Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

It’s taken me years to read this novel and it’s actually high demand at my library. I have a habit of taking out books several times before actually reading them. I could never renew this one beyond the three weeks because it was always on hold for someone else. I’ve probably taken it out at least a dozen times before finally reading it this week.

This is a very nice novel. When I first started, I had read this would be one of Murakami’s “simpler” and less weird works. After Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, I was looking forward to reading more of him. That novel had very little plot and only a couple of characters of note. It was also very surreal yet memorable in its imagery.

This one is more of a typical novel but it’s full of nice writing:

“With my eyes closed, I would touch a familiar book a nd draw its fragrance deep inside me.”

Not flowery pose, but lovely stuff none the less.

There are a lot of characters and personalities. It’s very slice of life. At times, this book felt like a collection of short stories. However, that mirrors life as well.

Here are some more funny lines from the novel that I enjoyed:

“Whenever I put on hard work, hippies and run-away kids would gather outside to dance and sniff paint thinner or just sir on the ground doing nothing in particular, and when I put on Tony Bennett, they would disappear.”

“The coffee I had with it tasted like boiled printer’s ink.”

I really like you, Midori. A lot.”
“How much is a lot?”
“Like a spring bear,” I said.
“A spring bear?” Midori looked up again. “What’s that all about? A spring bear.”
“You’re walking through a field all by yourself one day in spring, and this sweet little bear cub with velvet fur and shiny little eyes comes walking along. And he says to you, “Hi, there, little lady. Want to tumble with me?’ So you and the bear cub spend the whole day in each other’s arms, tumbling down this clover-covered hill. Nice, huh?”
“Yeah. Really nice.”
“That’s how much I like you.”

“How much do you love me?”
“Enough to melt all the tigers in the world to butter,” I said.

There are some very funny and genuinely sweet things in this book.

Speaking of being in love with two people:

“Things like that happen all the time in the great big world of ours. It’s like taking a boat out on a beautiful lake on a beautiful day and thinking both the sky and the lake are beautiful.”

This book has a lot more characters and it’s a lot more slice of life and book about growing up. A bit similar to Maugham’s Of Human Bondage in that way.

When I compare to this to Wind Up Bird Chronicle, I’m sort of in awe of Murakami’s range as a writer. He does have a probing and sometimes odd style, but these books show he can do a lot. Not many fiction writers have a range as wide as this. It makes me want to read more from him.

A very good read. I’ll likely try Kafka on the Shore next but I am not sure when.

Read August 6-9, 2019.

2 thoughts on “Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

  • Geoff W

    I was so glad to see someone else has to check a book out multiple times before they read it. I’m on like my 4th or 5th check out (and hold waiting period) for one of Stephen King’s novels. I haven’t read this one, but it’s been a while since I read a Murakami, maybe I’ll pull it off my shelf.

    • athena (Post author)

      Hi Geoff! The multiple book taking out is a big issue for me. It was an even bigger issue before my library implemented unlimited renewals if there are no holds for books. Now I actually have had some books for months at a time. Some other books I keep on my hold list and have them cycle in and out of activity until I get the chance to read them. Too many books, too little time…
      Thanks for commenting and I hope you’re having a great summer!


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