Adventures in Reading


Nonfiction: Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, 2008

If you’re interested in running, or interested in writing, or interested in Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running* is “a kind of memoir centered on the act of running” that’s both an enjoyable and thoughtful read. Through this collection of essays and comprehensive journal entries, Murakami reflects on his start at running and novel writing, and how running has affected his life as a novelist.

I wouldn’t say What I Talk About… is one of Murakami’s most enlightening or brilliant works and it doesn’t have a mass appeal, but it does offer a curious insight into his life as an author. With the odd philosophical asides, this was a book I enjoyed and that inspired me to run (despite the cold!) and has re-interested me in reading more of Murakami’s works.

*A play on a Raymond Carver’s short story collection entitled What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.



WordPress search engine terms

It’s time for another round of WordPress search engine terms. For those of you unacquainted with WordPress, our Dashboard (and more specifically stats’ page) maintains a list of search terms that led innocent reader to our blogs. Said terms are frequently amusing, intruiging, and unrelated.

Anisha Lakhani: The delightful author of the novelSchooled, I was the first (says the author) blogger to comment on her novel. It was a novel I started with doubts but concluded as I hurriedly turned the pages to find out what would happen to the protagonist Anna whom begins the novel as a morally centered teacher but quickly falls prey to the enticements of wealth and materialism. Well-written and entertaining, it’s a light read that manages to escape the many pitfalls of the genre. Though I have not followed it too closely, Lakhani has been accused (at least online) that the book was very much about her and that she still tutors; however, I don’t wish to spread hearsay and would like to emphasize that Lakhani says she does “not tutor anymore.”

Norwegian Wood Quotes: Whether in reference to Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood or to the Beatle’s song “Norwegian Wood,” I don’t know but both are favorites of mine. Last March I linked to two (out of the plethora) quotes I liked from the novel and one being:

“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking. That’s the world of hicks and slobs. Real people would be ashamed of themselves doing that” (31).

Walter Moers: I have a stab of excitement followed by a pang of regret every time a browser finds my blog for Walter Moers. A brilliant German author whose fantasy/fiction series unfolds on the world of Zamonia, in the two novels I have read (The City of Dreaming Books and The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear) Moers uses whimsical protagonists that adventure through his fantastic world. Accompanying the story are Moers’ own illustrations. So why the pang of regret? There is not nearly enough information of Moers available for my liking (and much less available in English).



Revisted Review: The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami

Unfortunately short story collections too often seem the bastardized relatives of novels and I so seldom see them appear on any award or reading lists. Murakami’s The Elephant Vanishes is a prime example of how perfect and well-crafted short stories can be. Murakami’s stories tend to follow the lives of the upper/middle class with a certain emotional distance or ambiguity and here and there an element will connect one story with a previous story. This perhaps was the first book that I couldn’t wait to finish because I was so exhilarated to read it again. My favorite story in the collection (read it even if it’s only in passing): “The Second Bakery Attack.”

Sometimes I find it difficult to describe Murakami and my attraction to his work. What I have read of his novels and stories always present a relatively standard and simple plot, but I suppose it’s his brilliance in taking these themes and infusing them with a dream-like quality that makes Murakami so appealing.