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15 Best Haruki Murakami Books of All Time

15 Best Haruki Murakami Books of All Time

I will energetically reveal the most spellbinding 15 Haruki Murakami Books of all time! The world-renowned Japanese writer and translator, Haruki Murakami, mesmerizes readers with his unique blend of surrealism, melancholy, mystery, mythology, and philosophy. 

With over 50 translations, his works have earned him global recognition as a best-selling and critically acclaimed author.

Born in 1949, Murakami sharpened his writing skills at Waseda University's Department of Drama. 

He burst into the literary world in 1979 with his debut novel "Listening to the Wind Song," and continued to enthrall audiences with works such as "Pinball in 1973," "Adventure of Chasing Sheep," and "Norwegian Forest."

Defying traditional boundaries, Murakami's writing style is distinct and effortless, avoiding vulgarity and superficiality. 

He masterfully transforms the emotions of loneliness and helplessness into a joyful and elegant style through his characters' inner mental operations.

His works offer readers, particularly city-dwellers, a new way of living, with some of his most famous books being The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Kafka on the Shore, and Norwegian Wood. 

Get ready to be captivated by the 15 Best Haruki Murakami Books of All Time!

  • Born: January 12, 1949 (age 73 years), Kyoto, Kyoto, Japan
  • Spouse: Yoko Murakami (m. 1971)
  • Albums: Hard-Boiled Wonderland und das Ende der Welt (Ungekürzt)
  • Nominations: Neustadt International Prize for Literature
  • Influenced by: Franz Kafka, Yukio Mishima, Natsume Sōseki..---Wikipedia


Best Haruki Murakami's Books Ranked!

It proves challenging to determine the best books by Haruki Murakami as personal preference greatly influences which works readers admire the most. 

Nevertheless, several of Murakami's works have garnered both critical acclaim and widespread popularity, such as "Kafka on the Shore," "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle," "1Q84," and "Norwegian Wood."

Murakami's other well-received works include "A Wild Sheep Chase," "The Elephant Vanishes," "Dance Dance Dance," and "Sputnik Sweetheart."

To determine which books by Murakami you may cherish, the ultimate solution lies in immersing yourself in his writing, and discovering your favorite works firsthand!

What order should I read as a Beginner?

Haruki Murakami has written many books, and they are not all part of a series, so they do not need to be read in any particular order. 

However, if you would like to read Murakami's books in the order they were published, you can find a list of his books and their publication dates below.

Again, it's important to note that reading these books in the order they were published is not necessary to understand or enjoy them. You can pick and choose which books to read based on your personal preferences.

15 Best Haruki Murakami Books to Start With

This compilation of the top 15 books serves as an initiation into the enchanting realm of Haruki Murakami.

Haruki Murakami, a renowned Japanese scribe, fascinates readers with his fantastical and magical realist literature. For over four decades, he has woven tales, penning over 20 novels, a plethora of short stories, and a wealth of essays and non-fiction pieces.

Among his most celebrated and sought-after works are "Kafka on the Shore," "Norwegian Wood," and "1Q84". 

1. Norwegian Wood 

This is a coming-of-age story that explores themes of love, loss, and alienation. 

As early as when I was in high school, I saw "Norwegian Wood" in the bookstore. I flipped through it casually, and when I came across the chapter "Nude Under the Moonlit Night", my blood was racing. 

I was afraid that the people next to me would find something unusual, so I put down the book and left in a sneaky way. 

After all, I was young and ignorant at the time and thought that the things described in "Norwegian Wood" were too far away from me and too erotic. I regard this book as a "yellow book" and keep it at a respectful distance.

Now, I am no longer that ignorant teenager. Although the country Murakami described is far away from me, it is still a human world. Human beings always have a lot in common. 

Apart from the superficial erotic cloak and those seemingly depraved descriptions, what is the essential difference between us and them? Am I not exactly Watanabe? I love Naoko who has never loved me before, and I love Midori who is so innocent and lively.

From "Norwegian Wood", I saw loneliness and loneliness, sorrow and helplessness, suppressed and distorted feelings and desires, growing pains, and faces with masks. 

Let me try to take off these masks and see what faces are inside. I will take all the descriptions in this novel as a serious and true tragic story. I hope such a tragedy will not be repeated for you and me. 

2. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle 

This is a complex and surreal tale that incorporates elements of mythology and the supernatural. 

After reading Norwegian Wood when I started reading The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, I failed the postgraduate entrance examination, had no job, and fell into poverty. I didn't have a single friend and was completely isolated from the world. So I went to Nantu all day long, where I spent all my time reading books.

