Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading

by
3.52 of 5 stars 3.52  ·  rating details  ·  2,656 ratings  ·  686 reviews
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.
Hardcover, 241 pages
Published June 7th 2011 by Harper (first published January 1st 2011)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
The Book Thief by Markus ZusakThe Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz ZafónThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann ShafferThe Thirteenth Tale by Diane SetterfieldA Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty  Smith
Best Books About Loving Books
16th out of 216 books — 343 voters
The Book Thief by Markus ZusakFahrenheit 451 by Ray BradburyMatilda by Roald DahlThe Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz ZafónThe Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Books about Books
130th out of 614 books — 937 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Jeanette
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...more
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...more
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...more
Alyazi
تخيل أن تقرأ كتباً طوال العام ؟ إننا نفعل ، أوه لا لا تخيل معي أن تقرأ ذلك كتاباً كاملاً كل يوم طوال عام ؟
قد يبدو الأمر صعباً ، خاصة بأننا نبذل مجهوداً جباراً لننهي كتاباً خلال أسبوع ونشعر بالسعادة إن فعلنا ذلك خلال ثلاثة أيام ، شعرتُ حقيقة بالدهشة لأن نينا قد فعلت !! نينا هي أصغر أخواتها الثلاث ، توفيت أكبرهن بالسرطان حين بلغت السادسة بعد الأربعين ، كان هذا هو الحدث الأكثر تأثيراً في حياة نينا لتغيّر نظرتها للعالم و تشعر أخيراً بقيمة الأيام المتبقية لها وتستمع بإيقاع الحياة السريع و تمرح و تلهو...more
Judy
Nov 22, 2011 Judy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: memoir lovers, bibliophiles, people experiencing grief
4.5 stars

In anticipation of immersing myself in the reading this book, I began reading my first selection of Tolstoy, War and Peace(which I haven't finished, but do enjoy) and tried to finish a book a day for a week. All three are worthy of experience.....

....................................................................................................
Contrary to the dust jacket, Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading is not strictly a book about a year's worth of reading. Ac...more
Susan
Jun 19, 2011 Susan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
"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...more
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...more
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.
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...more
Maia B.
From the title, you'd think this is a book about books. From the back, you'd think it's a grief memoir. Since I was expecting a book about books, and not a grief memoir (frankly, if you want to write your own memoir, go ahead. It's fine by me. But forcing your personal life on thousands of people is unnecessary and has always seemed to me rather self-centered), this book left me enormously disappointed. It's really a grief memoir that happens to mention books.

For one thing, the author didn't mak...more
Kate Gerlach
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...more
S. J. 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...more
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...more
SilverRaindrops
This book was recommended to me because I planned to read a book a day as well. (For a more thorough introduction to this, see my blog.) 'The author and I must have a lot in common', I thought, and so I followed up on the recommendation.

A few pages in I knew that Nina Sankovitch is a very interesting person, but that we have next to nothing in common. Where I have a dad that doesn't read at all and a mom that prioritizes a lot of things, especially music, above reading, she has a family that lov...more
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...more
Margarida
“As palavras têm vida e a literatura torna-se uma fuga, não da vida, e sim para dentro da vida.”

Mais um livro sobre livros. Adoro! Ainda que as “estórias” contadas nem sempre sejam especialmente boas, como adoradora de livros que sou sinto um prazer enorme ao ver a minha lista “A Ler” aumentada e, mesmo que mais nada tire deles, fica sempre este lado positivo: conhecer novos livros! Alguns totalmente desconhecidos, outros de que já ouvimos falar, mas que por uma razão ou outra não nos desperta...more
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 sl...more
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...more
Diane S.
Although the reason for this book is far from joyous, the death of her sister at the age of 46, this book is a celebration of reading,the importance of memories and understanding. After her sister's death, the author is running around taking care of her four children, her husband and her house, trying to figure out what to do with her grief and how to go on without the presence of her sister. They had always hared their love of books, her sister loved mysteries, in fact books and reading were al...more
Romina

Non mi è mai capitato di esprimere un giudizio,le mie emozioni, prima di finire un libro; mi sento di farlo ora, con questa meravigliosa storia.
Questo libro lo sento un pò mio, mi rappresenta in vari aspetti, mi ci sento legata.
La lettura è stata per me, come per Nina, un àncora di salvezza, mi ha aiutato nei momenti piu bui e difficili della mia vita. Lo fa ancora ora.
E' vero che i libri sono
il veliero per andare dove si desideri.
" Quando sono angosciata mi ritiro nel mio rifugio non c'è nessun...more
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...more
Sally
Nina Sankovitch loses her sister to cancer, and as part of her grieving, decides to read a book a day for a year. She sets up rules for this adventure (1" thick spine so as not to get too long, no repeat reads, and no reads by the same author), and also blogs her reviews of each book. Somehow, she will do this, as well as run a household with a husband and 4 boys.

