Where To Start With Haruki Murakami

Where To Start With Haruki Murakami

Which book should you start with?

When it comes to the author Haruki Murakami, finding a book to start with can seem like a bit of a daunting task. Over the course of his career as an author he has written 14 novels, 4 short story collections, a novella, and several nonfiction works. He is one of the most internationally well-known authors from Japan, with The Guardian’s Steven Poole writing that Murakami is, “among the world’s greatest living novelists.”

Murakami's works live and breathe surrealism. The worlds he creates are populated by talking cats, labyrinthine libraries, strange disappearances, and casual "end of the world" conversations. He fits into a genre called "magical realism" where mundane life finds itself interlocked with the strange and absurd, where the supernatural and sci-fi creep into the everyday world, and where things are almost never what they seem. So with all of that being said it can be difficult to find a book to start with that is both palatable to the average reader and nicely representative of Murakami’s overall tone and style.



Whether you're just starting with Murakami or trying to get somebody else into his works it can be tempting to go for his less bizarre and magical books such as “Hear the Wind Sing,” “Pinball, 1973,” or “Norwegian Wood." Alternatively some might feel that diving headfirst into his most surreal stories might be the best idea with “Kafka on the Shore” or "Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World."

Though many of these books share common themes and shared elements (just check out this always hilarious Murakami Bingo picture or this drinking game that will kill you) starting with the wrong one can easily turn a reader off from his works, which is a real shame. In my personal opinion the best approach to Haruki Murakami's novels is the middle-of-the-road. When suggesting Murakami to people I tend to start with one of two books: 1999's "Sputnik Sweetheart" or 2004's "After Dark."



"Sputnik Sweetheart" was one of my first encounters with Murakami's novels, before that I'd mostly read his short stories from "The Elephant Vanishes" and "Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman" in class. To me "Sputnik Sweetheart" is a perfect entry point because of its balance of Murakami's go-to themes. The surreal is present here, but never quite as overbearing as some of his other works, it gives the book an atmosphere that is palatable without losing that cigarette choked style he is known for. The story of Sumire's strange disappearance after a romance with an older woman is fascinating from start to finish and does a great job of making the surreal feel, well, real. There is a mundanity to Murakami's writing that makes even the most absurd events easy to swallow. For me "Sputnik Sweetheart" was the perfect introduction to the world of Haruki Murakami.



"After Dark," in all honesty, is one of my favorites. I own it as an ebook, an audiobook, and a physical copy. That unreal quality of magical realism is present here in force with the almost supernatural atmosphere of nighttime Japan and a young girl waking up trapped inside a television screen. It is a fast, enjoyable read, keeping a brisk pace throughout while still being able to pause for quiet reflection and odd pseudo-philosophy when it feels the need to (it is Murakami after all). Much like "Sputnik Sweetheart" it balances out the mundane with the surreal in a way that is easy to digest and can prepare readers for his more dense works, though 928 page beasts like "1Q84" should probably be saved for later.

Now these are just my suggestions, many people have started with "A Wild Sheep Chase" or "Norwegian Wood," others still think his short stories are the easiest bridges into his longer works, but I believe that if you want to wet your appetite for Murakami these are the best, easiest novels to begin with. Murakami is one of those writers where if you dislike his work that opinion probably won't vary much from book to book, but if you love his work you will likely tear through it voraciously and annoy your friends by trying to talk about him every chance you get (well, that's my experience anyway).



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20 Disney Channel Original Movies That You HAD To See As Soon As It Came Out

You know you still have a soft spot for #11.

My friends and I were having a movie night and like many other movie nights before we couldn't decide on what we should watch. We scrolled through Netflix for what seemed like forever until I remembered that I had some Disney Channel Original Movies through an app my Dad set up. This opened up a whole new ball game because we all grew up watching these movies. I got to the app and started looking at all of them.

My friends and I were reminiscing about the movies we had seen when we were younger.

To people that may not know, a Disney Channel Original Movie (or DCOM for short), is a movie that was aired on Disney Channel and was not ever in a theater. Here is a list of the top DCOMs.

