Haruki Murakami’s 16 Best Books

Tokyo-based postmodernist writer Haruko Murakami is one of the most popular and sought-after authors in modern literature, with books translated into 50 languages and sold worldwide in large print runs. EXPERTOLOGY online magazine presents a ranking that includes 16 of Haruki Murakami’s best books – be sure to add them to your reading list and appreciate the magnitude of the experience!

Rating of the best books by Haruki Murakami

Nominationplaceproduct namerating
Ranking of the best books by Haruki Murakami1Wonderland Without Brakes and the End of the World (1985)4.9
2Hunting Sheep (1982).)4.8
3A Clockwork Bird Chronicles (1995.)4.8
4Norwegian Forest (1987).)4.8
5Listen to the Wind’s Song (1979, 1983).)4.7
6Dance, Dance, Dance (1988).)4.7
7What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (2007.)4.6
8Pinball 1973 (1980.)4.6
9South of the Border, West of the Sun (1992.)4.5
10My Favorite Sputnik (1999.)4.5
11A Good Day for Kangaroos (1986).)4.5
12Subway (1997.)4.5
13Kafka on the Beach (2002).)4.5
14Colorless Tzkuru Tazaki and the years of his wanderings (2013.)4.4
15Aftermrak (2004-2005)4.4
16Tokyo Legends4.4.

Wonderland Without Brakes and the End of the World (1985)

Rating: 4.9

Wonderland Without Brakes and the End of the World

The Audience Leader is the novel Wonderland with No Brakes and the End of the World. Haruki Murakami, when creating this work, used an unusual method – alternating chapters with parallel storylines: even-numbered chapters are about Wonderland without brakes, the odd ones – about the End of the World. According to the author, these stories were written with the work of the different hemispheres of the brain, which filled the text with very different deep thoughts and reasoning.

“Wonderland” is about a man who has a technique for working with the subconscious. The narrative of “The End of the World” incorporates the previously written story “The Ghost Walled City” with a consciousness-oriented focus, the author tells of a mysterious, walled city, all inhabitants lacking shadows. The hero of this city gets a job in a library, where he has to read dreams into the skulls of dead unicorns. Absurd at first glance, but Murakami masterfully leads all the descriptions, keeps the reader interested, and weaves both lines together at the end.

The novel’s main purpose is to lead the way in reasoning about the subconscious and the conscious, about whether there is a soul, about what a personal concept is. The narrative is filled with interesting descriptions, completely transporting the reader into a parallel book world.

Hunting Sheep (1982).)

Rating: 4.8

Hunting Sheep (1982)

The second highest ranked novel is Hunt for Sheep, third in the Rat Trilogy. The author again immerses the reader in a discussion of the Soul, its purpose and possibilities.

The plot is based on an ancient Japanese legend about a sheep whose soul migrates into people and in their guise tries to establish chaos, disorder and anarchy on earth. In the novel, the “victim” is first a professor, then a lonely, withdrawn man prone to self-deprecation. How can such a person try to disrupt the established order? The point is that a sheep’s soul endows a “carrier” with unlimited abilities, so the descendant of an impoverished peasant nevertheless becomes the leader of a large organization. But having squeezed all the juices out of him, the Soul finds a third victim – a man who has realized what will happen to him and where the “wind blows” from. There is mysticism and unusual connections in the book that many people find hard to believe.

“The Sheep Hunt” is quite freely perceived as a separate novel with a separate plot, despite its belonging to the Trilogy. The imagination of the author, who, incidentally, claims to have no idea what the book is about, leaving speculation and conclusions to the reader.

A Clockwork Chronicles (1995).)

Rating: 4.8

A Clockwork Bird Chronicles (1995)

The third bestselling novel A Clockwork Bird Chronicles is the story of a man named Toru Okada. He leads a measured life and then quits his job, after which he lives off the savings and earnings of his wife, Kumiko. One day misfortunes begin to happen to the hero: a cat goes missing, then his wife – she, by the way, has fallen under the influence of the perverted brother who embodies evil in the novel. As the story progresses, Toru meets psychics who first help the hero find the cat and then reveal to the man the secrets of the clairvoyance business.

The novel is written in an interesting language, typical of Murakami, the author used a lot of psychic in the narration, the plot is intriguing and fascinating. Mystical literary thriller shows the realities of modern man’s life in a world where sex plays one of the first roles. The plot is intertwined with the history of early 20th century Japan.

Haruki Murakami is fond of fantasy in his own style, which inside a pretty good story seems strange to some readers. This is why it is loved by fans of literature around the world.

Norwegian Forest (1987.)

Rating: 4.8

Norwegian Forest (1987)

It’s unusual to read about the forests of Norway in a Japanese novel, but Haruki Murakami’s novel has almost no descriptions of nature. At the head of the story is autobiography, which the writer does not confirm, but also does not refute.