When I look at Murakami, I have a feeling of being hit, as if split into two people, me on one side and me on the other side. There is a glass between each other, and they can only wave their arms at each other, but they cannot talk to each other.

The characters in Murakami's novels are always people like this: ordinary, middle-class people, quite ordinary-looking, but often humorous and full of zest for life, strong and kind-hearted, upright, and unyielding. I don't like forming gangs, I prefer to be friends with interesting people.

In Strange, the protagonist is also an unemployed man at home. Facing the mystery of his beloved wife’s disappearance without any clues, he never gave up and persisted in searching for it. No matter what difficulties or threats he encountered, he insisted on his principles and bottom line.

I read it day and night until the last page.

There is no thrilling moment, but the history is extended in the interlacing. It seems to be rambling to finish.

It's lonely, but, like the people in Murakami, I and the world exist separately like a barrier, but I stick to my principles.

3. Kafka on the Shore 

This is a story about a teenage boy who embarks on a journey of self-discovery.

To sum up, "Kafka on the Shore" is a true coming-of-age novel, which tells the story of a fifteen-year-old boy who reaches reconciliation with a world that is constantly being destroyed.

He needs to face the darkest side of his inner world, fight against desire, fight against the ancestral curse, go through the sandstorm alone, and complete his own journey of growth.

This world is not perfect, and the human beings living in this world are both good and evil. We are all sandwiched between heaven and hell, between Crow Boy and Jonny Walker, sometimes acting like angels, sometimes acting like angels like the devil.

However, despite this, we can still make our own choices, and closing our minds to a walking dead may not be the best way.

Petty Bourgeois' must-read textbook "Norwegian Forest" has never been read. I think "Kafka on the Shore" should also be this kind of work. Holding the petty bourgeoisie to see what kind of text there is, I opened this book. 

But slowly attracted, and deeply touched, thinking about some words. There is no so-called petty bourgeois sentiment in this book. I saw the yearning for freedom, the philosophical exploration and questioning of life, and the author's magical imagination.

"Kafka on the Shore" is about the young Tamura Kafka, who was abandoned by his mother when he was a child and was cursed by his father to kill his father and rape his mother. 

At the age of fifteen, he ran away from home to escape the curse. After her father was killed, everything seemed to be doomed somewhere. He is escaping and pursuing the truth. Finally, return to real life and live bravely.

Another line of the novel tells about the loss of the mentally retarded Nakata in an accident. He can't read, doesn't understand everything around him, and can talk to cats. Live a simple life with an empty shell. 

The two lines merged at Nakata's place where Kafka killed his father. Fate Nakata took on the mission of turning things around and finally died peacefully in sleep, becoming the ordinary Tanaka he most yearned for.

4. The Elephant Vanishes 

This is a collection of short stories that showcase Murakami's unique blend of the mundane and the surreal. 

After reading "Kafka on the Shore" which I loved, I borrowed this book. It is a surprisingly pleasant read.    

It was a little slow at the beginning -- I didn't quite like the first few stories. Then "Lederhosen" came along and I love that story. 

For some reason, the scene where the mother watches a man who looks exactly like her husband trying on lederhosen and finds him disgusting and the situation intolerable and then decides to leave her husband is extremely believable to me. 

I can totally identify with her (actually I can see myself doing that, leaving a guy for something entirely trivial) which is a strange thing to say with Murakami's characters. 

Apparently, the author does not only know 30-year-old lonely horny guys, but he also has some knowledge about some women, women like me. 

Several of the last few stories are among my favorites, for example, "A Slow Boat to China," "The Silence," and "The Elephant Vanishes." These are true masterpieces. 

            "A Slow Boat to China" China is excellently portrayed as an image of unreachable mystery, magic, and beauty. The idea -- something we long for but can never get because it is so far away, but because it is so far away we want it even more, and we think it's so beautiful and want it so much that we almost do not want to have it -- is not new in any sense, but it is rare that an author can convey it so elegantly.    

     "The Silence" also aims for a deep concept: the silent majority who doesn't deliberately do any harm is the most dangerous and pathetic people. Again with the magic touch of Murakami, this idea doesn't seem to be forced upon the story but very naturally flows from it.    

    "The Elephant Vanishes" is probably the best story that captures the essence of Murakami's themes in his writings -- reality vs. imagination; perception being an unreliable means to approach truth; reality and imagination, and there is no boundary to contain the real world. 

The reality he construes is bizarre and surreal; but at the same time, it is oddly in place with everyday life that is mundane and boring. In the most ordinary lies, the most extraordinary; from the dust blooms a flower.

5. Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman 

This is another collection of short stories by Murakami that explores themes of love, loss, and the human condition. 

