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The Uncommon Reader
The Uncommon Reader
Author: Alan Bennett
From the author of The History Boys and The Clothes They Stood Up In, 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...  more »
ISBN-13: 9780374280963
ISBN-10: 0374280967
Publication Date: 9/18/2007
Pages: 128
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.

3.8 stars, based on 47 ratings
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Book Type: Hardcover
Other Versions: Paperback, Audio CD
Members Wishing: 4
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed The Uncommon Reader on + 1781 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
First Line: At Windsor it was the evening of the state banquet and as the president of France took his place beside Her Majesty, the royal family formed up behind and the procession slowly moved off and through into the Waterloo Chamber.

This little 121-page novella is a comic jewel in which Alan Bennett speculates what might happen if a very well-known person were to read a book...and actually enjoy the experience.

If Queen Elizabeth II hadn't chased her Corgis 'round the back of Windsor Castle and stumbled across the bookmobile parked outside the kitchens, none of this would've happened. But the Corgis did, and she did, and the Queen checked out a book-- just to be polite. Who'da thunk she'd actually read it and go back for another?

"Books did not defer. All readers were equal, and this took her back to the beginning of her life. As a girl, one of her greatest thrills had been on VE night, when she and her sister had slipped out of the gates and mingled unrecognized with the crowds. There was something of that, she felt, to reading. It was anonymous; it was shared; it was common. And she who had led a life apart now found that she craved it. Here in these pages and between these covers she could go unrecognized."

Turning such a world figure into a reading fiend is a stroke of comic genius as the reader rides along in the state carriage while Her Majesty learns how to wave and read at the same time or watches the servants learn to cope with a formerly punctual monarch who now wants to wait until she's finished the chapter she's reading.

The Uncommon Reader isn't all fun and games. On a deeper level, Bennett shows how the world opens up to anyone who chooses to read for both enlightenment and enjoyment. Whether we realize it or not, reading transforms us.

Read it for the humor. Read it because you're a fan of the royals. Read it because of the truths it contains. For whatever the reason... it!
reviewed The Uncommon Reader on + 4 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
This is a delightful satire; in turns funny, sad, and touching. Queen Elizabeth accidentally becomes a devoted reader and her interest in books leads her to become more interested in people, more compassionate, more human; all to the distress of her advisors and court.
reviewed The Uncommon Reader on + 92 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
A fun little romp.
reviewed The Uncommon Reader on + 52 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I wasn't impressed with this novella. The Queen of England, a few years shy of 80, stumbles into mobile library while walking her dogs and checks out a book out of politeness. She then discovers that she enjoys reading. A lot. Nobody else reads as much as she does and everyone thinks her reading is a bad idea. They try to discourage her from reading but can't stop her because she is, after all, the Queen. That's pretty much it. The story isn't fleshed out much from there. Cute idea, I guess, and it's kind fun to think of the Queen as being one of us readaholics, but all in all not very interesting.
reviewed The Uncommon Reader on + 146 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Charming book about the power of reading as well as an engaging portrait of a monarch.
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reviewed The Uncommon Reader on + 39 more book reviews
A delightful little novella, full of delight and humor (some of it distinctly British). With Queen Elizabeth taking the central character one feels almost voyeuristic glimpsing behind the royal curtain. Wish the story were true!

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Queen Elizabeth (Primary Character)