Tag Archives: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

WWW Wednesday, 28-October-2015

28 Oct

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


AnneFrankCurrently reading:  I’ve had enough long waits at doctor’s offices this past week to make some progress with  Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. I’m at about 60% or so and I’ll make my way to the end soon enough.
No progress with  I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai.  It’s coming…
I’m getting close to the end of  Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I’m enjoying it a lot. Bradbury makes for good fall reading. Even though he’s not writing horror, his books have a creepy vibe to them that goes well with Halloween.
I started the audiobook for The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank late last week. The play stuck really close to the transcript so there haven’t been a lot of surprises yet and I don’t think there will be a ton. I’m blown away by how insightful Anne is and how well-written her diary is. It’s such a testament to how writing is less of an art these days.
I’ve only got through the very beginning of Sense and Sensibility by Jane AustenI hope to get back to reading this seriously around Christmas.
My book club met Monday night and we’re picking up Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner for our next meeting. We’ve read Stegner’s book The Angle of Repose a few years ago and really enjoyed it so this one should be fun!

Made in AmericaRecently finished: I finished Made in America: An Informal History of the English Language in the United States by Bill Bryson on Thursday. I should know better than to do non-fiction in audio because it’s hard to get into it when it’s read aloud. I gave the book 3 out of 5 stars.
Saturday morning I refused to get out of bed until I’d finished Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson. I was hoping for a bigger ending, but I was still happy with how it ended. The writing was beautiful even if I felt the plot was a bit slow for my taste. I gave it 3 out of 5 stars as well.

Two book reviews in this past week. I’ve been keeping up well! The first was What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami. I gave the book 4 our of 5 stars.
The second was The Samurai’s Garden by Gail Tsukiyama. I had mixed feelings on that one and gave it 3 out of 5 stars.

SlaughterhouseReading Next: I’m still planning on Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut being my next audiobook. I don’t have a lot of plans besides that because of how many books I’m starting into. Stay tuned for sudden changes in plans.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Review: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami (4/5)

22 Oct

I’d never read anything by Murakami and when I looked into his titles, this one jumped out at me. I picked up running really casually two years ago and if it weren’t for terrible tendonitis, I’d be running until it frosted. I’ve participated in triathlons for the past two years and love the competition. So I wanted to hear from a famous running author and I got to cross Murakami off my list. Two birds, one stone.

Talk About RunningWhat I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami (translated by Philip Gabriel)

Summary from Goodreads:

In 1982, having sold his jazz bar to devote himself to writing, Murakami began running to keep fit. A year later, he’d completed a solo course from Athens to Marathon, and now, after dozens of such races, not to mention triathlons and a dozen critically acclaimed books, he reflects upon the influence the sport has had on his life and even more importantly, on his writing.

Equal parts training log, travelogue, and reminiscence, this revealing memoir covers his four-month preparation for the 2005 New York City Marathon and takes us to places ranging from Tokyo’s Jingu Gaien gardens, where he once shared the course with an Olympian, to the Charles River in Boston among young women who outpace him. Through this marvelous lens of sport emerges a panorama of memories and insights: the eureka moment when he decided to become a writer, his greatest triumphs and disappointments, his passion for vintage LPs, and the experience, after fifty, of seeing his race times improve and then fall back.

This will be a much shorter review than I normally write. My structure doesn’t work well with a memoir like this. Murakami was essentially the only character, his wife mentioned very infrequently, and the plot being more of a stream of consciousness. That’s not to say I didn’t like the book, just that the style was very different from what I normally read.

There were a lot of things I related to in this book. Dedication to a sport that is repetitive and can be almost mindless baffles some people. But there’s great concentration and discipline involved in it that can be very peaceful. Competing in distance events is the least competitive competition I’ve ever been a part of. I’m racing myself, no one else. Maybe if I was elite it would be different, but at my level, it’s about finishing in the time I want to. If I don’t, it’s not because someone else trained harder but because I messed up my race. I liked the parallels Murakami was able to draw between this process and writing. The discipline and time put in alone are the same. I put a lot of time into this blog that I could spend with friends and the time I spend editing stories and books could be spent with my husband. But the discipline and pursuit of a goal are so satisfying that they are the few things that can make me happy and I thrive on that.

Haruki Murakami Image via the New York Times

Haruki Murakami
Image via the New York Times

When Murakami talked about triathlons at the end, I related to every word. While Murakami struggled with the swim, I struggle with the run. We excel in the other’s weakness. But being a multi-sport competitor is a unique experience. If you can walk, ride a bike, and swim a half mile without drowning, I encourage you to try a triathlon at some point in your life. It’s a very rewarding experience. Triathlons, when done as a sport, can be frustrating and exhausting. Having to train in three sports is a huge amount of time but crossing that finish line and completing one is the best feeling in the world. My struggles are different from Murakami’s, but I knew all the feelings he was talking about.

Murakami came off as very pompous in this book. Not about his running, but with how he spoke about himself. I find it strange that he translates books between English and Japanese (he mentions translating The Great Gatsby), but did not translate his own book. That was the first thing that struck me. The second was how he talked about his innate ability to write a book and how it wasn’t something he had to develop. That is so rare of writers that I don’t believe it. Those who wrote their best book first are known and remembered for it because they are exceptions and I don’t count him among this number. I think he had to learn to write and grow his skill, just as he did with running and just as I do with my writing. (Please go and read my earliest posts and tell me they’re just as good as these. I won’t believe you.)