This book is not a pure fairy tale, it is a product under the careful design and care of adults, but it is a little cold and a little poignant.

The first one is Blind Willow Sleeping Girl, the effect that there is a small hill full of blind willows planted on it. There was a sleeping woman, and many small bugs flew into his ears and then ate all her internal organs. The full text is about this man accompanying his cousin to see what is wrong with his ears. I didn't understand it at all.

There is another article, which is very similar to the general idea in Norwegian wood (Norwegian wood). In high school, "I" and a pair of lovers were classmates, and the male classmates were suddenly in the car She committed suicide by venting into the exhaust gas, and only this woman was left. She hated "me". 

Later, "me" and the girl both went to college. One day this woman cried, and then the two of them slept together. This woman I went to the monastery, probably because of mental illness. In the end, this "I" was there watching a firefly in a bottle.

The novels or articles I read before all had a theme, accusing the evil society, and praising pure love, I feel that Murakami’s novels may be more of a feeling.

There is also a story about a man and a woman who are both excellent students, childhood sweethearts, beautiful women, handsome men, and good at-home studies, but this woman just lets the man caress her and prevents them from having sex. 

The reason is that this woman decided to marry an older man after college and remain a virgin until then. The man is willing to marry this woman, but this girl insists on marrying an older and richer man, but she really loves this man. 

Later, after she got married around the age of 30, she still contacted this boy. She was willing to have an affair with this man, but this man still just caressed her.

I remember the first time I read Haruki Murakami's work, "Meeting a 100% Girl", I didn't like it very much. Very flirtatious, and vulgar, I still think this is a person moaning without illness.

Later I watched "Second Bakery Attack". Praise the wife there for bravely rescuing her husband's spiritual crisis.

Then there is Super Giant Frog saving Tokyo. The protagonist is a middle-aged man who is alive but very strong, and the giant frog is a pacifist.

And then there's Honey Pie, the story of a man who finally decides to marry the divorced woman he loves and has a baby with.

There is another article about a woman with insomnia. This insomnia woman suddenly no longer needed to sleep, and then she watched "Anna Karenina" while she was not sleeping. One day, she drove for a night drive by herself and encountered danger. The car was overturned by a few punks.

6. 1Q84

I think this new work "1Q84" is the most organized one among Murakami's longer works. And it can be felt that Murakami has found his unique writing technique and is becoming more and more proficient.

The first volume of this two-volume "1Q84" is from April to June 1984. The first book looks relatively relaxed, and the whole book is full of Murakami's unique tone, always the hero and heroine of the marginalized people. 

Murakami's brushstrokes seem slow in the first book, and he is like a wise man on the sidelines, tactfully speaking to readers. But readers are impatient with his slowness, and can't help admiring his calmness. 

So the first book took a relatively short time to read. Murakami is the only author who can describe such reality in such a leisurely and humorous way.

The second volume of "1Q84" is about what happened from July to September 1984. 

In short, the further you look back, the more difficult it is to understand what happened and the dialogue in the book. 

These two "1Q84" gave me the feeling that they only seriously introduced the relationship between the characters and the background of the events, but what is really called the plot has not yet been officially staged, it is just a prelude, so it should continue There is follow-up.

I have only read "1Q84" once, and my understanding of it is only one-sided and fragmented. After all, the content of this work is relatively uncertain in the later part, there are many uncertain things and incomplete plots, and we can only try to analyze it to this point. The above content is purely a personal opinion.

7. After Dark 

Murakami's book is relatively obscure and metaphorical. Some people think it is about good and evil, or relative evil, and some think it is about a sense of security. 

I used to be willing to give some meaning to various ambiguous plots, but now I am a little tired of Murakami's style, and I will always write some urban characters who are worse than me, hypocritical and spiritual collision. 

There's nothing wrong with that, it's just personal style. Let me talk about the extra-topic emotion caused by this. Some people in this world are born sensitive, pessimistic, and hypocritical. 

In their bones, from birth to death, some people hide it very well or pretend that they are not such people. A paradox of hope. Murakami must be such a person. 

Recently, I also met a person with such a contradiction. This is really a tragic quality, which makes people prone to unhappiness. 

In fact, I feel that I belong to this kind of person, but I really hate becoming this kind of person. Even if I deny it, I can’t change this kind of gene-like trait. Maybe that's why I love reading Murakami's books, but it's also why I don't want to read his books anymore. 

Life is boring enough, and Murakami's black world should stay away. Rehab! [This morning] I suddenly realized after I fell asleep! This book presents ways for various people to "temporarily" get out of the predicament! 

