Tolstoy and the Purple Chair

Thoughts tatpcbyns Tolstoy and the Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch, Harper Perennial 2012 (orig 2011), 240 pages TB

Loaned to me by Holly.

This memoir explores one woman’s challenge to herself to read a book a day in order to slow herself down enough to experience the grief of losing her oldest sister to cancer. It is full of quotes and insights and personal sharings. All kinds of goodness and touching moments that usually provoke me to tears. And it did; I had moist eyes a few times.

I cannot think of anything bad to say about this book; it was fine. She writes beautifully, I agreed with most everything she shared, the book delivers what it says it will. But it didn’t quite stir my soul to sing to the high heavens as I was expecting. I mean, come on! It’s a book about books and reading!

I did add a few more books to my tbr:

In the Land of the Living by Austin Ratner

Man in the Dark by Paul Auster

Death with Interruptions by Jose Saramago

Edith Wharton’s The Touchstone

The Quincunx by Charles Palliser

Alice Hoffman’s The Third Angel

The Open Door by Elizabeth Macguire (and also anything by Constance Fenimore Woolson)

and The Assault by Harry Mulisch

Why these were the only books that I tagged, I really am not sure. She does mention books from the year but also books from her childhood and other influential writing she shared with her sister.

I really enjoyed her chapter on the vulnerability of loaning AND accepting books from friends. I’m curious about her next book:  Signed, Sealed, Delivered expected in April of 2014. Not too surprising, since I love writing letters.

HIdeinWhitetoSkipLine

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20 Responses to “Tolstoy and the Purple Chair”


  1. 1 Heather August 26, 2013 at 6:58 am

    I own this, but haven’t read it yet. As for the books you wrote down, I read and enjoyed the Ratner, the Saramago (really cool concept and story), and the Hoffman.

  2. 3 lakesidemusing August 26, 2013 at 9:33 am

    Seems like I always enjoy books about books and reading… will add this to my list. Thanks!

  3. 5 Lisa August 26, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    “Fine” pretty much summed it up for me. I’ve been on the fence about this one. It sounds like it’s worth reading but not to going in expecting too much.

  4. 7 Laurie C August 26, 2013 at 6:12 pm

    If you haven’t read An Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett for a wonderful book about reading, I will make myself vulnerable here by recommending it! It’s very short, a novella, really, so it’s a quick read but I really loved it. (P.S. I loved your tag: “I wanted more Tolstoy and less chair”.)

  5. 10 Jennifer @ The Relentless Reader August 27, 2013 at 10:56 am

    I wanted more Tolstoy and less chair from this one as well. It just didn’t speak to me as much as I thought it would.

  6. 12 stacybuckeye August 28, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    I think I might have to try this one and her next one!

  7. 14 Bookfool, aka Nancy August 29, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    I got a copy of this when Borders was shutting down. Still haven’t read it. Sounds like one to save for when I just want to read a book about reading but I will keep my expectations low. I boggle at the concept of reading a book a day. I’m far too slow a reader to accomplish that and I get distracted by other things that need to be done.

    Interesting, though, to note that I did bury myself in books, for a time, when I was grieving my mother. While I was staying in her house, working on throwing-out and packing-up, I read from her shelves. She had an entire collection that I called the “books of angst”. Poor thing, my mother had a terrible childhood and acted very much like a Holocaust victim – so traumatized that she wouldn’t talk about anything that happened before she met my father, not even on her death bed. Anyway, I can relate to the concept of reading to distract yourself from grief. I’m glad I read your review so I’m forewarned that it’s not an exceptional read.

  8. 15 Belle Wong September 2, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    I’ll definitely keep Signed, Sealed, Delivered on my radar!

  9. 17 Melissa September 3, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    I am a sucker for books about books, so this one is definitely on my TBR shelf.

  10. 19 Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) September 8, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    Ooo, I didn’t know she had a new book coming out next year. I will be looking for that one — I liked this book a lot.

  11. 20 bybeebooks September 9, 2013 at 8:52 am

    I’ve also been on the fence about this one. I remember when she was keeping a blog — don’t know if she still does.


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