Lynne Sharon Schwartz

Ruined by Reading

"Lynne Sharon Schwartz has caught the essential privacy of the reading act, how over a lifetime it shapes the soul into contrarian particularity. No true reader will be able to resist these fond relections."
--Sven Birkerts

"Here's the story, by a fine novelist, of her happy addiction to books.... Ruined by Reading is...by a gifted, ferociously intelligent novelist.... In her essay, which is a love letter to books she read and reads and to the act of reading itself, Schwartz obeys the law of gravity but also manages to float free of the Earth at times, and almost to fly. For while she speaks here of intellectual obligations and serious encounters, she also writes about fun -- about what has set her free."
--Frederick Busch, Los Angeles Times

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Starting with her introduction to reading at three and a half, Lynne Sharon Schwartz wanders through her "life in books," from her early enchantment with Poe's "Annabel Lee," to Heidi, to A Little Princess, to her distraction by the 1986 New York Mets, to ther reluctance to see movies made of favorite books. This original memoir, told with both irony and tenderness, charts the shaping of a life and an identity.

"If we make books happen," Schwartz writes, "they make us happen as well. Reading teaches receptivity, Keats's negative capability. It teaches us to receive, in stillness and attentiveness, a voice possessed temporarily, on loan.... So much of a child's life is lived for others. We learn what they want us to learn, and show our learning for their gratification. All the reading I did as a child, behind closed doors, sitting on the bed while the darkness fell around me, was an act of reclamation. This and only this I did for myself. This was the way to make my life my own."

* * * *


"I was at home in this book as if I was, in fact, at home in one of our old big chairs, reading myself into life."
--Grace Paley

Selected Works

Poetry
A second collection that goes beyond the first in its range of emotion, form, and content. Critics call See You in the Dark "a delightful repository of sly and wise poems."
Memoir
Part memoir, part exploration of the idea of travel, this peripatetic book asks what travelers are seeking, what they are fleeing, and what they find. A contrarian view, both serious and whimsical.
A memoir that explores what the habit of reading means and how it can shape a life.
Anthology
Selection of interviews with and essays on the late writer, W.G. Sebald
Novel
A precocious adolescent finds unusual ways to escape Brooklyn conformity and explore the wider world.
A rich tapestry of tragic loss and the complicated struggle to find a path through darkness.
"The first fiction to weave the shock of 9/11 into ordinary lives... Worth a thousand pictures."
--Dan Wakefield
"Schwartz takes deadly aim at contemporary mores in this hilarious comedy of manners." Chicago Tribune
Short stories
"No one reads us better than Lynne Sharon Schwartz. Her precise, unflinching stories discover meaning in our pain." Frederick Busch
Children's book
This classic children's book retells the Passover story. With beautiful original paintings by Ori Sherman.

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