What I Talk About When I Talk About Running – Haruki Murakami

August 20, 2014 § 1 Comment

There’s something to be said about rereading books.

When I was a young girl, I didn’t have the privilege of visiting bookstores very often. In fact, we only ever visited book fairs and sales, and even then, we would mostly only bring home dictionaries. My dad was, and still is, a big fan of dictionaries. So as a young girl, the only new books that we had were heavy and thick – they were dictionaries.

That doesn’t mean we didn’t have other books at home. My dad had friends from all sorts of backgrounds, as he was a businessman. And his friends were very generous with their books. In fact, of all the books we used to have at home, I reckon more than half were from his friends’ personal libraries – books that they no longer wanted, and books I learned to cherish.

But also because of this, that meant I had to learn how to make do with the limited┬ávariety of books I had at my disposal. It didn’t matter that I didn’t get new reading material. I simply reread the ones I had grown to love.

There were some obvious favourites. My Enid Blyton books had tape all over, holding the pages, only barely, in their places. My Roald Dahl “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” met with the same fate – in fact, the spine was so worn, only I knew what book it was from its non-existent spine. I knew exactly how each of the Five Find-Outters mysteries was going to pan out, and what each character was going to say on the next page. I could almost sing-along with the Oompa-Loompas as they laughed at the kids in the chocolate factory.

And with each reread, I grew to love the stories even more.

There’s something to be said about rereading. The book, the story, grows on you, and every time you reach out for something that’s somewhat familiar, it’s almost like reaching out for family.

I read Murakami’s “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” a few years back. This was when I first got acquainted with his work. I had only read one other book of his, “Dance Dance Dance” back then, so he was someone unfamiliar. Reading this book then allowed me a little bit of insight into someone who has now become one of my favourite authors.

Since I last read this book, I’ve gone on to read quite a number of his other works. And with each novel, I felt like I got to know him a little bit better. And as I was sitting in front of my bookshelf that day, thinking of what book to read next, my hand simply reached out for this one, my mind telling me that it was about time I saw him in a different light.

And I did.

I remember feeling that this book felt very conversational, that it felt like he was sitting right in front of me, speaking to me and telling me all these things about himself.

This time, while still conversational, it felt different. It was no longer about himself. I felt like he was telling me about life and life’s decisions, and how perhaps only we know what’s best for us.

This book is so different from his novels and short stories, and yet, there’s no doubt that it’s the same voice. This voice that spins bizarre stories of wells and cats gone missing and talking sheep, is the same voice that’s telling me, ever so calmly, that everything requires discipline, effort and a lot of great timing. On the one hand, we have a crazy world full of unexpected twists and turns, and on the other hand, we have this seemingly calm and peaceful world that’s equally full of unexpected twists and turns.

It’s the same crazy world. It just depends on what glasses you put on.

But that’s just me. Most people may not feel what I felt when I read this book this time around. And truth be told, I believe I’ll have a completely different take on it if I read it again five years from now.

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