Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” as Want to Read:
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

by
3.83  ·  Rating details ·  86,137 ratings  ·  8,416 reviews
An intimate look at writing, running, and the incredible way they intersect, from the incomparable, bestselling author Haruki Murakami.While simply training for New York City Marathon would be enough for most people, Haruki Murakami's decided to write about it as well. The result is a beautiful memoir about his intertwined obsessions with running and writing, full of vivid ...more
Kindle Edition, 194 pages
Published July 29th 2008 by Vintage (first published October 15th 2007)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Andrei His depiction of the act of running is great. How he narrates about a marathon, and his stories about the ultra-marathon are all great. He is an…moreHis depiction of the act of running is great. How he narrates about a marathon, and his stories about the ultra-marathon are all great. He is an extreme sports-maniac, and makes you think running is wonderful ( I don't deny this, but I lack his motivation). The limits breaking and a continuous process of self-overcoming - just WOW. I started again to run just before reading the book, and made me enjoy running more. It's great after all to be in self-motion:)(less)
Tim The title alludes to Carver's "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love". So yes, the book is about running, but its best passages are not (just)…moreThe title alludes to Carver's "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love". So yes, the book is about running, but its best passages are not (just) about running. (less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  86,137 ratings  ·  8,416 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Sean Barrs the Bookdragon
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: runners and writers
To get through life some people drink copious amounts of alcohol to de-stress. Others smoke tobacco or cannabis. Some try heavier substances. My drug of choice, my way of clearing my head, calming down and escaping for a few hours, is to run. I am an absolute junkie. Sometimes I feel like I live to run. When I’m not reading, writing or cycling to work, then I’m running. It’s a fantastic experience, blasting my favourite psychedelic rock albums as I lose all my troubles on the road. Anyone who ha ...more
Ariel
Feb 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
*happy sigh*

You know when you read a book and it just speaks to you? Something about the time and place and just all the circumstances match up and you know you read the book at the perfect time? This was that.

My drive to immerse myself in the world of writing keeps growing, and I've found so much fun in collecting books about writers and writing that I can't wait to sink into. I had to start somewhere, so I picked up What I Talk About When I Talk About Running because, back when I bought it a f
...more
Jessica
Jun 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: writing runners; running writers; probably no one else, really
Shelves: phys-ed
I'm a bit baffled by how anyone who's not a distance runner could possibly be interested in this book, but I personally got a lot out of it. This is in spite of the fact that I'm not a Murakami girl, and honestly didn't enjoy the style of this book at all. I always feel when I'm reading him that I've somehow wound up with a crappy translation, but then I realize that I'm reading the same version as all the English-only Murakami lovers out there, so apparently I just don't like the way he writes. ...more
Elyse Walters
Feb 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Audiobook.... narrated by Haruki Murakami

Listening to Murakami speak about the very universal way our inner voice functions with random thoughts - like clouds in the sky that come and go - was a little taste of heaven for me.

Given that I, too, was a runner for 25 years of my life - running marathons - and hilly trail half marathons - often beginning my training runs in the dark with a flashlight — this was absolutely a lovely delightful Audiobook. I enjoyed it very much.

I’m familiar with the l
...more
Michael
Jan 11, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
My full review, as well as my other thoughts on reading, can be found on my blog.

A collection of personal essays about writing, endurance, and running, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running considers the impact running has had on the author’s life and work. Over the course of nine short essays, Haruki Murakami travels from Tokyo to Boston as he details his training regimen for the 2005 New York City Marathon and reflects on what running means to him. The author argues for approaching runni
...more
Raeleen Lemay
Jan 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, nonfiction
Read for Popsugar's 2018 Reading Challenge #19: A book about or involving a sport

This book was fantastic! I have yet to read any of Murakami's novels, but after reading this book I will be sure to pick one up soon (I own six of them, after all.) While I wish he had talked about writing a bit more than he did, I genuinely enjoyed hearing him speak on running and what it means to him. I feel like reading this book and getting to know Murakami a bit better will help me enjoy his novels even more wh
...more
Seemita
It was a rainy evening about seven years ago when I entered a book store. It was the perfect refuge – warm lights, thin crowd, a tea bar and loads of books. I marched to the tea bar, ordered a ginger- mint tea, placed my bag on a chair in the seating area and hopped to the alleys to browse for books while the tea was being brewed. Running my eyes like a squirrel, I was surveying the titles one after another when they came to a halt – they spotted a pristine white cover with a circular swirl in b ...more
Ben
Jan 20, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2010



"Nothing in the real world is as beautiful as the illusions of a person about to lose consciousness."

Murakami's mind has always fascinated me; that he transcends the normal and dull, spreading them into a realistic, dreamlike, colorful, soulful reality, amazes me. And I think when most of us read someone that fascinates and/or amazes us, we want to know what that person is like -- what makes him or her tick. And obviously we're almost always disappointed: an amazing mind doesn't equal an amazing
...more
Heidi The Reader
In What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, Haruki Murakami doesn't try to convince others that we should all become long distance runners/triathletes like him. He does talk about why he took up running, how it has helped him with his creativity and why he will continue to run as long as he feels the need to do so.

