Nina Sankovitch has always been a reader. As a child, she discovered that a trip to the local bookmobile with her sisters was more exhilarating than a ride at the carnival. Books were the glue that held her immigrant family together. When Nina's eldest sister died at the age of forty-six, Nina turned to books for comfort, escape, and introspection. In her beloved purple chair, she rediscovered the magic of such writers as Toni Morrison, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ian McEwan, Edith Wharton, and, of course, Leo Tolstoy. Through the connections Nina made with books and authors (and even other readers), her life changed profoundly, and in unexpected ways. Reading, it turns out, can be the ultimate therapy.Tolstoy and the Purple Chair also tells the story of the Sankovitch family: Nina's father, who barely escaped death in Belarus during World War II; her four rambunctious children, who offer up their own book recommendations while helping out with the cooking and cleaning; and Anne-Marie, her oldest sister and idol, with whom Nina shared the pleasure of books, even in her last moments of life. In our lightning-paced culture that encourages us to seek more, bigger, and better things, Nina's daring journey shows how we can deepen the quality of our everyday lives—if we only find the time.
Nina Sankovitch's Tolstoy and the Purple Chair is a wonderful memoir on her year of reading one book every day for a year. Following the death of her sister, Nina felt her life becoming a downward spiral as she tried to cram everything in to live for both herself and her sister. She tried giving everything that she could to support all of her family around her but it was too much.
Finally, she realized that she needed to slow down and give herself time to reflect and accept life as it is... leading her to start her mission of making reading book her work for a year. With a lot of planning and support from her family, Nina did just that and a lot more on the way.
Blending her love of books with her own life's journey, Nina's story is a great reminder that life is both great and terrible and sometimes you just need to stop, calm down, and reflect on it all. I loved how Nina brought in the stories that she was reading and specific quotes that she found inspiring. I especially liked the final chapter where she relates her year's journey to her father's time off in life and how important the past year had been to her.
Tolstoy and the Purple Chair has completely reaffirmed my love of books and the importance that I place on them. I also made a list of books that I want to read now because of how they were described in Purple Chair. I found Nina's story to be very relatable and I hope that when tragedy and grief strike my family, which is inevitable at some point, that I remember her story and find my own comfort from the pages of beloved books.
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Want to learn more? Check out Nina Sankovitch's website!