35 Comments

  1. pc63
    December 23 @ 4:56 am

    The only Murakami book I’ve read is “Kafka on the Shore” (I just picked it up randomly from the library one day). It’s the kind of book that I want to recommend to people, but I’m not sure who will actually like it. I am quite interested in reading more of his works though. I might try “Hard-boiled wonderland and the end of the world” next

    Reply

    • Jessica Manuel
      December 31 @ 9:45 pm

      That is so funny. I am constantly recommending Murakami but never really sure if I should. I think Kafka might be his weirdest work yet, so congrats on starting there. Let me know if you pick up HBW&EotW. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

      Reply

  2. thestrangelibrarian
    December 23 @ 7:25 am

    Personally, I would say any book of Murakami is good enough to start with. My first Murakami novel was South of the Border and the West of the Sun. Upon reading it, I wanted to read more Murakami. However, perhaps one of the early novels such as A Wild Sheep Chase, Dance Dance Dance or Hard Boiled Wonderland to get a better sense of his style and themes would be a good idea 🙂

    Reply

    • Jessica Manuel
      December 31 @ 9:47 pm

      I loved South of the Border and West of the Sun; it is so subtle and beautiful. Let me know if you pick up one of his others.

      Reply

  3. bookheathen
    December 24 @ 4:42 am

    ‘Timing is everything when reading, which is why some of us hated the novels we were force fed in high school while others of us rave about the same reads.’
    That is so true, tho’ in my experience the ‘ravers’ were very few indeed.
    I enjoyed reading your thoughts on Murakami; I’m just about to embark on ‘Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki’.

    Reply

    • Jessica Manuel
      December 31 @ 9:48 pm

      Enjoy Colorless! It reminds me a bit of Norwegian Wood.

      Reply

  4. danielclay
    January 2 @ 3:48 pm

    Thanks for coming across my blog. I really appreciate the “eclecticity” of your writing, and look forward to reading more of your posts. I’ve been considering taking on the challenge of a Murkami and appreciate the guidance. Blessings to you and your husband and much joy to you with your latest addition!

    Reply

    • Jessica Manuel
      January 2 @ 5:40 pm

      Thank you so much for your well wishes. We are having an amazing time watching our son grow. Please let me know if you pick up Murakami; he’s pretty remarkable. I’m looking forward to reading more of your words as well! Happy New Year!

      Reply

  5. El Vega
    January 5 @ 7:05 am

    Thanks for the introduction. Always looking for a new reading experience!

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  6. maithili09
    January 8 @ 11:42 pm

    Kafka on the Shore… Highly recommended

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  7. TheBookLion
    January 10 @ 12:28 pm

    Hm. I’ve never tried Murakami before, but you’ve convinced me to try!

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    • Jessica Manuel
      January 10 @ 12:31 pm

      Excellent! Start here and if you are not completely weirded out, then you can move on to his other works.

      Reply

  8. tobywallisnet
    January 11 @ 6:52 am

    Only the other day someone asked me who my favourite writer was. I said Haruki Murakami (they hadn’t heard of him) and then asked which book I would suggest of his. This was a very hard question to answer. My favourite is Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, but I’m not sure that would make a good recommendation. I ended up going with Norwegian Wood as I think it might be the most accessible. It was the first of his full length works I read, and it led me into the weirder stuff, so maybe it would work that way for others too. Thanks for writing your thoughts on this question so coincidentally close to me having to choose one of his books to recommend. 🙂

    Reply

    • Jessica Manuel
      January 11 @ 8:52 am

      I think Wind-Up is his best. I love the narrative style of Wind-Up, HBW, Kafka, and 1Q84. Norwegian Wood is a great choice to start with, but some of my students couldn’t see past the sex. I wanted to try something different. We’ll see how it goes. Anyway, it is a hard question. Every reader is different. Have you read The Strange Library yet? Oddly enough, it’s strange 🙂

      Reply

      • tobywallisnet
        January 11 @ 9:33 am

        I have read it. 🙂 It was like a delicious winter desert after the summer’s main course of Tsukuru Tazaki.

        Reply

  9. doronklemer
    January 12 @ 12:54 pm

    Well, you sure know how to get my attention: Murakami has been one of my Top10 favourite authors since I tucked into ‘Windup Bird Chronicles’ about fifteen years ago, and I was lucky enough to meet the man himself a few months ago…

    https://doronklemer.wordpress.com/2014/09/10/123-five-seconds-with-haruki-murakami/

    My go-to recommendation for Murakami newbies, not too long and with all the delicious weirdness of his best works, is A Wild Sheep Chase, but Hardboiled is probably my second recommendation!!

    Thanks for dropping by my blog, and keep up the writing!

    Reply

  10. Vincent Nola
    January 19 @ 12:15 pm

    Just finished “Sputnik Sweetheart”– my first Murakami– and enjoyed it! Thought it would be a nice way to ease into his work. “Kafka” came highly recommended, and “Hardboiled” immediately peaks my interest as a disciple of Chandler and Hammett. I found “Wind Up Bird” at the bookstore and have that on deck, tentatively. Thoughts?

    Reply

    • Jessica Manuel
      January 19 @ 12:21 pm

      I think Wind-Up is his best work. It is complicated and beautiful and even violent. I hope you love it. Sputnik is a delight; you just ate dessert before a seven course meal. If you have it, read it. I am working on a post about what order to read them all in, but it’s just one opinion. You can’t mess it up.

      Reply

      • Vincent Nola
        January 19 @ 12:55 pm

        Excellent, sounds like there is much to look forward too, and that includes your upcoming post 😉

        Happy Reading!

