12 Best Haruki Murakami Books – Novels, Stories & Non-Fiction

If you are a fan of contemporary Japanese literature, then you have undoubtedly heard of Haruki Murakami. His unique writing style, vivid characters, and captivating storylines have captured the hearts of readers all around the world. In this article, we will explore some of the best Haruki Murakami books that you should add to your reading list immediately.

12 Best Haruki Murakami Books - Novels, Stories & Non-Fiction

A Brief Introduction to Haruki Murakami

Before we dive into our list of the best Haruki Murakami books, let’s take a moment to learn more about the man himself. Haruki Murakami is a Japanese author born in Kyoto in 1949. He started his career as a writer in the late 1970s and has since written numerous novels, short stories, and non-fiction works. His writing style is often described as a blend of surrealism, magical realism, and fantasy.

Who is Haruki Murakami?

Despite the fact that Murakami is one of the most prolific writers of our time, he is famously reclusive and private. In interviews, he is usually tight-lipped about his personal life and writing process. He has said that he is inspired by Western literature and music, and this can be seen in his writing, which often features references to Western culture and music icons such as The Beatles.

Murakami’s Unique Writing Style

Murakami’s writing is known for its dreamlike quality, a quality that is often evoked by his use of surreal imagery and characters. His novels often offer a glimpse into characters’ innermost thoughts and feelings, and explore themes such as love, loss, and the human condition. He has a talent for creating a sense of atmosphere and mood that stays with you long after you’ve finished reading.

One of the most interesting aspects of Murakami’s writing is his ability to blend genres seamlessly. His novels often incorporate elements of mystery, science fiction, and even horror, but they never feel disjointed or forced. Instead, they come together to create a unique and unforgettable reading experience.

Another hallmark of Murakami’s writing is his use of music. As mentioned earlier, he is often inspired by Western music, and this is reflected in his novels. In fact, music is such an integral part of his writing that he even owned a jazz bar in Tokyo for many years. His use of music in his writing adds another layer of depth and emotion to his stories.

Despite the fact that Murakami’s writing can be quite surreal at times, it is always grounded in reality. His characters are often ordinary people dealing with everyday problems, but their experiences are heightened by the surreal and fantastical elements that Murakami weaves into his stories.

Overall, Haruki Murakami is a truly unique and talented writer. His ability to blend genres, incorporate music, and create dreamlike atmospheres makes his writing a must-read for anyone who loves literature.

Top Must-Read Haruki Murakami Novels

Haruki Murakami is one of the most celebrated and influential writers of our time. His unique style of magical realism has captivated readers around the world, and his novels are widely regarded as some of the best works of contemporary literature. Below, we’ve put together a list of the top five Haruki Murakami novels that you absolutely must read. Each of these books offers a unique insight into Murakami’s writing style and will leave you captivated from beginning to end.

Norwegian Wood

Norwegian Wood (Vintage International)

Norwegian Wood is perhaps one of Murakami’s most well-known works and for good reason. The novel tells the story of Toru Watanabe, a college student in Tokyo in the 1960s, and his complicated relationships with two women. The novel is a touching exploration of love, loss, and the human experience.

In Norwegian Wood, Murakami explores the themes of loneliness and alienation that are so prevalent in modern society. The novel is a poignant reminder that even in the midst of life’s greatest joys and sorrows, we are all ultimately alone.

Kafka on the Shore

Kafka on the Shore

Kafka on the Shore is a surreal and fantastical novel that centers around Kafka Tamura, a young man who runs away from home in search of answers about his past. Along the way, he meets a series of enigmatic and fascinating characters, and his journey becomes a mystical and transformative experience.

Murakami’s use of magical realism in Kafka on the Shore is masterful. The novel blurs the line between reality and fantasy, and the result is a work of breathtaking beauty and imagination.


1Q84 (Vintage International)

1Q84 is a sprawling and ambitious novel that takes place in a parallel world where reality is in a state of flux. The novel weaves together multiple storylines, including one about a young woman who becomes involved in a dangerous religious cult. The novel is a masterwork of magical realism and is sure to leave a lasting impression on readers.

At its core, 1Q84 is a meditation on the nature of reality and the power of the human imagination. Murakami’s ability to create a fully-realized alternate world is awe-inspiring, and the novel is a testament to his skill as a writer.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel (Vintage International)

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is a haunting and enigmatic novel that centers around a man named Toru Okada, who searches for his missing wife Kumiko. Along the way, he meets a series of strange and memorable characters and is drawn into a world of mystery and intrigue. The novel is a meditation on identity and the human psyche.

Murakami’s use of symbolism in The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is particularly noteworthy. The novel is filled with recurring images and motifs that add depth and complexity to the story. Readers will find themselves pondering the meaning of these symbols long after they have finished the book.

