I’ve listened to a run of non-fiction audiobooks the last few weeks. Let’s check them out.
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is a memoir of Murakami’s experiences as a runner. He doesn’t just jog a bit. He’s run a marathon every year since 1983, the same year he decided to become a full time writer. In fact, this memoir is as much about writing as it is about running.
When he gave up his life as a bar owner in Japan to write, he knew his unhealthy lifestyle wasn’t sustainable. He chose running to keep in shape. At first he ran 5K races, then half-marathons, soon he was traveling the world to participate in marathons and ultra-marathons.
I’ve never read anything by Murakami before. This is probably a shocking admission. I know he has many fans in the book blogging community. Not knowing anything about Murakami, I came away impressed by the man’s single-mindedness and determination. He approaches both with the same intensity. He has the same worry for both that as he ages he will lose his edge.
I wasn’t blown away by What I Talk About When I Talk About Running but I did like it and found it insightful. I would like to read Murakami’s fiction soon.
Narrated by Ray Porter. Translated by Philip Gabriel.
In Other Worlds by Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood has been given a hard time by critics *coughUrsulaKLeGuincough* about her reluctance to categorize some of her work as science fiction. In Other Worlds attempts to explain her past reticence through her essays, talks, and criticism of other sci-fi novels.
It’s not that she doesn’t like and enjoy sci-fi. She is a voracious consumer of the genre since she was a kid. It’s that she doesn’t think what she writes fulfills her own definition. It’s like the argument I have with my daughter on whether the colour mint is blue or green. (It’s green.) We’re never going to agree because we have different ideas about what it is. (It’s green.) We have to let it go and agree to disagree. (It’s green, though.)
I enjoyed hearing her thoughts on sci-fi, and her reviews of books like She, Brave New World, and 1984. She’s made me have new thoughts about them. I’ve also added a few books to my TBR pile. I thought it was interesting to read about her earlier interest in the genre, and the origin of her novel A Handmaid’s Tale. The final section of In Other Worlds is a collection of 4 of her own stories that fall into the category of sci-fi, involving alien life and cryogenics.
Narrated by Margaret Atwood and Susan Denaker. Atwood narrates the first couple more personal sections, as she says her voice isn’t strong enough to narrate all of it. Her voice does fade at times throughout.
Spinster by Kate Bolick
I’m going to admit upfront that I DNFed Spinster. I couldn’t get into it. I liked the idea behind it, but it was such a personal approach to the topic that I soon got bored. I put it aside for a few days and forgot all about it. I think I would have stuck it out if it wasn’t an audiobook. Sometimes the format makes the book.
Here’s a bit of the blurb from Goodreads:
Using her own experiences as a starting point, journalist and cultural critic Kate Bolick invites us into her carefully considered, passionately lived life, weaving together the past and present to examine why she—along with over 100 million American women, whose ranks keep growing—remains unmarried.
The reviews on the Goodreads site are mixed. Give it a try and see what you think.
Narrated by the author. Thanks to Random House Audio for the review copy.