        Reply

      • Vincent Nola
        November 3 @ 12:23 pm

        Time flies but I have circled back to Murakami and am through 60 pages of Hard Boiled Wonderland. Interesting so far in that it is very abstract and metaphorical. I want to savor the experience but don’t want to get lost in analogies that fly over my head. Can you give me some tips or notables to keep in mind as I progress through? I read the other article as well and will keep those tips in mind. Happy Reading!

        Reply

        • Jessica Manuel
          November 13 @ 8:31 am

          I have a YouTube video that is a Power Point without sound. It introduces some themes to keep in mind for just the first two chapters. It was sort of a fluke because I was just learning how to add audio to a Power Point and the experiment went south when I tried to upload it to YouTube. You can read the themes though. I hope you are enjoying it so far. I’m sorry I didn’t respond sooner. Let me know what you think when you finish. Here is the video: Beginning Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

          Reply

          • Vincent Nola
            November 13 @ 12:16 pm

            Thanks for the response! I did take a look at some of the themes. I also finished the novel that week. It was frustrating at times because I knew I was not getting everything, but once I finished I found myself continuing to think about the story.

            I have been re-reading certain scenes from End of the World looking for clues, subtleties and hints, and really like the dream-like style of his narration through those chapters. The hard-boiled sections, in my opinion, are not deserving of the comparison to Chandler, and were very misleading.

            However, I did enjoy the book! Great concept, and once I understood the relationship between the two sections, I was able to approach everything from a new perspective. No shame in not taking it all in during the first read, and I would bet it will reveal something new each time I re-read it. Tough to get through the first time without a bit of guidance, but luckily your posts helped frame it, and I was able to press through.

            Wind-Up Bird is on my December reading list, and I will have to track down a copy of Kafka as well.

            Reply

            • Jessica Manuel
              November 13 @ 1:37 pm

              That sounds great. I think you’ll find both Wind-Up and Kafka more enjoyable. HBW is a great foundational work for understanding some concepts Murakami visits and revisits through each of his works. I wouldn’t compare him to Chandler, although I have only read The Big Sleep. Knowing Murakami claims to be influenced by Chandler, I wanted to see what he was about. The only connection I find is ending the chapter on a cliff hanger to make the reader want to see what happens next, but that’s hardly exclusive to any one author. Please let me know what you think of Murakami’s other works.

              Reply

  11. Sarah
    January 30 @ 10:26 am

    I think ‘Wind Up’ is my favourite. Murakami has such a unique voice. He seems to gloss the surfaces of things – actions, conversations, relationships -and yet that surreal undertow draws you in and doesn’t let you go. I still have 1Q84 to read – I’m saving it up as a treat!

    Reply

    • Jessica Manuel
      January 30 @ 12:32 pm

      I know what you mean, Sarah. I still have A Wild Sheep Chase to read and I don’t want to start it for the same reason. I agree with you in part- I think Wind-Up is his best, but Hard-Boiled Wonderland has a special place in my heart.

      Reply

  12. pinklightsabre
    February 7 @ 8:49 am

    Very cool topic! Wind-up Bird Chronicles is our bookcase and the only one I’ve read, but it blew my mind from like the first scene, with that surreal sex/phone encounter thing. I loved it. Now you’ve got me wanting to read more, and I’ve got a stack in my back-log already! Thanks Jessica. Have a great weekend. – Bill

    Reply

    • Jessica Manuel
      February 7 @ 10:19 am

      If you liked Wind-Up, then you’ll love Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, Kafka on the Shore and 1Q84. They all deal with a similar theme. He subtly touches on it in Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage in a less absurd way. I’d love to chat with you after each Murakami meal.

      Reply

  13. Page Larkin - San Francisco
    February 7 @ 8:56 pm

    Murakamis books were on my radar…picked up IQ84 as an audio book…thought I would listen to a couple of chapters, and bam! I was hooked…fabulous! Listening to After Dark, at the moment, and I am transported! He is an incredible writer…glad to be a fan and to have a bevy of books to look forward to this year…

    Reply

    • Jessica Manuel
      May 2 @ 8:47 am

      I think I need to re-read After Dark. It is the only book of his I didn’t enjoy. I would probably appreciate it if I tried again. I can’t seem to get enough of him.

      Reply

  14. The Best Way to Read Haruki Murakami – Book Oblivion
    May 13 @ 6:34 am

    […] These five are my favorite works of Haruki Murakami because of the way they deal with the unconscious. In each work, the lives of the characters are completely altered because of dreams, memories, nostalgia, or other manifestations of the unconscious. It reminds the reader how powerful the mind is, and I’ve remained convinced of this since my first reading of Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. That is why I suggest friends and students start with this novel, which I explain briefly in this post. […]

    Reply

  15. slothsandsweets
    December 4 @ 2:49 pm

    Hi Jessica,

    Thank you so much for this article and “The Best Way to Read Haruki Murakami.” I have wanted to read Murakami for over a year now and was not sure what to read first. This article inspired me to order Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. I look forward to reading more of your articles and book recommendations.

    On a side note thank you for stopping by my little blog!

    Sincerely,
    Rachel

    Reply

    • Jessica Manuel
      December 4 @ 7:59 pm

      Lovely! Please come back and let me know what you think after you read it. You’ll probably want to talk about the ending 🙂

      Reply

  16. How I Plan My Freshmen Composition Course - Book Oblivion
    February 17 @ 3:12 pm

    […] explain why I choose Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World in this post, so you can check that out. I will add, however, that this novel deals with semiotics, psychology, […]

    Reply

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