Saturday, 17 December 2016

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair

Finished December 14
Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading by Nina Sankovitch

This memoir about reading begins the the explanation of why Nina decided to take on the challenge of reading a book a day for a year. Nina's oldest sister Anne-Marie died at the age of forty-six of bile-duct cancer. The cancer moved quickly and Nina took the loss of her sister hard. She found herself stuck in the grief for longer that she realized she would. Books have always been an important part of her life, and she determined that reading would take her through her grief to be able to enjoy life again.
This book isn't a collection of book reviews, but a collection of reflections on what she got out of the books. Each chapter begins with a quotation from one of the books she read, that gives a sense of the topic of reflection for that chapter. From beauty to time, rhythms of life to balms for sorrow, paying attention more closely to enjoying the moment, each chapter gives us an overview of her year of reading in a meaningful way. She did review each book as she read it, with the book reviews appearing on her blog ReadAllDay.org. There is a list of the books at the back of this memoir.
The books she read were mostly 200-300 pages, but some were more daunting, and they ranged widely. She started with a pile of books, but also used her local library, and took suggestions from friends, and from people she connected with though her blog during the year.
She was lucky enough that her husband and children took on more household tasks, and she didn't work outside the home during the year she read. Her job for the year was to read and review the books, one she took seriously.
The strategy worked and let her move forward with her life in a positive way. The book list is interesting with both books I love and books I've never heard of.

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