Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading

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

“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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061999857
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 06/19/2012
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 356,622
Product dimensions: 5.38(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.64(d)

About the Author

Nina Sankovitch launched in 2008, and at the end of her year of reading, she was profiled in the New York Times. She continues to review books on and for the Huffington Post. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and four sons.

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Tolstoy and the Purple Chair 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
KateCookstheBooks More than 1 year ago
Don't be deterred by the descriptions of Tolstoy and the Purple Chair as a book about grieving. It is, indeed, Nina Sankovich's memoir of coming to terms with her sister's untimely death through reading. But it is much more a book about hope and the ever-amazing power our nature to return us from dark places. It's about getting to a point where remembering a life is no longer just excrutiating but joyful, the way it should be. I think it's also about learning to live with both the grief and the joy and understanding that they go together. As someone who has filled many empty places in my life with books, I automatically understood Sankovich's turning to reading for solace and understanding and maybe just as way to get through each painful day early on. But I believe that anyone who has experienced loss will enjoy the book, whether they follow the same path as the author or not. In fact, few of us will do exactly as Sankovich does and read 365 books in a year. It's her example of finding her own way through a tough time that is the lesson.
SUSANPN More than 1 year ago
Tolstoy and the Purple Chair is a memoir of hope, and also a highly readable and fascinating book. Lifelong book lover Nina Sankovitch read a book every day for a year -- and wrote insightful reviews of each. Her project was her personally crafted therapy to overcome the devastating grief that engulfed her when her sister Anne Marie died suddenly of cancer. While most people would look to non-fiction self-help books about death/dying in their search for answers and ways to cope and overcome their grief, Sankovitch took the more difficult path; she read great fiction, novels, short stories -- some intense, as well as some more distracting books -- in search of her own release from the guilt and pain that trapped her in the aftermath of her sister's death. Rather than provide clear answers, the books prompted Sankovitch to delve deeper into herself, as well as into the characters; they helped her constructively deal with her own personal grief and ultimately enabled her to find the will to move joyfully forward once again. Book lovers will adore this book, but even for a casual reader, Tolstoy and the Purple Chair will resonate because the story of Sankovitch's grief and how she came to terms with it is something universally relatable. The simple gift of a great book's lessons is the most precious to Sankovitch, and sharing what she has learned during her yearlong project is her gift to fellow readers. Masterfully woven into her daily life of laundry and kids' birthdays, reflections of time spent with her intellectual and fellow-book-loving sister, recollections of childhood memories and parents' histories, come the books' meaningful lessons she's uncovered during her year of reading. Quotes at the beginning of each chapter from some of the books highlight meaningful themes in her reading and provide a context for the chapter contents. Sankovitch loves to read, but more than that, she must read; it is an addiction that is positive, one that she finds motivating, meaningful, and in the case of her project, freeing. Sharing her experiences via Tolstoy and the Purple Chair is, for her, a gift to other readers so they too may glean from her experiences and be inspired to read and gain understanding and knowledge from great books and their characters. Sankovitch tells the story not only of how she managed to read and review a book a day (dirtier house, lots of late nights) but also tells her family story as the youngest of three daughters of immigrant parents growing up in suburban Chicago; as a college foreign exchange student; as an accomplished professional in New York City; and as a wife and mother of 4 boys living on the east coast. With tales and reflections that span from her father's own tragic legacy in war-torn Europe to her sons' birthdays in their Connecticut home, Sankovitch exposes her readers to the emotions and thoughts she experienced during her reading project. Yes, there is sadness here, but there is also learning, growing, humor, love, and joyful emergence from the depths of sadness and guilty grief as Sankovitch tries to come to terms with the fact that she has been spared and granted a wonderful life while her sister was abruptly denied her own full life in a painful and unfair death. Tolstoy and the Purple Chair highlights ideas from various books Sankovitch read during her yearlong project and relates them to her emotions and struggles while she groped her way back to her previous
Alla_S More than 1 year ago
"Tolstoy and the purple chair" is Nina Sankovitch's memoir of the year she spent dedicating to reading-reading and reviewing a book a day, using reading as a healing process to recover from losing her sister. I found the book to be part memoir (the author recalls her childhood, her relationship with her sister, and her currently bustling household) and part exploration into how books connect with real life (the author includes various brief descriptions of the books she read, as well as her reaction to them). The end of the book also has a lengthy list of every book the author read during her reading year. I thought is subject matter was interesting. Throughout the book, Sankovitch emotionally reflects on her current and past life, while choosing books based on their similarities to her own experiences, original storylines-including many mysteries, as well as taking recommendations made by friends and strangers. While the prospect of reading a book a day is a venture that is time-consuming, Sankovitch confesses that she looked upon the time as a long vacation from the turmoil of her own life, and encourages readers to do the same. Overall, an interesting concept and a worthy account.
sparky66 More than 1 year ago
