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Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of…

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading (original 2011; edition 2011)

by Nina Sankovitch

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4934520,740 (3.59)60
Title:Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading
Authors:Nina Sankovitch
Info:Harper (2011), Hardcover, 256 pages
Collections:Your library (inactive)
Tags:reading, memoir

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Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading by Nina Sankovitch (2011)



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Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
Not as exciting as I expected it to be, I think because I had a hard time connecting with the author. I know this is obnoxious of me—and not that this was the only reason I didn't connect with her—but I get kind of impatient with women who talk a lot about how stressed they are because they're so busy making snacks for their teenagers. Look, just don't do it. They can do it themselves. Seriously, every time Sankovitch mentioned her kids wanting food (and it was a lot of times) she also mentioned personally handing it to them (even at the beach, out of a cooler). Just... Oy. I also didn't find myself as intrigued as I thought I'd be by the books she was reading, possibly because she summarized them (including occasional spoilers) and included lots of quotes but didn't really draw the connections that I would have drawn from them. They just felt sort of thrown out there, to be taken at face value, as though the fact that a character in a book said them made them fact. Still enjoyed it just for the premise, which really appeals to me in theory even though I would never want to make reading such a project.
  mirikayla | Feb 8, 2016 |
Nina Sankovitch has been reading her whole life. Her parents and two sisters were also very avid readers.
Nina loses her sister, Anne-Marie to cancer, and takes life devastatingly hard, going all out to make sure that she encompasses everything that life offer like running, going at all speeds.
She comes to the conclusion that she is going to take a year and read a book a day, to try and bring her sorrow to some kind of conclusion.
Nina shares with us some of the philosophies that she acquires during her reading a book a day and they seemed to have worked for her in her grief from losing her sister.
While I understood having to deal with grief in your own way, I don't think that I could have dealt with it in the same manner. I read, have always read, but my turn to books is as an escape from the normal and the opportunity to escape into someone else's story and put my own away for a short period of time.

Kudos to Nina for using the tool that made her deal with her grief in her way and for sharing that with us. ( )
  JReynolds1959 | Aug 30, 2015 |
LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this book. I can see myself reading a book a day for a year. The author lost her sister to cancer and this is such a healing journey for her. I loved reading how each book she read took her a step closer to coming to terms with her grief. I too found a trip to the Bookmobile more exciting than a carnival so I felt we were kindred spirits from the moment I picked this book up. This book also tells many stories of the author's family; her children, her father's time in WWII, her sisters, and of course her fascinations with reading. The author encourages us to read and take time to seek the bigger and better things. To slow down in this world of such fast paced motion. The author has a website called ReadAllDay.org which she launched after reading her book a day. It was fascinating to read how Nina managed her family, her life, cooking meals, driving here and there and also fitting in a book a day. It seems she did this without neglecting those responsibilities. From the description of her library, to her purple reading chair, the writing is wonderful. If you are a bibliophile, read this book. If you just want to slow down and enjoy all life has to give, read this book. ( )
  bnbookgirl | Aug 24, 2015 |
After her sister Anne-Marie died of cancer, Nina Sankovitch spent three years being as busy as she could, volunteering, being a mom to her four boys, and comforting her family. But the day comes when she knows she must face her grief: to do that, she chooses to back off from her busy life and read a book a day for a year.

A book a day for a year? Isn't that a little... selfish? Well, yes - and no. Nina admits that she was in a bit of a unique place in being able to do so; she is a fast reader and was not working at the time. She essentially treated that book a day as her job, and wrote about each book read on her blog, readallday.org. In Tolstoy and the Purple Chair, she discusses many of the titles that touch her and teach her about living life, and how she deals with her grief over Anne-Marie by delving into a passion they both shared: books and reading. I found myself nodding along with her and thinking about my own reading and the way a book can change a life. Because much like Will Schwalbe says in The End of Your Life Book Club (I'm totally paraphrasing), reading isn't an escape from life it really is living. Highly recommended for any book lover. ( )
  bell7 | Jul 13, 2015 |

"Even when I read a book where the story had nothing to do with an experience of my own, I found resonance from recovered memories, and an escape from the present."

A book a day for one year - that's the goal Nina set for herself. I picked this book up for the book suggestions but I read it for the insights. When her sister dies she thinks that all the things people say about it getting easier and how they know how she feels are lies. As she works her way through 365 books she realizes that books connect us to others and to ourselves.

"Not only were books carrying me away on escapades of new experiences but the people and places and atmospheres created by authors were also bringing me back to those times in my life where I looked forward to tomorrow."

February 2012 ( )
  mlake | Apr 28, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
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We need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the ax for the frozen sea inside us. -- Frank Kafka, letter to Oskar Pollak, January 27, 1904
A book is a garden, an orchard, a storehouse, a party, a company by the way, a counselor, a multitude of counselors. -- Henry Ward Beecher, Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit
In memory of Anne-Marie Sankovitch and for our family
First words
In September 2008 my husband, Jack, and I went away for a weekend, leaving our four kids in the care of my parents.
It is that search for order that drives my hunger for reading mysteries. Sure, I find sparks of wisdom in a good mystery, but what I am really looking for are solutions. I'm searching for an order in the universe. In a world where, sometimes, very little makes sense, a mystery can take the twists and turns of life and run them through a plot that eventually does make sense. A solution to a question is found. The sense of satisfaction is huge.
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This celebration of the richness of reading will reward anyone who loves to read. Editor Review (reviewed on April 1, 2011)
This celebration of the richness of reading will reward anyone who loves to read.

This is a far better book than one might expect from the categories into which it seems to fall. It initially seems like a book in which the author commits to reading the encyclopedia, the Bible or some other exhaustive work, only in this case the challenge is to read, and review, a book per day for a full year. Yet the impetus fits this into a separate category of mourning memoirs, for it was the death of the author's sister that inspired her regimen. Ultimately, the results transcend categories, comparisons and matters of marketing, because what Sankovitch has accomplished in her first book is not only to celebrate the transformational, even healing, powers of reading, but to give the reader a feeling of reading those books as well, through the eyes of an astute reader. Her choices are eclectic, international, unpredictable (even by her), the main mandate being that each is manageable enough to be read in a day. Avoiding the tedium of a diary, the author deals with the books thematically in chapters that focus on love, death, family, even the joys of reading, as she skillfully interweaves a memoir of growing up in a bookish immigrant family and developing a complicated, loving relationship with her oldest sister. After cancer claimed her sister at the age of 46, Sankovitch plunged into relentless activity—"I was scared of living a life not worth the living." But hyperactivity failed to ease her mourning, so on her own 46th birthday, she dedicated herself to reading, not as a simple escape, but "as an escape back to life." Intelligent, insightful and eloquent, Sankovitch takes the leader on the literary journey, demonstrating how after "trying to anaesthetize myself from what I'd lost…I'd finally stopped running away."

As a bonus, even the well-read reader will be inspired to explore some of the books from this magical year.

Agent: Esther Newberg/ICM Kirkus Review http://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-rev...
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Torn apart by grief after losing her sister, the author, a mother of four, turned to literature for comfort, devoting herself to reading one book a day for a year, which brought much needed joy, healing, and wisdom into her life.

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