TOLSTOY AND THE PURPLE CHAIR by Nina Sankovitch
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TOLSTOY AND THE PURPLE CHAIR

My Year of Magical Reading
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KIRKUS REVIEW

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.

 

Pub Date: June 7th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-06-199984-0
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2011




WOMEN'S SUMMER RECOMMENDED READING:

FictionJAMRACH'S MENAGERIE by Carol Birch
by Carol Birch
FictionI KNEW YOU'D BE LOVELY by Alethea Black
by Alethea Black
FictionSISTERHOOD EVERLASTING by Ann Brashares
by Ann Brashares
FictionTHE GHOST OF GREENWICH VILLAGE by Lorna Graham
by Lorna Graham
FictionTHE GIRL IN THE BLUE BERET by Bobbie Ann Mason
by Bobbie Ann Mason

MORE BY NINA SANKOVITCH

NonfictionTHE LOWELLS OF MASSACHUSETTS by Nina Sankovitch
by Nina Sankovitch
NonfictionSIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED by Nina Sankovitch
by Nina Sankovitch

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