The Haruki Murakami Book Series

21 Jun

When I started working, I’ve invested more time in physical and outdoor activities, neglecting the need to sit down and have a good read.  So, towards the latter half of the year, I made time to read.

“A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.”

  Reading became an ease when I was handed a Hurakami book. His books always left me curious and unsatisfied; leaving me with a longing to know more. Thanks to my generous book sponsors H and R, let me share with you my top 5 Hurakami reads…

Norwegian Wood

This is one more piece of advice I have for you: don’t get impatient. Even if things are so tangled up you can’t do anything, don’t get desperate or blow a fuse and start yanking on one particular thread before it’s ready to come undone. You have to realize it’s going to be a long process and that you’ll work on things slowly, one at a time.

When it was written: 1987

Themes: Loneliness, Memories, Death and Grief

Why I like it..

  • Explored a life of a college student, Toru Watanabe, who’s story was about his developing relationships with two women who were completely different but at the same time, very similar. Not your ordinary love story as it explored heavily the themes of loss and sexuality. Beautifully written and was such an easy read.

After Dark

Someday you’ll find the right person, and you’ll learn to have a lot more confidence in yourself. That’s what I think. So don’t settle for anything less. In this world, there are things you can only do alone, and things you can only do with somebody else. It’s important to combine the two in just the right amount.

When it was written: 2004

Themes: Alienation, Duality, Interconnectivity

Why I like it…

  • The book constantly shifted between reality and dream world; leaving one on his / her toes on what happens next.  The story focused on the life of  a 19 year old student, Mari Asai and her older sister Eri. Although both girls seem like complete polar opposites with the life they led, it becomes apparent that they have a common struggle in life: alienation. This story is laced with hope and the beauty of one’s need for human connections.

Kafka on the Shore

Lost opportunities, lost possibilities, feelings we can never get back. That’s part of what it means to be alive. But inside our heads – at least that’s where I imagine it – there’s a little room where we store those memories. A room like the stacks in this library. And to understand the workings of our own heart we have to keep on making new reference cards. We have to dust things off every once in awhile, let in fresh air, change the water in the flower vases. In other words, you’ll live forever in your own private library.

When it was written: 2002

Themes: Parallelism, Coming-Of-Age, Alienation, Sexuality

Why I like it…

  • Cleverly written novel that shifted back and forth between two completely different settings and characters that have equally interesting plots. The odd chapters feature a 15 year old runaway named Kafka and his distraught relationship with his father, meanwhile the even chapters feature Nakata, an old man who has a unique ability to speak to cats. As the novel continues, their stories eventually converge and all questions are answered. Ends beautifully wherein one is  given the freedom from his fate while the other is given a fresh start.

South of the Border, West of the Sun

“For a while” is a phrase whose length can’t be measured. At least by the person who’s waiting.

When it was written: 1992

Theme: Love, Loss, Betrayal

Why I like it…

  • At age 36, Hajime is given the shock of his life when he is suddenly reunited with his childhood sweet heart. Despite having a completely happy family life, he is haunted by Shimamoto and his curiousity for  their “what could have been”. A chain of events beautifully written that escalates to a decision wherein Hajime has to choose between the magic of his past or his family.

After the Quake

“You know something?” she said.// “What?” // “I’m completely empty.” // “Yeah?” // “Yeah.”

When it was written: 2002

Theme: Loss, Denial, Coming of Age, Emptiness

Why I like it…

  • A very  light read that showcases 6 short stories that are all linked by the after effects of the 1995 Kobe Earthquake. Although all of the stories do not take place in Kobe nor were the characters directly affected by it, the disaster served as a turning point that pushes each character to confront their concerns in life that they have bottled up for years.

All of the books that I’ve mentioned were beautifully written, often filled with riddles and life concerns that longed for closure. These books did provide me with endings, however, they were often open-ended.  Murakami taught me an important lesson: often times, it’s not the ending that matters, but the experience. ❤

What’s your favorite Murakami book?

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