Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Uncommon Reader: A Novella by Alan Bennett

Book Description:
A deliciously funny novella that celebrates the pleasure of reading. When the Queen in pursuit of her wandering corgis stumbles upon a mobile library she feels duty bound to borrow a book. Aided by Norman, a young man from the palace kitchen who frequents the library, Bennett describes the Queen’s transformation as she discovers the liberating pleasures of the written word. With the poignant and mischievous wit of The History Boys, England’s best loved author revels in the power of literature to change even the most uncommon reader’s life.

This was a fun read, a tiny little book, only 120 pages long, it was easy to read, and the subject matter was delightful! Even though I'm obviously not the Queen of England, I could totally relate to her becoming an avid reader, especially since I've been going through this same thing for the past 2 years myself!

We follow the Queen along as she discovers new authors, old authors, classics and new books. She realizes she'd rather be reading a book than anything else. She learns how convenient paperbacks are for fitting into handbags, she learns that one doesn't mind traveling to and fro as long as one has a book. One doesn't even mind waiting - as long as one has a book! Oh the delights of having a good book. She starts off with easy reading material and then as she becomes more and more of a reader she effortlessly makes her way up to Proust. As she says herself in so many words, reading is like a muscle. The more you do it, the more good you get at it - and the easier those hard to read books suddenly become!

Not only does the Queen's reading enhance her own understanding of life but she takes on a new awareness of those around her. Whereas she never used to notice the small things in those around her, now she does. She's become more human due to reading - or maybe more humanistic. Unfortunately, her staff does not feel the same way and they don't like the way it has changed her. She's putting on a "poor show' for the people. She's not as eager to "perform" her duties, more like just going through the motions because - she wants to get back to her book! Oh, do I know that feeling!

I enjoyed this little book very much and the surprise ending! Such an amusing little tale, and I must admit, seeing the movie "The Queen" only made me appreciate it even more. Give it a try, if you are a reader, you'll love this book!


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