Judy's Reviews > Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch
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Apr 21, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: bio-memoir, books-about-books, favorites, 2011-reads
Recommended for: memoir lovers, bibliophiles, people experiencing grief
Read from October 28 to November 17, 2011

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.....

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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. Actually, it is a remarkably candid portrait of the author's quest to heal and obtain balance in her life after her sister's death. She does this through reading a book a day for one year and chronicling the healing she receives from many of the books. Woven in the story, are reminisces of her father's WWII experience which lends color to Sankovitch's journey.

Accentuating my journey through this book, was a good GR friend, Mikki, who read along with me. A time of sharing of our own life stories ensued which doubled an already positive reading experience. Mikki's insights and pointing out of quotes that I had somehow missed ensured this will be one of the best books I read this year!
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Quotes Judy Liked

Nina Sankovitch
“...but I know that I can survive the hard times, taking the worst of what happens to me as a burden but not as a noose .”
Nina Sankovitch, Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading


Reading Progress

11/12/2011 "Will start reading Wednesday with Mikki. I call dibs on sitting in the purple chair first!"
11/13/2011 "I'm trying to finish a book-a-day for one week to just get a sense of what this lady did. There's a big difference between finishing a book-a-day and reading-a-book-a-day, I'm sure!"

Comments (showing 1-18 of 18) (18 new)

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message 1: by Mikki (new) - added it

Mikki Judy, why is the book marked as "currently reading" when we are starting it on Wednesday?


Judy Oh, I added it when I got it from the library. I haven't started reading it yet. I will start on Wednesday....really. :)


message 3: by Dem (new)

Dem Sounds like you loved this one Judy.


Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" Awesome review, Judy! This one really makes you take a look at your own reading life and the reasons you read certain books at certain points in your life.


message 5: by Mikki (new) - added it

Mikki Great review, Judy! I agree that the enjoyment of this book was doubled by reading it with a friend and sharing experiences that were similar to those of the author's.


Judy Dem, I'm still in afterglow from this one. :-)

Thanks, Jeanette, I think I've started reading slower and paying more attention to what I think the author is saying. Also, I'm more aware of what a book says to me vs. what the author is intending to say. Does that make sense?

Mikki, back at you. Do you mind if I put your name in the review? I'm always hesitant to say someone's name when so many people can see it.


message 7: by Mikki (new) - added it

Mikki No, not all! :)


message 8: by Anne (new)

Anne Great review, especially the part about sharing with Mikki. This book seems like the perfect buddy read book.


Judy A very good one. There were so many things to talk about and they weren't hard to find.


Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" Judy wrote: "Also, I'm more aware of what a book says to me vs. what the author is intending to say. Does that make sense?"

Absolutely makes sense. I used to feel that way in college when we'd discuss literature. My profs and classmates would talk about what the author intended, and I'd be thinking nuh-uuhhh, that's not what I got from it.


Sovotchka Judy wrote: "Also, I'm more aware of what a book says to me vs. what the author is intending to say. Does that make sense?"
Judy, this happened to me as well. I found myself thinking much more about what books meant to me and why I read them, than about the author's experiences, interesting though they are.


message 12: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy Do you think that is because you were putting yourself in her shoes, relating to many of her thoughts from times when you were in crisis? I realize that is rather a personal question, but just curious. Its always interesting to me how people relate to books, because we all relate in such diverse ways.


Sovotchka Judy wrote: "Do you think that is because you were putting yourself in her shoes, relating to many of her thoughts from times when you were in crisis? I realize that is rather a personal question, but just curi..."

That is an interesting question.
It felt a bit like a punch in the gut for me when she remembers visiting family in Poland, and then driving back through East Berlin and crossing Checkpoint Charlie. I thought, if I were a bit older, I could have been on the outside of the car, looking in. And I can remember times when the towns in East Germany looked like what she described in Poland.
From that point onward, I felt a bit like I was experiencing my own story while I was looking in on hers. I don't know if that counts as putting myself in her shoes though, I had a lot of moments where I had a different opinion than she did, but I also think that I could not have kept a positive outlook and motivation like she did. Even when she was really sad, she already knew what she would take from this later on. That's not something I could relate to, but then I also lack her experience in life.


message 14: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy I had forgotten about the Poland part. That would hit close to home. I love it when I find a book that I have been the place they talk about, it makes a connection then.

I found it amazing that her hubby was so agreeable to a whole year off of work. She must have been one tired lady at the end of the year, her days were so long with taking care of kids and such.


Sovotchka Judy wrote: "I found it amazing that her hubby was so agreeable to a whole year off of work. She must have been one tired lady at the end of the year, her days were so long with taking care of kids and such. "

I agree. He was great!
I can't imagine doing all that reading and writing and raising four kids, and then being there for her family members and friends as well. She's really got a lot of energy.


message 16: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy Energy, indeed. I can't imagine accomplishing what you two did/are doing. Although, I really need to do something like that because I'm getting a second layer of books going around the first layer on my bookshelves! :-)


Sovotchka Judy wrote: "Energy, indeed. I can't imagine accomplishing what you two did/are doing. Although, I really need to do something like that because I'm getting a second layer of books going around the first layer ..."

My best friend has that as well, Judy. She's in denial about it though, because she doesn't add unread books on Goodreads. I've done her the disfavour of counting them once, and then told her the number, but that was half a year ago and she pretends that she's forgotten all about it ;).


message 18: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy Lol. That is one way to deal with it! hehe


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