The concept behind it was wonderful - I would love to be able to curl up each day and read a book. I'm sure it was also quite therape...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Nov 05, 2011 Jenny (Reading Envy) rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jenny (Reading Envy) by: Emma
Shelves: read2011
On the surface, this is a book about reading, but more than anything, this is a book about how Nina Sankovitch used reading to get through the loss of her sister at age 46. If you add that to the stories of Sankovitch's parents backgrounds, growing up in war-torn Poland and Belgium, this is not as light of a book as I was led to believe from the review I first read in a book blog. That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it or resonate with it, but I'm not sure I'd recommend it to everyone, for the raw...more
Cynthia Davidson
Jan 05, 2012 Cynthia Davidson rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: every reader
Recommended to Cynthia by: found out about it online at Amazon
Am so glad I started my new year off with this book! Was reading it quickly, because I'd gotten it for my mother, but found it so full of wisdom and the infectious JOY of reading, I slowed down because I didn't want it to end.

I'll definitely be recommending it, as my choice this year, for our Prudence Island Book Club. Ideally each book club ought to choose a title that revisits the very reasons why we read!

Although the word 'bibliotherapy' is never mentioned, this is the best example of it, I'...more
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...more
Lavinia
I usually try to write reviews in English, but this one was already written in Romanian and I don't have the time or mood to translate or write another one. Sorry, English language friends and followers, I hope it won't happen too often.
***

Cînd am început să citesc Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading, țineam minte, din singura recenzie pe care o citisem cu cîțiva ani înainte, că e despre cărți, despre cum într-o zi autoarea s-a decis să citească, timp de un an, o carte pe z...more
Michelle
Disappointing. I really liked the idea of this book--after the author's sister dies, Sankovitch decides that in order to help heal from her grief, she will read a book a day and blog about it. However, the books don't come alive in the pages of her memoir, and her other writing felt flat to me too. I ended up skimming the last few chapters.
Katherine
I so wanted to like this book but even after turning the last page I found I love only the idea. That healing can come through the reading of books I don't doubt, but plowing through a book a day is not so much an emotional journey of working through one's grief as it is a contrived marathon of pages. The volumes mount and the pain decreases? To me that's a strange sort of reasoning. Though I'd like to leave room for the supposition. I'm glad that the author feels she found healing through her y...more
Rebecca Foster
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...more
Sandra
In Tolstoy and the Purple Chair, Nina Sankovitch recounts the year she took on the task of reading, and reviewing, a book a day for the entire year. This was not some stunt she took on in order to publish a book about it, or to become a famous blogger whose life story would be made into a movie. Rather, it was a path she set herself on in order to heal from the loss of her sister. As someone who has experienced the healing power of reading and books, this touched a chord within me and I was exci...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Howards End Is on the Landing: A Year of Reading from Home
  • Book by Book: Notes on Reading and Life
  • The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared
  • Used and Rare: Travels in the Book World
  • The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop: A Memoir, a History
  • Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading: Finding and Losing Myself in Books
  • Every Book Its Reader: The Power of the Printed Word to Stir the World
  • Rereadings: Seventeen writers revisit books they love
  • The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time
  • Back to the Best Books
  • My Reading Life
  • Sixpence House: Lost in a Town of Books
  • The Anatomy of Bibliomania
  • Phantoms on the Bookshelves
  • The New Lifetime Reading Plan: The Classical Guide to World Literature, Revised and Expanded
  • A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter
  • The Book on the Bookshelf
  • A Passion for Books: A Book Lover's Treasury of Stories, Essays, Humor, Love and Lists on Collecting, Reading, Borrowing, Lending, Caring for, and Appreciating Books
4400545
Nina Sankovitch has written two books of non-fiction. The first, her memoir of a life of reading, entitled Tolstoy and the Purple Chair, came out in 2011. Tolstoy and the Purple Chair not only tells the story of Nina's life of reading but of how books helped her to cope with the death of her oldest sister. Described as a must-read by Oprah Magazine and hailed as an outstanding debut by Kirkus Revi...more
More about Nina Sankovitch...
Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Celebrating the Joys of Letter Writing

Share This Book

“We are what we love to read, and when we admit to loving a book, we admit that the book represents some aspect of ourselves truly, whether it is that we are suckers for romance or pining for adventure or secretly fascinated by crime.” 31 likes
“It is a gift we humans have, to hold on to beauty felt in a moment for a lifetime.” 27 likes
More quotes…