What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is a nonfiction book, a memoir of sorts in which Murakami talks about his hobby/obsession with long-distance running, also lightly mentioning other events in his life, starting with his sudden decision to quit running a jazz bar in Tokyo and take up writing. It’s interesting stuff; even though I’m no runner – I have absolutely zero experience with that, something I guess I should fix – it’s always interesting to read about people’s major interests. For Murakami, running is clearly a major component in his life, something he gets strength from even though (or maybe because) it’s sometimes quite a painful exercise.
He’s quite honest about the difficulties he’s faced over the years, and talks about how he must run pretty much every day, otherwise he’d be giving himself permission to skip another day, then another. I can relate; even though my sports are only on the one-or-two-times-a-week level, the inertia thing is a familiar beast. It’s just so easy to skip training when you’re feeling a bit tired… and then skip some more, until suddenly you haven’t done anything for many weeks.
The main focus in this book is running marathons. The writer tries to run a marathon each year, which (to me) is quite in the crazy zone… but sure, if you’re in shape for it, why not.
I found the book an interesting read, even though (as I noted) I’m no runner. I’ve read a couple of Murakami’s fiction books and he’s a good writer. The tone here is conversational and informal, and the book is actually a collection of essays (on running), written over the span of many years. This results in some duplication, but also gives insight into someone dealing with becoming older and still wanting to stay in good shape. He’s aware that he won’t be able to keep up the pace forever, but intends to do it as long as possible.