The Best Book I’ve Read in Ages

Saying “I like books” is an understatement. Chris Guillebeau, in “The Art of Noncomformity” shares a story about his $30 table collapsed under the weight of his imported coffee beans, so he upgraded to a $40 table from Home Depot. That’s how I am with bookshelves: hand-me-downs and Big Lots specials have bowed under the weight of my stacked-and-filed collections, so I upgrade and reinforce as required. Although my reading pace tends to crawl, my book collection ever grows.

I am terrible about sticking to one book at a time. In fact, at the time of this writing, I am technically in the middle of 5 books that I’ve started reading and re-reading concurrently. What is more astonishing is that they are the same 5 books I was in the middle of just a week ago. I started reading a 6th and it completely overtook my time and attention; since starting this one, I haven’t touched another book except to move them out of the way. Really.

I find myself consistently engaging the memoir of Haruki Murakami, “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running,” (note: my affiliate link) a beautiful book detailing not only the thought processes of long-distance running, but the endurance and integrity required in the processes of an author. Murakami’s words call out to the deep but tiny little wellsprings of inspiration and talent in me (and I assume in each of us) as he muses on the life, time, training and scenery involved in both writing and running.

For example, in Chapter 5 he writes that “Seeing a lot of water… every day is probably an important thing for human beings… If I go for a long time without seeing water, I feel like something’s slowly draining out of me. It’s probably like the feeling a music lover has when, for whatever reason, he’s separated from music for a long time.” I suddenly remember trips to the beach when I was younger, or even a short picnic by the river at the Nutter Fort park. Water does something for me, something hard to describe, and now I find a respected author pointing out that one small piece of me that carries deep implication; perhaps I should plan my time and my weeks in such a way as to spend a little time near a river or lake.

I appreciate Murakami’s perspective, his paternal explanation of thoughts, dreams and directions; he reminds me both of who I am and who I want to be. It reads to me both like a mirror and a lens.

My running is nowhere near his level: the traditional route is to train for and complete a 5k, then a 10k, and then a half-marathon before stretching out to a full marathon. Murakami has spent decades running and describes the mentality of marathon running, which simultaneously lights my fire and breaks my heart; so far, I’ve run exactly one 5k, and I had to stop and walk quite a few times for that.

Give yourself the benefit of a couple days’ light reading and enjoy this book. You’ll be out around $10, and that money will be more than well-spent on the experience of sharing his space.

Go forth and enjoy.

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