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Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading

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After the death of her sister, Nina Sankovitch found herself caught up in grief, dashing from one activity to the next to keep her mind occupied. But on her forty-sixth birthday she decided to stop running and start reading. Catalyzed by the loss of her sister, a mother of four spends one year savoring a great book every day, from Thomas Pynchon to Nora Ephron and beyond. I After the death of her sister, Nina Sankovitch found herself caught up in grief, dashing from one activity to the next to keep her mind occupied. But on her forty-sixth birthday she decided to stop running and start reading. Catalyzed by the loss of her sister, a mother of four spends one year savoring a great book every day, from Thomas Pynchon to Nora Ephron and beyond. In the tradition of Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project and Joan Dideon's A Year of Magical Thinking, Nina Sankovitch's soul-baring and literary-minded memoir is a chronicle of loss,hope, and redemption. Nina ultimately turns to reading as therapy and through her journey illuminates the power of books to help us reclaim our lives.


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After the death of her sister, Nina Sankovitch found herself caught up in grief, dashing from one activity to the next to keep her mind occupied. But on her forty-sixth birthday she decided to stop running and start reading. Catalyzed by the loss of her sister, a mother of four spends one year savoring a great book every day, from Thomas Pynchon to Nora Ephron and beyond. I After the death of her sister, Nina Sankovitch found herself caught up in grief, dashing from one activity to the next to keep her mind occupied. But on her forty-sixth birthday she decided to stop running and start reading. Catalyzed by the loss of her sister, a mother of four spends one year savoring a great book every day, from Thomas Pynchon to Nora Ephron and beyond. In the tradition of Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project and Joan Dideon's A Year of Magical Thinking, Nina Sankovitch's soul-baring and literary-minded memoir is a chronicle of loss,hope, and redemption. Nina ultimately turns to reading as therapy and through her journey illuminates the power of books to help us reclaim our lives.

30 review for Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)

    Three years after her sister Anne-Marie died, Nina Sankovitch was living a helter-skelter life, making a mad dash away from the grief and pain, unable to accept her loss. She knew she needed to ditch the hectic schedule, hold still, reflect, and make some sense of her feelings. A year of reading and reviewing one book every day was the method she chose to give herself that healing time and "escape back into life." In Tolstoy and the Purple Chair, she shares her experiences while living that year Three years after her sister Anne-Marie died, Nina Sankovitch was living a helter-skelter life, making a mad dash away from the grief and pain, unable to accept her loss. She knew she needed to ditch the hectic schedule, hold still, reflect, and make some sense of her feelings. A year of reading and reviewing one book every day was the method she chose to give herself that healing time and "escape back into life." In Tolstoy and the Purple Chair, she shares her experiences while living that year, the memories it sparked, and how it allowed her to accept the unfairness of her sister's death and feel whole again. If you believe in books as therapy, or you're working through grief of your own, or you just want to breathe new life into your reading program, this could be a book for you. It doesn't fit neatly into any category. It's a grief journal and a family history, built around observations on a year of maniacal reading while maintaining a household with a husband and four young sons. The narrative doesn't always follow a logical progression, and the structure can be confusing, but once I adjusted to that looser style, I enjoyed all the anecdotes. There are moments of sweetness and humor that will make you wish for a big sister like Anne-Marie. There are fascinating and sad stories about their Belarusian father and Belgian mother. And there are the universally recognized book-lover bonding stories, such as the book she stole from the library (and still has); or the friendship that ended because she badmouthed someone's favorite book. This is a difficult book to rate and review because it describes such a personal journey. She has lost a sister. I have not. She is an overachiever, whereas I am a sloth. If I thought I had to read and review a book every day, it would feel like a ball and chain. For her, it was a healing path. Her reading tastes are very different from mine, and I didn't buy a lot of her conclusions. But when I visited her blog and saw her review of The Tomb in Seville by Norman Lewis, I felt an instant connection. I thought I was the only person in the whole country who cared about that book. I wanted to call her up right away and ask if she'd also read Naples '44, and what did she think of it? And THAT, for me, is what Tolstoy and the Purple Chair is really all about. Books are a bridge and an anchor. They can bring us new friends with whom we may have nothing else in common, and they can give us a lasting connection with those we have loved most deeply, whether they are still living or not. Sail on, sweet Anne-Marie. Your little sister has done you proud.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Olive Fellows (abookolive)

    Click here to hear my thoughts on this book over on my Booktube channel, abookolive. Click here to hear my thoughts on this book over on my Booktube channel, abookolive.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Chicagobluesgirl

