The Uncommon Reader

The Uncommon Reader, by Alan Bennett

Queen Elizabeth II has never been all that much of a reader; reading, after all,
was a hobby and it was in the nature of her job that she didn't have hobbies.  Jogging, growing roses, chess or rock climbing, cake decoration, model aeroplanes.  No. Hobbies involved preferences and preferences had to be avoided; preferences excluded people.  One had no preferences.  Her job was to take an interest, not to be interested herself.
But one day, chasing the corgis, she runs into a mobile library and feels that she ought to check a book out, to be polite.  One book leads to another, and soon books are more alluring than royal duties--to the exasperation of prime ministers, equerries, and other palace personnel.

This was a fun little novella.  Alan Bennett draws a fictional and fanciful portrait of the queen, but uses that to explore how literature connects us to others.  In his story, the Queen is kind of the ultimate disconnected person--so wrapped around with duty and so distant from everyone else that books, once discovered, have a drastic effect on her personality. 


  1. This looks fun! I sometimes cringe when authors use real (and beloved) characters, but if it's done well, it can be a delightful read. I have 10 days off after Christmas so this may be the perfect book to choose for a day when I want to curl up with a hot cup of tea and silence. :-)


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