This is sadly, one of those books that I would not have known about had it not been for the movie. Following the movie’s release in 2011 and its subsequent four Academy Awards, I watched it and absolutely loved it. I’m not big on historical fiction, especially since history was one of my worst subject in school, but the heart of the story won me over. I had been apprehensive on reading the book as it is around 400 pages but due to recent discussion of racial prejudices in present day, I decided it would be appropriate to finally pick it up.
My introduction to Murakami’s works was one that was purely by chance. Being a frequent user of Tumblr, I often came across quotes that had derived from his books and finding his writing both eloquent and haunting, I decided to pick up a few of his works to better understand the context of these passages. The more I got to know his works, the more I started noticing which of his books for more frequently read and talked about. Among these were Norwegian Wood, Kafka on the Shore, and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Having already read and enjoyed 3 of his books previously, I decided that I would dive into his more well known writing to see what thought-provoking elements could be gleamed from them. I decided to pick up the shorted of the three, Norwegian Wood. But as I made my way through it, I realized that just because a book is popular, it does not mean that it is necessarily amazing by any means. It makes me wonder if everyone who reads this book is only following the praise of someone else who has read this book. As Murakami succinctly states in this book, “If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking”. I will say that what drew me to Murakami’s previous writing was the fantastical elements and magical realism in them. I adored his dreamy quality of writing and very much enjoyed the journey his books took me on. His books always seemed to take on a life of their own, imprinting upon me the very emotions of his characters. While I can see this particular book garnering a larger audience due to its straightforward plot, I hardly believe this is his best work. This book fell flat on many levels as I was not able to connect with his characters, as well as having the important ideas overshadowed by more superficial aspects.