I've never read a book by Murakami, other than this one. But, the interesting way in which he views the world makes me think that I'd probably enjoy his stuff.

I listened to this, r
...more
Kenny
"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."
Haruki Murakami ~~ What I Talk About When I Talk About Running


1

If you love ru
...more
Hannah Garden
Apr 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was great! But I was kind of hoping it would make me want to quit smoking and start being a runner. It did not. If anything, it solidified my already-pretty-solid hatred of the idea of running. God damn stupid healthy Haruki.
Michael Finocchiaro
If you are a runner, this book is very inspiring. We learn of why Murakami decided to become a writer, leaving behind his jazz bar and how he also committed to running a marathon every year. It is exhilarating (and encouraging!) to see how he completely (and successfully) changed his life. He has run marathons everywhere including the original Marathon to Athens route (albeit in the wrong season!) and about other long-distance races he ran in. He is a fascinating man (who SO deserves a Nobel!) a ...more
J.L.   Sutton
Apr 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running pairs running and the art of writing (and its demands on focus and endurance). After reading Murakami’s Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage a few weeks ago, I had wanted to read more from this author. Admittedly, What I Talk About has a very different (one might say non-literary) quality which differentiates it from his novel. Still, it was an interesting account in which Murakami describes a nearly lifelong connectio ...more
Riku Sayuj
Oct 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I must say that I am very thankful to this book for getting me back into the habit of running and giving me a ready made excuse to spend 45 minutes of my time thus.
Diane S ☔
Jan 23, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lor
An easy read but very simplistic and very repetitive. Not a runner myself, prefer walking so didn't really relate to that part. The parts about how he started writing was fairly interesting but all in all was disappointed in this book as a whole. Did quite a bit of skimming.
Lee
Jul 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An ideal book for writer runners (or running writers), but also probably worth it for non-running/non-writing readers as there's enough straight talk and suggestion about serious themes: enduring pain, aging, the importance of routine, self-awareness/alertness. Quick, lean, honest, at times amazing, occasionally mundane, definitely worthwhile. BUT WAIT! The really cool thing about this book is that it's also about authority. Murukami has run +25 marathons (including a +62-mile supermarathon) and ...more
RandomAnthony
Jun 10, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: murakami
Spare and meditative. I'm not a runner (more of an elliptical guy) but this book is as much about aging, creativity, acceptance, and finding your own peace with who you are (ok, that sounds way more new agey than I mean) as marathons. Murakami fans will recognize the author's lean, simple prose and new readers may find an easy introduction to Murakami's work. Don't be fooled by the slim nature of this volume; you can tell Murakami put a lot of soul into What I Talk About When I Talk About Runnin ...more
Glenn Sumi


The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Writer

In this slim but not slight memoir, the best-selling and prolific Japanese novelist chronicles why and how he took up long-distance running, which coincided with selling his jazz bar in the early 80s to write full time.

In clear, deceptively simple prose (occasionally hampered by cliché), Murakami touches on intriguing themes like aging and perseverence, making a solid case comparing running to novel-writing. The book, of course, takes its title from Raym
...more
Ian "Marvin" Graye
What I Talk about When I Talk about Walking

I was originally more of a sportsman (or a sportsboy) than an athlete.

As a schoolboy, I absolutely hated running any distance over 100 meters. I was the second fastest in my year at the 100 meter sprint (there were two able males in my grade!), and for a while I could even do the 100 meters hurdles. Although I loved surfing and body surfing, I was hopeless at swimming anything but across the pool. I just wasn't made out for anything but team sports (whe
...more
Matthew Quann
Apr 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Matthew by: Lisa Bacque
My running companion over the past two and a half weeks has been Haruki Murakami; at least, narrator Ray Porter channeling Murakami. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is more empathetic memoir than self-help book, but I have no doubt in my mind that Murakami helped to boost my running game. After a few runs I began to think of the audiobook as a philosophical coach. I’d recommend this memoir to seasoned runners as well as relative newbies like myself!

I decided to only listen to the au
...more
7jane
Feb 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this book Haruki Murakami writes about his running life, doing marathons and triathlons. He writes about the successes and failures, the effect of ageing and his reasons why he runs and keeps running. For me, I felt the first half of the book was more clear and easy read than later, a bit like running a marathon can be. The mood throughout shows the author's general character, and the text never gets boring. It's an easy read, not too long.

Although I know I will never pick up running - love
...more
Andrew Smith
I read this book some years ago but didn’t get around to capturing my thoughts on it. At the time I was deep into my midlife crisis period which, for me, included a desire to prove that I could still compete with the younger generations at something – for this enterprise I chose long distance running. I’d run the London Marathon in 1982 (the second year it was held) and I’d pretty much not run since, albeit I’d been active playing football, tennis and just about everything else through the remai ...more
Rosie Nguyễn
Apr 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is as if the book were written for me. Love it, for very personal reasons, naturally because I love writing and like running. Actually thinking when will be my first marathon before reading this book.

