1. rumadak
    May 13 @ 5:51 pm

    Amazing Write-up!! I have recently fallen in love with his work and read only few. But I surely wanna read ALL of his work!


  2. backpackingmama
    May 13 @ 9:21 pm

    Ah! A good guide. I started with his book on running.. more for the running than anything else and then i read his list of books. SO while I have been dying to start somewhere on his fiction, i just didn’t know where.
    After reading your post, I wish i could breathe them in, they all look so interesting.
    Though, I think i will start with a AWSC since it sounds a little linked to my world of marketing!


    • Jessica Manuel
      June 1 @ 7:43 am

      Not a bad place to start, but whatever you do, don’t stop there.


  3. Chaitanya
    May 13 @ 11:13 pm

    I have read them in completely strange order..

    1) After Dark
    2) Norwegian Wood
    3) Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki
    4) Sputnik Sweetheart
    5) Kafka on The Shore

    And although I have gone through book descriptions on Goodreads, this order of reading still gave me surprises and sometimes even made me wonder about his range..


    • Jessica Manuel
      June 1 @ 7:45 am

      Wow. I love that order. The first four speak to each other really well. And then you throw Kafka in at the end, which I think is his weirdest novel.


  4. mbolannos
    May 14 @ 12:18 am

    I read him and reread him for years. His novels give you new things to think about with each new read. My favourites has been always “Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World”, but I first met him with “Norwegian Wood”. I enjoy essay as well such as “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” and “Underground” because you can know another facet of the writer.
    I think that he is a great writer that worth to read and recommend.


    • Jessica Manuel
      June 1 @ 7:46 am

      Absolutely. I think he helps to reignite a passion for reading for a young 20-something- that’s when I began reading him. He grows with you though.


  5. Robert Sylvester
    May 21 @ 2:46 am

    Excellent blog, Jessica. To read is to create a healthy space, some detachment from the clack and clatter – to probe what is within – the reader, what is all around him or her …

    Keep doing this.

    God bless – congratulations on the new little one … I am a new Grandpa to Jack Seneca Sylvester, 7 months old. Got to be a novelist with that name and two parents who are avid readers.

    Peace be with you,

    Bob @ Spirlaw


    • Jessica Manuel
      June 1 @ 7:47 am

      Haha! Yes, he will definitely make his mark on our world of books. Thanks for reading and looking around. More to come!


      • Robert Sylvester
        June 1 @ 8:52 am

        You are entirely welcome, Jessica. Keep believing and creating.

        All the best,



  6. ADSaines
    May 21 @ 4:25 pm

    Thanks for liking my post. I am new at this blogging world so I do get a little thrill when someone other than my mum likes a post. The only thing I had read till recently was Scheherazade in the New Yorker. I loved it. I can’t stop thinking about it. I find myself wondering about this man while I’m washing dishes or hanging out laundry. I really enjoyed your post. What a great way to discover his works.


    • Jessica Manuel
      May 21 @ 4:37 pm

      That’s fantastic! Enjoy every story. It only gets better!


  7. Matt Bluemink
    May 28 @ 12:09 pm

    For me it has to be:
    1. Kafka on the Shore
    2. Wind-Up Bird
    3. After Dark
    4. Hard-Boiled Wonderland
    5. Colorless Tsuzaki

    (I haven’t read 1Q84!)

    Great post though! 🙂


    • Jessica Manuel
      May 28 @ 12:10 pm

      Is that the order you read them or the order you would read them if you could go back?


      • Matt Bluemink
        May 28 @ 12:14 pm

        Both. I’d definitely stick with the first 2. Jumping in at the deep end with Murakami was a mind blowing experience for me. The others are somewhat interchangeable. All were great though of course.


        • Jessica Manuel
          May 28 @ 6:40 pm

          I absolutely respect that jump. A close friend of mine is actually starting with Wind-Up, and I support his decision, although I wouldn’t recommend it for most. I think it’s really cool you began your journey with Kafka.


