The 12 best Haruki Murakami books, according to Goodreads members – Business Insider

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Haruki Murakami is the bestselling contemporary Japanese author and translator of over a dozen popular fiction novels, which are well-known for their magical realism and surrealistic take on modern culture. His novels, essays, and short stories have been translated into 50 languages and sold millions of copies internationally. 
To rank Haruki Murakami’s most popular books, we turned to ratings from Goodreads members. On Goodreads, over 125 million readers rate, review, and share their favorite book recommendations with the community. 
Whether you’re looking to dive into the widely known “1Q84” or searching for a new tale like “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage,” here are the most popular Haruki Murakami books, according to Goodreads reviewers.
Learn more about how Insider Reviews tests and researches books.
Descriptions are provided by Amazon and lightly edited for clarity.
“The Elephant Vanishes,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $10.39
In these stories, a man sees his favorite elephant vanish into thin air; a newlywed couple suffers attacks of hunger that drive them to hold up a McDonald’s in the middle of the night,  and a young woman discovers that she has become irresistible to a little green monster who burrows up through her backyard. By turns haunting and hilarious, in “The Elephant Vanishes” Murakami crosses the border between separate realities — and comes back bearing remarkable treasures.
“Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.95
“Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage” is the remarkable story of a young man haunted by a great loss; of dreams and nightmares that have unintended consequences for the world around us; and of a journey into the past that is necessary to mend the present.
“South of the Border, West of the Sun,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.49
Hajime has arrived at middle age with a loving family and an enviable career, yet he feels incomplete. When a childhood friend, now a beautiful woman, shows up with a secret from which she is unable to escape, the fault lines of doubt in Hajime’s quotidian existence begin to give way. Rich, mysterious, and quietly dazzling, in South of the Border, West of the Sun the simple arc of one man’s life becomes the exquisite literary terrain of Murakami’s remarkable genius.
“Dance Dance Dance,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $11.52
As Murakami’s nameless protagonist searches for a mysteriously vanished girlfriend, he is plunged into a wind tunnel of sexual violence and metaphysical dread. In this propulsive novel, featuring a shabby but oracular Sheep Man, one of the most idiosyncratically brilliant writers at work today fuses together science fiction, the hardboiled thriller, and white-hot satire.
“A Wild Sheep Chase,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $13.89
An advertising executive receives a postcard from a friend and casually appropriates the image for an advertisement. What he doesn’t realize is that included in the scene is a mutant sheep with a star on its back, and in using this photo he has unwittingly captured the attention of a man who offers a menacing ultimatum: find the sheep or face dire consequences. Thus begins a surreal and elaborate quest that takes readers from Tokyo to the remote mountains of northern Japan, where the unnamed protagonist has a surprising confrontation with his demons.
“After Dark,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $15.49
19-year-old Mari is waiting out the night in an anonymous Denny’s when she meets a young man who insists he knows her older sister, thus setting her on an odyssey through the sleeping city. In the space of a single night, the lives of a diverse cast of Tokyo residents collide in a world suspended between fantasy and reality. Utterly enchanting and infused with surrealism, “After Dark” is a thrilling account of the magical hours separating midnight from dawn.
“Sputnik Sweetheart,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.49
K is madly in love with his best friend, Sumire, but her devotion to a writerly life precludes her from any personal commitments. At least, that is, until she meets an older woman to whom she finds herself irresistibly drawn. When Sumire disappears from an island off the coast of Greece, K is solicited to join the search party — and finds himself drawn back into her world and beset by ominous visions. Subtle and haunting, “Sputnik Sweetheart” is a profound meditation on human longing.
“Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.49
Across two parallel narratives, Murakami draws readers into a mind-bending universe in which Lauren Bacall, Bob Dylan, a split-brained data processor, a deranged scientist, his shockingly undemure granddaughter, and various thugs, librarians, and subterranean monsters collide to dazzling effect. What emerges is a novel that is at once hilariously funny and a deeply serious meditation on the nature and uses of the mind.
“1Q84,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $15.99
The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo.

A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver’s enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 —”Q is for ‘question mark.’ A world that bears a question.” Meanwhile, an aspiring writer named Tengo takes on a suspect ghostwriting project. He becomes so wrapped up with the work and its unusual author that, soon, his previously placid life begins to come unraveled.

A love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, a dystopia to rival George Orwell’s — “1Q84” is Haruki Murakami’s most ambitious undertaking yet: an instant bestseller in his native Japan, and a tremendous feat of imagination from one of our most revered contemporary writers.
“The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.89
In a Tokyo suburb, a young man named Toru Okada searches for his wife’s missing cat — and then for his wife as well — in a netherworld beneath the city’s placid surface. As these searches intersect, he encounters a bizarre group of allies and antagonists. Gripping, prophetic, and suffused with comedy and menace, this is an astonishingly imaginative detective story, an account of a disintegrating marriage, and an excavation of the buried secrets from Japan’s forgotten campaign in Manchuria during World War II.
“Norwegian Wood,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $11.67
Toru, a quiet and serious college student in Tokyo, is devoted to Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman, but their mutual passion is marked by the tragic death of their best friend years before. As Naoko retreats further into her own world, Toru finds himself reaching out to others and drawn to a fiercely independent and sexually liberated young woman. 
A magnificent blending of the music, the mood, and the ethos of 1960s culture with the story of one college student’s romantic coming of age, “Norwegian Wood” brilliantly recaptures a young man’s first, hopeless, and heroic love.
“Kafka on the Shore,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $13.69
Here we meet a teenage boy, Kafka Tamura, who is on the run, and Nakata, an aging simpleton who is drawn to Kafka for reasons that he cannot fathom. As their paths converge, acclaimed author Haruki Murakami enfolds readers in a world where cats talk, fish fall from the sky, and spirits slip out of their bodies to make love or commit murder, in what is a truly remarkable journey.
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