    So glad to find that some others felt as I did while reading this book. I almost quit reading it because of the author's seemingly selfish approach to life. Let me first say that when someone is grieving, they need to take care of themselves and that there is no timeline for any one person's grief or road to healing. I wish Nina well on that road that all of us take, if we live long enough. I was deeply troubled by parts of this book. I was upset that the author (she casually mentioned) could not So glad to find that some others felt as I did while reading this book. I almost quit reading it because of the author's seemingly selfish approach to life. Let me first say that when someone is grieving, they need to take care of themselves and that there is no timeline for any one person's grief or road to healing. I wish Nina well on that road that all of us take, if we live long enough. I was deeply troubled by parts of this book. I was upset that the author (she casually mentioned) could not bring herself to attend her husband's sister's funeral; I seriously could barely read from beyond that point. Here she was expecting her entire family to pick up the slack over her year long exercise in grief (especially her husband) and then could not give him a fraction of the same support she expected everyone to give her. I saw this selfishness repeated as almost a theme throughout the book--there was her son's illness which seemed to be in the way of her reading, various times when her children would call to her and while as a parent you can't always be there for your child's every whim, she seemed to throw out gestures to assuage like what one might use to put off a pesky pet. Another time I felt incredulous was when I read about an occasion where she was with her sister and Anne Marie was lamenting how unfair it was that her life was to be cut short. Nina buried her face in her sister's sweater (which she still has and wears) but did not listen to anything her sister said!! She wished later she had heard those words of her sister's incredible struggle to accept her own death? Who was that event about--not Anne Marie's apparently. I have lost loved ones but never a sibling so maybe I would feel differently, but I doubt it. I can't imagine expecting the world to stop because I grieved or my responsibility as a parent to go on sabbatical for a year. Yes, we should get all the time we may need to grieve, but most don't have the luxury to burden everyone around them with that sorrow. I think it is great that she found solace in books and her advice to search for wisdom there is right on. The book list is astounding and her accomplishment is admirable. I just struggled with several aspects of at what cost her own needs were met.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    I have so many GR friends to thank for their wonderful reviews and recommendation of Tolstoy and the Purple Chair. It was Patti Franz and Toni Clark's comments that gave me the final push to read this. It didn’t hurt that I also learned that the author resides in Connecticut, my state of residence. This is a book about grieving by using the power of words, books and reading to comfort the author in the death of her forty-six year old sister, Ann-Marie. Not knowing how to cope, Nina Sankovitch tu I have so many GR friends to thank for their wonderful reviews and recommendation of Tolstoy and the Purple Chair. It was Patti Franz and Toni Clark's comments that gave me the final push to read this. It didn’t hurt that I also learned that the author resides in Connecticut, my state of residence. This is a book about grieving by using the power of words, books and reading to comfort the author in the death of her forty-six year old sister, Ann-Marie. Not knowing how to cope, Nina Sankovitch turns to books as these had always helped her in her life. She likens this to the ”glue that keeps her immigrant family together and offers “comfort, escape, and introspection”. Nina Sankovitch decides to read one book a day for a full year and to write about each of them. The logistics of this is not easy as she is a wife, mother of four sons, and stepmother to a daughter. She leads a busy life but is determined to put some things on the back burner, not only for herself but also as a tribute to Ann-Marie, with whom she shared the love of reading. ”I needed to sit down and sit still and read. But where to sit? This is where the purple chair comes in. She chooses a room and in it, one big chair, raggedy looking and old and white. But white? With our Magic Marker-- equipped one-year-old on the loose and a baby on the way, it wouldn't remain white for long. And I knew from past experience that there would be more than just juice boxes leaking on the furniture with a new baby to be fed. The chair stayed in our apartment--as it was purchased on sale, there was no returning it--but it did not stay white for long. Patches began to appear, with a rainbow of colors, purple (wine), brown (coffee), pink (Magic-Marker), blue (bubble-gum ice cream) and yellow (milk).” The purple chair became her reading place. She knew she would always feel sorrow at her sister’s death but that books would show her how others deal with life. ”My year of reading would be my escape back into life.” This is a book that might help you in your own grief process but can certainly be read simply for the joy of discovery of new titles. There is much about the immigrant experience, particularly about her parents experience before coming to America. In addition Tolstoy and the Purple Chair is written with beauty and wisdom. I have never added as many sticky notes as I did during this read. Nina Sankovitch and I share at least one more thing in common. When the New Republic published a commentary by critic Irving Howe, he bemoaned the gap between reviews by literary critics and the reading public, whom he dubbed ”the common reader”. Sankovitch’s response was that she did not care much about the literary critiques but instead, ”the gossipy chatter akin to ‘what’s happening with the neighbors?’ We love our books and we love the very real people who populate them.”. That’s why I love GoodReads! We are the common readers. Nina Sankovitch’s blog and links to her reviews

  5. 5 out of 5

    Darlene

    "words are alive and literature becomes an escape, not from, but into living." -Cyril Connolly Since book 'memoirs' are among my favorite books to read, I was enthusiastic about reading Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading by Nina Sankovitch. The premise of this book is a fascinating one. Ms. Sankovitch, who lost her older sister, Anne-Marie, to bile duct cancer at the age of 46, had been racing through the years after her sister's death at a frenetic pace, trying not to think "words are alive and literature becomes an escape, not from, but into living." -Cyril Connolly Since book 'memoirs' are among my favorite books to read, I was enthusiastic about reading Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading by Nina Sankovitch. The premise of this book is a fascinating one. Ms. Sankovitch, who lost her older sister, Anne-Marie, to bile duct cancer at the age of 46, had been racing through the years after her sister's death at a frenetic pace, trying not to think about her loss and running from her fear and sorrow. She wrote.... "After Anne-Marie's death, I became a woman of two parts. One part of me was still in her hospital room, the afternoon she died... Then there was the other part of me, the part that left the hospital at a gallop and never looked back, for fear of what I would see. I began a race the the day Anne-Marie died, a race away from death, away from my father's pain, away from my mother's sorrow, away from loss, confusion and despair. I was scared of dying, scared of losing my own life. I was scared of what dying did to family left behind, the loneliness and the helplessness. I was scared of living a life not worth living." Nina Sankovitch made a decision before her own 46th birthday to force herself to slow down. She spent time thinking about what she and Anne-Marie had shared as sisters and friends.. they had shared "laughter, words and books". So she came to the conclusion that she needed to read a book a day. She needed to "sit down and sit still and read." She believed that by reading a book every day for one year, she would be forced to find the stillness and discipline she needed to calm her mind; and that by escaping into the world that books provide, she could discover the purpose of her life. She proceeded to set up a reading room for herself off of her kitchen. The space included a desk, a bookcase to hold the many books she would be reading, a hand-me-down computer from her teenaged step-daughter and an old reupholstered purple chair. Her rules for this endeavor, she believed, were simple but strict... she could not read an author's work more than once and she couldn't choose a book she had already read. The books needed to be around 250-300 pages (so that she could finish in a day), and she needed to write about each book as she finished and for that... she had created a website.... ReadAllDay. org. I was hooked by Ms. Sankovitch's idea. From her story, I sensed that what she needed was time to grieve for her lost sister. I know that common wisdom is that if a person experiences a loss, she should keep busy... occupy the mind and body so that you don't dwell on the loss. And perhaps this is good advice for some people; but for others (like Nina Sankovitch).. not allowing yourself to grieve can be harmful.. emotionally, physically and even spiritually. As I have grown older, I have come to appreciate and have sought out moments of quiet where I can clear my mind and simply BE. And because I also know from living a life filled with the joy of books, I know reading CAN provide comfort and escape. I thought her idea was brilliant... perhaps a bit too ambitious (and I envied her ability to spend each day simply reading) ; but I was as enthusiastic about reading about her literary adventure as she seemed to be to engage in the adventure. Nina Sankovitch wrote this book alternating between discussions of favorite books with little snippets of the life she had shared with her parents and sisters in Evanston, Illinois in a home filled with books and also stories of her busy life with her husband and 4 children. The book began wonderfully. I could sympathize with the young girl she had been when her best friend had moved away, leaving her forlorn and spending the summer reading 'Harriet the Spy'. I could understand her reading the Miss Dimity mystery series by Nancy Atherton one book after the other because Miss Dimity could communicate from the afterlife. And I was curious to know her thoughts on 'Elegance of the Hedgehog' by Muriel Barbery, her first book chosen on her 46th birthday as I had also read the novel and did not enjoy it... she LOVED it! Unfortunately, for reasons I don't entirely understand, by the midway point in the book, my interest started to flag. It began to seem that Ms. Sankovitch's writing began to meander and either she began to lose the thread of what she had been writing... or perhaps I lost the thread and the fault is mine. I did finish reading the book but I never could reach the point where I could reconnect with her story personally or with her writing. The latter part of the book seems to lack the focus and clarity she had achieved earlier and it felt at times as if she became bogged down in the strict rules she had established for herself. I'm sorry to say that I did not enjoy this book as much as I expected I would; but in the end, this ambitious project DID seem to work magic for Nina Sankovitch and brought a new purpose to her life. And perhaps that's all that matters.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Greendale