    • Matt Bluemink
      May 30 @ 4:06 am



      • Bensy
        December 4 @ 8:40 pm

        A friend mentioned ‘What I Talk About When I Talk About Running’ and i took to not just for my Marathon training. ???

        I am impressed that Haruki Murakami is a hard working, very honest and sincere personality and writer.

        A fellow lover of (impro jazz) music, having run his own jazz club as his first career, before changing career via his success with Pinball 1973.

        Next my friend lent me Underground since I remembered the terrorism committed against innocent Tokyo subway commiters in 1995.

        I thought that Haruki Murakami could tease out some of the details of how misfits would be lured, brainwashed and committed to murdering their fellow citizens.

        I learned a lot but sadly there are still murderous cult gangs luring misfits and criminals into evil acts around the world, even where I live.

        I recommend starting with these two nonfiction books, to learn about *Haruki Murakami the person* first.

        By chance I read ‘Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage’.

        I could see a lot of Murakami’s elements of the above two books in his fiction!

        Tsukuru could be the best novel I have read in Decades!!!

        This one will tug at your heart, your soul and your younger self.

        ???????. Which one next? ???


    • Eleena
      February 24 @ 7:16 pm

      Hi Matt,

      We have the same reading order for the first two so do you recommend me continuing with the other three as per your order?

      Thanks! 🙂


      • Matt Bluemink
        February 25 @ 12:50 am

        It really depends what you’re looking for. Tsukuru was slow and thoughtful whereas Hard-boiled Wonderland is fast paced and quite sci-fi. It really depends on your mood 🙂


  8. Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami | Peter's Blog
    May 28 @ 8:58 pm

    […] The stories in this collection are great introductory works for someone completely unfamiliar with Murakami, though I am particularly fond of this article on the best order to read Murakami. […]


  9. personatus50
    June 1 @ 7:16 am

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.


  10. Opher
    June 1 @ 9:15 am

    One of my favourite writers. I love his style. It is so different. I have read everything he’s written. I hope he’s got a dozen more in the locker!
    Best wishes
    Opher from Opher’s World


  11. rjfanucchi
    June 4 @ 7:06 pm

    Murakami is amazing. I started with the Bird Chronicles and Kafka.


  12. theamazingworldofgummies
    June 5 @ 9:36 am

    Murakami will always be one of favorite authors. While I didn’t have the luxury of being able to follow the order you’ve specified, I still love his writing.


    • Jessica Manuel
      June 5 @ 9:39 am

      I didn’t have that luxury either and I walked away enjoying him thoroughly as well. It’s just a suggestion 🙂


  13. djsamkathy
    June 11 @ 8:00 am

    I stumbled across this post right after finishing Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki. It was my first Murakami book and I loved it! I was thinking about trying Kafka on the Shore next, but after reading this post, maybe I’ll go for Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World.


    • Jessica Manuel
      June 11 @ 8:20 am

      I love Kafka on the Shore. You can’t really go wrong, but this is my recommendation. I feel like Hard-Boiled Wonderland grounds his theory in the most direct way that all his other novels are written to help prove in an indirect way. Colorless does it in the most real way in that a lie became a memory and changed reality. The others are a little more absurd and fun- all great. Let me know what you decide and what you think of it!


      • Sami Austin
        June 16 @ 10:17 am

        I finished the book a couple days ago and I loved it! I actually wrote a book review of it on my blog, and I linked to this post because I thought it was so useful. 🙂


      • Sami Austin
        June 17 @ 6:57 am

        So I finished Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and I loved it! I actually wrote a blog post reviewing it (and I linked to this post at the end as a reference because I found it so enlightening – hope you don’t mind).


        • Jessica Manuel
          June 17 @ 11:31 am

          Of course I don’t mind. I’m thrilled you enjoyed the book and the post. I loved your review. It was a very melancholy read, and sometimes that’s how life is. I’m looking forward to your next review!


