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5 Haruki Murakami Must-Reads That Will Help You In Real Life

This master storyteller has got your most pressing problems covered
by Anton D. Umali | Sep 10, 2016
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Prolific and critically acclaimed Japanese writer Haruki Murakami is rumored to be coming to Manila for a series of lectures, book signings, and a possible fun-run event. His works have been warmly received throughout his career because of their surrealistic style and postmodern qualities. Although the Japan Foundation Manila has yet to confirm if his visit will push through, fans are showing zero chill when it comes to their anticipation of the author.

One distinct characteristic of his work is, despite dealing with fantasy realms, alternate worlds, and far out characters, it's almost always grounded on a practical message that can be used in real life. Should his visit push through, it might be in your best interest to familiarize yourself with some of his books. Here’s a compilation of some of his best and how they might be able help you in real life situations.

For when you're in need of an extra push of inspiration

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Whether you’re preparing for a run or need a boost at the office, this love letter to the sport contains enough insight to keep you charging towards improvement. Hardcore Murakami fanatics are aware of his obsession with running. This memoir chronicles his training for the New York City Marathon, while at the same time muses on the act of writing. As the lines between the athletic and artistic blur, it somehow morphs into an emotional, revelatory meditation on why we do the things we do.

For when you need an escape from reality

The reader must navigate two parallel realities: a futuristic Tokyo where a war an information war is being waged and a place called The Town, a fantastical otherworld guarded by a gigantic wall. It’s trippy stuff, mixing science fiction with socio-political themes that are still very much relevant today.


For when you can't seem to find yourself

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Arguably one of the novelist’s most puzzling (and fascinating) works of fiction, it alternates between two main characters. There’s Kafka, a teenager who runs away from home in the hopes of finding his mother and sister. Then there’s the story of Nakata, an old man who has found some solace in looking for lost cats. Many would debate that it’s a story about fate, but the wiser know that it’s also about how our actions, decisions, and state of mind can manipulate our destiny. 

For when you have no more social life and are forced to stay in

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The title of the novel is a reference to the George Orwell classic, 1984, the same fictional year in which the narrative takes place. Standing at 928 pages thick, it might be quite a challenge for even the most ravenous of readers. It opens with a corporate assassin named Aomame who starts noticing that the world around her is abnormally changing. With themes that hark on history, religion, and murder, it’s a novel that needs a proper sit-down to digest.

For when you start feeling old AF and need to reminisce about the good old days

Told from the point of view of 37-year-old Toru Watanabe, who starts remembering his youth and past romances after hearing an orchestra cover of The Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood”, the novel is a story of rebellion and sexual awakening. Watanabe’s former flames, Naoko and Midori, couldn’t be any more different, the former emotionally volatile and the latter a breath of fresh air. Regardless of their differences, they both end up teaching him valuable lessons about love and life.

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