Murakami just uses the neutral perspective mentioned in the book to show us all this: how people solve their plight after dark. I want to change the three stars reviewed yesterday to four stars. 

Because it suddenly resonated strongly: Now I also use various methods to temporarily avoid the predicament, regardless of whether it is wrong or right, but "After Dark" is still the same.

Murakami's fantastic imagination is still indispensable in "After Dark". This time, from the perspective of a surveillance probe, imagine a dream-like experience of traveling through the TV screen and beyond. 

Murakami is such a guide: he can lead you into one beautiful world after another, but you can only follow behind him forever, amazed but also deeply frustrated that you can never catch up with his footsteps.

8. South of the Border, West of the Sun 

Recently, I re-read Haruki Murakami's "South of the Border and West of the Sun". I think why I prefer Murakami's books, roughly because some music is always mentioned in his books. 

for example, in "Norwegian Forest", the Beatles sang the world-famous song Norwegian Wood, which was popular in the 1960s, and There is an English lyric in "South of the Border and West of the Sun": Pretend you are happy when you are blue, it isn't very hard to do. The name of this song is "Pretend".

This is a book worth reading and rereading, and it epitomizes the growth and disillusionment of many, many men.

Just reading the title of "South of the Border and West of the Sun" already makes people curious: what is there south of the border and west of the sun? So I read on and gradually discovered that our youth, the warmth, and unknownness in our memories, our flowers, they have never passed away, they have always been there.

Murakami seems to start from this book. Of course, I have read Murakami's famous "Norwegian Wood" before, and it is indeed a beautiful book. However, perhaps this book can better reflect a more complete life. 

From a man's childhood to youth, to middle age, marriage, childbirth, and career. Perhaps this book is more suitable for older people, as the one above said, it will make you cry in an instant. The tide of the past is coming, are you ready?

For young people, this book also has something to watch. Due to the different national conditions, we may not be able to feel the different eyes and comments that the protagonist mentioned in the book received as an only child, but the melancholy and loneliness may be familiar. 

Every child who has ever been alone, read this book, is that feeling familiar? Perhaps we have all felt that deep longing, longing for someone to fill us up, longing for no longer incomplete. We have all had that kind of nostalgia and longing for lovers.

Although it is about an affair (I don’t know if it can be an affair, because if it comes in order...), it is not about teaching people how to be bad, but more about the responsibility of the family and children. And having an affair is not something to watch, friends who are interested in it should stop as soon as possible.

9. The Strange Library 

"Like much of Haruki Murakami's work, this is a twisted and ominous surreal story: abstractly aimed at youth and ignorance but running through cruelty, punishment, and loss. 

The whole story is lonely and sad. It stops abruptly in the intertwined images.” The interesting thing about this short story is that it shows a triple world: the first real world, built by my mother, Pulsatilla, and me. 

The second underground labyrinth library world is built by the sheep man, the beautiful girl, the old man, the big black dog, the pulsatilla, and me. 

The third Ottoman world was built by the tax collector Hasher. "I" walks in these three worlds as a free person, playing different roles.   

"The Strange Library" inherits the characteristics of Murakami's other works. This multi-world construction method is very in line with Haruki Murakami's architectural style. 

The existence of the second or third world as the opposite of reality creates paradoxical elements in the story. "Not the Sheepman, but the protagonist who suddenly falls into the chaotic Kafkaesque world is haunted by the mysterious ghost girl and Murakami's long-term obsession with the underground space. 

Because his supernatural and Irregular novels crunchingly repeat these obsessions, thematic positioning is also a great pleasure for Murakami fans. Jazz. Spaghetti. Focus on ears and fingers". 

These practices of his began with his debut "Let's Hear the Wind Sing", and he has repeatedly captured readers. Haruki Murakami's novels start with a simple paragraph, just like Paul Auster's. "Or a sentence, or a visual opening. Sometimes it's like a videotape". 

Now it starts again, "Library Talk" is a quiet library and the friction sound of soles,, maybe you are already in Murakami and Watched 100 times in the world, what will you think of? A start I watch every day?   

To be honest, I like Haruki Murakami's essays more and more now, instead of the drama in his novels. “Everything is autobiography,” Haruki Murakami said, “but at the same time I improved everything into a novel”. 

And I can totally understand that “Everything is fiction, but at the same time I branded everything as my own experience”. This is unconscious. 

Haruki Murakami just wrote his own realistic style. The world he created is very natural and realistic to himself. I don’t think he is deliberately creating a mysterious style. 

Kafka or Marquez or Oersted or whoever greets, "If the sheep man shows up, he is real to me, you know. Not a symbol, not a metaphor. It's just him and me".

