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BOOK, LINE & THINKER: Review of Ruined By Reading

Updated on December 8, 2012



By: Lynne Sharon Schwartz

Published By: Beacon, 1996

Like the bodies of dancers or athletes, the minds of readers are genuinely happy and self-possessed only when cavorting around, doing their stretches and leaps and jumps to the tune of words.” –Lynne Schwartz, pg. 3

“I started - my reading, that is – innocently enough, and then it infiltrated. It didn’t replace living; it infused it, till the two became inextricable, like molecules of hydrogen and oxygen in a bead of water. To part them could take violent and possibly lethal means, a spiritual electrolysis.” – pg. 24

Hi. My name is Sarah. I am addicted to reading. (Hello, Sarah…”)

IF there were an AA for readers, or book addicts, or whatever we are…this would be required reading! (Oh the irony). Do I have to state the obvious here? The title ensnared me because I, too, often feel as though I have been ruined by my habit of reading. Long before I cracked the spine of this slender tome, I have suffered my own challenges because I choose to exist with a literary mind. Lynne did not disappoint!

Lynne began her life with books at the tender age of three. As the years washed over her childhood, she racked up an impressive catalog of books. Lynne dives deep, deep down into the nuances and subtleties of why and how these books formed her, changed her, instilled within her strong personal convictions – both fantasy and fact – about the world. While I read about how her personality and her spirit and her books melded continuously into one literary being, I recounted my own life in books. To this day I am permanently molded by the words of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, Arnold Lobel, Tasha Tudor and so many more.

But you cannot see or touch a voice. That is what makes it mysterious and subtle and endlessly alluring. And without the voices of my youth, my ghostly familiars, how could I have become myself?” – pg. 17

All bases are covered in this book – including the frustrations. How often do we read a formula book only to be disappointed by the formula? How often do we refuse the movie version because the movie in our mind compares to none? How many times do we over articulate anything or everything because we always seem to feel – in the back of our hearts – like we are in a book or that we should be “in the book”. Archetypal patterns flow into everyday life and every situation becomes worthy or unworthy of literary consideration. Buy a book for its cover, its review, its author, its title; you risk it all…and you do it again and again just to find that precious jewel in the desert. Lynne, like myself, will read anything – she shows no prejudice to genre, as so many (who know themselves better than I) can. She, like me, is driven to continue in her eternal quest for knowledge, adventure, enlightenment and even fun.

Bookshelves still tease and tantalize, but like a woman with a divining rod, I know where the water will be.” – Lynne Schwartz, pg. 6

This book is for readers who are addicted to the tome. My life in chapters, my children as the subjects of a romping plot, I recognize my own addiction (and what a marvelous addiction!) in every page of Ms. Schwartz’ little red book. She offers no cure – why would she? She offers, instead, confirmation that I am not alone. Like the stolid notion of a man’s man, this is a book’s book. You’ll find no story here, except your own. While some may find her pontification on poetry tedious, or her news on novellas entailed, I reveled in her honest approach, baring her literary soul.

There were some books I wanted to possess even more intimately than by reading. I would clutch them to my heart and long to break through the chest wall, making them part of me, or else press them into my body, to burrow between the pages.” – pg. 67

If the written page has become infused into your life – and typeface is your blood – perhaps this book will validate you (as if you needed such validation). Like so many complicated relationships – a tapestry woven with so many metallic threads – books are an integral part of the fabric of my whole existence – my being. I get it – this book – and I simply feel better knowing I am not alone in my enthusiasm.


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