Rarely have I felt a sense of kinship with an author like I felt while reading "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running," by Haruki Murakami. I was at first skeptical when I saw this book, thinking that it would be heavy on philosophy, and unsure whether or not it was really a book about running. I can now assure you that if you're a runner, you'll love this book. At its heart, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is Haruki Murakami's answer to a question that many runners ask of themselves: Why do I run?
The book is his eloquent response to this question, and he answers it with stories about running, race reports, and various other types of personal anecdotes. Murakami sprinkles in a heavy dose of philosophy, but it's a philosophy that any runner or triathlete will appreciate, and I found myself nodding in agreement on numerous occasions. Murakami is a guy that I would love to go on a run with myself - he is clearly a genuinely passionate runner.
Perhaps what I found most appealing about this book was the author's sincerity and honesty. Like many of us who log miles with no hope of ever winning a race, running for Murakami is a labor of love, and it plays a central role in his life. He runs so that he can stay healthy and continue to write novels, and he runs because he simply loves to run. Murakami is also very comfortable with his shortcomings, and he openly admits that he is not a perfect person.
His description of overcoming his fear of the swim leg of triathlons is both humorous and heartfelt - you really feel for him (and laugh at his fear of jellyfish and vicious bears). Murakami's open admission that his best marathoning days are long passed is impressively honest, but it doesn't dampen his love of the sport. Reading this book is like reading a book written by you favorite running partner, which is a nice change from some of the other running-related books I have read. In its totality, it's truly a wonderful book, and it deserves to be read.