10. Dance Dance Dance 

Murakami's Dance! dance! dance! In ", the sheep man said "dance" to the protagonist "I", "As long as the music is playing, just dance. Understand my words? Dance! Dance non-stop! Don't think about why you dance, don't think about the meaning. 

If you think about it, you will definitely stop. Once you stop, I can't help you anymore. And all the clues connecting you will disappear, forever. 

In that case, you will only be able to survive here, I can only fall into this world involuntarily. So you can’t stop, no matter how funny you think, you can’t give up halfway, you must grit your teeth and dance to the point”. 

The music has already sounded at the moment we were born, no matter the accompaniment or the mode of dancing, we have no choice, just like the environment and experience of our life. Whether you are confused, escaped, or disappointed, you still have to face it in the end, and life still has to go on. 

So let's dance more happily, don't let down the music, don't let down life! Let the pain not be vented but elegant, it is self-transcendence, and it is the wonder in the eyes of others!

Against the oppression of human nature by a highly modern society the lingering loneliness, and the rare optimistic ending in Murakami's book, it is a very beautiful reading experience.

11. A Wild Sheep Chase

It was first published in Japan in 1982 and has since been translated into several languages. The novel follows the story of a young man named Toru who is living in Tokyo and working as an advertising executive. 

One day, he is approached by a strange man who gives him a photograph of a sheep with a star-shaped mark on its back and asks him to find the sheep. Toru sets out on a journey that takes him across Japan and ultimately leads him to confront the secrets of his own past.

The novel is known for its surreal and dreamlike qualities, as well as its exploration of themes such as identity, memory, and the power of the unconscious mind. It is considered one of Murakami's early masterpieces and is often cited as one of his best works.

12. Sputnik Sweetheart

It was first published in Japan in 1999 and has since been translated into several languages. The novel follows the story of a young woman named Sumire who is in love with her best friend, a successful writer named Miu. 

When Miu goes missing on a trip to Greece, Sumire sets out to find her and is drawn into a surreal and dangerous world that forces her to confront the true nature of her feelings for Miu and the secrets of her own past.

The novel is known for its dreamlike and surreal qualities, as well as its exploration of themes such as love, loss, and the power of the imagination. It is considered one of Murakami's later works and is often cited as one of his best.

13. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

It was first published in Japan in 2013 and has since been translated into several languages. The novel follows the story of a young man named Tsukuru Tazaki who is haunted by the sudden and unexplained loss of his four closest friends from high school. 

As he struggles to come to terms with their betrayal and move on with his life, Tsukuru embarks on a journey of self-discovery that ultimately leads him to confront the secrets of his past and the true nature of his relationships.

The novel is known for its exploration of themes such as friendship, loss, and the search for identity. It is considered one of Murakami's more recent works and is often cited as one of his best.

14. Men Without Women

It was first published in Japan in 2014 and has since been translated into several languages. The collection consists of seven short stories that explore the inner lives and relationships of men who are dealing with feelings of loss, isolation, and disconnection from the women in their lives.

The stories are known for their exploration of themes such as love, loss, and the search for meaning in a sometimes unforgiving world. They are also known for their surreal and dreamlike qualities, as well as their complex and emotionally resonant characters. 

"Men Without Women" is considered one of Murakami's most successful collections of short stories and is often cited as one of his best works.

15. Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World is a novel by the Japanese author Haruki Murakami. The novel is set in two parallel worlds: the hard-boiled world of the protagonist, known only as the Calcutec, and the fantastical End of the World. 

The Calcutec is a data processor that can enter people's dreams and extract information from their subconscious minds. In the hard-boiled world, he is hired by a mysterious organization to protect a valuable secret but finds himself caught up in a conflict between rival factions.

Meanwhile, at the End of the World, the Calcutec lives a solitary life in a town surrounded by a wall, where he is tasked with sorting and categorizing books for the mysterious and enigmatic librarian. As he goes about his work, he begins to uncover the secrets of the town and its inhabitants and begins to question the nature of his own existence.

Throughout the novel, Murakami weaves together elements of science fiction, fantasy, and surrealism to create a unique and captivating story. The novel explores themes of identity, consciousness, and the power of information, and challenges the reader to question the boundaries between reality and imagination.

Overall, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World is a thought-provoking and imaginative work that showcases Murakami's distinctive style and storytelling ability. It is a must-read for fans of the author and anyone interested in exploring the intersection of reality and fantasy.

Conclusion of Best Haruki Murakami Books of All Time

Of course, this is just a small selection of Murakami's work, and there are many other books by him that are worth reading. 

Some other popular titles include The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, The Rat, and Hear the Wind Sing.

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