1. "Double Teamed" (2002)



Who doesn't love twin girl athletes originally wanting to do different things but both ending up playing basketball?

2. "Right On Track" (2003)

A sister movie where they are trying to be better than each other at racing. There's nothing wrong with some sibling competition is there?

3. "Quints" (2000)

After this movie, I was definitely glad I didn't have any younger siblings, especially not five.

4. "Cadet Kelly" (2002)

Cadet Kelly wanted me to join a military school; however, I know I definitely wouldn't have survived.

5. "Pixel Perfect" (2004)

Making a robot girl that is practically perfect? Yes, please! This movie also inspired me to want to learn how to do a one-handed cartwheel, which I did.

6. "The Cheetah Girls" (2003)

Every young girl and her friends would sing along to these songs and pretend to be them. And let's be real, the other two weren't as amazing as the first, especially after Raven, left.

7. "The Zenon Trilogy" (1999, 2001 & 2004)

Who didn't want to live in space after watching these movies?

8. "You Wish!" (2003)

I definitely know I wanted to wish on a lucky coin that I didn't have any siblings, but after this movie, I'm very glad I never did in case it actually came true.

9. "Starstruck" (2010)

It's every girl's dream to fall in love with a dreamy poster, and the song "Something About the Sunshine" is so catchy, and I have it on a Spotify playlist and have no regrets about jamming to it in the car.

10. "Twitches/Twitches Too" (2005 & 2007)

I definitely wanted a twin that was also a witch after watches these movies.

11. "High School Musical 1 and 2" (2006 & 2007)

These don't need explaining. If you haven't seen them or at least heard about them, then you probably live under a rock. I just wish high school was really like this. Also, "High School Musical 3" was also amazing but did not make the list because it was technically not a DCOM since it was released in theaters.

12. "Lemonade Mouth" (2011)

This one is pretty new, but it made me want to get detention to potentially meet my future bandmates even though I have no musical abilities.

13. "Gotta Kick It Up!" (2002)

If this movie didn't have you shouting "Si se Puede!" then you didn't appreciate it enough.

14. "Get A Clue" (2002)

This made me want to be a spy more than I already wanted to be one as a child. Solving crimes with your best friends sounded like a very great time.

15. "Smart House" (1999)

Winning a house that could talk to you and listen to what you told it? Seems like a dream come true, until the house gets a little too attached.

16. "Eddie's Million Dollar Cook-Off" (2003)

Baseball or cooking? Waiting to see what Eddie chose was a nail-biter.

17. "Camp Rock 1 & 2" (2008 & 2010)

A movie with songs that made you get up and dance and want to go to summer camp.

18. "Descendants 1 & 2" (2015 & 2017)

These movies are really new so, not many people that are over the age of 10 have heard of them, but I thoroughly enjoyed them. They have really catchy songs even if they are pretty cheesy.

19. "Jump In!" (2007)

Who doesn't love Corbin Bleu jumping rope?

20. "Stuck In The Suburbs" (2004)

Another movie where a teenager gets befriends a dreamy pop star. Come on why couldn't that happen in real life? I'd totally be down to be best friends with Justin Bieber. DCOMs will always have a special place in my heart.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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Poems On Odyssey: "Stages"

As life moves through its stages.

"Stages"

I see it now.

I see that there is a distinction,

A difference,

Between the present.

Between the future.

Between the past.


We roam through the present,

Making the most of each day,

Living life to the fullest of capacities.

We aspire and discourage.

We succeed and we fail.

We love.

We hate.


We dream of the future,

Hoping to achieve our goals,

To exceed the expectations and break the stereotypes.

We imagine and dread.

We wish and obsess.

We accept.

We fear.


Yet, we live in the past,

Reminiscing on the best of times,

Wishing that we could relive those moments.

We have no choice but to remember the worst of times,

As old memories are forced to the back of the brain,

Crammed inside of a dusty storage box,

Exactly where we hope they will remain,

Until we are ready to revisit them.

That is,

If we are ever ready to revisit them.


We pray to remember,

We pray to forget,

As life moves through its stages.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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