  14. Stephen Ransom
    June 13 @ 4:13 am

    Very nice article. Thanks for sharing! For some reason despite loads of reading I have missed him…probably becuase I’ve been readng Infinite Jest for the decade…


  15. ccorks
    June 15 @ 7:33 am

    Nice article. I am also looking forward to the new editions of Pinball/Hear the Wind Sing. I managed to pick up editions while living in Japan, but those new editions are too pretty to pass up.

    They’re a little rougher around the edges than his later works, but if you’re interested in seeing the evolution they’re more than worth reading.


    • Jessica Manuel
      June 15 @ 7:56 am

      I know what you mean. I am reading A Wild Sheep Chase for the first time and you can tell it’s written by a young Murakami. I’m glad I was introduced to his later books first.


  16. Nancy A Leport
    June 15 @ 8:41 am

    Such a thoughtful and helpful post. Excellent!! THanks for stopping by and liking my blog.


  17. Book Review: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage | Living in Revision
    June 16 @ 9:13 am

    […] more of Murakami’s work now. I was going to read Kafka on the Shore next, but after reading this enlightening article, I think I’m going to move on to Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of […]


  18. E. B. Messenger
    June 28 @ 2:04 pm

    As a fan of Japanese literature, I’m really glad to see you recommending Haruki Murakami’s work. My entry into his writing was through Wild Sheep Chase. When reading literary fiction, I enjoy underlining brilliant passages, and Wild Sheep Chase was so full of them that practically half the novel was underlined!


    • Jessica Manuel
      June 29 @ 2:11 pm

      His writing definitely transcends boundaries. A Wild Sheep Chase was one of the last works I read of his; it was definitely neat to see his voice in the beginning of his writing career.


  19. The TBR Chronicles – June | Lilolia
    June 30 @ 4:15 am

    […] been dying to get into but I couldn’t figure out where best to start.  This post on Book Oblivion helped me decide to go with this one because it was recommended as the first one of his books […]


  20. shoshibookblog
    July 9 @ 3:38 am

    A really helpful post, thank you. I’ve been meaning to read Murakami for years, but didn’t quite know where to start – your guidance is fantastic!


    • Jessica Manuel
      July 9 @ 12:54 pm

      I’m so glad you found it helpful. It’s just one gal’s opinion, but I realized how helpful it might be because after assigning one of Murakami’s short stories in class, my students kept asking me where to start with his novels. Once you check him out, let me know what you think!


  21. Shekhar Ruparelia
    August 5 @ 9:05 am

    I’ve bookmarked this page and I’m going to be coming back here from time to time. Thank you for such a helpful post. 🙂


    • Jessica Manuel
      August 5 @ 9:50 am

      Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear your progress as you read through his works!


  22. Book Review – “Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman” by Haruki Murakami | Adventures Of a Traveller
    August 6 @ 1:14 am

    […] on 6 Aug 2015: I have stumbled upon the The Best Way to Read Haruki Murakami. Those who want to get started with Murakami or want to figure out their way through this […]


  23. Barnes and Noble book haul! | theSheShe
    August 9 @ 1:27 pm

    […] really want to start reading Haruki Murakami, and I found a blog post (Here -if you want to read it too.) about where you should start, because his work is pretty […]


  24. Review: Hard-Boiled Wonderland & the End of the World by Haruki Murakami | Lilolia
    September 23 @ 11:34 pm

    […] to Murakami for quite a while now.  I was going to start with 1Q84 but after reading Jessica from Book Oblivion’s post on the best way to read Murakami I took her advice and decided to start with Hard-Boiled Wonderland […]


  25. Nish
    September 24 @ 1:26 am

    I started Murakami when I saw Sputnik Sweetheart and was intrigued by the cover. I didn’t like the book too much and found it hard to understand his writing style. I then tried Hard-Boiled Wonderland… and my mind was just blown. Amazing. I agree with you that it’s a great book to suck you into his world.


  26. Sky Renee Erickson
    November 17 @ 5:30 am

    I stumbled across a great deal a few weeks ago, and remembered this post, so I picked up Strange Library. I may or may not get slight anxiety when visiting libraries now. I’m looking forward to making my way through this list.


