Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami is going to be one of those books that I re-read for the rest of my life. I’ve been finding it hard to get into books lately, but from the first page, I was hooked. I’ve always been a fan of Murakami’s writing style, but this book shook me to my core.
Taking place in Tokyo in 1969, this book is narrated by Toru Watanabe, who reminds me a bit of Holden Caulfield. This is not surprising to me, as I see a lot of influence from Salinger and F. Scott Fitzgerald in Murakami’s writing.
It’s a bit of a coming-of-age story; where romance, misery, and confusion thrive. Toru Watanabe loses his best friend, Kizuki, to suicide, at the age of 17. Then, he falls in love with Kuzuki’s life-long girlfriend, who is sweet and beautiful and kind, but sick and overcome with grief. Over the course of the book, Watanabe seems drawn to well-spoken, troubled, and seriously interesting women, all of whom seem to fall for him. Unfortunately, he is also drawn to tragedy.
Murakami has a way with words and the voice he gives Watanabe is more poetic than novelistic. Somehow this book is beautiful, touching, painful, and delicate. Although Norwegian Wood was published in 1989, it feels completely timeless and eternal. Please read it.
I want to leave you with my favorite quote from the book:
“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”