    Tolstoy and the Purple Chair is the disjointed memoir that nobody asked for. There's not enough substance in this book to warrant a novel. The author has a husband and a home; so do lots of other people. She popped out some kids; also something lots of people have done. Her beloved sister died. Condolences, Sankovitch, but many of us know that pain too. And she read one book a day -- to cope with her grief -- while sitting in a purple chair that smelled of cat pee*. Since most of us don't read m Tolstoy and the Purple Chair is the disjointed memoir that nobody asked for. There's not enough substance in this book to warrant a novel. The author has a husband and a home; so do lots of other people. She popped out some kids; also something lots of people have done. Her beloved sister died. Condolences, Sankovitch, but many of us know that pain too. And she read one book a day -- to cope with her grief -- while sitting in a purple chair that smelled of cat pee*. Since most of us don't read more than one book per day, and we tend to avoid chairs that reek of urine, Sankovitch decided she was just different enough from the rest of us to justify writing a personal memoir. *Every once in a while [the cat] would pee, just a tiny, little bit, on the purple chair.

  7. 4 out of 5

    K

    Nice writing notwithstanding, I couldn't get through this book -- not even the suggested 50 page minimum -- before deciding to drop it. It's kind of ironic -- here I am on goodreads, constantly keeping up with what several people are reading and their various reactions to the books. You would think I'd love a memoir of someone's year spent reading a book a day and the various reactions the books evoked. But this is the second book I've read like this (my first was So Many Books, So Little Time: A Nice writing notwithstanding, I couldn't get through this book -- not even the suggested 50 page minimum -- before deciding to drop it. It's kind of ironic -- here I am on goodreads, constantly keeping up with what several people are reading and their various reactions to the books. You would think I'd love a memoir of someone's year spent reading a book a day and the various reactions the books evoked. But this is the second book I've read like this (my first was So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading) and I can honestly say that, despite my love of books and reviews, the genre just doesn't work for me. It's one thing to read your friend's book reviews on a sporadic basis, especially if your friend is someone you know and care about. It's another when you have no personal connection with the author and are putting other things aside to read a book-length treatise on the various books she's read integrated with a variety of loosely associated recent and not-so-recent memories. I'm sure Nina Sankovitch is a nice person, and her description of the pain at losing her sister actually choked me up. With that said, I don't know her, and even though she can write, she couldn't make me care enough to sit through 207 pages of her experiences. There are a few authors who can; she, unfortunately, is not one of them.

  8. 4 out of 5

    JSou

    I feel bad for not liking this more. I mean, I liked it but...I was just hoping it would be a bit more bookish. After losing her sister to cancer, Sankovitch decided to read (and review) one book a day for a year as a way to cope and deal with her grief. The parts where she did discuss what she was reading and her book-filled childhood were actually really good. There were a few she talked about that I hadn't read, but she did well balancing out not giving too much away, yet making me feel like I feel bad for not liking this more. I mean, I liked it but...I was just hoping it would be a bit more bookish. After losing her sister to cancer, Sankovitch decided to read (and review) one book a day for a year as a way to cope and deal with her grief. The parts where she did discuss what she was reading and her book-filled childhood were actually really good. There were a few she talked about that I hadn't read, but she did well balancing out not giving too much away, yet making me feel like I wasn't missing something. The other parts were well written, but sometimes just got to be too much. Like a Hallmark card or those inspirational pictures with quotes that people share on Facebook. God, I'm horrible. Although finding out what her father's "Three in one night" comment was about was heartbreaking. I did add a few books to my to-read list because of this, and actually would recommend it as a quick read. I just wanted to be more smitten with it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Caro the Helmet Lady

    Alas, this book didn't work for me, because the subject of it was completely overpowered by author's ego and it was almost unbearable to me. And since I picked it for my reading challenge I just couldn't drop it. So, while it's not a bad book - it's well written and intellectual, and very interesting sometimes, I couldn't relate with author and her attitude towards life and everything in general. So 2,5 stars, and call me bitchy. :P Alas, this book didn't work for me, because the subject of it was completely overpowered by author's ego and it was almost unbearable to me. And since I picked it for my reading challenge I just couldn't drop it. So, while it's not a bad book - it's well written and intellectual, and very interesting sometimes, I couldn't relate with author and her attitude towards life and everything in general. So 2,5 stars, and call me bitchy. :P

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    During her 43rd year (from October 2008 through October 2009), Sankovitch read a whole book every day, and posted a review of each one on her blog the following day. (That’s 365 books in one year – can you imagine!? Even 2012, my most prolific reading year, topped out at only 255 titles read.) Sankovitch defends her year of reading by painting it as a therapeutic pursuit, a way back into fullness of life after several years of grieving for her sister Anne-Marie, who died at age 46 after a brutall During her 43rd year (from October 2008 through October 2009), Sankovitch read a whole book every day, and posted a review of each one on her blog the following day. (That’s 365 books in one year – can you imagine!? Even 2012, my most prolific reading year, topped out at only 255 titles read.) Sankovitch defends her year of reading by painting it as a therapeutic pursuit, a way back into fullness of life after several years of grieving for her sister Anne-Marie, who died at age 46 after a brutally swift battle with bile duct cancer. Reading, she says, reminds her that there is beauty in life, particularly acts of arbitrary kindness and goodness. It makes her feel closer to her sister, because the whole family (made up of immigrants from Belgium and Belarus, some of whom died tragically in Second World War genocides) loved reading and shared favorite books. Moreover, reading gives her the mental space, quiet, and time to concentrate on things of the spirit, and then allows her to enter into a worldwide conversation about books through her website. Doth the lady protest too much? Does she really need so many justifications for her project? If it is a fundamentally selfish quest, for personal pleasure and development, why not just characterize it as such? Does the fact that she so ardently pinpoints worthy reasons for the book-quest point to a fear that she would be thought selfish for ignoring her family for a year and focusing on her own self-development? Sankovitch’s prose can get rather sentimental when she rhapsodizes about both the power of books and the loss of her sister: “When I needed to read the most, books gave me everything I asked for and more. My year of reading gave me the space I needed to figure out how to live again after losing my sister.” Sankovitch was lucky, of course, to have the kind of circumstances that allowed her to devote a year to compulsive reading. Her husband’s steady job, their established household, and her break from a successful career in environmental law all meant that she had money at her disposal. Though she has four children and a stepdaughter, they were in school all day and fairly self-sufficient, thus giving her a dependable block of work time every weekday. Everything came together to convince her that she could really do this properly, committing hours and energy and putting it all to a purpose through her daily book reviews. It is intriguing, in any case, to see how Sankovitch chose the books for her reading challenge. She used what she called the “inch test” – the text block could be no wider than one inch, corresponding to roughly 250 to 300 pages. At an estimated reading rate of 70 pages per hour, she budgeted four hours for reading each book, and two hours the following morning for writing up her review. She placed only a few limitations on herself, to promote diversity: there could be only one title per author, nothing she’d read before, and nothing too canonical. Once she opened the book, she gave it just 10 pages (as opposed to Nancy Pearl’s “Rule of 50”) to grip her, and gave up on anything that didn’t. Her year list is heavy on books in translation and magic realism, which makes for an overall very multicultural selection. Her varied reading is grouped around themes (some a touch clichéd) such as the power of love, surprising instances of beauty and joy, and fear and acceptance of death. Even though Tolstoy and the Purple Chair has its moments of banality and schmaltz, and is, I feel, overall unworthy of comparison with the Joan Didion book it clearly seeks to echo (Didion’s 2007 memoir of her husband’s death was entitled The Year of Magical Thinking ), it is nonetheless an enjoyable read and will give any eager reader quite a few ideas of new books and authors to try. Sankovitch’s website is also a great resource for finding out about interesting books, and will leave the reader feeling justified in the aim of adding as much reading time to a day as is humanly possible. (This formed part of a Bookkaholic article entitled "Is Reading Selfish?")

