After Dark

I have found a new favorite author in Haruki Murakami. I stumbled upon him accidentally when the cover of his newest novel was showcased on a graphic design board I follow on Pinterest. The design was nice, but the title is what piqued my curiosity. I have yet to read the novel that first stirred my interest. I’m working up to that one by first reading some of his earlier works. I read a few recommendations around the Internet that I should start with Wild Sheep Chase, so that is where I started. I couldn’t put the book down and I have been greedily reading his books ever since. I do try to put some space in between them. I don’t want to overdose and ruin the effect he has.

Murakami’s writing style evokes such vivid imagery in my mind. I feel like I’ve been drawn into the story every time. He also tackles topics and questions that I ponder myself, but he approaches them in fresh way. The images and thoughts he creates in my mind stick with me long after I’ve finished reading the book. And some of the ideas he presents need time to ruminate – I don’t always know what to do with them at first. They swirl around in my head until they take root and finally connect with something. I like that in a book. I like books that make me think.

And he’s also a distance runner and triathlete. His book, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, was a great reflection on running and training and life in general. It was written in such a conversational tone, I felt as if I was sitting down and conversing with him over coffee.

I just finished After Dark. Of course I loved it. It was short novel and a quick read, but it wasn’t lacking in depth and meaning. It also contained some memorable quotes, like this one:

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.

And this one:

“You know what I think?” she says. “That people’s memories are maybe the fuel they burn to stay alive. Whether those memories have any actual importance or not, it doesn’t matter as far as the maintenance of life is concerned. They’re all just fuel. Advertising fillers in the newspaper, philosophy books, dirty pictures in a magazine, a bundle of ten-thousand-yen bills: when you feed ’em to the fire, they’re all just paper. The fire isn’t thinking ‘Oh, this is Kant,’ or ‘Oh, this is the Yomiuri evening edition,’ or ‘Nice tits,’ while it burns. To the fire, they’re nothing but scraps of paper. It’s the exact same thing. Important memories, not-so-important memories, totally useless memories: there’s no distinction–they’re all just fuel.”

It’s hard to pick a favorite. I’ve liked them all so far. Every time I read one, I think it is my new favorite. And then I read another one, and it becomes my new favorite. Hopefully it will continue in this fashion for awhile at least.

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I’m one book behind on my 2013 reading challenge. The book I’m reading right now, Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, is a heavy tome. It’s interesting reading, but there is a lot to read.

So far the reading list goes:

  1. Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World: A Novel (Vintage International) by Haruki Muriakami
  2. Be Iron Fit, 2nd: Time-Efficient Training Secrets for Ultimate Fitness by Don Fink
  3. Train Like a Mother: How to Get Across Any Finish Line—and Not Lose Your Family, Job, or Sanity by Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea
  4. Just Kids by Patti Smith
  5. Country Driving: A Journey Through China from Farm to Factory (P.S.) by Peter Hessler
  6. Chi Marathon: The Breakthrough Natural Running Program for a Pain-Free Half Marathon and Marathon by Danny Dreyer
  7. The Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux
  8. Because I Said So!: The Truth Behind the Myths, Tales, and Warnings Every Generation Passes Down to Its Kids
    by Ken Jennings (Very disappointing book. I liked the idea, and as a fan of Jeopardy, I like the author, but the delivery on this book was off.)
  9. No Passengers Beyond This Point by Gennifer Choldenko (Recommended by my 12 year-old so I had to acquiesce. It actually wasn’t too bad. It had an interesting twist at the end. I picked up on some clues; therefore, I figured out the twist before it was revealed. My son didn’t figure it out, probably because he has no experience in the matter to draw from. He was surprised by the end. I thought it was still a good read.)
  10. The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear by Seth Mnookin (Highly recommend this book. It details the history of vaccines and their opposition. It also definitely puts to rest the vaccine-autism “connection” – at least in my mind.)
  11. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
  12. After Dark (Vintage International) by Haruki Muriakami

January Reading List

I didn’t spend a lot of time running in January. However, I did spend a lot of time reading about running – mostly training books. I’m a planner, and I felt I needed some guidance on how to prepare for a longer race. I also needed some motivation to keep going. As I stated in a previous post, this is not my most active time of year. In fact, if I believed in any of that past life stuff, I would hazard a guess I was a hibernating bear in one of mine.


I started off the year reading, Be Iron Fit, 2nd: Time-Efficient Training Secrets for Ultimate Fitness. I have no intention of competing in an Ironman any time soon, I need to learn how to swim for starters, but I’ve always been curious about what it takes to train for one of these competitions. It was in the Kindle monthly deals section and I thought it might offer some motivation and tips I could incorporate into my daily running routine. It was motivational and I definitely picked up on some things I can do now in my own practice, such as running in minutes instead of miles. It’s definitely a lot easier to schedule training on busy days if I know exactly how long it will take me, which will make it harder for me to skip a day.


I also read Train Like a Mother: How to Get Across Any Finish Line – and Not Lose Your Family, Job, or Sanity. I stumbled upon the blog, Another Mother Runner one day. I really enjoyed reading it, so I thought I’d give their book a try. I enjoyed reading it as well. It contained practical advice and the anecdotes were great. I have a few fears about running my first 13 mile race, some of the fears I believe only a mother can appreciate, and it’s good to read honest accounts from women who have already experienced these things. I think this is the plan I’m going to follow when I start seriously training. I like the flexibility of the plan, which is necessary when you have kids. I also love their sense of humor and their writing style. They keep things fun, which is how running should be.

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World: A Novel (Vintage International) isn’t a running book, but the author is a runner. He even wrote a book about running, which is on my wishlist. That is not why I chose this book. I found Haruki Murakami at the end of last year completely by accident and I’m glad I did. This book was even better than the last one. In fact, I would list this book as one of my all time favorites. It was a funny, serious, and thought-provoking story about the interaction between humans and technology, how actions and thoughts connect us to others, and how our dreams and desires help shape our lives and the lives of those we interact with. Each chapter switches between 2 different story lines that gradually interweave and converge at the end. It’s a hard book to explain, you just have to read it. It’s a book that has stuck with me so far. I think it will stick with me for awhile.

I wasn’t as taken with Just Kids as some others were. I like Patti Smith, but I didn’t like this book. I didn’t hate it either, it just wasn’t what I expected. I was expecting a more thoughtful account of her time with Robert Maplethorpe. It lacked emotion and depth in my opinion, especially in the middle where she recounted her time at the Chelsea. I would have loved to hear more detail about hers and Robert’s work and how they found the road to their success. Instead it read more like the diary I kept as a teenager – a bit trite and superficial. Disappointing is the word that keeps coming to mind.

So far, I am ahead on my 2013 reading challenge progress. I think that is pretty good way to start the year off.

Right now I’m reading Chi Marathon and Country Driving. So far I’m enjoying both. And I plan on doing more running and less reading about running in the coming weeks and months. Now if only the weather will cooperate…. So far this week it has. I got out this morning for a rainy 4.27 mile run.  I ran without Chuck this morning. He hates the rain. He can’t tolerate his paws getting wet. He loves the snow though, which is on the way according to the forecast, so maybe I’ll take him on a snowy run this weekend.

My phone must have sensed the rain today as well. The song it played for me on the home stretch was Rain Street by The Pogues, which I know has nothing to do with rain, but it was still a fun song to end on as I splashed through puddles on the way home.