Haruki Murakami fans discussion

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My First Murakami

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

I am just interested to see how it is that you came to read Murakami and which book it was (also, were you hooked after one book?)?

I suppose that I will start off with my own:

The first novel of Murakami's that I read was: A Wild Sheep Chase. It was my Junior year of High School in Bellevue, Washington and I was instantly hooked. We were in the middle of a contemporary world lit. curiculum, so I had happened across many of my favorite authors in that class. Even so, AWSC was by far the most interesting book that I had read so far. It still to this day is my favorite, I really enjoyed the spiraling path of the novel, the surrealism of the experiences and characters, and the way it made me want to dive into murakami's entire writing world.


message 2: by Christine (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:43AM) (new)

Christine I was SO hooked after one book.

Let's see... I was in the midst of an extended stay at a friend's apartment after my relationship crashed and burned. I was 22, and just skimming his bookshelf, which was loaded with Proust and lit theory and all kinds of heavy academic stuff (he had just graduated from a liberal arts college of some repute), for something ENJOYABLE to read, and came across this odd little book. If I recall correctly, the jacket claimed the book to be a "metaphysical detective novel" or something of the sort, and I was intrigued. Cut to a week later, and I was finishing "A Wild Sheep Chase" as I was getting off the subway in NYC. Well, I HAD to finish it, so I sat down on a bench, morning rush-hour traffic be damned, and finished it totally breathlessly. (I was late to work.)

I had never read anything like it and I was a fan. Next was "Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World."


message 3: by Kelly (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:43AM) (new)

Kelly Wondracek (mirume) | 17 comments Mod
My first taste of Murakami was in a writing course in college where we read the story The Elephant Vanishes. I really liked the story, but didn't get completely hooked on Murakami until I read Kafka on the Shore a couple years later (it was my boyfriend's copy). That book engaged me unlike anything I'd read. He's been my favorite writer since!


message 4: by JBP (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:43AM) (new)

JBP "Dance Dance Dance" was my first. I'd long been interested in it because of the cover but saw it used in a Seattle bookstore and decided that was the time. I loved parts of it and then was frustrated by other parts of it--something that happens to me sometimes w/ his books but that's okay because the parts I love, I really love.

Within the year I'd read "A Wild Sheep Chase" and "Hardboiled Wonderland..." and now I read them as they come out--although I'm sort of delaying the reading of "After Dark".


message 5: by fstab (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:51AM) (new)

fstab | 1 comments My first Murakami was "After Dark", which i purchased blindly on the basis of his connection to the film "Tony Takatani". I loved the dialogue and interactions of the characters, so I decided to check out more of his work.

I soon followed that with "Norwegian Wood", "Dance, Dance, Dance" and "A Wild Sheep Chase" -- all of which I loved.


message 6: by Bonnie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:52AM) (new)

Bonnie | 4 comments My first and only Murakami book was "The Wind-up Bird Chronicles". I was immediatley interested in reading more of his work, but it took me a long time to get through this. I was expecting more of a magical atmosphere when i picked it up, but it turned out to be just bizzare. I'm not sure if I made the best selection for my first Murakami book. I wonder if anyone else agrees and if so, which book should i read next.


message 7: by Christi (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:53AM) (new)

Christi (christi_r_suzanne) | 5 comments My first Murakami book was also, "The Wind-up Bird Chronicle". It took me a long time to get through the book, but I was really entranced when I read it. I read part of it on a 2 1/2 hour plane trip and I was so engrossed in it that the woman next to me asked what book I was reading. After that I read "Dance, Dance, Dance" and then "Norweigan Wood". I am going to read "A Wild Sheep Chase" soon and then I'd like to read "After Dark".


message 8: by JBP (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:54AM) (new)

JBP I'm surprised so many people have started off with "Wind-Up Bird Chronicle" as a first book. It's my favorite HM but I think people might really get into it more if they've read a few other things by HM first to get a sense of his style. I think if I'd read it first I wouldn't have enjoyed it as much.


message 9: by Bonnie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:55AM) (new)

Bonnie | 4 comments This was the response i was looking for. Thanks Joshua. I knew that i would have enjoyed it better had i read something else first. I am glad you agree, can you think of a book that i could read next that might get me into the right...ummm...groove, i guess.