  11. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    "Tolstoy and the Purple Chair" is a book for people who love to read. From the first chapter with the author's description of a day spent on a bench by the sea reading Bram Stoke's "Dracula", ultimately finishing the last of its' 400 pages in her hotel room that night, I was totally caught up in her story. After Nina Sankovitch's beloved older sister Anne-Marie dies of cancer at age 46, Nina spends the next three years cramming as much as possible into her days, not just to escape the pain of lo "Tolstoy and the Purple Chair" is a book for people who love to read. From the first chapter with the author's description of a day spent on a bench by the sea reading Bram Stoke's "Dracula", ultimately finishing the last of its' 400 pages in her hotel room that night, I was totally caught up in her story. After Nina Sankovitch's beloved older sister Anne-Marie dies of cancer at age 46, Nina spends the next three years cramming as much as possible into her days, not just to escape the pain of losing her sister but also to try and live life "double" - for her sister and all that she missed as well as for herself. Exhausted, with grief unabated, Nina decides to use the love of books that she shared with Anne-Marie as an "escape back to life"..in her words "to engulf herself in books and come up whole again". She decides to read a book a day for a year. She started a web site titled "Read All Day", whose motto is "Great good comes from reading great books". What lover of books couldn't identify with that? And so Nina begins her year on her own 46th birthday, not looking to assuage her grief but as she puts it "hoping for answers...trusting in books...to answer the question of why she deserved to live and how she should live". Delving into not only the books she read, but also her memories of her family, specifically her sister. The author's love of the written word is evident in her finely chosen, almost poetic prose. Her "year of magical reading" is itself a magical read. In the author's honor, I read it all in one day. Highly recommended.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    A warning: you may be tempted to do what I did and stay up way past your bedtime reading this book. You may get your car washed just so you can sit in the waiting room for 7 minutes and get back to this story. You may take it everywhere with you for a couple of days. But don't. It will end much too soon that way. Nina was an acquaintance in high school and has become a friend 30 years later via social media. I don't believe, however, that we are close enough that our relationship influences my fe A warning: you may be tempted to do what I did and stay up way past your bedtime reading this book. You may get your car washed just so you can sit in the waiting room for 7 minutes and get back to this story. You may take it everywhere with you for a couple of days. But don't. It will end much too soon that way. Nina was an acquaintance in high school and has become a friend 30 years later via social media. I don't believe, however, that we are close enough that our relationship influences my feelings about her book. It just means I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy. In fact I found Nina again because I heard she was in the process of reading a book every day for a year. Like probably everyone who learned about what she was doing my first thought was "how?" I quickly realized that the 8 hours I am at work and unavailable to my family and my home is the same 8 hours she was using to read (plus she also used my reading time after dinner and at the car wash). Reading was her work for a year. What a great job. Her project inspired me to read more myself. I couldn't do a book a day but I could aim for a book a week, and that's what I did. I read 52 books in 2009, all because of Nina. Not only did I read all of those books (stealing the time from mindless t.v. watching primarily), but I read them with more focus and attention than I'd previously read. And like Nina, it rewarded me beyond my expectations. Nina's book is not just about what it's like to read 365 books in one year. And it's not just about the impetus of the project (the untimely death of her sister). It's also about what reading means to those of us who love it. How it unites us and gives meaning to seemingly senseless events. How it sustains us and can fill in so many gaps in our lives (for me it was growing up without siblings or a father, but we all have them). It's also about leading an examined life, appreciating everything that happens to us, and finding ways to turn down the noise and really think about something, anything. It is not pedantic or preachy; Nina never suggests we should quit our jobs and read all day. And it's not just an annotated list of 365 books (although the list is there as an appendix). She weaves the books effortlessly into a narrative that takes us back and forth in time and even incorporates the fascinating stories of both of her parents without losing focus. I found It also reinforces what I've always believed: it's more important to read a lot of books than to have an immaculate home. Well done Nina!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Celeste