  27. rtimmorris
    November 27 @ 11:03 am

    Thanks for liking my post! I love that you love Murakami so much! I haven’t read nearly as much of his work as I want to but I was late bloomer when it came to reading and there’s so much to catch up on.
    I hope you can find the time to read some of my own work one day.


    • rtimmorris
      December 2 @ 11:31 am

      My first was 1Q84 and thought it was brilliant in its weirdness. Though I felt that the Ushikawa character in the third part was a bit flat. After that, I read Norwegian Wood, Colorless Tsukuru, Yesterday (short story) and finally Wind/Pinball.
      I think Kafka on the Shore will be next, but I’m a big re-reader and am tempted to go back to 1Q84 again.


      • Jessica Manuel
        December 4 @ 8:01 pm

        I want to reread all of his works. I am thinking 2016 might be a good year for that. We’ll see. I certainly enjoyed Kafka. When do you think you’ll get to Wind-Up?


        • R. Tim Morris
          December 4 @ 10:05 pm

          As Murakami’s #1 fan, which of the two is your personal favorite?


  28. Jessica Huntsman
    December 2 @ 8:22 am

    I’m almost done reading his collection of books (that are translated into English ) and I can’t remember the order I’ve read them in, except for 1Q84 was the first. I’m sad because once I’ve read em all, that’ll be it until who knows when…my advice is to savor his works, and don’t read them too fast! I never read one back to back, but as soon as I’m done with another author I can’t wait to go get one of his books and get lost in his world. Hands down the greatest author ever!!!


    • Jessica Manuel
      December 2 @ 8:37 am

      The anticipation that builds when I learn about a new book of his being published in English is huge! It’s so nice to meet a like mind and someone else who enjoyed his worlds as much as I do. Cheers!


  29. Resh Susan
    December 16 @ 5:30 am

    Thank you!! This is an in depth article about Murakami. I am new his books and just finished Norwegian wood. I would love to explore more of it. This article helps alot!


  30. Karl
    January 14 @ 3:32 pm

    Great article! This is an insightful way to categorize Murakami’s works.

    My own experience:

    “Hard-Boiled Wonderland” is probably my Murakami favorite, and one of his novels with the most depth, in my opinion. Have you found anyone who felt it was too abstract to lure them in? I don’t recommend it to certain people for this fear.

    My first Murakami book was “Kafka on the Shore”. I found it a great intro into the world of Murakami, thanks to its blend of accessability (being not so abstract) and depth/introspection. Murakami’s ability to blend these two often exclusive characteristics in novels shows his genius, in my opinion, and in this book, he’s flawless. I know many people who can’t get over how amazing “Kafka on the Shore” is. Then again, maybe we’re all a little biased for our first Murakami read, as this new world is being shown to us for the first time, making a greater impression.

    I’ve also had positive results recommending “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki” as an intro book.

    I agree that while “Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” is a masterpiece, it’s not the best intro to Murakami, as it’s quite complex and, dare I say it, lags a bit in the middle?

    My first five Murakami novels, in order, were:
    1. Kafka on the Shore
    2. Sputnik Sweetheart
    3. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
    4. Norwegian Wood
    5. Hard-Boiled Wonderland

    Looking at this order in this new subconscious vs reality light, I like the order, although if I were to do it again, I would suggest this order:

    1. Kafka on the Shore
    2. Norwegian Wood
    3. Hard-Boiled Wonderland
    4. Sputnik Sweetheart
    5. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

    Sorry to blad, but I just love talking about Murakami’s books, and I want as many people to read him as possible:)


  31. Write Like Murakami: The Best First Lines of His Mind-Bending Stories – Book Oblivion
    January 22 @ 11:01 am

    […] first line from these stories or any I didn’t mention. In case you missed it, here is a recommended reading order for Murakami’s […]


