The Uncommon Reader by Alan BennettThe Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

The Uncommon Reader

byAlan Bennett

Mass Market Paperback | September 30, 2008

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The Uncommon Reader is none other than HM the Queen who drifts accidentally into reading when her corgis stray into a mobile library parked at Buckingham Palace. She reads widely (JR Ackerley, Jean Genet, Ivy Compton Burnett and the classics) and intelligently. Her reading naturally changes her world view and her relationship with people like the oleaginous prime minister and his repellent advisers. She comes to question the prescribed order of the world and loses patience with much that she has to do. In short, her reading is subversive. The consequence is, of course, surprising, mildly shocking and very funny.
Alan Bennett has been one of our leading dramatists since the success of Beyond the Fringe in the 1960s. His television series Talking Heads has become a modern-day classic, as have many of his works for stage including Forty Years On, The Lady in the Van, A Question of Attribution, The Madness of George III (together with the Oscar-no...
Title:The Uncommon ReaderFormat:Mass Market PaperbackDimensions:128 pages, 6.97 × 4.42 × 0.39 inPublished:September 30, 2008Publisher:Faber & Faber AgencyLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1846681332

ISBN - 13:9781846681332

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from A great book about reading! While the subject matter could be written with a preachy undertone, it is a perfect tale told unabashedly and with humor. The Queen coming across a mobile library, checks a book out, and then finds that reading is so all consuming she starts to subtly neglect her duties. She goes from reading whatever she likes, to challenging herself with more and more literary fare, she realizes she wants to write a book. And where that will lead her makes for a very surprising and delightful ending. This small book is one of the best novels I have read. Proof that small is just as worthy as more common sizes... -
Date published: 2014-04-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Introspective & thought provoking! Loved this book! Originally purchased it for my Dad when he was bed ridden and after many months have finally read for myself. If it weren't for need of sleep would not have stopped halfway through. Great read, insightful, thought provoking, and makes one reflect on ones' own life and the rules we live by....self imposed or self perceived. Oprah needs to read this one :)
Date published: 2013-09-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Her Majesty, a reader. Imagine if the Queen had only discovered reading later in life? That's the premise of Alan Bennett's lovely novella, The Uncommon Reader. While taking her corgis for a walk, the Queen happens upon a mobile library parked near Buckingham Palace. Intrigued, she boards the bus and meets Mr. Hutchings, the library's driver and Norman, a young man who works in her kitchen. She feels duty-bound to select a book, but when asked what kind of book she likes her response is, essentially, that she doesn't know. "She'd never taken much interest in reading. She read, of course, as one did, but liking books was something she left to other people. It was a hobby and it was in the nature of her job that she didn't have hobbies." The Queen casts about, looking for something to borrow and discovers a name she recognizes. "Ivy Compton-Burnett! I can read that.' She took the book out and gave it to Mr. Hutchings to stamp. "What a treat!" she hugged it unconvincingly before opening it. "Oh. The last time it was taken out was 1989." "She's not a popular author, ma'am." "Why, I wonder? I made her a dame." The Uncommon Reader is full of laugh out loud moments like this one and is, in fact, an utterly charming book. The Queen, despite a rather rocky beginning, turns into a voracious reader. She promotes Norman from the kitchen to a new position, a sort of personal assistant, and that causes all sorts of problems with other staff members. For a while nothing comes between the Queen and her books. Like all devoted readers, she's never without one and dinner party conversations invariably turn to the topic of what people are reading. Instead of being told about the books of authors she meets, the Queen now wants to read their work. "But ma'am must have been briefed, surely?" "Of course, " said the Queen, "but briefing is not reading. In fact it is the antithesis of reading. Briefing is terse, factual and to the point. Reading is untidy, discursive and perpetually inviting. Briefing closes down a subject, reading opens it up." The Uncommon Reader is a love letter to reading. "Books are not about passing the time," she admonishes Sir Kevin. "They're about other lives. Other worlds." The Queen proves to be, at the end of the day, just like the rest of us who couldn't imagine a life without books.
Date published: 2012-08-10
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Disappointed After some online research looking for a funny book, I was directed towards Alan Bennett's 'The Uncommon Reader'. I had read multiple reviews stating that this book was light and comical. Light it was - not much of a plot, minimal character development. Comical it was not - I didn't laugh once. The story follows an eccentric older lady (The Queen) and how she discovers reading. Throughout the story I didn't get any sense that the primary character was the actual Queen, as there were no strong descriptive traits to make the reader believe it is Her Majesty. Secondly, the use of the Queen as the primary character opened up opportunity for the author to use irony in generating comical material. Unfortunately, the anticipated irony was missing. Overall, this Alan Bennett novella was not "A masterpiece of comic brevity" (Observer) nor was it "A gloriously entertaining comic narrative" (Edward Marriot, Observer). It was a rather dull and boring short novel.
Date published: 2010-02-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Read any good books lately, Your Majesty? It's hard to imagine someone who wouldn't like the novella The Uncommon Reader. It's a short, enthralling read about a little old lady in the UK who rediscovers the joy of reading and how her new hobby transforms her life. She becomes an eclectic reader devouring mystery novels, literary classics, biographies and philosophy. What makes this book so much fun is that the little old lady is Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II. It’s surprising how much humour there is in such a simple story. HRH literally stumbles into reading when her corgis make a fuss about a book mobile parked by the Palace. What begins as a minor distraction quickly starts to distract the Venerable Monarch from her firmly entrenched royal routine. The reaction from family, household staff and even the government is filled with wit and flummery. Some in her circle are committed creatures of habit barely able to handle even a slight change of pace. The Queen wandering around constantly with a book in her hand is too much for them. Others feel that reading itself is inappropriate. In a priceless exchange the Queen’s private secretary advises that reading is exclusionary: “One would feel easier about it, if the pursuit itself were less selfish.” On one hand Alan Bennett has created a clever little insider’s tale about the Royals. At the same time, The Uncommon Reader is a wonderful parable about the value of literature, and its ability to transform people, perceptions and the world itself.
Date published: 2009-10-02
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Cute This is a cute little book and not a big investment in time. It's about what happens when the Queen of England suddenly develops a voracious appetite for reading. It is not well received by her staff, who go out of their way to discourage it. The book had alot of Britishisms, if that's a word, and dry humour, and her love of reading ended as quickly as it had begun, but did not leave her unchanged. She decides to turn to writing instead. I could relate to that , as I find I have a love for both reading and writing, for different reasons. I also think that avid readers make the best writers.
Date published: 2009-08-07