Book 3: Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood (1987)

Murakami, H. (1987) Norwegian Wood. Vintage 2003. English translation by Haruki Murakami (2000). A fictional story about a Japanese teen who lost his bestfriend, and who eventually fell in love with the bestfriend’s girlfriend. It is also a story about love, sexuality and mental health. The protagonist had to make a choice between the bestfriend’s girlfriend whom he loved, and a brave and honest girl who loved him.

Favorite lines (direct sitations; may not be in order as they appear on the book):

  • Death exists, not as the opposite but as a part of life.
  • We forged straight ahead, as if our walking were a religious ritual meant to heal our wounded spirits.
  • I don’t want to waste valuable time reading any book that has not had the baptism of time. Life is too short. – Nagasawa
  • If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking. – Nagasawa
  • You have a certain ability and the opportunity to use it: can you keep your mouth shut and let it pass? – Nagasawa
  • People are stange when you’re a stranger. – Watanabe
  • That’s how people live in the real world: forcing stuff on each other. – Watanabe
  • Just remember, life is a box of chocolates. … You know, they’ve got these chocolate assortments, and you like some but you don’t like others? And you eat all the ones you like, and the only ones left are the ones you don’t like as much? I always think about that when something painful comes up. ‘ Now I just have to polish these off, and everything will be OK.’ Life is a box of chocolates. – Midori
  • In any case, .. I’ve decided to make myself strong. As far as I can tell, that’s all I can do. – Watanabe
  • Loving another person is a wonderful thing, and if that love is sincere, no one ends up tossed into a labyrinth. You have to have more faith in yourself. – Reiko
  • My advice to you is very simple. First of all, if you are drawn so strongly to this Midori person, it is only natural for you to have fallen in love with her. It might go well, or it might not. But love is like that. When you fall in love, the natural thing to do is give yourself to it. That’s what I think. It’s a form of sincerity. – Reiko
  • On falling in love with two women: Things like that happen all the time in this great big world of ours. It’s like taking a boat out on a beautiful lake on a beautiful day and thinking both the sky and the lake are beautiful. So stop eating yourself up. Things will go where they’re supposed to go if you just let them take their natural course. Despite your best efforts, people are going to be hurt when it’s time for them to ne hurt. Life is like that. – Reiko
  • That’s why you need to grab whatever chance you have of happiness where you find it, and not worry about other people too much. My experience tells me that we get no more than two or three of such chances in a lifetime, and if we let them go, we regret it for the rest of our lives. – Reiko
  • I just kept moving from one town to the next, no destination in mind. The world was big and full of weird things and strange people. -Watanabe
  • By living our lives, we nurture death. True as this might be, it was only one of the truths we had to learn. What I learned from Naoko’s death was this: no truth can cure the sadness 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 that sadness through to the end and learn something from it, but what we learn will be no help in facing the next sadness that comes to us without warning.
  • Sometimes I feel like the caretaker of a museum — a huge, empty museum where no one ever comes, and I’m watching over it for no one but myself. –Watanabe


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