Norwegian Wood will make and break your heart

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Unfortunately, this book is not about what you think it’s about

What a nice looking book...with so much love inside / Laura Billett

What a nice looking book…with so much love inside / Laura Billett

“I straightened up and looked out the plane window at the dark clouds hanging over the North Sea, thinking of what I had lost in the course of my life: times gone forever, friends who had died or disappeared, feelings I would never know again.”

These lines on the first page of Norwegian Wood strike me every time I read them. We all know people or even places that give a shock to our hearts every time we see them. We all recognize moments in our past that brought a feeling, or a state of being that we will never experience again. Perhaps these influences are what contribute to the infamous feeling of being in love, or perhaps they are just the left-overs — remnants of a physical and emotional connection that reason cannot explain.

In Norwegian Wood, Haruki Murakami explores what it means to feel love for someone and the consequences that this has upon the self. His elegant prose captures the intense experiences of loss and the terrifying emptiness it leaves within a person. With this story of love — its end and beginning — Murakami plunges readers into the terrors of accepting the past and all of its painful incompleteness, and of letting yourself be present so to allow for a future.

Love in Norwegian Wood is not characterized by romantic gestures or grand declarations, but by the real, complicated, and inexplicable situations human beings experience.

The reader follows Toru, a college student, as he discovers how to let go of those he has lost, remembering them without living for them. An intelligent, introspective and serious character, he navigates through his experiences with a simple honesty that allows readers to establish an immediate and extremely deep connection with him. A story at once tragic and fiercely liberating, Norwegian Wood is a read that will sweep you into the uncomfortably beautiful world of finding and loving who you are as you face this life that you cannot control.

Haruki Murakami has an elegant style that enraptures long after the final pages are read. He weaves sexuality, love, friendship, and self-discovery in a seamless way, creating a novel that will deeply connect readers with themselves and with the challenges of living and loving. Murakami’s writing is lyrical, but also simple and truthful. Reading Norwegian Wood is like learning about yourself. Characters are real and relatable, and as you turn each page, their pains strike you just as hard as if they were your own.

A favourite book of mine, Norwegian Wood is the love story you must read this Valentine’s Day because it is not a book about teenaged angst or one rampant with “he said, she said” driven plots. The novel is about love and loss, and how to find your place in the midst of a world uncontrollable and thus unknowable. Life will bring us people, emotions, and relationships only to have them disappear, never to be known again. Norwegian Wood is about remembering those experiences without letting them define you.

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