“But who can say what’s best? That’s why you need to grab whatever chance you have of happiness where you find it, and not worry about other people too much. My experience tells me that we get no more than two or three such chances in a life time, and if we let them go, we regret it for the rest of our lives.”
If you have yet to dive into a good Murakami read, I am here to be your tour guide as you start that mind-altering adventure. I have devoured almost everything that has been translated into English and consider myself one of his biggest fans.
10 years ago, I sank my mind into my very first Haruki Murakami novel, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. I read it over the summer knowing it was assigned in the Contemporary Literature course I was taking that fall.
I get asked all the time which of his works to read first, and I always suggest this one. This book contains all of the common Murakami experiences (alternating chapters, alternate worlds, mysterious protagonist, mysterious circumstances, awkward sex, cooking, music, and more.) If you like this one, then you’ll likely enjoy his others. They only get weirder.
Timing is everything when reading, which is why some of us hated the novels we were force fed in high school and others rave about the same books. Well, Murakami and I began a very beautiful friendship back when I was 20. I went on to write my M.A. thesis about this book and will be teaching it for the first time this spring.
For the past 3 semesters, I taught Norwegian Wood, which works really well because this generation of readers are accustomed to choosing teams by voting for a love interest. Half my students are typically Team Midori while the other half are Team Naoko. Nonetheless, I’m ready to switch it up and explore some new themes with my students.
Here is what Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World will teach you and hopefully my students this spring:
1. Dichotomies are never what they seem.
2. The unconscious life is productive.
3. “Everyone may be ordinary, but they’re not normal.”
This novel is lovely and will challenge you to think new thoughts about the mind, consciousness, and awareness. Let me know which Murakami novel you recommend to friends first and definitely tell me if you share my love for this one.
Reading Beyond Murakami
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