message 10: by Nathaniel (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:03PM) (new)

Nathaniel Dean (leadhyena) | 2 comments Odd that no one mentions Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World as their first? I was instantly hooked with this book. I'm glad that I now know which direction to start reading his books... wasn't too impressed with After Dark, but A Wild Sheep Chase was amazing. I actually went and reread Heart of Darkness after that looking for similarities. I just moved The Wind Up Bird Chronicles up on my reading list.


message 11: by Bianca (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:30PM) (new)

Bianca (biancazander) | 1 comments I read Sputnik Sweetheart first, which was a wonderful place to start, with a short but sweet book that contains all his major themes. Then I went on to devour Kafka on the Shore, Norwegian Wood, Wind Up Bird, South of the Border and some short stories ... So far, Kafka is my favourite - so rich and intoxicating, and I think his most cohesive work. If I'm recommending Murakami to a beginner, I always suggest Norwegian Wood because I think it's his most accessible. I've yet to meet anyone who didn't love it.


message 12: by Marianne (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:30PM) (new)

Marianne Elliott (marianneelliott) | 1 comments My first Murakami was "A Wild Sheep Chase". It was 1996, I was backpacking from Cape Town to Budapest and I was in the Sinai, Egypt. I wandered into a restaurant and on the cushion next to me was this book. I picked it up and started reading. About an hour later the owner came back, an incredibly cute Israeli guy. I fell in love with him for his choice in books and moved back to Tel Aviv with him. Since then I have read everything Murakami has written that has been translated into English. I think The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles may be my favorite, but I'd be hard pressed to settle on that given my all-consuming passion for all thing Murakami. I also agree with Bianca that Kafka on the Shore was an especially cohesive book, and that was the book with which I chose to introduce my current love to Murakami. It's important to start them off right because I would find it hard to love a man who didn't love Murakami, at least a little.


message 13: by Fye (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:11PM) (new)

Fye haslonglastname | 1 comments My first impression with Murakami is so different. It was three years ago I was such a Japanese maniac. My book shelves started to have all these Japanese fiction. At that time I would buy like whole lot of Japanese fiction and stacked it at the corner of my room.
And one of them was "Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World" at that time I didn't even know Murakami. I just read. It turned out to be an interesting book but, good lord, it was so frustrated. I end up skipping through the pages and chapters. It end uniquely but really not that impressed.


It was Norwegian Wood that turn my life upside down. First few chapter I was like "this is kind of emo.....or?". But when I finished the book I actually went out to the book store and buy more Murakami's! =[]= that was crazy but really, I could not/ can not get enough. Despite the repetition of some element (Me and my friend was like "the new book would b; male protagonist+some chick = get laid then the door then ciggy then jazz bar and then..." It was just a joke though. We actually are real Murakami geek.) Despite the repetition of some element I always find his book interesting and alluring. :)


message 14: by Barbara (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:11PM) (new)

Barbara I discovered his writing through an essay in the anthology, "Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant." I believe his essay was called "The Year of Spaghetti." I loved it.


message 15: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony I saw "Kafka on the Shore" on the library "new" shelf not long after the book's release. I'm a Kafka fan, so I was intrigued, and I read the description and checked it out. It was summer in Wisconsin, and I was looking for something new...glad no one had checked out the book before me.:)


message 16: by Dean (new)

Dean | 10 comments My first was Hard-Boiled Wonderland And The End Of The World. I picked it up because of the cover, bought it because of the back cover and have never looked back. I had not heard of Mr. Murakami before then but I have read everything else since.


message 17: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Martin | 6 comments My first was Kafka ~ my friend was reading it, and since I had just moved to Japan I was curious to read a japanese author, though I didn't know what to expect and she didn't tell me anything about it. Of course after a couple chapters I was saying "why didn't you tell me this book is this good?!?"
Murakami is so genius in the way he captures this pop culture, all of the little details. Even the way characters act. I treasured reading that book in a way I hadn't known before, along with the subsequent books i've read.


message 18: by Christina Stind (last edited Feb 03, 2009 04:31AM) (new)

