What book to read? Which are the best authors? What do other people think of the book I like? What is the purpose of life? Why are we here? Is there more in life? These are all valid questions. Hooligan Hamlet is trying to answer at least some of these with our new column “Hooligan Book Club” mainly curated by digital marketing specialist / sportsgirl / fashion icon / socialmedia influencer Liisa Ennuste. This is a book CLUB, so you are very much welcome to join by writing us what do you think and feel about these books, have you read, are you planning to read etc.
Let’s kick this second Hooligan Book Club book review off with “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami”.
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running – Haruki Murakami
By Liisa Ennuste
For the first book of June I chose a novel that I’ve been meaning to read for a long time – Murakami’s book about running. I am a Murakami-virgin, but no virgin to running – so I didn’t know what to expect, but I was definitely very intrigued about the subject matter.
Not to mention that one of the main reasons I chose the book at this place & time, is because I was running 35 km during the next weekend as part of a relay run across Estonia to celebrate Estonia’s 100 years. I’ve never in my life run more than 13/14 km in one go, so I thought this book might give me some much-needed advice (on survival, lolz).
Murakami began running seriously when he was 33 and in the recent years he has covered an average of six miles(9,6km) a day, six days a week and has competed in more than 20 marathons. In 1996 he completed an ultramarathon of 62 miles(100km). He saw running as a balancing act to being a writer = he couldn’t be one without the other as he saw writing as an unhealthy type of work and running as the strengthening “antidote”. He believed that writing requires, in addition to talent and focus, endurance (which is something you learn through the habit of running).
What I really liked about this book was the fact that it wasn’t just a training diary (just to explain myself here: the training part was interesting to me, as I consider myself a runner, however, I believe that sort of experiences are highly personal and there is not much I can learn from there directly.) The book was a collection of Murakami’s memories, workings of Murakami’s mind. Reading his ponderings made me feel somehow more at ease with life.
He talks about his insecurities, life’s ups and downs, about acceptance. In some way I felt this Buddhist mindset woven through the text.
A good example of a quote I liked:
“I don’t think we should judge the value of our lives by how efficient they are.”
― Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
A real highlight to me was the part where Murakami ran the ultramarathon (100km nonstop) and described the physical and mental agonies of the whole process. I’ve always thought that running a marathon (bear in mind I’m just talking about 42km!) is just a stupid way to wreck your body that may result in never being able to do sports again. However, reading about his experience, the near-religious last miles of the run, made me reconsider a little (just a little, though). It is something I would love to feel someday – the state when your body is beyond exhausted & mind is completely empty, in some heightened state. I do not think I need to run an ultramarathon to feel it, a marathon might be enough. But it’s definitely a bucket-list feeling.
Overall I would recommend this book to everyone – runners and non-runners, Murakami fans and Murakami-virgins. It’s very easy to read, short and very relatable. It’s no masterwork – no 10 out of 10 kind of a book – but a very enjoyable read that will make you think about life.