Three years after her sister Anne-Marie died, Nina Sankovitch was living a helter-skelter life, making a mad dash away from the grief and pain, unable to accept her loss. She knew she needed to ditch the hectic schedule, hold still, reflect, and make some sense of her feelings. A year of reading and reviewing one book every day was the method she chose to give herself that healing time and "escape back into life." In Tolstoy and the Purple Chair, she shares her experiences while living that year, the memories it sparked, and how it allowed her to accept the unfairness of her sister's death and feel whole again. If you believe in books as therapy, or you're working through grief of your own, or you just want to breathe new life into your reading program, this could be a book for you. It doesn't fit neatly into any category. It's a grief journal and a family history, built around observations on a year of maniacal reading while maintaining a household with a husband and four young sons.The narrative doesn't always follow a logical progression, and the structure can be confusing, but once I adjusted to that looser style, I enjoyed all the anecdotes. There are moments of sweetness and humor that will make you wish for a big sister like Anne-Marie. There are fascinating and sad stories about their Belarusian father and Belgian mother. And there are the universally recognized book-lover bonding stories, such as the book she stole from the library (and still has); or the friendship that ended because she badmouthed someone's favorite book.This is a difficult book to rate and review because it describes such a personal journey. She has lost a sister. I have not. She is an overachiever, whereas I am a sloth. If I thought I had to read and review a book every day, it would feel like a ball and chain. For her, it was a healing path. Her reading tastes are very different from mine, and I didn't buy a lot of her conclusions. But when I visited her blog and saw her review of The Tomb in Seville by Norman Lewis, I felt an instant connection. I thought I was the only person in the whole country who cared about that book. I wanted to call her up right away and ask if she'd also read Naples '44, and what did she think of it? And THAT, for me, is what Tolstoy and the Purple Chair is really all about. Books are a bridge and an anchor. They can bring us new friends with whom we may have nothing else in common, and they can give us a lasting connection with those we have loved most deeply, whether they are still living or not. Sail on, sweet Anne-Marie. Your little sister has done you proud.