  32. Vince Passaro
    February 8 @ 9:22 pm

    Given your take on Murakami you will like — if you’re not already familiar with it — the review John Updike wrote of Kafka on the Shore. He saw Murakami’s work in the context of shintoism, perceiving just the elements I think you’re talking about and framing them in a Japanese context about which Updike seemed surprisingly knowledgeable. I’m no judge, really, being minimally informed on the subject, but it was enough to impress me anyway. The review shifted my understanding of Murakami in such a way that after reading it much that hadn’t fully made sense before now made a spiritual or, as you say, unconscious sense, particular when the animals and plants start to talk. My favorite books of his are Wind-Up Bird Chronicles, Kafka, and After Kobe (as it was called when I read it years ago), now known the US as After the Quake. This way people won’t think it’s about Kobe Bryant.


    • Jessica Manuel
      February 10 @ 4:42 am

      I’m looking into this. I’m intrigued. Thank you so much for pointing it out to me.


  33. jpbohannon
    February 12 @ 8:10 am

    Thanks for this. I have read three of his novels (though not in the order you suggest) and love them. One I have returned to and read for a second time. FYI: I just finished Patti Smith’s M Train, and she writes a good bit about Murakami and about Wind-up Bird Chronicles particularly. Also thank you for visiting my site and “liking” my post.


  34. Eleena
    February 24 @ 7:27 pm

    Thank you so much for this post! Will use this as a personal reference. Murakami’s works are really magical and I really like his quote that you mentioned. I’m glad I’ve read/is reading two books in your recommended list even though it’s not in the order you suggested. I’m currently reading Wind-Up Bird so what would you suggest me reading next?


  35. Review: Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami – LILOLIA
    August 24 @ 1:04 am

    […] on the Shore and am looking forward to reading 1Q84 which is next according to Jessica’s Book Oblivion post on the best way to read Murakami which I am following.  Having read two of Murakami’s books […]


  36. gspottedpen
    November 3 @ 3:34 am

    Interesting portrayal for w writer like me who dabbles in experimental fiction. Anand Bose from KErala


  37. carecraftcook
    November 13 @ 6:54 am

    I love Murakami. Great post!


  38. Karina Pinella
    November 13 @ 10:41 pm

    Intriguing. Thanks for the primer.


    • Jessica Manuel
      November 14 @ 4:47 am

      Absolutely! Happy reading and thanks for stopping by!


  39. nayantarabhat
    November 18 @ 11:08 am

    I love this write up! I’ve only read about 4 of his books (hard boiled wonderland, after dark, the elephant vanishes and Norwegian wood) but I am absolutely in love with his prose. I found it interesting that you put Hard Boiled Wonderland first on the list, because its such a deeply mind-bending and confusing book, it’s actually quite hard to read (although it’s DEFINITELY worth it in the end!!!!) but then again I suppose it’s sort of trial by fire. If you survive that book that you can survive any Murakami! I really liked that you write from a teacher’s perspective and I’ll definitely consider reading in this order when I have the chance. Thanks for the great post! And for liking my humble little post, too.


  40. Writer Spotlight: Haruki Murakami – LILOLIA
    February 16 @ 8:29 am

    […] you are interested in reading Murakami, I really enjoyed Book Oblivion’s post on the best way to read Murakami and am following this sequence […]


  41. Graham Kar
    March 25 @ 6:15 pm

    Looking to read a little Murakami.


  42. rmcalzada
    April 6 @ 10:21 pm

    I’m glad Murakami is getting such wide recognition! My sister gifted me The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle five years ago for my birthday, so that was my first time foraying into his complex world of the unconscious and dreams. I hope to read Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage next! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and recommendations for exploring his complex themes and writing intricacies.


    • Jessica Manuel
      April 8 @ 3:40 pm

      His books are powerful gifts. Wind-Up is so good. I’ll be rereading it for a course this summer. Thanks for stopping by.


