Norwegian Wood Summary

Haruki Murakami
- 1987
This book is good to read when you feel lonely.

Key Takeaways

  1. The search for meaning in life can often be intertwined with deep personal loss.
  2. Memories and music play a significant role in shaping our identity and emotional state.
  3. Relationships can be profoundly transformative, influencing our paths in unexpected ways.
  4. Loneliness and longing are universal emotions that can connect individuals across different backgrounds.
  5. Coming of age involves navigating complex emotional landscapes and finding one’s place in the world.


The story revolves around Toru Watanabe, who recounts his days as a college student in Tokyo. Through his memories, the reader experiences his relationships with two women—Naoko, who is linked to the memory of his best friend’s suicide, and Midori, who represents everything that Naoko is not: outgoing, vivacious, and supremely self-confident.

The novel delicately explores Watanabe’s struggle with his feelings for Naoko, whose own emotional turmoil leads her into a sanatorium, and his growing affection for Midori, who pulls him toward a life full of possibilities.

Murakami weaves themes of existential dread and the search for meaning amidst the characters’ complex relationships, set against the evocative backdrop of 1960s student life in Japan, marked by political upheaval and cultural change.

'Norwegian Wood' beautifully captures the intensity of young love and loss, the pain of loneliness, and the deep yearnings for companionship and understanding, making it a deeply resonant work for anyone who has ever felt out of place or in search of deeper meaning in their lives.

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