Book Talk | Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami



  • “Norwegian Wood” by Haruki Murakami (translated by Jay Rubin)
  • ISBN: 0307744663 / ISBN13: 9780307744661
  • Number of Pages: 386
  • Publisher: Vintage
  • Publication Date: 25 January 2011 (first published 1987)
  • Format and Source: Mass Market Paperback, bought at an Instagram based shop
  • Date Read: 03 November 2014
  • Rating: 5 Stars


Toru, a quiet and preternaturally serious young college student in Tokyo, is devoted to Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman, but their mutual passion is marked by the tragic death of their best friend years before. Toru begins to adapt to campus life and the loneliness and isolation he faces there, but Naoko finds the pressures and responsibilities of life unbearable. As she retreats further into her own world, Toru finds himself reaching out to others and drawn to a fiercely independent and sexually liberated young woman.

A poignant story of one college student’s romantic coming-of-age, Norwegian Wood takes us to that distant place of a young man’s first, hopeless, and heroic love.


No truth can cure the sorrow we feel from losing a loved one. No truth, no sincerity, no strength, no kindness can cure that sorrow. All we can do is see it through to the end and learn something from it, but what we learn will be no help in facing the next sorrow that comes to us without warning.

When the girls and I traveled to La Union for Undas, I knew I had to bring books to take pictures of to maximize the view of the places we will visit. I brought two books then, but I also brought this one as a book to read during idle moments. I never intended to really read it – it was just something I decided to bring and read a few pages here and there, but I was surprised that this book made me read page after page, never minding where I was… as long as I was doing nothing, I found myself reaching for the book to continue reading.


…and it even made me do something I don’t do – read while traveling! We were on our way to Vigan City on this day, and I nearly finished the book on that day (I finished it the next day, though). Right off the bat, the vibe of this book reminded me of “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger, but as I read more about it, it then reminded me of “Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro and “The Sense of an Ending” by Julian Barnes. Comparing this to the other Murakami I’ve read – The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle – this one was easier to read, maybe because it was straight up contemporary, and less (or maybe none) of those magical realism Murakami is known for. If you want to introduce yourself to Murakami’s books, I think this is a good “training ground” to familiarize yourself with his writing.

The story was sad and very haunting, but I loved that I felt this tiny hint of optimism towards the end, even if it ended on a vague note. The wisdom embedded on this book is the one I really loved most about, because Toru’s experiences were relate-able, therefore, every bit of wisdom shared the book’s characters were something we all could learn about as well.

If you are an old soul like me, you will know that Norwegian Wood is a title of a song by the Beatles. The book mentioned this song a few times, but if you are not familiar with the song and would like to read this, and you are like me who gets interested with pop culture and music references in books, the one piece of advice I would give is to not look up the song on YouTube or your parents’ music library, because the gist of the song and the overall summary of this book were closely related. Still, if you are familiar with the song, and felt like it somehow spoiled the book for you, I want to say that there is still so much more about going from “point a to point z,” so it wouldn’t really affect just as much. I am a big Beatles fan, I practically know all the words to their songs, but even so, I still loved this book.

I highly recommend this book. This might be slightly boring for a reader who is used to reading fast paced, action packed, full of feels book, but this is still a hauntingly good book to read that is very worth your time.



This entry was posted in 2014 Book List, Book Talk, Contemporary, Favorite Books, Japanese Literature, Romance. Bookmark the permalink.

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