    Can you imagine reading a book a day for an entire year and reviewing every single one of them? No rereads, and only one book per author. It’s a thought that’s both daunting and incredibly appealing, and the author approaches her year of what seems like selfishness with such methodical rigor that it’s hard to fault her for it. What a unique way to deal with grief. I absolutely believe that books can be great healers, necessary medicines when you’re sick at heart and need to escape. However, what Can you imagine reading a book a day for an entire year and reviewing every single one of them? No rereads, and only one book per author. It’s a thought that’s both daunting and incredibly appealing, and the author approaches her year of what seems like selfishness with such methodical rigor that it’s hard to fault her for it. What a unique way to deal with grief. I absolutely believe that books can be great healers, necessary medicines when you’re sick at heart and need to escape. However, what this book did more than anything was cement my appreciation for my faith. I’m incredibly thankful that death doesn’t strike me as a hopeless ending, but instead a temporary parting with a loved one. That being said, I can’t imagine the pain of losing a sibling. My brother is one of my very best friends, and the thought of him dying, even if I view death as the temporary parting stated above, absolutely wrecks me. I applaud Nina for finding a way through her grief and coming to the understanding that, while we never move on from that type of loss, we must find a way to move forward.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    When Nina Sankovitch lost her eldest sister to cancer, she grieved for a long time. However when she turned forty six, she decided to stop her grief by reading. Tolstoy and the Purple Chair is the memoir of a year of reading, dealing with loss and loving books. Reading a book a day Nina learned about the magical healing powers of books. I started reading this book as soon as a finished Ex Libris; I wanted to continue in the joys of personal essays about reading and thought this one would be a goo When Nina Sankovitch lost her eldest sister to cancer, she grieved for a long time. However when she turned forty six, she decided to stop her grief by reading. Tolstoy and the Purple Chair is the memoir of a year of reading, dealing with loss and loving books. Reading a book a day Nina learned about the magical healing powers of books. I started reading this book as soon as a finished Ex Libris; I wanted to continue in the joys of personal essays about reading and thought this one would be a good choice. While there is a lot of beauty in the writing, especially in the tender moments about her sister and dealing with her death, something just was not quite right. I spent a lot of time thinking about why this book did not work for me; I just could not put my finger on what was causing the problem. Then I realised this book is just a repetitive conversion narrative. What I mean by conversion narrative (there probably is a better name for this) is something like Confessions by St. Augustine; where the author writes about all their problems and how they miraculously were saved. This isn’t normally a religious journey like Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert but it is often a memoir of a struggling person that found a way to heal and have a better life. Tolstoy and the Purple Chair has that same formula over and over again; “I was grieving and then I found books”, “I had another problem so I picked up a book”. Then there is the overly ambitious task of reading a book a day; from the start of the book I saw it to be problematic when she wanted to only read books about 200 pages. Then there was a moment where she didn’t want to read her son’s favourite book Watership Down by Richard Adams because it was almost 500 pages. The whole idea of ‘quality over quantity’ came to mind; what happens when you want to take your time with a book? In theory the idea of reading so much might sound good but there is so much practicality that gets in the way. Nina Sankovitch does explore these day to day problems but more so in a way where cooking dinner or having a sick kid is getting in the way of her reading project. I like reading about someone taking up a reading project and documenting the results but I think this didn’t work. If you want something similar try The Year of Reading Dangerously by Andy Miller. This review originally appeared on my blog: http://www.knowledgelost.org/book-rev...

  15. 5 out of 5

    BAM the enigma

    Audiobook #211 This is that kind of book that inspires you to say "yeah I can write a book too!" Like I seriously could write a book like this, I just have to find my faith in expression again. Author's sister died of cancer so author takes a year off to heal and grieve by reading a book a day. This is the journey she takes through literature and wellness. And I loved it. Audiobook #211 This is that kind of book that inspires you to say "yeah I can write a book too!" Like I seriously could write a book like this, I just have to find my faith in expression again. Author's sister died of cancer so author takes a year off to heal and grieve by reading a book a day. This is the journey she takes through literature and wellness. And I loved it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    J

    Disappointing. I had high hopes for this book, but started skimming around page 150 out of boredom and annoyance. I gave it two stars (vs. one) because it was well written and the author is intelligent - though also totally messed up. Her family is singularly depressing and unrelatable. They distain religion and shockingly can't cope with a death in their co-dependant family. They fall into every liberal trap - think religion is for the weak minded and dangerous, think morals can be self-determin Disappointing. I had high hopes for this book, but started skimming around page 150 out of boredom and annoyance. I gave it two stars (vs. one) because it was well written and the author is intelligent - though also totally messed up. Her family is singularly depressing and unrelatable. They distain religion and shockingly can't cope with a death in their co-dependant family. They fall into every liberal trap - think religion is for the weak minded and dangerous, think morals can be self-determined, are self-righteous about social justice causes, think that intolerance is the only unforgivable sin. They lose track of reality while seeking "enlightenment". Her reviews of books were initially enjoyable - who doesn't want to hear about books! It was very high brow, but I appreciate that when I'm in the right mood. Ultimately though, the "truths" she drew out of the books reflected her own scudded reality and hyper-liberal leanings. Over the course of the book, you get a close look at her offensive opinions on God, religion and sexual morality. Artfully done, but ultimately just rehashed liberal platitudes.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    I was really excited about this book and "saved" it to read on my vacation. Which made me all the more disappointed when I found that I just didn't love it. It was okay. It wasn't great. I can certainly appreciate the difficulty of writing a book about reading a book a day. It could be seen as gimmicky, or boring, or too much of a straight list of what the writer read. So it seems that the author went with a path to avoid these--by loosely tying together information about her life with a few quot I was really excited about this book and "saved" it to read on my vacation. Which made me all the more disappointed when I found that I just didn't love it. It was okay. It wasn't great. I can certainly appreciate the difficulty of writing a book about reading a book a day. It could be seen as gimmicky, or boring, or too much of a straight list of what the writer read. So it seems that the author went with a path to avoid these--by loosely tying together information about her life with a few quotes from the books she read. Unfortunately, this method just didn't work for me. It was not really about the books and in fact hardly discussed the books at all. It was not really about her life but rather a series of vague recollections or contemplations about her sister. So, it was not personal enough to be a true memoir, and not focused enough on the books to really be about a journey through reading. It also is very focused on her sister who tragically passed away. But if you wanted to write a memoir of your sister, why not do that? It didn't help that I completely disagreed with her reviews of the books I have also read. In short, nothing about this book worked for me. I am bummed that it is the first book I picked for my kindle and it definitely was not worthy of purchase.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Bolton

    'The next day I read Watership Down, all 476 pages of it.' When Nina Sankovitch lost her sister to cancer at the age of 46, grief threatened to overwhelm her. Taking a time-honoured path, she used endless family-centred activity to keep the heartache at bay. At last, close to exhaustion, she turned to something she had always been able to rely on - books. For the next 365 days she read, and reviewed, a different book each day. The premise behind this book is so unusual that I honestly had no idea 'The next day I read Watership Down, all 476 pages of it.' When Nina Sankovitch lost her sister to cancer at the age of 46, grief threatened to overwhelm her. Taking a time-honoured path, she used endless family-centred activity to keep the heartache at bay. At last, close to exhaustion, she turned to something she had always been able to rely on - books. For the next 365 days she read, and reviewed, a different book each day. The premise behind this book is so unusual that I honestly had no idea what to expect, but I think I braced myself for 365 book reviews. Nothing of the sort. Tolstoy and the Purple Chair is an account of one woman's life with her family, but written with such insight, intelligence and warmth that it becomes the story of every woman's quest to come to terms with who she is, what the people around her mean and how she might one day have to deal with their loss. Tolstoy and the Purple Chair is original, uplifting and very moving - a unique celebration of life, love and literature.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Arezoo Amanzadeh Salute

