What I Talk About When I Talk About Running – Haruki Murakami, read by Ray Porter

I am a casual runner, doing only 5km a couple of times a week. But I enjoy reading about running, especially thoughtful pieces where people challenge their own motivations and consider what motivates them, as well as just diet and training regime.

Murakami is a wonderful balance of introspective and motivated. He delves deeply into his past as he racks up the miles and plans for the impending marathon. He struggles occasionally, and remembers times when his running motivation abandoned him entirely. More than that, he reflecst on what running brings to his life, an an everyday and a long term basis.

It did however seem wrong to me to be listening to this in a noticable American accent. Even though¬†Murakami spends nearly all his time in English-speaking countries in America, the accent made it harder for me to picture the narrator. The narrating was clear though, and well-executed, so I can’t really complain!

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Marrying Out – Harold Carlton

I came across Marrying Out in a copy of Slightly Foxed, which gave a lovely taster of this book. Therefore when I ordered myself a Slightly Foxed subscription, I also ordered the lovely hardback, Everyman-sized copy of this book.

Its an autobiographical book about Harold becoming an adult, and working out what that means in his 1960s Jewish family. He explores the family secrets, and truths everyone holds to be self-evident, and tries to work out what being an atheist Jew means.

The unravelling of secrets at the end finished the book well, and allowed all the strands of the book to make sense.

Dare to be a Daniel – Tony Benn

Its difficult to tell what Benn was aiming to produce with Dare to be a Daniel. The introduction calls it a prelude to his published diaries (all eight volumes). It gives both a selection of his essays and speeches a look at his life before beginning his political life, and how his family life and early experience shaped his socialist, pacifist and republican tendencies which shaped 50 years as a member of the House of Commons, including standing down from a hereditary lords seat.

The title of the book is based on the lines of a hymn sung in childhood “Dare to be a Daniel, Dare to stand alone”¬† and how this influenced his attitude towards the changing nature of politics and economics.

I enjoyed the stories of family life and the look at a privileged upbringing immediately prior to and throughout the Blitz. They painted an image of a time and a particular type of political belief which showed how the socialist state was built in the aftermath of the Second World War. More interesting however was the collection of speeches made to the House arguing for greater British independence, international peace and the need for social justice.

There are large gaps in this autobiography, which leaves me wanting to read his full set of diaries, and it is important to bare in mind that by its very nature it will reflect well on the subject”s beliefs and actions. However I think that seeing the perspective that individuals have of themselves is important to understand why they took the options they did.