fitness books by focusing only on the details of his own training, goal-setting, disappointments, and I stopped caring. Still, compared to the jockish egoism of so many running books, I was impressed and identified strongly with Murakami's individualist outlook and will now check out some of his novels.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Kyle
  • 2008-09-04

Great memoir.

To my great delight, I found this memoir on running nearly as interesting as Murakami's fiction. I have no interest in running, nor did this book inspire me to pull out my running shoes, but there was plenty to chew on both as an avid Murakami reader and as an individual. Some of his insights on life unexpectedly struck strong chords with me. We are such different people, yet some things are the same.

4 people found this helpful