    The idea of this book was brilliant: one year of reading book in every single day, let's say a day a book. This idea made me think that how much books I haven't read yet and the engine of my reading turned up again thanks to Nina. The only thing is that there is too much details of unnecessary happenings during her life that could be easily eliminated so that it seemed less boring. But I promise the book isn't boring at all. It fascinates you and makes you want to be the king or queen of your own The idea of this book was brilliant: one year of reading book in every single day, let's say a day a book. This idea made me think that how much books I haven't read yet and the engine of my reading turned up again thanks to Nina. The only thing is that there is too much details of unnecessary happenings during her life that could be easily eliminated so that it seemed less boring. But I promise the book isn't boring at all. It fascinates you and makes you want to be the king or queen of your own library by reading and reading.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Maryj

    I loved this book. I read the whole thing yesterday on several flights between Syracuse NY and Reno NV, taking notes about all the OTHER books I want to read. Basic story is that the author takes a year to slow down and read a book a day. I think most avid readers would enjoy it.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Whenever I read a book about someone reading books, I begin to wonder why I’m not reading those books instead of this one.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mary Ronan Drew

    Reading Tolstoy and the Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch today, I came across a reference to Deborah Crombie, an author of whom I’m fond and whose books I’ve been gobbling up recently. Sankovitch is in a hospital room with her 46-year-old sister, who is dying of cancer. Piles of books were stacked along the windowsill of Anne-Marie’s hospital room, gifts from friends and from family. I was borrowing as many as I brought in. Anne-Marie had just introduced me to the writer Deborah Crombie and her s Reading Tolstoy and the Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch today, I came across a reference to Deborah Crombie, an author of whom I’m fond and whose books I’ve been gobbling up recently. Sankovitch is in a hospital room with her 46-year-old sister, who is dying of cancer. Piles of books were stacked along the windowsill of Anne-Marie’s hospital room, gifts from friends and from family. I was borrowing as many as I brought in. Anne-Marie had just introduced me to the writer Deborah Crombie and her sleuths, Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James. She reread the series while I worked my way through, virgin and loving it. I was in the middle of All Shall Be Well. The title held out hope, and when I had seen the book there on the hospital sill, I’d asked to borrow it. Anne-Marie had said yes, but said she wanted it back. We were all still planning for more time. But there is no more time. Her sister dies that day. The author does not adjust well to the loss of her beloved older sister. For three years she tries to forget by staying very busy, throwing herself into community activities and her childrens’ lives, but she still grieves. Her father contracted tuberculosis when he was young and spent two years in a sanatorium. There he found peace after the horrors he had experienced during World War II. Sandovitch decides to seek similar solace in books. She makes a plan to read a book a day and write about it on her blog, ReadAllDay http://www.readallday.org/blog/ – a book a day for a whole year. The resulting book is a testimony of the wisdom and solace one acquires from books. For me, much of the joy from this book came from her increasing understanding of the importance of books in her life and how much they offer besides just entertainment or escape. The first book she reads is Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog. A quote from that book: When something is bothering me, I seek refuge. No need to travel far; a trip to the realm of literary memory will suffice. For where can one find more noble distraction, more entertaining company, more delightful enchantment, than in literature? Another from Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart: Books loved anyone who opened them, they gave you security and friendship and didn’t ask anything in return; they never went away, never, not even when you treated them badly. Love, truth, beauty, wisdom and consolation against death. Who had said that? Someone else who loved books. And from Elizabeth Maguire’s 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? As Sandovitch reads she records her responses to many of the books and how they lead her to reflect on her family history, her experiences with her sons and her husband, her adjustment to life with her step-daughter, love affairs from her youth. And of course time she had spent with her sister. At a rate of a book a day, she has to choose books that are no more than 300 pages long. What is she to do, then, when her son brings her his favorite book, Watership Down, which is 476 pages long? She puts the book aside until she remembers an incident from years before when a friend gave her a copy of The Bridges of Madison County saying she loved the book and was sure Sankovitch would too. Sankovitch returned it saying she thought it was a silly book, wounding her friendship irreparably. She decides to make time to read her son’s book and to accept books from friends who know about her project. She writes as carefully as she can about these books, remembering the importance of the friendship that impelled people to lend her their favorite books. After her year-long project, she writes: My whole life, I have read books. And when I needed to read the most, books gave me everything I asked for and more. My year of reading gave me the space I needed to figure out how to live again after losing my sister. My year in the sanatorium of books allowed me to redefine what is important for me and what can be left behind. Not all respites from life can be so all-consuming – I will never again read a book a day for one year – but any break taken from the frenetic pace of busy days can restore the balance of a life turned topsy-turvy. . . . We all need a space to just let things be, a place to remember who we are and what is important to us, an interval of time that allows the happiness and joy of living back into our consciousness. The purple chair? As the author begins her project she sets up a room where she can read and write, can do her "work" as she calls her reading project. She puts in her room an old chair, upholstered in purple. This was the place where she sat and did her reading. As is appropriate, I read the book in a single day.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Who has the means to give up a year of their life to read a book a day and then blog about it? Would you believe a Mother of 4 children did this? How self indulgent and what a patient (pushover!) husband to allow his stay at home lawyer wife neglect her home management and children rearing responsibilities to use this project to get over her sister's death. A month maybe, but a whole year? The way the author can relate to EVERY book she reads (even ones about the Holocaust-please, how dare she c Who has the means to give up a year of their life to read a book a day and then blog about it? Would you believe a Mother of 4 children did this? How self indulgent and what a patient (pushover!) husband to allow his stay at home lawyer wife neglect her home management and children rearing responsibilities to use this project to get over her sister's death. A month maybe, but a whole year? The way the author can relate to EVERY book she reads (even ones about the Holocaust-please, how dare she compare her lloss to that) is reminiscent of a love sick teen relating to every love song on the radio. Just as that teen thinks she is the first one to ever truly feel love, this author seems to think her loss is more profound than anyone else's loss of a loved one. I found the book self indulgent and annoying.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    I have struggled with myself when I've thought about how I should write this review. You see, prior to reading this book, I read The End of your Life Book Club. THAT book was a wonderful story about a wonderful woman and her relationship with books and her son. It was lovely, profound, sad and a book that made me feel like a better person for having read it. This book, well, I wish I had not wasted my reading time with it. I don't say things like that about a book often. If you are thinking of r I have struggled with myself when I've thought about how I should write this review. You see, prior to reading this book, I read The End of your Life Book Club. THAT book was a wonderful story about a wonderful woman and her relationship with books and her son. It was lovely, profound, sad and a book that made me feel like a better person for having read it. This book, well, I wish I had not wasted my reading time with it. I don't say things like that about a book often. If you are thinking of reading this one, I say drop it and RUN to The End of Your Life Book Club instead. It's worth the change. Why oh why you ask? Well, first of all, this book is about a woman who has tragically lost a sister and has decided to honor her sister and come to grips with her death by reading a book a day for a year. She is turning her back on her family and submerging herself in books for a year. Isn't that completely self-indulgent? Selfish? Do you think that honors her sister or anyone else in her life? Sure, she words it to make it *feel* like it something wonderful, but when you look at the reality of it, as I said, it's completely self-indulgent and if I were her sister, I'd sit up in my coffin and spit in her face. Then, to add insult to injury, she tries to make each book she reads some sort of lesson on her way to coming to grips with her mourning. I think I was able to see two of them out the 365 books she read. The writing was good. Some of the stories were interesting for short periods of time. I even found a few profound statements that I really liked. But all in all, it was a selfish undertaking and I cannot believe that I wasted my time reading about it. I only am giving this book two stars for the reasons I just talked about but I wouldn't recommend it. Instead, run to the other book. It's worth the read and even though I know the woman in End of your Life Book Club would probably have supported THIS book, I am not that nice and I cannot.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie

