Tolstoy and the Purple Chair

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair

My Year of Magical Reading

Book - 2011
Average Rating:
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"NinaSankovitch has crafted a dazzling memoir that remindsus of the most primal function of literature-to heal, to nurture and to connectus to our truest selves." --Thrity Umrigar, author of The Space Between Us

Catalyzedby the loss of her sister, a mother of four spends one year savoring a greatbook every day, from Thomas Pynchon to Nora Ephron and beyond. In the tradition ofGretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project and Joan Dideon'sA Year of Magical Thinking, Nina Sankovitch'ssoul-baring and literary-minded memoir is a chronicle of loss,hope, and redemption. Nina ultimately turns to reading as therapy andthrough her journey illuminates the power of books to help us reclaim ourlives.

Publisher: New York : Harper, 2011
ISBN: 9780061999840
Branch Call Number: 028.8 SAN 2011 22
Characteristics: x, 240 p

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d
dreams_in_blue
Mar 24, 2017

The author decided to read a book a day for a year, basically to commemorate her sister's death. However in order to do this, the author who is a stay at home mom, decided to shirk her responsibility to her family by not cooking, not really taking time for her family and focusing solely on her and her needs.
To be honest, I found her voice really aggravating, and I found her idea to be supremely selfish. Also she was reading these books about family and yet couldn't spare time for her own? Irony for sure. She had a tendency to spoil several books and skip entirely over talking about others.
All in all, not really worth a read, it was not a book about books but rather a self-imposed memoir, which I didn't sign up for and didn't want.

DBRL_KrisA Dec 11, 2016

To be honest, I only got about half through this book before I had to return it to the library. (Someone else had it on hold.) The author had made herself a pledge to read a book a day for an entire year; she limited herself to books she hadn't read before, books of about 300 pages or less. I thought the chapters in this book would be about the books she had read, what they meant to her, etc. But the book was mostly about her struggle to deal with the death of her older sister from cancer. I appreciated her need to deal with the loss, but her writing came across as too self-centered - she focused mostly on how her sister's death affected her, and rarely mentioned its effect on her other sister, her parents or (god forbid) the sister's widowed husband.
As for the book-a-day challenge - I love to read, as anyone who knows me will tell you. But a book a day is impossible even for me. I discovered how Sankovitch managed it when she wrote that 1) she was a stay-at-home Mom of school-aged children; 2) she delegated some of her household work to her children and husband, and (in her words) let some of it slide for a year; 3) begged off from other obligations like PTO and dinners with friends/family/husband's co-workers, citing the fact that she was "working". (Her justifications to herself on how reading books was working are pretty surprising.) In all, I found the book to be pretty self-centered; I enjoyed some of the moments of family memories, but they were ruined when Sankovitch related them only to herself, and not to the rest of her family.

p
Pisinga
Aug 25, 2016

Daily reading helped ease grief after sister’s death - so you can briefly formulate the theme of this memoir. The author describes her search for answers in the books - to multiple questions of life that is more than half the world's population is trying to find answers. And it seems that she finds the answers to all her questions and doubts.
The book is quite readable. The name, in my opinion, did not need to include the name of Tolstoy. It may be called simply “The Purple Chair”
Her opinions about second world war is very subjective, based on what she had heard from relatives and had read in some books on the subject, while she is not mentioning who and how started the Second World War and how much grief it carried the Eastern Europe, Russia, first of all. But on the whole she is opposed to any war.
Lately, people who have a fairly prosperous life in every way, as soon as there is some kind of tragedy, and without it no life is held, immediately begins to write memoirs.
Love of reading of author and all family members is admirable. But to read a book a day - this is a superficial attitude to reading. Although she herself admitted that will never do that again.
As someone sarcastically wrote: "Nina Sankovich, a housewife from Connecticut, conceived to join the literature. While her husband works, children learn, it's time to take up a book - a sentimental novel or a children's epic about the next wizard boy , but only Mrs. Sankovich is famous because she did not write but reads. Every day she took from the shelf a book to read and then write a review on her website. In the garden, on the beach, in the bedroom and the bathroom - she read Truman Capote, John Updike, Paul Auster and Agatha Christie. She prefers novels of 200-300 pages, but was not afraid and "fat" by Thomas Pynchon...”

e
EXLIBRES
Jun 05, 2014

I must to get just to read the review of all the books she read in a year.

l
LDPBLM
Feb 18, 2014

I have mixed feelings about this book . It reminded me of "Golden Grove " and "Does this church make me look fat ?"

c
chelseamolly
Aug 01, 2013

thoroughly enjoyable read. touching,inspirational,and fast paced.had a profound impact with my life.amazing to find others who looked at reading the same.

h
hollyheartsYA
Jul 11, 2012

Great concept: read one book per day for a year. The author was also trying to find a way to cope with her grief over the death of her sister a few years previous. Some parts were great but I felt there could've been more emotional depth. Although I did pick out a few books that I would want to read now. My book club read this and we had a great discussion!

a
annekim9
Apr 05, 2012

This book was a find. The author, in her grief at her sister's death, finds comfort in her decision to read a book a day for one year. She learns a lot about herself, life, and moving on from this project. I enjoyed this book immensely.

b
bette108
Oct 28, 2011

Reading a book a day for a year must have been a pleasure for sure. And it led the author to some meaningful insights that apply to all.

o
ottum4
Jul 25, 2011

Enjoyed reading about someone who had the same love of reading as I do. She read Watership Down in one day...impressive. The quotes and reviews in this book make the book worth reading. The idolization of her sister who died was just a bit much by the end. She had another sister living that you rarely heard about. All in all I really enjoyed this book.

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