Christina Stind | 11 comments I got hooked by Kafka on the Shore. I found it through goodreads, probably through the 1001 books you must read before you die-list, got it from the library and had it just lying in the house for close to a year before I finally got around to reading it - and just loved it. Since then I've read Sputnik Sweetheart and loved that as well and bought Sputnik, After Dark, South of the border and Wind-up Bird.


message 19: by Mari (new)

Mari My first was a recommendation from a friend - Wind-up Bird Chronicle. I spent the first half of it saying to myself, "what?" "really?" and "woah, that's weird" - after the first half I really got the idea of it and enjoyed it *so* much. Since then I've read After Dark and Kafka on the Shore - I also loved those. Of course, now I'm hooked!


message 20: by Ricardo (last edited Feb 03, 2009 11:58AM) (new)

Ricardo | 3 comments My firs was also a recommendation from a friend - The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. I spent two years in Japan teaching English and a friend there suggested this author. I finally got around to it like a year later and I was kicking myself for not picking it up sooner. I've read most of Murakami's books but still have a few more to go. Kafka on the Shore was one of the books that really got to me and reinforced why I liked Murakami so much. It was such a unique tale and it kept you going each time. I wasn't too impressed with his most recent one about how running has affected his life. It constantly made me think....so what?


message 21: by dannymac (new)

dannymac | 7 comments I got hooked at a bookstore in Brooklyn. They had a display with a bunch of his books and had a short story anthology, After the Quake, which I purchased thinking it a safe investment since an assortment of short stories should give a pretty good idea as to what he's all about.

I've read some other Japanese heavyweights; Endo, Kawabata and Ryanosuke but I think Murakami is their equal if not their better.




message 22: by Daniel (new)

Daniel (danielt) | 4 comments My first Murakami -- a recommendation from a friend I had gone to high school with -- was "Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World." I loved it, and quickly followed it with "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle," which was released in English around the same time. (I know this because my copy of "Wind-Up Bird" is hardcover, and was purchased new. So I guess this must have been in the fall of 1997.) I am embarassed to admit, though, that I have yet to read everything he's published since. The man simply writes a lot, and my to-be-read pile is far too big. I do read every Murakami piece The New Yorker publishes even though, in general, I prefer his novels to his short stories.


message 23: by Scott (new)

Scott E I happened upon Murakami at a Half Price Books in Dallas quite a few years ago. I picked up A Wild Sheep Chase, which I still have never read (should I go back and read that one??)...and The Elephant Vanishes. I immediatley fell in love with the short stories. I still return to those stories from time to time...I have an enormous collection of books of short stories, and Elephant is one of my faves.

By that time, The Wind-up Bird Chronicles had released. I bought that (at full price HM will be happy to know) and devoured it...still one of my all-time favorite books!!

I also love Underground...fascinating way to tell that event.


message 24: by Jesse (new)

Jesse (Walden) | 5 comments My first Murakami work was Wind-Up Bird, and I purchased it based upon a very convincing and impassioned comment by an Amazon user, hehe.

After finishing it, I couldn't help but devour most of his other work and attempt to indoctrinate my friends.


message 25: by Daniel (last edited Feb 16, 2009 09:19AM) (new)

Daniel (danielt) | 4 comments Megha, I'd suggest reading "Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World" next, but six different Murakami fans probably would have six different recommendations. I'm sure you'll enjoy whatever one you choose.


message 26: by Megha (new)

Megha (hearthewindsing) Thanks Daniel. I just picked up 'Hard-Boiled...' from the library. :)




message 27: by Daniel (new)

Daniel (danielt) | 4 comments Let me know what you think, Megha. Hope you enjoy it.


message 28: by M (last edited Feb 25, 2009 03:12AM) (new)

M (wwwgoodreadscomprofilem) Thanks for all your good suggestions for your first Murakami's reading.I read reviews through Goodreads about Murakami's books that convinced me to discover this Japanese author this year.I'll start by reading Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World and Norwegian Wood.


message 29: by Daniel (new)

Daniel (danielt) | 4 comments Glad you liked it, Megha!


message 30: by Tara (new)

Tara (TaraKHubbard) | 3 comments My first Murakami was The Wind Up Bird Chronicles. I was crazy about it. I had never read anything like that before. With Murakami, I really don't mind things not making sense and unresolved pieces. It seems true to the reality of mysteries involved in being alive and the human soul. Next I read Hard Boiled Wonderland and The End of the World, and then Sigue Sigue Sputnik.
Wind Up Bird is my favorite so far, but I can't wait to read more. Oh, I also read his short stories Blind Willow Sleeping Willow which was excellent. I can't get the Tsunami wave story out of my head.


