Saturday, March 14, 2015

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair, My year of Magical Reading by Tina Sankovitch was one of those memorable reads, inspiring, motivating, heart breaking and life affirming. The unusual title first caught my attention, but once I started reading, I couldn't stop.

After the death of her older sister, she (I am not being disrespectful or too familiar, but it is easier to use a first name then the last or full name), she tries to run from her sadness, both literally and by filling her life so full, she could barely think. 

When the running didn’t help, she decided to read a book a day for a year, since a love of reading was something she shared with her sister.

For 365 days, she read, often until late at night. Often sitting in her comfortable old purple chair. All the books she read from 10/28/2008 to 10/28/2009 are listed at the end of the book. She also decided to review the books online and found  a new satisfaction in books by talking about them on her blog. She’s written 1001 book reviews.

Reading how much she enjoyed discussing these books with others, inspired me to include more book reviews or discussions in my blog. I don’t have a sister, but I am lucky to have a good friend who loves reading as much as I do and we recommend books to each other. Also, this sharing is a large part of the popularity of book clubs.

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair starts with a quote from Thomas A. Kempis, “Everywhere I have sought rest and not found it, except sitting in a corner by myself with a little book.”

Sankovitch feels she has to forgive herself for living while her sister was dead. I could understand with that since I lost my oldest brother years ago, but still weep for him, want to talk with him again.  Is guilt for not being there near the end of his life part of my unwillingness to let go of my grief? I was interested to see if the books she read helped her.

“Books were my time machine, my vehicles of recovery and reignited bliss from childhood and beyond,” she wrote. She felt connections to others reading the same book in different places and times.

Reading in my beige chair
During the year after my mother died, I read 146 books. I found them to be more therapeutic than watching mindless shows on television. Sometimes we just need to escape and there is always time for reading.

As Sankovitch wrote, “My year of magical reading was proving to be a fitting ending to my overwhelming sorrow and a solid beginning to the rest of my life.”

She found something meaningful in every book she read, both fiction and non-fiction. In mysteries, the sense of satisfaction is huge when a solution is found. We want our world to have order and mysteries often provide this. However, sometimes it is important to accept that there may be no real solution.

Some books we breeze through, but others have us searching for more. Sankovitch quoted author Elizabeth Maguire -  “Have you ever been heartbroken to finish a book? Has a writer kept whispering in your ear long after the last page is turned?” Yes. Some books we can't forget.

I enjoyed reading this book and loved the ending, “So many books waiting to be read, so much happiness to be found, so much wonder to be revealed.”

She had a new book published by Simon & Schuster in 2014, Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Celebrating the Joys of Letterwriting. I think I’ll read that one soon. I have so many books on my “to read" list, but I still would welcome hearing about books that you enjoyed.

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