The story centers on a Japanese man, Watanabe, who has moved to Hamburg. To the songs of “The Beatles” he recalls his student years and friends, one of whom, having perished, changes the main character’s worldview, as well as that of his girlfriend Naoko. Over time they become close, but Watanabe finds a new girlfriend because of her complicated character. That doesn’t stop him from hanging out with his old flame and having fun with a friend. Here the hero realizes that something is going on in his soul, but continues to be attracted to his new girlfriends.

Listen to the Song of the Wind (1979, 1983).)

Rating: 4.7

Listen to the Song of the Wind (1979, 1983)

The novel “Listen to the Song of the Wind” was the first in the Rat Trilogy. Murakami wrote it in 1979, then reprinted it with edits in 1983, and this version is widely popular.

It is difficult to determine the plot line – in the narrative a lot of reasoning, descriptions of various stories, here lays the image of the main character Rat and the preconditions for the development of action in subsequent novels – the second part called “Ponball 1973” and the third, previously mentioned book “The Hunt for Sheep”.

Why do readers like the novel “Listen to the Music of the Wind? The author has an easy syllable and simple delivery – this was one of the prerequisites for the book – once Murakami realized he was capable of creating the “perfect” text. Some people will find the narration boring, but on the whole, when you get acquainted with it, you can relax well and immerse yourself in the tenderness of your own reflections on life.

Dance, dance, dance (1988).)

Rating: 4.7

Dance, dance, dance

We’ve already mentioned the Rat trilogy, but there are not three but four novels in the series, the final one being “Dance-Dance-Dance.”. The book tells the story of events that happened a few years after the action in The Sheep Hunt. The story centers on a zeroed-out man who, after previously described maneuvers of life, tries to find himself again in a world cluttered with the ideas of capitalism. “Dance, Dance, Dance” is the advice of the Sheep Man, an attempt to put something in the hero’s head that hasn’t yet been completely erased from his subconscious. In the second half of the novel, the hero learns anew to interpret the signs of destiny and analyze the events occurring around.

What am I talking about when I talk about running (2007.)

Rating: 4.6

What I'm talking about when I talk about running

At the center of the novel “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” is running and the author’s musings about it. This book is a memoir, almost a biography of Haruki Murakami, this description of the real races for short and long distances, marathons and ultramarathons. The writer manages to compare running and literary work, and does so masterfully and unexpectedly lucidly.

The book is not about a healthy lifestyle, but about training for competitions and overcoming different distances. Each chapter is created at a different time, they are separate stories, almost unconnected in one plot. According to Murakami, the book is about runners of the earth of all times.

The novel is popular in many countries. Strange that Haruki did not write it sooner, because during the next run, he realized that he would end his career as a manager and become a writer.

Pinball 1973 (1980.)

Rating: 4.6

Pinball 1973

The second novel of the Rat Trilogy, Pinball 1973. – is the work of early Haruki Murakami. The story centers on the protagonist, Rat, who has left the metropolis. In his house settle twins who are fond of paintball, which later infected this love of the protagonist of the novel.

The hero sets out to find and purchase a “Rocket” (a game machine) that has become an antique, and finds it in a paintball collector.

The plot is interesting and engaging, like all of the author’s works, there are vivid descriptions of people and objects, phenomena. Murakami draws attention to the unconventional structure of the world and things. For example, we know that everything has an in and out, that’s the way things work around here, but not a mousetrap..

South of the Border, West of the Sun (1992.)

Rating: 4.5

South of the Border, West of the Sun

The ninth rated novel, “South of the Border, West of the Sun,” reviewers call one of the most poignant among Haruki Murakami’s works.

The focus is on Hajime, who grew up as an only child in a family, which was different from his peers – families in Japan were known to be large. He was treated with prejudice, and the boy felt it. Until a similarly different girl, Shimamoto, comes into his life. It was a happy friendship that eventually grew into a youthful love. But life takes a turn, and the characters separate, now living in different cities and losing touch. Hajime becomes a successful entrepreneur, he has a family, and life goes on like clockwork. But then fate brings the hero back together with the once beloved and still unforgotten Shimamoto. Not surprisingly, the flames are rekindled, but will the heroes be able to warm themselves from this fire and keep it?

The novel “South of the Border, West of the Sun” is poignantly written, the plot is intriguing because the ending is simply impossible to predict. The work gets a lot of reader and reviewer recommendations.

My Favorite Sputnik (1999).)

Rating: 4.5

My favorite sputnik

The book “My Favorite Sputnik,” according to the author, is about unusual things that happen to normal people.

The narrative centers around Surime – an elementary school teacher is in love with her, and she turns her attention to another woman – Myuu, who is considerably older than Surime. She loves the young talent, but has no sexual attraction to her, which hurts the young writer, who, in turn, wants to merge completely with the object of her adoration.

During a trip to a Greek island with Muyu, Surime disappears. The quest is joined by K. (no name), he encounters a world of visions and even a “split” Muu. Surime returns, she manages to find herself.

Sputnik is a subtle metaphor, representing a man as if inertly flying through his life, constantly staying near the object of his desire and love. There is a lot of unrequited in this novel, the characters are constantly facing dead ends of feelings and trying to get out of them.

