Review: Tolstoy and the Purple Chair — Nina Sankovitch

Read: 55
To Go: 45

Book List:
51. The Overlook — Michael Connelly
52. Chasing The Dime — Michael Connelly
53. Sweet Talk — Julie Garwood
54. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin — Louis de Bernieres
55. Tolstoy and the Purple Chair — Nina Sankovitch

Caught up in grief after the death of her sister, Nina Sankovitch decided to stop running and start reading. For once in her life she would put all other obligations on hold and devote herself to reading a book a day: one year of magical reading in which she found joy, healing, and wisdom.

Wit grace and deep insight, Sankovitch weaves together poignant family memories with the unforgettable lives of the characters she reads about. She finds a lesson in each book, ultimately realizing the ability of a good story to console, inspire, and open our lives to new places and experiences. A moving story of recovery, Tolstoy and the Purple Chair is also a resonant reminder of the all-encompassing power and delight of reading.

Firstly, I feel the need to address the cover of this book: when I was in Chapters a couple of weeks ago I wandered by a display that held this book, and the gorgeous design (and vibrant purple colour) just jumped out at me. I was immediately in love. What a stunning cover.

Onto the book. Since Nina Sankovitch read one book a day, I thought it only made sense to read Tolstoy and the Purple Chair in the same time frame. Even if I hadn’t set myself to a deadline, I wouldn’t have put it down. This book has been one of the year’s stand-out novels for me. (I’m really like the boy who cried wolf, except that this time I really mean it.)

There’s so much to love about Tolstoy and the Purple Chair. Above all it spoke to me as a fellow book lover, and proved what I’ve always believed about literature: that it has the power to change your life, always for the better, regardless of the genre. There’s something to learn from every story, which Sankovitch cleverly showed. Each of the 21 chapters highlighted a lesson to take from literature and apply to real life, in times of grief or not.

On the topic of books (well, when are we not on the topic of books?), I have to say I admired the concise reviews and summaries embedded into Tolstoy and the Purple Chair. Sankovitch made every book that she mentioned sound appealing enough to read. I just added something like 300 titles to my never-ending “to read” list. And I was always a little bit giddy when I found a book mentioned that I had also read and loved.

Aside from that, Tolstoy and the Purple Chair was a moving story of a sister’s love, and the power of memories and literature. I couldn’t put it down, and I suggest you all pick it up. Immediately.

Next book: either Angels Flight by Michael Connelly, or Close Your Eyes by Amanda Eyre Ward

– Kelsey


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