    Just FYI, I did not actually finish this novel, however I still want to put in my two cents but I won't include a rating since I don't feel it fair to rate a book I didn't finish. This started out as a heartbreaking yet uplifting novel about Nina surviving the grief after the death of her older sister who died of cancer. Nina and her sister shared a love of books and 3 years after her sister's death, when Nina turned 46 (the same age her sister was when she died) she decided to begin reading a bo Just FYI, I did not actually finish this novel, however I still want to put in my two cents but I won't include a rating since I don't feel it fair to rate a book I didn't finish. This started out as a heartbreaking yet uplifting novel about Nina surviving the grief after the death of her older sister who died of cancer. Nina and her sister shared a love of books and 3 years after her sister's death, when Nina turned 46 (the same age her sister was when she died) she decided to begin reading a book a day to get over her still ever-consuming grief. What started as a lovely idea in my eyes turned into something that didn't seem fun in the least bit. She set to make a goal for reading a book a day but put so many requirements into making this happen that she took the fun out of reading entirely. She would only read a book that was an inch wide or thicker, she would get up early so that she could get a head start on reading, she would either make her husband cook on the weekends or order pizza so she would have more time to finish her daily book, plus she dedicated upwards of 2 hours to review her completed book. I'm sorry, I love to read... absolutely love to read more than anything else. But putting so many requirements on my reading and making it a job to finish that same day so that you can be sure to start a new one tomorrow and 2 hours for a book review?? I've never spent 2 hours on a book review. Maybe that's why some of mine turn out crappy and half-assed, but whatever. I can understand this woman's goal of trying to overcome her grief, but this didn't seem the way to go about it for me.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Canadian Reader

    I abandoned the book about halfway through. Absolutely dull. In fact, dull as ditch water and dishwater combined. The "revelations" from reading were milquetoast, cliche, and simply not worthy of being contained in a book. I do feel for the author in the loss of her sister, but I am doubtful that racing through 365 books actually heals one's grief. My advice: do not waste your time on this! If you must have a look, consider borrowing the book from the library. It's surprising to me that this wor I abandoned the book about halfway through. Absolutely dull. In fact, dull as ditch water and dishwater combined. The "revelations" from reading were milquetoast, cliche, and simply not worthy of being contained in a book. I do feel for the author in the loss of her sister, but I am doubtful that racing through 365 books actually heals one's grief. My advice: do not waste your time on this! If you must have a look, consider borrowing the book from the library. It's surprising to me that this work has received the praise it has. I found it gimmicky and unconvincing and I can't even recommend it for stylistic reasons. Bland.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Antonia

    I really enjoyed this book! Especially having just read the Andy Miller’s terribly disappointing My Year of Reading Dangerously. Unlike Miller, Nina Sankovitch is the least pretentious of readers and writers. She reads widely, voraciously, and nonjudgmentally, with an openness to any genre. She takes what she can from each book, thinks about how it might relate to her intellectual and emotional life. And goes on reading, learning, loving life. Sankovitch took on the project of reading (and review I really enjoyed this book! Especially having just read the Andy Miller’s terribly disappointing My Year of Reading Dangerously. Unlike Miller, Nina Sankovitch is the least pretentious of readers and writers. She reads widely, voraciously, and nonjudgmentally, with an openness to any genre. She takes what she can from each book, thinks about how it might relate to her intellectual and emotional life. And goes on reading, learning, loving life. Sankovitch took on the project of reading (and reviewing! on a public website!) a book a day for a year — something almost inconceivable to me. And Sankovitch had a home, husband, and four boys at the time — little boys!! I don’t know how she did it. (She reads fast!) She seemed still able to be a nearly full-time wife and mother, if a little more relaxed housekeeper. Hey, what’s important, anyway? The reading project became a way of coming to terms with the overwhelming loss of her sister to cancer. And it’s a marvelous and beautiful journey. Not that she will ever get over the loss, but through reading, Nina comes to accept at some level what she already knows: life is just not fair. It wasn’t fair to her sister, but really, it’s not fair to anyone. Reading about others’ difficult paths helps Nina to reconnect with humanity, to value the memories and the way her sister’s life is now part of her own, to think about how she wants to live her own life, and to recognize — even in the face of limitations and injustice — the extent to which we can make conscious choices about how we will spend our short and precious lives. I admit to being grabbed from the first sentence in Chapter 1: “My sister was forty-six years old when she died.” My own sister was forty-four when she died, so right away, I know something about Nina Sankovitch. We share a loss that we’ll never get over. I found that I share much else with Sankovitch, however different our lives, but maybe it’s easy to feel that way when a writer reveals so much. The book has been called a “grief journal” and at times, the grief seems too often repeated in the same way — but I just can’t hold it against her. It’s also part family history (the author’s family of origin as well as her own marriage and motherhood) and part reading journal — my favorite part, but they all flow seamlessly together. But beyond that, Tolstoy and the Purple Chair shows how books and the ideas in them bring us together, bind us to one another in surprising ways. “Life is hard, unfair, painful. But life is also guaranteed – one hundred percent, no doubt, no question – to offer unexpected and sudden moments of beauty, joy, love, acceptance, euphoria.” The good stuff. It is our ability to recognize and then hold on to the moments of good stuff that allows us to survive, even thrive. And when we can share the beauty, hope is restored.” — from Tolstoy and the Purple Chair I would like to have heard more about the books she read. That’s my only complaint. I know a book can’t be all things to all people, but that would have made it even better. I read a digital version. This is one that I will probably buy in hardcover and I’ll be gifting it to other book-lovers as well. Sankovitch also maintained a blog, where she reviewed books read during her magical year. She continues to add book reviews — over 1000 and counting, now. I foresee spending many hours there. http://www.readallday.org/blog/ Addendum, July 4, 2015: I did buy the hardcover!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Karen Floyd

