BOOK REVIEW: Norwegian Wood

Book, Library, Read, Literature, Learn, Education

“Read a thousand books, and your words will flow like a river.” (Lisa See)

“Read, read, read. Read everything  —  trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.” (William Faulkner)

“The Six Golden Rules of Writing: Read, read, read, and write, write, write.” (Ernest Gaines)


Warning or Spoiler Alert!

Some of you may feel surprised about my having read this book and about me even choosing to write a review on it. And as you read on, some of you may feel shocked by my open admission (as a born-again Christian) that I’ve read certain books. I truly hope you will not judge me too harshly and that I will not cause any offense to some of my followers.

As indicated in one of my early posts [Who I Am and Why I’m Here], my aim with this blog is not only to encourage myself and my readers to be purpose-driven achievers, but also to use it as an avenue to practice and share my writing efforts.


Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

This is a book that was highly recommended to me by a young woman who is an ex-colleague. I took note of the title and author and added it to my “Books to read” list. I subsequently noticed it was on the bookshelf in the staff room and so I borrowed it. This was in March 2019.

I had no idea what to expect. I’ve never read anything by this author before and I’d not heard of him either. The blurb promised me a good read from a much feted author, so I had great expectations of at least a satisfying read. These expectations were not disappointed.

Murakami is, as the critics have indicated, a talented writer. He not only tells an absorbing story but his depiction of characters, his ways of expression, his use of language, are compelling. As a writer who has an aspiration to start writing short stories, I could learn a lot from him. As a keen (and I hope discerning reader), I found his work strikingly entertaining. As a Christian however (and believe me I am not a prude – I’ve read the Shades of Grey trilogy), I found some of the graphic sexual detail a tad sordid.

Yes, I did continue reading to the end because I don’t like my time being wasted and I only abandon books I find utterly boring, or difficult to get into, or if I sense something that disturbs me spiritually. The disagreeable parts I alluded to above, only amounted to about 2 percent of the book’s content. Anyway, as I was saying, the sordid elaboration of sexual activity, was such that I found myself thinking: This is just typical of a man!

The protagonist, Toru Watanabe, is 37 years old when the story opens. He hears the Beatles song, Norwegian Wood (which I’ve never heard – must google it!), and it takes him back to his youth and the memory of his first love. The book is an unfolding of his experiences of love, sex, university, friendships and identity.

The characters, even secondary and minor ones are interesting and you are left with a feeling of not just eavesdropping on the story-teller, or being a reluctant voyeur but experiencing the protagonist’s angst alongside him, as he recalls and re-lives his painful past.

I found it depressing.

There were so many characters who were depressed, who suffered from mental health issues, who were totally screwed up! There were so many suicides. The depression and hopelessness I felt as I read, wasn’t so much to do with Murakami’s treatment of his content, but more to do with my empathy with the narrator and supporting characters.

Did Watanabe get his girl in the end? Well he did, and he didn’t!

If interested, you’ll need to read the book to find out what I mean. Despite the sordid aspects, I would recommend this as a well-written and engaging book for both readers and aspiring writers.

Review Rating:

For Writing – 9/10

For Reading experience – 8/10

Love Carol

“…If you love what you are doing, you will be successful” – Albert Schweitzer

“Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.” (Natalie Goldberg) – Do you agree?#amwriting #writingcommunity


Readers & Writers are there certain types of books you will not read? If so, why? (Let me know in a comment box below).

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