What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by: Haruki Murakami (2007)
Best-selling Japanese writer Haruki Murakami is also a runner. He has run both the Boston Marathon and the New York City Marathon multiple times as well as a handful of triathlons. He is an experienced runner to say the least.
I have to admit, this book was unknownst to me until just recently. As both avid reader and runner, I am almost ashamed to willingly announce this. Oh well. Better late than never. I work in a library so I am constantly surrounded by books. I walk through the shelves and put books away multiple times during the work day. Sometimes I take a few extra minutes to browse the aisles for anything that might jump out at me. While shelving books in the 790s (sports, games, entertainment), I stumbled upon Murakami’s running memoir. I stashed it on the cart to take home.
I haven’t had the chance to start reading it, but I did flip through and find some quotes that reiterated the fact that this was a book I needed to read. The first quote stood out because it’s the mentality I have towards running and until reading it, I couldn’t find the right words to “explain” running to people who don’t get why I do it. The part about goals is what really stuck with me. I hold very high standards for myself, I don’t settle for less, and I’m determined to meet the goals I make, like running my first half (check) and running a marathon this fall (in progress). Goals help me to keep pushing myself and never settle for mediocre. Maybe this sounds extreme (I’m really not that serious). What I’m trying to get at is I don’t settle and I don’t set limitations for what I can do.
“People sometimes sneer at those who run every day, claiming they’ll go to any length to live longer. But don’t think that’s the reason most people run. Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest. If you’re going to while away the years, it’s far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive then in a fog, and I believe running helps you to do that. Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life — and for me, for writing as whole. I believe many runners would agree.”
I could really relate to the second quote because I share this type B personality… I completely understand what he’s talking about. Solitude shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing, there are those who enjoy it.
“I’m the kind of person who likes to be by himself. To put a finer point on it, I’m the type of person who doesn’t find it painful to be alone. I find spending an hour or two every day running alone, not speaking to anyone, as well as four or five hours alone at my desk, to be neither difficult nor boring. I’ve had this tendency ever since I was young, when, given a choice, I much preferred reading books on my own or concentrating on listening to music over being with someone else. I could always think of things to do by myself.”
I figured this would be a really good book, the author being both writer and runner, two things I obviously enjoy, and sharing personality characteristics as well as thoughts on running and why we do it. I will definitely be writing a review on this book once I’ve finished it. So keep an eye out.
Have you read this book? Are there any other NEED TO READ books by runners, about runners, etc.? Share your thoughts and comments below!!!