    I was surprised by the vitriol in some of the reviews of this book on Goodreads. A number of people were very upset that the book wasn't what they expected, and seemed to take it out by sniping at the author. She is accused of being boring, "dull as ditch water, and dishwater," self indulgent, a terrible wife and mother, a vague wishy-washy Christian, and those two damning L-words - Leftist and Liberal. Oh, and the book was grim and depressing and didn't talk enough about books. Sounds like Sank I was surprised by the vitriol in some of the reviews of this book on Goodreads. A number of people were very upset that the book wasn't what they expected, and seemed to take it out by sniping at the author. She is accused of being boring, "dull as ditch water, and dishwater," self indulgent, a terrible wife and mother, a vague wishy-washy Christian, and those two damning L-words - Leftist and Liberal. Oh, and the book was grim and depressing and didn't talk enough about books. Sounds like Sankovitch struck a nerve with some of her readers judging by their reactions. Oh, and the book wasn't another 'End of Your Life Book Club' which some readers wanted. "Comparisons," as Dogberry said, "are odorous." I have not yet read EoYLBC, though I plan to, but readers should not expect two different authors, with their own individual histories, to write the same book, even if their circumstances are somewhat the same. Relative dying of cancer, reading books as solace, strength and escape. As you might guess, I loved this book. I found it well-written, thoughtful, and helpful. So I haven't read a lot of the books on her list, but I enjoyed hearing about them, and I have a long list of books of my own that have gotten me through life. Vive la difference! The tone of the book is sometimes breezy, often serious, occasionally bleak (especially when talking about her father's experiences during World War II), even angry, but always frank, friendly, comforting, and ultimately hopeful. The book also spoke to me personally, not just because I have lost relatives and friends to cancer, but in particular because my sister, too, died of cancer. The circumstances were very different, my sister and I were children not adults, and my sister was younger than I. We did not have all those years to grow up together and become close friends. I had just turned 6 when Cindy died, and she was two and a half months short of her 4th birthday. The deaths of children are so much harder to accept than those of adults, and I have struggled all my life to make sense of how God could let my little sister die. She was only three, she hadn't had time to do anything bad! When Sankovitch says early in the book, "Why did I deserve to live when my sister had died?" I knew exactly what she meant. It is a question I have asked myself all my life. Especially when I remember my meannesses and resentment of the "special treatment," attention and gifts that were given to Cindy before and after she went into the hospital. I have had to learn to forgive myself for being "bad" and for behaving like the child I was. I has taken me a long time to get here, over 50 years, to realize that I am not in any way responsible for Cindy's death, nor should I feel guilty about being an envious sister, or think I was the undeserving one. I was just a little kid, behaving like a little kid. Thank you, Nina Sankovich, for sharing your experiences. It's comforting to know I'm not alone. And I'm glad you were able to have your year of reading to help you with your grief.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    People always express amazement at how many books I read, but Sankovitch has them beat, reading a book a day for a year. This "job" helped her truly come to grips with her loss of her sister, who died at 46. Her gift lies in sharing how reading allowed her to remember Anne Marie and learn other lessons. I was able to relate to Sankovitch as she dealt with her grief, as I, too, have lost a sister. However, the title was a turn off, as it immediately makes me think of Joan Didion's book, The Year o People always express amazement at how many books I read, but Sankovitch has them beat, reading a book a day for a year. This "job" helped her truly come to grips with her loss of her sister, who died at 46. Her gift lies in sharing how reading allowed her to remember Anne Marie and learn other lessons. I was able to relate to Sankovitch as she dealt with her grief, as I, too, have lost a sister. However, the title was a turn off, as it immediately makes me think of Joan Didion's book, The Year of Magical Thinking. I also felt something was missing in the narrative. I don't know if it was too dry or too long, but I lost interest and ended up skimming parts. Sankovitch repeats some stories several times and reveals plot lines (and sometimes even endings) of books. While I haven't heard of or read most of the books on her list, this is a potential spoil sport for many. I do like how she talks about the sharing of books among friends and family. After all, liking a book is such a subjective thing. Sankovitch, for example, was given Love Walks In by Marisa de los Santos, by a friend who loved it. She didn't have the same reaction (and wondered how to handle this since she wrote a review for each book she read). I'm guessing I have different taste than Sankovitch, because I loved that book and would have picked very different books for my magical year of reading. Nina started a web site and keeps a blog there, where she continues to review books. I took a quick look at it, and love the pictures of her reading in different locations (on the beach, on a tractor, etc.). Does anyone want to sponsor me to undertake a similar endeavor? That would be my dream job! I know it's been done before -- and not just by Sankovitch -- but I'll come up with a gimmick, I promise! PS Can't decide between two or three stars!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kristy

    I'd say this is a mixed review of this book. It's a memoir, this author decides to read a book a day for a year (and she actually does!) as a way of working through the grief of losing her sister to cancer. I liked the way she talks about grief and recovery, she also had great stuff to say about why we read and how fabulous books are (those parts would make excellent book group discussions). But, she reads a book a day for a year. She talks about sitting on the beach with her family (husband and I'd say this is a mixed review of this book. It's a memoir, this author decides to read a book a day for a year (and she actually does!) as a way of working through the grief of losing her sister to cancer. I liked the way she talks about grief and recovery, she also had great stuff to say about why we read and how fabulous books are (those parts would make excellent book group discussions). But, she reads a book a day for a year. She talks about sitting on the beach with her family (husband and 4 little kids) while they're all wanting her to play in the water with them and she won't get up from her book--for a year. Yikes. It seemed a little extreme to be mourning your sister to the extent that you give up all the time you could be spending with the family you have left. She talks about how life isn't really passing her by in this year, she's getting even more out of the books she's reading, not sure I agree with that. But who am I to judge someone else's grief. Just a word about the books she read--not much fluff there. She prints the list in the back of the book (and spends a lot of time talking about the books she's reading), and I have read about 5 books on her list and I've heard of about 5 more on her list. She picks some kind of obscure, heavy stuff to get through.

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