A Good Day for a Kangaroo (1986.)

Rating: 4.5

It's a good day for a kangaroo

The first rated short story collection, A Good Day for a Kangaroo, especially appeals to fans of short works suitable for reading on the road or a short weekend. In Murakami’s collection, this format is still an exception, but a very successful one.

The book contains stories about such characters as the kangaroo-composer, in another work the author describes the story of a 100 percent girl, the intriguing vampire in a cab, the already well-known character of the Man Sheep, and other completed standalone stories that can be indirectly traced back to Haruki Murakami’s novels. The Japanese writer created this anthology in the early days of his career, and yet the works included here are just as heartfelt and interesting as his later novels, leaving a trail of reflection on the meaning of life and its individual aspects.

Subway (1997).)

Rating: 4.5

Subway (1997)

“Underground” is a documentary novel based on the 1995 Tokyo subway tragedy ordered by the terrorist group or Aum Shinrikyo sect. The author describes the life stories of 62 eyewitnesses to the sarin attack.

The story of the novel’s writing is interesting. The author and his team communicated with responding witnesses to the terrorist attack throughout 1996 from January to December. All of the interview dialogues were tape-recorded, then structured and printed. In the last chapter Murakami shares with readers his own experiences, feelings and emotions, describes where he was at the time, and reveals the essence of the Aum Shinrikyo sect – many Japanese simply did not understand the danger of this organization.

The artistic treatment of the real events and the views of eyewitnesses will interest the reader sympathetic to the documentary genre. “Underground” is one of the few works by Haruki Murakami that is not laced with fantasy and ambiguous speculation and supposition.

Kafka on the Beach (2002.)

Rating: 4.5

Kafka on the beach

Murakami’s ninth novel, Kafka on the Beach, became a world bestseller, was one of the ten best novels in the world in 2005 by the American newspaper The New York Times, and was awarded the World Fantasy Prize.

The plot is built around two characters, Kafka Tamura and old man Nakata. The fates of both are significantly influenced by prophecies, representatives of an otherworldly parallel world – and yet the action takes place in the second half of the 20th century.

A boy at the age of 15 runs away from home because of constant disagreements with his father, the reason being a paternal prophecy, similar to the Epidus myth, which states that the heir will live with his mother and kill his father. The young man leaves for the city of Takamatsu, takes the pseudonym Kafka. Meets Saeki-san and falls in love with her, though he considers her his mother and takes Sakura as his sister.

An old man Nakata witnesses an alien spaceship landing at an early age, after which he discovers his paranormal abilities. He has also stopped developing mentally and has become markedly backward compared to his peers. Now he knows how to communicate with cats, which helps him earn a living by helping to track down the four-legged ones on the city streets. The characters’ fates intersect in unexpected ways: Nakata kills Kafka’s father, but the latter has his father’s blood on his T-shirt after the event. Thus, the prophecy came true after all.

In the novel, reality intersects with parallel worlds, a city without time, where dead people live, the author reopens the question of finding his way and reading signs.

Colorless Tzkuru Tazaki and the years of his wanderings (2013.)

Rating: 4.4

Colorless Tzkuru Tazaki and the years of his wanderings

Tskuru Tazaki was once a carefree student surrounded by friends with “colored” names. In his second year at university, the hero is suddenly turned away from his closest comrades without giving any explanation. Tskuru suddenly shuts down, becomes “colorless,” and believes he is doomed to be alone.

Sixteen years pass. Tzaku Tazaki is a successful engineer, but there is a red thread through the entire novel, a trail of moping, nostalgia, and withdrawal that arose after a watershed breakup with friends. New friend Sarah suggests that Zucker find these very friends and find out what happened back then, in her second year? This is where the protagonist’s journey to Nagoya, Finland begins. Will he find the one he’s looking for? Will she get answers to her questions??

The Aftermath (2004-2005)

Rating: 4.4


The penultimate novel in the ranking is “The Aftermath”. The plot develops between dream and reality, with the action of the work being contained within a single night. Marie, a 19-year-old college student, reads a book in a cafe at night. Takahashi plays the trombone. He knows Eri, Mari’s sister, who is in a coma (deep sleep). Marie’s fate comes into contact with the life of a female receptionist at a love hotel, beaten and robbed by a Chinese prostitute and a sadistic computer expert. All fates are intertwined, some with goals, others with a life of inertia.

“The Aftermath” is a graphic guide to how very different people live next to each other.

Tokyo Legends

Rating: 4.4

Tokyo Legends

Another collection of stories by Haruki Murakami, Tokyo Legends, rounds out the rating. This is truly a collection of urban Japanese legends, colorfully revealed by the author in the pages of the book. A shark-dead surfer wandering the beaches, a family father who disappeared between the 26th and 24th floors, an unusual kidney-shaped stone with his own intentions, a monkey hunting for the names of strangers.

In Haruko’s work, the already creepy legends literally come to life, making goosebumps run down the reader’s skin. “Tokyo Legends” will be appreciated by fans of mysticism.

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