message 31: by Henry (new)

Henry (hsanch) | 11 comments Hi, all, I'm new to the forums and to this group and it is exactly what I've been looking for. I'm a huge fan of Murakami's and of Post Modernism.
A few years ago I attended a summer writing workshop at UNH for English teachers. During a break I was discussing Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges and my friend gave me a copy of The Elephant Vanishes. After reading it I was intrigued enough to go on to read A Wild Sheep Chase. Each book I've read since, and that is almost all of them, has made me more addicted.
Since then I've read Murakami's bio and found that we are the same age and lived in Boston at about the same time, and so we kind of grew up together, sharing many of the same experiences and befuddlement about life. I think I read that he is or was also a teacher or professor and I can see this in his writing. I also love how literary and philosophical he is and I always end up reading and listening to a lot of the texts he alludes to.



message 32: by Amy (new)

Amy | 3 comments I just came across thisI think my first Murakami was Kafka On The Shore picked up randomly at the library. I loved it so much I quickly read all of his books. I reccomended After Dark for my AAUW (american assoc of univ women), book club and maybe one or two others liked it. Many just couldn't get it. I love his writing he is up there with my favorite writers another of whom (and I reccomend) is Peter Hoeg - Smilla's Sense of Smell and others. I am reading The Quiet Girl now. Nothing like a really good book. I just came across this Goodreads forum and 1st thing I did was search for Murakami.


message 33: by Amy (new)

Amy | 6 comments My friend first showed me the first Haruki Murakami book which was a short collection with many extracts from more of his larger works (I can't remember what it was called) but I was instantly hooked. His prose was so different from all the other writers out there; it was really unique and I guess I just fell in love with that, but all the stories were so good. My favorites included something to do with a 'Sandman' and a tape recording. There was also something about the latter being related to a boxing kangaroo which was pretty hilarious.

I have never read A Wild Sheep Chase, simply because I couldn't hold of a copy, but from all of your reviews it sounds pretty interesting. What is Norwegian Wood like? I heard that it was the first step to enjoying all of those Murakami's out there, but the really memorable first Murakami I read was definitely the Wind up Bird chronicles and later Kafka on the Shore. Sputnik Sweetheart was good too, although I didn't really enjoy the lack of action in After Dark.



message 34: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Martin | 6 comments amy Norwegian wood is definately worth a read, actually because there is nothing metphysical about it. It is pretty much a love story about 2 kids with problems, and is a good testament to what a brilliant author muraksmi is that a book about nothing can still be interesting. I guess it is how he paces his books as much as the biZarre things that happen



message 35: by Amy (new)

Amy | 6 comments Dan wrote: "amy Norwegian wood is definately worth a read, actually because there is nothing metphysical about it. It is pretty much a love story about 2 kids with problems, and is a good testament to what a b..."

Thanks Dan. I will definitely read it when I get hold of a copy, but my local libraries only have a few copies of Murakami's books. I did start Dance Dance Dance but somehow the main character's conversation with the guy (was it even a person?) who only spoke with no spaces between the words did got on my nerves and I never did finish it. The plot was pretty mediocre from what I remember, but I am only making a guess here, it has been so long, that I have forgotten.


message 36: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Martin | 6 comments dance dance dance is the sequel to wild sheep chase. i actually think its my favorite murakami book, but no one agrees with me...


message 37: by Tora (new)

Tora (toraf) | 3 comments Amy wrote: "Dan wrote: "amy Norwegian wood is definately worth a read, actually because there is nothing metphysical about it. It is pretty much a love story about 2 kids with problems, and is a good testament..."

I actually liked Dance, dance, dance a lot too. It was my second Murakami book (A Wild Sheep Chase was my first).

I think Dance, dance, dance was a really warm book, I enjoyed how he described the relationships between those people. Later on, I've discovered Murakami is really good at that, but I didn't know it at the time of reading this book. It's so very different from the Sheep Chase (which I also liked a lot).



message 38: by Zan (new)

Zan (zankini) | 6 comments I totally concur, Dan, Dance, Dance, Dance is my absolute favorite! Love, love, love it!