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World (Vintage International)

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World is a captivating novel that tells two parallel stories, one of a data processor and the other of a dreamy utopia. As the stories converge, the reader is left with a sense of wonder and awe at Murakami’s ability to weave together complex and disparate ideas into a coherent whole.

The novel is a commentary on the nature of consciousness and the human experience. Murakami’s exploration of these themes is both thought-provoking and deeply moving.

Whether you’re a longtime fan of Haruki Murakami or are just discovering his work for the first time, these five novels are a must-read. Each one offers a unique perspective on the human experience and will leave you spellbound from beginning to end.

Exploring Murakami’s Short Story Collections

Murakami is a literary giant, known for his unique writing style and gift for storytelling. In addition to his novels, he is also a prolific writer of short stories. His collections often showcase his ability to create vivid and realistic characters, while seamlessly blending surrealism and realism. Below are three of his most well-regarded short story collections that you should definitely check out.

Men Without Women

Men Without Women: Stories

Men Without Women is a collection of seven short stories that examines the lives of men who find themselves alone after the women they loved have left them. The stories are poignant and powerful, and showcase Murakami’s talent for exploring the complexities of human relationships.

“The Metamorphosis”

The Metamorphosis

In “Samsa in Love,” Murakami puts his own unique spin on Kafka’s classic story, “The Metamorphosis.” The story follows the awakening of a giant insect who finds himself in the body of a human man. As he navigates the unfamiliar world of human emotions and desires, he begins to fall in love with a woman who helps him to understand what it means to be human.

“Kino” is another standout story in the collection. It follows the life of a successful businessman who is haunted by the memory of a former lover. As he navigates his current relationships and tries to move on from his past, he is forced to confront the harsh realities of love and loss.

After the Quake

After the Quake: Stories (Vintage International)

After the Quake is a collection of six stories that are united by the 1995 Kobe earthquake. Each story explores how the earthquake affected the lives of different characters in unique and surprising ways.

“UFO in Kushiro” is a standout story in the collection. It follows the life of a man who is haunted by a strange encounter he had with a UFO as a child. As he struggles to come to terms with what he saw, he is forced to confront the limitations of his own perception and understanding of the world around him.

“Thailand” is another powerful story in the collection. It follows the life of a man who travels to Thailand in search of his estranged wife. As he navigates the unfamiliar terrain of a foreign country, he is forced to confront the realities of his own failed marriage and the choices that led him there.

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman (Vintage International)

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman is a collection of 24 stories that span the course of Murakami’s career. The stories explore themes such as memory, loss, and identity, and showcase Murakami’s incredible range as a writer.

“The Seventh Man” is a standout story in the collection. It follows the life of a man who is haunted by the memory of a childhood friend who died in a tragic accident. As he struggles to come to terms with his own guilt and grief, he is forced to confront the harsh realities of mortality and the fragility of human life.

“Tony Takitani”

Tony Takitani: Ilustraciones de Ignasi Font (Andanzas) (Spanish Edition)

Tony Takitani” is another powerful story in the collection. It follows the life of a man who is haunted by his own loneliness and the memory of his father, a famous jazz musician. As he navigates his own relationships and tries to find meaning in his own life, he is forced to confront the harsh realities of love and loss.

Delving into Murakami’s Non-Fiction Works

Finally, if you want to learn more about Haruki Murakami as a person and writer, you should definitely check out his non-fiction works. Below are two of his most compelling non-fiction books that offer insight into his life and work.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (Vintage International)

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is a memoir that explores Murakami’s relationship with running and its impact on his life and writing. The book is filled with insights into Murakami’s creative process and offers a fascinating glimpse into his life as a writer and athlete.

Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche

Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche (Vintage International)

Underground is a work of non-fiction that explores the 1995 terrorist attack on the Tokyo subway. Murakami interviews survivors of the attack and delves into the psychological impact that the attack had on the people of Tokyo. The book offers a unique insight into Japanese culture and the psyche of its people.


In conclusion, there is no denying the fact that Haruki Murakami is one of the most talented and unique writers of our time. Whether you’re a fan of magical realism, surreal imagery, or just great storytelling, there is something for everyone in Murakami’s books. So why not pick up one of his novels or short story collections today and discover for yourself why he is considered one of Japan’s greatest literary exports?


Is Haruki Murakami the best Japanese writer?

Although Haruki Murakami is up there with one of the best Japanese writers of all time, others include Yukio Mishima, Natsuo Kirino, Kanzaburō Ōe, Yasunari Kawabata, and Ryū Murakami.

What has Haruki Murakami written?

He is famous for titles such as Norwegian Wood, Kafka on the Shore, 1Q84, and Men Without Women.

Why are Murakami’s books so good?

His depiction of characters and their relationships is very raw. His storylines and themes are often unpredictable and experimental but his character development is what he is best known for.

YouTube video
Eddison Monroe
Latest posts by Eddison Monroe (see all)