I bassically try to avoid Murakami's novels as I want to be positive and I don't like the sorrow in his stories, it rottens my heart and stings my head. But this book is excellent. There are a mild sadness and deep philosophy typical of him, but it gives me practical lessons and strength to act,
...more
Zenmoon
Apr 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Murakami, or sports fans
Shelves: memoir, murakami


As a non-runner, this is likely to be the one and only book I’ll ever read about running so it’s just as well it’s written by Murakami. This is my second read of it (yes really … non-runner) and it’s a lot less about writing than I remember it. Until he writes a memoir dedicated to an analysis of his life and his work though (if ever), barring discussing it in articles, this is probably the closest I’ll get. Reading this is proof positive that I’ll read anything written by this man, though I’d h
...more
Alex
Jan 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: asian-literature
A pleasent to read harukian journal / autobiography. I started running a few months ago, so this book comes perfectly.
It is an interesting opportunity to enter in the mind of Haruki Murakami. Like.
Paul Fulcher
Nov 24, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
I finally reach the end. Strangely, have no feeling of accomplishment. The only thing I feel is utter relief that I don’t have to runread this book anymore.

I started this book with two prejudices.

First, that the most tedious dinner party conversations typically start with your interlocutor telling you they are in training to run a marathon.

Secondly that an author’s work should stand alone from the author - I am with Elena Ferrante here - and that writers writing about themselves or even, perhaps
...more
Vimal Thiagarajan
It's all very well to occasionally throw in a broccoli or two into the plate and create one's own illusion of well being, but to tie up your laces and pound the streets day after day, mile after lonely mile, watching your pace, watching your breathing, watching your muscles, soaking in the deepest hues of blue of your inner sky that is cleared of all thought clouds, entering that cozy void of silence, listening only to your inner voice, treating running as a metaphor for life - Man, RESPECT!

Hav
...more
Megan Baxter
This is, I think, the second book I've read about distance running. I am wondering what my fascination with that is, although truly, I've read both because they came up on various lists. I, myself, am a walker. I love to go for long walks in the morning. Running does not as much appeal.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasboo
...more
K.D. Absolutely
I bought this book almost two years ago after reading Haruki Murakami's Kafka on the Shore (4 stars) and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (4 stars). I liked those novels a lot so I purchased and read most of his other books right away like Sputnik Sweetheart (3 stars), After Dark (4 stars), Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman (3 stars), After the Quake (1 star - this used to be 3 stars until I saw my brother's review) and even his biography, Haruki Murakami and the Music of Words (3 stars). A couple of month ...more
Vanessa
Apr 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh Murakami. You know how to make me happy in the simplest of ways.

I'm not a runner. I enjoy running now and again but I wouldn't term myself a runner. And ordinarily I wouldn't pick up books that are classified in the 'sport - non-fiction' genre - I didn't even know that was a genre but hey, that's what it is on the back of my copy! But Murakami doesn't just write about running, he also talks about writing and his life and I find him endlessly fascinating even when he is talking about what coul
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Marathon Woman: Running the Race to Revolutionize Women's Sports
  • Lore of Running
  • The Runner's Guide to the Meaning of Life
  • Runner's World Complete Book of Women's Running: The Best Advice to Get Started, Stay Motivated, Lose Weight, Run Injury-Free, Be Safe, and Train for Any Distance
  • Haruki Murakami and the Music of Words
  • Going Long: Legends, Oddballs, Comebacks & Adventures
  • Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons
  • Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner
  • Duel in the Sun: Alberto Salazar, Dick Beardsley, and America's Greatest Marathon
  • To Be a Runner: How Racing Up Mountains, Running with the Bulls, or Just Taking On a 5-K Makes You a Better Person (and the World a Better Place)
  • Mile Markers: The 26.2 Most Important Reasons Why Women Run
  • My Life on the Run: The Wit, Wisdom, and Insights of a Road Racing Icon
  • Brain Training For Runners: A Revolutionary New Training System to Improve Endurance, Speed, Health, and Results
  • Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness
  • Marathoning for Mortals: A Regular Person's Guide to the Joy of Running or Walking a Half-Marathon or Mar Athon
  • The Runner's Literary Companion: Great Stories and Poems About Running
  • Once a Runner
  • In Search of a Distant Voice
See similar books…
70,660 followers
Murakami Haruki (Japanese: 村上 春樹) is a popular contemporary Japanese writer and translator. His work has been described as 'easily accessible, yet profoundly complex'. He can be located on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/harukimuraka...

Since childhood, Murakami has been heavily influenced by Western culture, particularly Western music and literature. He grew up reading a range of works by Am
...more
“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” 7611 likes
“The most important thing we learn at school is the fact that the most important things can't be learned at school.” 1058 likes
More quotes…