Kafka was my first taste of his gorgeous writing and then, as with so many of us Murakami fans, I gobbled up everything I could get my greedy little hands on. :)

I love his writing-almost all of it, but nothing has ousted Dance from the supreme favorite position.

Dan wrote: "dance dance dance is the sequel to wild sheep chase. i actually think its my favorite murakami book, but no one agrees with me..."




message 39: by Amy (new)

Amy | 6 comments I am definitely going back on my own words and getting Dance, Dance, Dance out of the library again. From everyone's discussions I think I have underestimated - probably did - this book, in terms of it being seen as an interesting read.


message 40: by Tora (new)

Tora (toraf) | 3 comments Amy wrote: "I am definitely going back on my own words and getting Dance, Dance, Dance out of the library again. From everyone's discussions I think I have underestimated - probably did - this book, in terms o..."

I'm planning to read it again in a while. I loved the book, but while reading it, I searched for answers to some of the questions from the Sheep Chase, and I didn't find any. So next time I'll read it as the independent book it actually is.


message 41: by Meredith (new)

Meredith A Wild Sheep Chase was the first book I read by Haruki Murakami. One of my friends who was studying Asian Languages & Literature at IU recommended it to me. It was the first book I recall reading where I couldn't guess what was going to happen next, and I was intrigued.


message 42: by Nate D (new)

Nate D (rockhyrax) I started with Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. For some reason, atypical as it is, that's the first Murakami read by most everyone I know. It probably helped ease me into his style by being so infused with genre fiction reference points.


message 43: by J (last edited Apr 07, 2009 05:29AM) (new)

J | 13 comments My first Murakami novel was Norwegian Wood. A friend who was hooked on his stuff recommended it, and my attention was caught from the get-go. It remains one of my favourite Murakamis, so intense and heartbreakingly beautiful, and Midori is also one of my favourite Murakami characters.


message 44: by Angie (new)

Angie | 11 comments I started off with Wind-up Bird Chronicle and never looked back. I love the weirdness. My next favorite is Hard Boiled Wonderland. All the others I've read I've love, except for Norwegian Wood. I think it was too "normal."


message 45: by Lewis (new)

Lewis (theterminalbeach) I lost my Murakami virginity to The Wind-up Bird Chronicle and to this day it still remains my favourite book of all time.


message 46: by Ian (new)

Ian (bigchalks) | 1 comments My first Murakami was "The Wind-up Bird Chronicle". It took me ages to read, finally finishing it pool side on a sun bed in the canaries. it left me with more questions than answers, it didn't put me off murakami, but made me more inquisitive, I'm currently reading "Norwegian Wood". i've also been out and bought, "After dark", "South of the border, west of the sun" and "Hard boiled wonderland and the end of the world" I don't know which one i'll read next.


message 47: by Harvee (last edited Apr 15, 2009 07:13AM) (new)

Harvee (harveelau) | 3 comments I first read After Dark (reviewed at http://bookbirddog.blogspot.com/2007/...) after coming across it by chance at a new book sale. I was immediately enthralled by Tokyo at night and by the relationship between the two sisters - Mari who tries to help her, and Eri Asai who deals with her reality through constant sleep.


message 48: by Trevor (new)

Trevor | 1 comments First one was Norwegian Wood - last month. This month I finished up Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. I'm fairly confident in saying that he's one of my favorites - certainly my favorite living author.

I've heard some high praise for Kafka on the Shore, so I'll be checking out that one next, probably sometime over the summer.


message 49: by Siddharth (new)

Siddharth Soni (siddharthsoni) | 1 comments Bought two titles yesterday - HARD BOILED WONDERLAND... & THE ELEPHANT VANISHES. Every time I read a Murakami, I am left dazed. So engrossing, each one of them. Norwegian Wood was the first one I read some four years back... Still can't forget what I felt when I read it and I recommend all my friends to start with that one if they've never been exposed to Murakami.


message 50: by Dan (new)

Dan | 9 comments A wild sheep chase was my 1st. A guy working at the book store recomended it. I want to thank him but I never see him there any more. He opened up a whole new world for me!


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