The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Ray Porter. I liked his narration. It was easy to hear him as Murakami in the first-person voice. He expressed the anguish Murakami felt and joys of running accomplishment. It read very much like a writer reading his own memoir.

Not meeting goals you set for yourself is anguishing. When I wasn’t able to run in a 5K a few months ago because of knee pain, I cried. It wasn’t out of pain, but disappointment in myself. I related to Murakami’s disappointment in his slowing times and I understand the frustration of bodily failure. I read his message as dealing with what you can control. He couldn’t control the time it took for him to run a marathon (to an extent), but he could control finishing it and what he was pleased with in the experience. It’s dangerous to have high expectations of yourself sometimes and you have to set goals that stretch you but are achievable and be weary of those beyond  your grasp.

Writer’s Takeaway: I bet it surprised Murakami’s fans that his memoir was less about writing and growing up and focused on a small part of his life that detailed preparing for a marathon. Most people wouldn’t define it as a writer’s memoir and in fact, I see many books about running in Goodreads ‘similar reads’ recommendations. Though, writers are told to ‘write what you know.’ Murakami knows distance running. Personally, I know a lot about turtles. I shouldn’t be afraid to write about them. I shouldn’t be afraid to write about knitting and triathlons and living in Detroit. We really do have to write what we know because if it’s well written, the passion will show.

A really enjoyable book that I connected with. Athletes will connect as well. Four out of Five stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
Recommended Reading: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running | The Daily Post
Review: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running | The Bastard Title
Haruki Murakami: Talent Is Nothing Without Focus And Endurance | 99U

WWW Wednesday, 14-October-2015

14 Oct

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


451Currently reading:  I’ve made a bit of progress on Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell but I’m stuck in the middle of the book, in the Hawaii section, and so overly uninterested that it’s a struggle to keep going. I’ll keep making my way as best I can.
No progress on I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai. Stand by.
I’m getting close to finishing The Samurai’s Garden by Gayle Tsukiyama. I might even finish it today I’m so close!
I’m going to jump on Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson as soon as I finish Samurai. I’m excited to get back into it.
I made major progress with Made in America: An Informal History of the English Language in the United States by Bill Bryson while driving to and from Indiana for a conference this weekend. I’d like to think my progress with this book makes up for my lack of progress with Samauri and Cloud Atlas but I’m not sure it works that way.
I began a new audiobook for Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury on Sunday. I was going to read my physical copy of this book, but listening to the audio will give me more time to get through some other physical books I’ve been slacking on. So far the narrator’s really good and I’m enjoying Bradbury again.

Talk About RunningRecently finished: I finished up the last twenty minutes What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami as I drove to Indiana. I liked this one and related to Murakami as a writer and athlete. I especially liked when he talked about triathlons! Yes, major geek moments for me.

And two book reviews for you all this week! Please check out my reviews of Bird Box by Josh Malerman (5 stars) and Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng (3 Stars). I know a lot of you had been asking me what I thought of these so let me know if you agree, disagree, now hate me, etc. I’m about caught up on reviews and there will be one more tomorrow!

SenseReading Next: For an audiobook on my phone, I still plan to pick up Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. Yes, I’m pushing this back a little bit, but I do want to get to it.
I’ve been meaning to read Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen for ages. I have a really cool copy of the book that shows you where to fold the pages to make book-art out of it to spell out Love. That proably doesn’t make a lot of sense, but I’ll be sure to post pictures when I finish.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 7-October-2015

7 Oct

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Made in AmericaCurrently reading:  I’ve been picking at Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. It’s renewed again and I’ll keep working on it, but I’m still not engaged. I think I’m close to this magical event in the middle that everyone says will blow my mind, but I’m not there yet. I hope it happens?
I don’t even have I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai checked out anymore. I should probably take it off this list.
I’m working my way through The Samurai’s Garden by Gayle Tsukiyama. I’m about a third of the way through it and I’m enjoying it so far. It was a bit slow to start but has a good pace now.
I haven’t read any of Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson this week, but I hope to pick it up for a bit after I finish ‘Samurai’s Garden.’
I wanted a new audiobook for my car so I went to the library and got Made in America: An Informal History of the English Language in the United States by Bill Bryson. I wanted to read this one to see what I could learn about English in the 1920s when my book is set. So far I’m in pre-Revolutionary America and I’m finding myself zoning out a lot. Not good! Maybe I’ll be more interested when we get to the 20th Century.
I also started a new phone audiobook, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami. As a runner (or would be runner, darn tendonitis) and writer, I was intrigued by this book. Murakami’s really cocky but has some great insight and I’m enjoying this so far. It’s short, a little over 4 hours, so I hope to get through it quickly.

Never ToldRecently finished: I finished Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng late last week. Parts of the ending were satisfying, parts were disappointing. It raised my expectations for my Ford Audiobook Club selections to be sure. 3 out of 5 stars and a review coming next week.

One book review this week again, The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory. I liked this book though it’s not my favorite of her Tudor series. Let me know what you think.

SlaughterhouseReading Next: I’m still planning on picking up Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury next week. I’ll read some of Out Stealing Horses in the meantime, but this is next as a physical book.
For an audiobook on my phone, I’ll probably pick up Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. I’ve never read this classic and it feels wrong to me.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!