Haruki Murakami will never win a marathon. In fact he will never even come close. He is 59, after all. But the acclaimed Japanese novelist, who until his thirties was a 60-a-day smoker running a jazz club into the small hours each night, doesn't mind. He will continue running them – 25 to date, plus one 62-mile ultramarathon – because he feels the focus and endurance required to complete 26.2 miles help him to apply those same disciplines to his writing. "Most of what I know about writing fiction I learned by running every day" is one of the chapter headings in this reminiscence, which bundles together running logs and memories of people, races and places under the loose overarching theme of his preparations for the New York Marathon. He may plod a bit as a runner, but the fluid, conversational style and self-deprecatory tone of his prose show no signs of strain; this charming little book is a winner from start to finish.
Published by Harvill Secker in hardback, £9.99