  43. After Dark, Haruki Murakami | theaustralianlegend
    April 11 @ 12:37 pm

    […] see also this comprehensive guide to reading Murakami in the blog Book Oblivion (here) […]


  44. psiberite
    June 4 @ 6:52 am

    Very informative. Yes, I will read his novels. Anand Bose from Kerala


  45. bookescapadeblog
    July 12 @ 11:34 pm

    Wow…..wonderful write up Jessica…..Thanks for reading my Murakami review. I will try to follow the sequence you have suggested for my next Murakami read. Thanks for this highly informative write up.


    • Jessica Manuel
      July 13 @ 6:58 am

      It’s just a suggestion! You can’t really go wrong. And yes, I absolutely enjoyed your review.


  46. lilyionamackenzie
    August 2 @ 7:02 pm

    Thanks for taking time away from your writing to visit my blog!


  47. Sneha
    August 12 @ 1:13 pm

    I’ve just finished reading Kafka on the Shore, my first foray into the world of Murakami, and am dreading the withdrawal symptoms that are sure to follow.
    Feel like I’m ready to dive into another Murakami creation but am afraid I won’t like it as much as Kafka.


    • Jessica Manuel
      August 12 @ 4:02 pm

      No kidding! That book hangover is rough. I’d go to Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World next. You can’t go wrong, though. Please let me know what you decide.


  48. Sneha
    August 12 @ 1:21 pm

    Wonderful post. My first Murakami, Kafka on the Shore, lead me here. Was wondering what to read next. Wonder if I’ll like the next Murakami book as much as I liked Kafka.


  49. Anindit
    December 17 @ 7:00 pm

    Murakami is a ringmaster of a cortege of thoughts that can be traced back to the little dots that constantly construct our ever expanding space that bridge the gap between the conscious and beyond. I started reading Murakami five years ago, and rereading his books introduces me to a man I never knew existed in me. He is a strange kind of nostalgia. Here is the order, I got acquainted to my little stinky Dolphin hotel,
    Kafka on the shore
    The wind up bird chronicles
    After dark
    Norwegian wood
    Sputnik Sweetheart
    South of the border, West of the sun
    Hear the wind sing/Pinball
    A wild sheep chase
    Dance dance dance
    And somewhere in the middle I’ve read Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman.
    I have yet to read 1Q84 and I’m currently reading Hardboiled which I bartered from a thrift shop with a pair of jeans because I had no money to buy a book, I’d spend it all on cigarettes and cheap Chinese takeaway.


  50. Anand Bose
    March 18 @ 12:32 am

    Very interesting portrayal. Yes I will try to read Murakami. I am impressed by your credentials. Anand Bose from Kerala


  51. Psyche Castillon
    April 25 @ 4:24 am

    Wow! Thank you for this in-depth write-up on how to read Murakami. I never wanted to read him based on the synopsis at the back of the books. But I saw a secondhand copy of Colorless Tsuzuki and when I ran out of materials to read I finally opened it and I was blown away. I am now reading Norwegian Wood but after this I will try to follow your suggestions because they make sense.


    • Jessica S. Manuel
      April 25 @ 6:04 am

      I really like that you coupled those two books – I very much felt like Colorless was connected to Norwegian Wood. No matter what order you read them in – enjoy. Also, we have a Murakami Reading Group working through his entire body of work if you’re interested.


      • Macy Grant
        November 7 @ 7:58 am

        Colorless was ok but the ending was a nightmare.


  52. Macy Grant
    November 7 @ 7:57 am

    I started with iQ1984


    • Jessica S. Manuel
      November 7 @ 8:24 am

      So fun! We are just finishing Book Two in our Murakami Reading Group. Did you like it?


  53. masercot
    November 22 @ 4:55 am

    I’m reading his latest right now. He’s the only author whose books I will buy reflexively. I started with Hard Boiled Wonderland while looking for a literary criticism on Melville’s works (still in the ‘M’s). It helped that I’d just finished reading a lot of Kobo Abe.

    Murakami can make the commonplace interesting and treats the interesting with such a passive eye that you do not know if it is important or just something that happened. I’ve been spreading the word on Murakami and it has cost me a few books…


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