Book Chat’s Rating: ∗∗∗∗/5

It’s really not sheer luck that Haruki Murakami’s books are so popular. I can’t speak for all readers but for me, there is always a connection to the characters in his books. This is the second time I read What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. I can’t recall what I thought of the book the first time I read it. But at this second reading, I can’t help but chuckle about the similarity between him and me. It’s like reading your own reflection in the mirror. It is not a Murakami book if music is not mentioned. The sound of music is subtle in this book though, as if it is listening through a headset while you are running. You’re the only one can hear it.

The book started out in Hawaii when Murakami started running, and circled back to Japan in 1978 when he first decided to write. It’s almost like you can peek into his world. He offered his own perspective on health, even though he has repeatedly said this book is not about keep up with health (and it really isn’t). He shared his methodology on writing. It is no doubt he’s a disciplined person. Once he committed to do something, he does it wholeheartedly. Talent, endurance, and focus are the three things this man have throughout his writing career. While bluntly stating that one must be talented to become a successful writer as himself, he also modestly admitted much of his success is due to his endurance and his own training to be as focus as he can. I can’t imagine closing a booming jazz-club business to invest time into a new writing career, But that’s what he did. Sometimes you just have to take a plunge and keep swimming your way until you reach the shore.

Perhaps what struck me the most about Murakami’s recollection of events in the book, is the age. Unlike other books, this book is as real as it get. Murakami faced aging as honest as one can be. He started to write at 29, and started to run at 33. Thirty-three, the age when Jesus Christ died, the age that F. Scott Fitzgerald started to go downhill, that age maybe a crossroad in life for most everyone. I recently watched a Taiwanese show. The main character is a 32-year-old single woman who was recently abandoned from a 6-year relationship, later on was laid-off from a job as a stewardess from a domestic airline. The show depicted how difficult it was for a woman with such experience to re-enter the workforce. Eventually she did find an office job through a friend, and thus re-starting her life as a 9-to-5 entry-level worker. I often have thoughts about this, seeing myself becoming more and more like other co-workers in my company, working at one place their entire life. I’m getting more and more comfortable at my job. Yet at what point will it be a crossroad of my life? Or has it already passed? Is there a pre-set age? Or is it just a fine line that most people cross over without realizing it. All in a sudden, we are already over the hill.

The series of essays naturally lead to some thoughts about death, such as “When people died, do their thoughts just vanish?” Well, isn’t the whole purpose of writing is to reserve some of those thoughts? We can read stories written thousands of years ago, but I guess we can never really understand what people thought back then, just like how things from the Bible can be interpreted differently, some takes words literally, some figuratively. We would never really know what Jesus really thought about the teaching in the religious organizations in the modern world.