Norwegian Wood

By Haruki Murakami

When he hears her favourite Beatles song, Toru Watanabe recalls his first love Naoko, the girlfriend of his best friend Kizuki. Immediately he is transported back almost twenty years to his student days in Tokyo, adrift in a world of uneasy friendships, casual sex, passion, loss and desire – to a time when an impetuous young woman called Midori marched into his life and he had to choose between the future and the past.

“I was always hungry for love. Just once, I wanted to know what it was like to get my fill of it—to be fed so much love I couldn’t take any more.

Norwegian Wood is my favourite book. It is one that I revisit every few years and it always resonates with me in some familiar and some new ways after each read. I often struggle to explain the book when people ask me what it is about. I feel like there are so many levels to it that it is almost impossible to explain to someone who hasn’t read it.

It deals with so many issues and topics that we can relate to in the modern world. It’s a coming of age story that deals with suicide, friendship, mental health, family dynamics, love, life expectations and disappointments. It is a rollercoaster of a story that you will definitely find something of meaning within.

I think why it resonated so much for me was that I first read it in 2014. I had just gone through a break-up; I was facing down the rest of my life and had been struggling a bit with my own mental health for a while previously. It was the first book that I had read that mirrored how I was feeling, that really stayed with me long after I read the final words. It somehow managed to put into words feelings and emotions that I couldn’t even explain to myself at the time. It was probably the first time I really admitted to myself that something was not ok. It took me a long time after that to get help but that was a vital first step on the journey to where I am now.

Since reading it for the first time, I have struggled more than ever with my mental health and finding my place in the world. Every time I re-read this book, it reminds me that what I have gone through and the troubles I face are not because I am broken. They are things that many people go through. It helps remind me that it could be worse and shows me how much I have regained control over the years – which makes me proud of myself.

Haruki Murakami has written many books, but this is the only one that I have read of the collection. I would be really interested to read his other works, so if any of you have recommendations, then I am all ears! Make sure you comment them below.

I find reading very therapeutic and try to read every day to help with my anxiety. When books speak to you, they really can stay with you and can have a huge impact on your life. For me, it was a turning point in my life to know that I wasn’t alone in my mental health struggles. Since reading the book the first time, things definitely got worse before they got better but knowing that you aren’t alone is a huge deal when it comes to mental illness.

What books have changed your life or have stayed with you through the years? Comment below and share your must-reads so that we can all spend our time reading books that remind us what it means to be truly alive.

I want you always to remember me. Will you remember that I existed, and that I stood next to you here like this?

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