A Book a Day for 365 Days
Last Oct. 28, on her 46th birthday, Nina Sankovitch read a novel, “The Elegance of the Hedgehog,” by Muriel Barbery. The next day she posted a review online deeming it “beautiful, moving and occasionally very funny.”The next day she read “The Emigrants,” by W. G. Sebald, and the day after that, “A Sun for the Dying,” by Jean-Claude Izzo. On Thanksgiving she read Peter Ackroyd’s biography of Isaac Newton; on Christmas, “The Love Song of Monkey,” by Michael S. A. Graziano; on July 4, “Dreamers,” by Knut Hamsun. When seen Friday, she was working on “How to Paint a Dead Man,” by Sarah Hall. She finished two more over the weekend during a trip to Rochester with her family (husband; 27-year-old stepdaughter; four boys ages 16, 14, 11 and 8) for her in-laws’ 60th wedding anniversary.
But perhaps what stands out most is that, at a time when reading books can feel like a pre-Internet anachronism, she did it mostly because, well, she wanted to. “This is not someone trying to run an ultra-marathon,” said her husband, Jack Menz, a lawyer, whose first thought about her plan was, “How about a book a week?” He added, “It’s someone getting to do what she really enjoys.”All the books are ones she has not read. She reads only one book per author. She reads one day and posts the review the next morning.But mostly she makes it up as she goes along. By necessity she mostly sticks to books 250 to 300 pages or fewer — Thomas Pynchon’s paranoid primer “The Crying of Lot 49,” for example, rather than the weightier, in all ways, “Gravity’s Rainbow.” But on March 1, she made it through all 560 pages of “Revelation,” by C. J. Sansom, a murder mystery set in Tudor England.Aside from the pleasure of it, Ms. Sankovitch had other goals — inspiring a love of books in others and finding her way through a period of sorrow and soul-searching brought on by the death of her sister Anne-Marie in 2005.
“I’ve always thought great literature is all one needs to read to understand human psychology, emotions, even history,” she said. “For someone sitting around reading books, it’s been a really lively year.”