The Back of the Book (from Amazon):
Nina Sankovitch has always been a reader. As a child, she discovered that a trip to the local bookmobile with her sisters was more exhilarating than a ride at the carnival. Books were the glue that held her immigrant family together. When Nina’s eldest sister died at the age of forty-six, Nina turned to books for comfort, escape, and introspection. In her beloved purple chair, she rediscovered the magic of such writers as Toni Morrison, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ian McEwan, Edith Wharton, and, of course, Leo Tolstoy. Through the connections Nina made with books and authors (and even other readers), her life changed profoundly, and in unexpected ways. Reading, it turns out, can be the ultimate therapy.
Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading also tells the story of the Sankovitch family: Nina’s father, who barely escaped death in Belarus during World War II; her four rambunctious children, who offer up their own book recommendations while helping out with the cooking and cleaning; and Anne-Marie, her oldest sister and idol, with whom Nina shared the pleasure of books, even in her last moments of life. In our lightning-paced culture that encourages us to seek more, bigger, and better things, Nina’s daring journey shows how we can deepen the quality of our everyday lives—if we only find the time.
NotJustLaura’s Review: Regular readers will no doubt have noticed that I set myself the (usually unattainable) goal of reading a book a day. It’s not surprising, therefore, that the concept of Ms Sankovitch’s book captivated me the first time I heard about it. As part of grieving the death of her older sister, she decides to read a book a day for a whole year and, like me, she blogs about the experience, reviewing each book the day after she reads it. This book comes out of that experience and puts my own reading and reviewing efforts to shame.
In each chapter of her book, Ms Sankovitch offers the reader some of her family’s history highlighted by characters and plots from the books she read during that year together with the life-lessons she draws from them. Some of the themes she visits are dark – this is, after all, a book about grieving – but there is so much life and hope in her writing that I was never depressed by this book. Instead, I find myself finishing it strangely invigorated and inspired – to read, to write and to live.
Reread: February 2012