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

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair

Nina Sankovitch is an avid reader as is her whole family.  They have turned to books for generations for joy and comfort.  When her sister Ann-Marie dies from cancer, Nina goes into a depression until she decides to take steps to get her life back in order by giving up her job as a lawyer and reading a book a day for a year.  This memoir is the progression that she makes from grief to joy over the course of the year.  Tolstoy and the Purple Chair is so eloquent, so beautifully written that it has become one of my favorite books. Nina shares so much wisdom that it is the kind of book that you would like to keep to read over and over again.  There were many times that I wanted to stop reading long enough to yell out, “Yes, Nina!!  You are so wonderful!” 

She shares many memories of her Polish family--the atrocities that they suffered during World War II and during the Cold War.  There is so much grief, and yet there is an undying spirit of love and hope that swirls through this memoir. She also talked about  the books that they loved along the way. When she mentioned a book that I enjoyed, too, it was really a magical moment.  Sankovitch shared the memories of books that she cherished growing up as well as snippets of the books that she read during her year of reading a book a day. At the end, there is a list of every book she read during the year. Sankovitch also started the Read All Day blog, which is full of wonderful information for bibliophiles.

The author often says that the books that we read whether fiction or nonfiction, serious or light, tell us something about humanity and even something about ourselves if we are only willing to listen.  Tolstoy and the Purple Chair is ultimately a book that celebrates life and is a touching tribute to her beloved sister, Ann-Marie. This book confirms the importance of a life filled with the love of books and reading.