An amazing first memoir of this author's personal journey of learning to live again after the tremendous loss of a beloved sister by opening a new book, everyday for a year, and capturing its essence in her daily reviews. Starting with a promise and a pledge begins the Holy Grail of this bright and colorful 365 days of magical reading. You curl up with Nina in her purple chair as she explores the layers of her own fascinating history while entwining it with her well chosen novels; ("only books I want to read") as she seeks her truth and the human experience with the curiosity of a cat for deeper meanings and delightful reads she shares on her web-site everyday. As Nina's calendar of days and books grow you will start cheering her on as you see her love of literature slowly change her unadulterated sadness, as a caterpillar to butterfly, her days of oneness become numbered and her love and belief in the human experience voiced through the written word brings forth a true and lasting imprint on us all. This book is one you will hold close. It is an encyclopedia of beautiful novels Nina reviewed that you will want to go back to again and again. It is a true story of a free-spirited woman that wasn't afraid to find her own voice and with a scent of rosemary show how love will always survive. Lovely, sincere and true, enjoy this feast with Nina of good reads and turning your own page on the excitement of the written word.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I recommended it to my book discussion group and the 365 book list at the end of the book lead to many more books to read
Hometownulysses More than 1 year ago
I had the privilege of having a brief acquaintanceship with Nina in 2009, and I am surprised at how long it took me to pick up this book. But I am grateful I did. TOLSTOY AND THE PURPLE CHAIR is a wonderful and insightful look at the power of books. The author begins her one year journey to read one book a day as a way to cope with her sister's death, but discovers so much more than just a safe haven, and we get to discover that with her. Nina demonstrates several times books' amazing ability to evoke memories and take us back to important and meaningful times in our lives. Throughout the book I too was reminded of a place, a face, a name of something important to me. And, books provide us with a way to meet the future. They also connect us to each other by allowing us to see the world from another point of view, and hopefully gain empathy and respect for one another. I also appreciated that Nina's year of reading did not take place in a vacuum - she was and is a wife, mother of four, sister, daughter, friend and more. I enjoyed learning about her family and seeing how, no matter hectic life got, she still took time for herself. If nothing else, this book is a tribute to one women's quest to find and make time for something that brings her great pleasure, and how those around her helped her make it possible. I don't know which book I will read next, but I feel my reading experiences will be enriched by having read this book.
themiraclesnook More than 1 year ago
Tolstoy And The Purple Chair - My Year Of Magical Reading By Nina Sankovitch was a quick read for me. I have to say I won this book from a place called Goodreads. I was so excited to find this in my mail box. I was hooked from the cover (that purple chair on it I want it). I have to tell you it was not what I expected when I read about the book from Goodreads. The author loses her sister at an early age to cancer that being said, if you have someone that is going through this, not the book for them. I currently have two family members going through different forms of cancer so it was truly hard at moments in the chapters to keep going but I am glad I did. This book is great for quotes. I loved so many of them and went crazy with the highlighter. Nina Sankovitch has a love for books that she shared with her sister. She uses them to help her with the grief from the death of her older sister Anne-Marie. She takes you through the process of how she started this goal, during the goal and lets you get to know not only her but all her family as well. I loved the person that Anne- Marie was and I was touched by her parent's story during the World War II. What I love is that she takes a subject for example love and she describes all the different ways of love she has found though her many characters that dance in and out her life as she reads their stories. She also goes into what books my spice up your love life (see chapter 14). Nina looks at her books as friends, a vacations and an escape. She learns quite a bit and she tells you the books and character that has graced her. She does not cover all of her reads she has a website with all the reviews but lists all 365 books by alphabetical order in the back. I mentioned quotes earlier in the review. There are so many that I can not pick a favorite one, maybe my top five favorites. I will leave with a quote that she wrote in her book by Elizabeth Maguire in her book The Open Door. "Have you ever been heartbroken to finish a book? Has a writer kept whispering in your ear long after the last page is turned? This book inspired me to go to the library and though caution to the wind and try new things. I have not enough time to read a book a day but I was inspired none the less. I give this book 4 stars. Go out and get it you will find so many book inspirations from it.
Adele_Whitney More than 1 year ago
Author Nina Sankovitch has done a marvelous job weaving the books of her year into the stories of her life, demonstrating to readers the power of words and the ability of books to help make people feel connected. Not a quick read, but not necessarily a slow read. Instead, reading "Tolstoy and the Purple Chair" plays out the way most conversations with women do, winding through all kinds of rabbit trails and full of glimpses of Nina's thoughts and personal life. It has been interesting to see the connections Nina makes between books and between certain books and her life. The healing she receives while reading in her purple chair is encouraging. In an age of "rush, rush, rush" and books full of self-improvement, filled with advice on how to get more things done in a day, this book was a breath of fresh air, breathed slowly and completely as each book Nina read was treasured and valued. Clearly, the nature of the book allowed for little plot or organization, which may not appeal to everyone, but the author certainly has a way of keeping the reader engaged. For lovers of books and fiction, this will be a fun read. My blog: Growing Kids Ministry
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorite books. Great story line and I wasnt very pleasantly suprised that its true; I didnt pick up on that when I bought it. Awesome for book lovers or anyone questioning their purpose after losing someone. Definitely recommend!
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Delightful book for book-lovers.
jda62 More than 1 year ago
Great story line.
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Hulananni More than 1 year ago
Anyone who love books...and if you have a NOOK you love books....this is a must-read.
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