Where to begin ? It's not like with Salinger where the answer would of course be The Catcher in the Rye (with the critical addition of not letting the reader stop there, forcing them on to the "Nine Stories" of course and then "Franny and Zooey" and last but certainly not least "Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters - bar none the least inviting title to a fucking brilliant story.) With Murakami it depends on the person reading. Is this reader a lovelorn romantic, or more the type to need a meaty, weighty book? Do fantasy and wonder appeal? Or is it just a straight but rather surreal adventure that is the order of the day?
The following is an attempt to help solve the problem:
--For melancholy love and what seems so simple a story, but that carriers a similar mystique magic to J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye
Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
--For the adult reader who doesn't believe there are fantasy books for adults, books that can take you into your imagination the way they did when you were a kid, but that are actually written for people who've outgrown George Lucas (more or less).
Dance, Dance, Dance
--For the utter fun pleasure of a magical mystery kind of tour - this is a thrill ride for the literary reader. [For a wee review follow me.]
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
--For what many consider to be his first masterpiece, and what I have to call the best opening to a book I can think of.
Kafka on the Shore
--To confuse everything this may well be my favourite Murakami book of all, but it comes last and gets no real descriptor because I don't think it's the way to start if you're not familiar with the author. Start with the very good, warm your way to the great.