Murakami Leads to Burton and Burton Leads Beyond


During the first trimester of Sophomore English we read Haruki Murakami’s “The Seventh Man.” This was my first experience with Murakami and I was hooked. I turned to my local public library system (shout out to Great River Regional), and found the audiobook of The Strange Library. In this tale, a young man returns some library books and is roped into reading and memorizing books on the tax system of the Ottoman Empire. There’s an angry old man who wants to eat the boy’s knowledge-laden brain, a sheep man who makes a mean donut, a girl who can transform into a bird. It’s a strange story, but a lot of fun. Additionally, Kirby Heyborne does a superb job narrating Murakami’s work.

A note about audiobooks: I have a twenty minute commute to work and use this time to listen to audiobooks. It’s a great way to read an extra book once a month.

After finishing The Strange Library, I looked for podcasts on Murakami, and one of the most prominent to pop up, was the Levar Burton Reads PodcastIn each episode of the podcast, Levar Burton reads one of his favorite short stories. Episode 8 was Murakami’s “The Second Bakery Attack,” a story about a newlywed couple who wake up hungry in the middle of the night, and go searching for an all-night bakery to rob (there’s more to it than that, but that’s the gist). I was so taken with Burton’s reading of and commentary on Murakami’s story and style, that I decided to check out the other episodes. And with each listen I was introduced to a new story and a new author. James McBride’s “Goat,” Mike Meginnis’ “Navigators,” Daisy Johnson’s “The Lighthouse Keeper,” etc. etc. The most recent episode featured Percival Everett’s “Graham Greene.” I’d never read anything by Everett before, but now I want to read everything by him. This must’ve been Burton’s intent with this podcast: get people hooked on great stories, and great authors. Makes sense considering the success of Reading Rainbow. How many of us can and do still sing snatches of lyrics from the theme song?

If you’re looking for something read, check out Haruki Murakami, and if you’re looking for something to listen to, check out Levar Burton’s podcast, which will in turn give you further things to read.

I think you’ll enjoy both, “but you don’t have to take my word for it” (Burton).


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