by Nina Sankovitch
Description (from amazon):
Catalyzed by the loss of her sister, a mother of four spends one year savoring a great book every day, from Thomas Pynchon to Nora Ephron and beyond. In the tradition of Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project and Joan Dideon’s A Year of Magical Thinking, Nina Sankovitch’s soul-baring and literary-minded memoir is a chronicle of loss, hope, and redemption. Nina ultimately turns to reading as therapy and through her journey illuminates the power of books to help us reclaim our lives.
This was a good book. Not drop-what-you're-doing-and-go-get-a-copy good, but a solid read. It was also a bit of a downer. I was expecting something along the lines of The End of You Life Book Club (my review), but this was much sadder - a memoir of loss and grief, rather than reading.
[reading books] ... was not a way to rid myself of sorrow but a way to absorb it. Through memory. While memory cannot take sorrow away or bring back the dead, remembering ensures that we always have the past with us, the bad moments but also the very, very good moments of laughter shared and meals eaten and books discussed... Remembrance is acknowledging that a life was lived.
Words create the stories that become history and become unforgettable. Every fiction portrays truth: good fiction is truth. Stories about lives remembered bring us backward while allowing us to move forward. (28%)Sankovitch read a book a day for one year. More than a year had passed since the death of her sister and she desperately needed to come to terms with the loss and get her life back on track. Reading provided the means.
Sankovitch read globally - a wide variety of books, many in translation, many unfamiliar to me. General thoughts about books are interspersed with memories of her sister. But this memoir is not about the books, as I was expecting. It's not a reading journal. In fact, not all of the books she read are even mentioned. (A complete list is provided at the end.) This is a memoir of grief, her sister, and family stories, with the books serving as a vehicle for recall.
I suspect I would have enjoyed her blog during the year she was reading a book a day but, despite some memorable quotes, the overall sadness makes me hesitant to recommend this book to a friend.
Bottom line: Proceed with caution - too much sadness and not enough books.