I can't find my high school copy of Norwegian Wood, but I remember what it looks like: the paperback cover is peeling and bent almost entirely backwards; the pages are dog-eared and torn from rushed attempts to finish the story; the words are underlined and highlighted and dotted and starred, all in different colors and pens. I admit I'm not kind to the books I love. I mark them up; I write in the margins; I consume them fully. Norwegian Wood is no exception, and in my copy — wherever it may be — you will find some of my favorite Haruki Murakami quotes about love, underlined and starred and dog-eared for future reading.
I didn't know much about love or loss when I first read Norwegian Wood, but it became my favorite book anyway. When I read it later — after my first real heartbreak — I found it to be indescribably compelling. I pored through it, re-marking and re-reading my favorite passages until I'd managed to commit them to memory. The story of Watanabe's desperate, heart-wrenching romance with Naoko and his chaotic, joyful friendship with Midori was painfully relatable. I had never been in Watanabe's situation, but I certainly recognized his pain and confusion. Yet despite the sadness within the pages, the ending is ambiguously hopeful, and I've always remembered Norwegian Wood as a love story.
But then, that's the genius of Haruki Murakami. He is able to perfectly articulate the sadness, desperation, anger, and frustration of love without detracting from its beauty, security, joy, and wonder. No one can quite write love like Murakami, and these quotes from Norwegian Woodprove it.
1“I have a million things to talk to you about. All I want in this world is you. I want to see you and talk. I want the two of us to begin everything from the beginning.”
2“What a terrible thing it is to wound someone you really care for and to do it so unconsciously.”
3“I don't care what you do to me, but I don't want you to hurt me. I've had enough hurt already in my life. More than enough. Now I want to be happy.”
4"No, even I know better than that. I’m looking for selfishness. Perfect selfishness. Like, say I tell you I want to eat strawberry shortcake. And you stop everything you’re doing and run out and buy it for me. And you come back out of breath and get down on your knees and hold this strawberry shortcake out to me. And I say I don’t want it anymore and throw it out the window. That’s what I’m looking for."
5"Memory is a funny thing. When I was in the scene, I hardly paid it any mind. I never stopped to think of it as something that would make a lasting impression, certainly never imagined that eighteen years later I would recall it in such detail. I didn't give a damn about the scenery that day. I was thinking about myself. I was thinking about the beautiful girl walking next to me. I was thinking about the two of us together, and then about myself again. It was the age, that time of life when every sight, every feeling, every thought came back, like a boomerang, to me. And worse, I was in love. Love with complications. The scenery was the last thing on my mind."
6"What happens when people open their hearts?" "They get better.”
7"When you fall in love, the natural thing to do is give yourself to it. That's what I think. It's just a form of sincerity."
8"'How much do you love me?' Midori asked. 'Enough to melt all the tigers in the world to butter,' I said."
9"When you fall in love, the natural thing to do is give yourself to it."
10"'I guess I don't really understand you yet,' I said. 'I'm not all that smart. It takes me a while to understand things. But if I do have time, I will come to understand you — better than anyone else in the world ever can.'"
11"Our faces were no more than ten inches apart but she was lightyears away from me."
12"Will you wait for me forever?"
13"Loving another person is a wonderful thing, and if that love is sincere, no one ends up tossed into a labyrinth. You have to have more faith in yourself."