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The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
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The Uncommon Reader (original 2006; edition 2007)

by Alan Bennett

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3,9104651,314 (3.94)617
Member:overthemoon
Title:The Uncommon Reader
Authors:Alan Bennett
Info:Profile (2007), Hardcover, 124 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:None

Work details

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett (2006)

2008 (61) 2009 (32) 21st century (39) books (134) books about books (147) British (100) British literature (35) Elizabeth II (116) England (187) English (40) English literature (44) fiction (699) Great Britain (47) humor (277) libraries (30) library (37) literature (81) monarchy (34) novel (71) novella (128) queen (72) Queen Elizabeth (39) read (86) read in 2008 (46) read in 2009 (38) reading (221) royalty (106) satire (41) to-read (71) UK (49)
  1. 90
    84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff (teelgee)
  2. 50
    Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman (fannyprice, _Zoe_)
  3. 31
    The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Going in to the bookmobile to apologize for the disturbance created by one of her corgis, Queen Elizabeth II feels it would only be polite to check out a book. When she returns it, she checks out another . . . and then another. One of her pages becomes her abettor in the matter of securing books and reading them. Thus begins an amusing but also thought-provoking saga of how reading can change a person's habits and even outlook.… (more)
  4. 20
    Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson (wisemetis)
  5. 20
    Letters to Alice on First Reading Jane Austen by Fay Weldon (smallbrownbushbird)
  6. 10
    Mrs. Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn (chazzard)
  7. 10
    Talking Heads by Alan Bennett (akfarrar)
    akfarrar: Both these books explore the byways of characters whilst remaining unsentimental. They both expose weaknesses in modern British society if not in humanity. There is a wit in both and a degree of black humour.
  8. 10
    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (raulvilar)
  9. 00
    La tête en friche by Marie-Sabine Roger (albavirtual)
  10. 00
    Mist by Miguel de Unamuno (albavirtual)
    albavirtual: También sobre libros y lecturas, pero sobre todo sobre el juego de la creación literaria, y sobre como los personajes de una novela quieren influir sobre el creador de la misma ¡¡¡¡¡¡
  11. 00
    The Clothes They Stood Up In by Alan Bennett (jannis)
  12. 00
    The Last Reader by David Toscana (Cecilturtle)
  13. 00
    The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald (suzanney)
  14. 02
    The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana by Umberto Eco (Alixtii)
    Alixtii: Both books having writers getting meta about the nature of writing and reading as a protagonist goes through a process of reading very (and I mean very) many books. Both are written with wit and insight, although Eco's book is better.
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» See also 617 mentions

English (416)  Spanish (11)  Italian (9)  German (8)  Dutch (8)  French (5)  Danish (5)  Catalan (4)  Swedish (2)  Thingamabraian (the ideal language) (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (470)
Showing 1-5 of 416 (next | show all)
I really loved this, not just a sweet little story about what would happen if Queen Elizabeh became a voracious reader but also an interesting meditation on what it means to read and be intellecttually challenged by reading and what that might mean for all of your life. Really fun and quietly thoughtful.
  amyem58 | Jul 16, 2014 |
The “uncommon reader” of the title is none other than Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen discovers the joy of reading for pleasure when she stumbles upon a bookmobile on its weekly visit to the palace. Guided by Norman, a lowly member of the palace staff, the Queen sets off on a course of reading that changes her life. It isn't long before members of the household notice that she isn't as punctual as she used to be, and she carries a book with her everywhere. The change in the Queen's behavior is unsettling to the palace staff, and even threatening to some. Who knows what might result from the Queen's new interest in books?

This entertaining novella uses an extreme example to illustrate the value of literature in broadening one's view of the world and in reflecting on one's place in it. Avid readers may recognize themselves in some of the Queen's behaviors. I think this would be a fun book to read with a book club. Members could come up with their own lists of books and authors for the Queen to read. I wonder if she's read this one?! ( )
  cbl_tn | Jul 4, 2014 |
Reading this again, still fun and very tongue in cheek. The Queen becomes a reader and a writer, with interesting effect upon her courtiers and a final surprising result! No spoilers!

Read this one for the July Category Randomcat Challenge. ( )
  LadyoftheLodge | Jun 19, 2014 |
I found this novella charming and humorous. It was a quick and easy read which has a lot more to it than first appears. The more I think about this book, the more it seems to say - about the nature of reading, the effects books have on people, and on government & democracy. ( )
1 vote leslie.98 | Jun 16, 2014 |
The Uncommon Reader is a charming novella written with wit and humour where the author has imagined what would happen if the Queen developed a serious addiction to reading. When she accidently discovers the mobile library van outside the palace she recruits kitchen skivvy and avid reader Norman to assist her in procuring books. Her staff and the prime minister become alarmed when she starts to read at every opportunity and even prefers sitting inside reading to shooting deer at Balmoral. Then she really starts to alarm and upset them when she starts to ask people at palace functions what they've read lately and wants to discuss Proust with dinner guests. A really amusing story about the power of reading - I'm sure the Queen enjoyed it. ( )
  cscott | May 27, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 416 (next | show all)
Bennett manages to touch on some pointed issues in this little volume: life experience versus book experience; the pleasure of reading versus the sterility of being briefed; the riddle of what is "natural" behavior when a person lives so much in the public eye. And he makes you whoop with laughter while he's at it.
 
In recounting this story of a ruler who becomes a reader, a monarch who’d rather write than reign, Mr. Bennett has written a captivating fairy tale. It’s a tale that’s as charming as the old Gregory Peck-Audrey Hepburn movie “Roman Holiday,” and as keenly observed as Stephen Frears’s award-winning movie “The Queen” — a tale that showcases its author’s customary élan and keen but humane wit.
 
The Uncommon Reader is a political and literary satire. But it's also a lovely lesson in the redemptive and subversive power of reading and how one book can lead to another and another and another.
 
This time, his odd, isolated heroine is the queen of England. The story of her budding love affair with literature blends the comic and the poignant so smoothly it can only be by Bennett. It’s not his very best work, but it distills his virtues well enough to suggest how such a distinctive style might have arisen.
 
The Uncommon Reader has the tone and morally elevating intentions of a children's book. Yet this charming fairy tale is laced with plenty of drollery for readers of more than four feet high.
 

» Add other authors (27 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bennett, Alanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Boda, SofiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heikki SalojärviTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Herzke, IngoÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pavani, MonicaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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.
Quotations
Reading is untidy, discursive and perpetually inviting.
Had she been asked if reading had enriched her life she would have had to say yes, undoubtedly, though adding with equal certainty that it had at the same time drained her life of all purpose.
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. Jogging, growing roses, chess or rock climbing, cake decoration, model aeroplanes. No. Hobbies involved preferences and preferences had to be avoided; preferences excluded people.
The appeal of reading, she thought, lay in its indifference: there was something undeferring about literature. Books did not care who was reading them or whether one read them or not. All readers were equal, herself included.
Indulged and bad-tempered though they were, the dogs were not unintelligent, so it was not surprising that in a short space of time they came to hate books as the spoilsports that they were (and always have been).
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"Tema majesteet lugeja" is the Estonian translation of "The Uncommon Reader"
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Book description
From the back cover: When her corgis stray into a mobile library parked near Buckingham Palace, the Queen feels duty-bound to borrow a book. Discovering the joy of reading widely (from J. R. Ackerley, Jean Genet, and Ivy Compton-Burnett to the classics) and intelligently, she finds that her view of the world changes dramatically. Abetted in her newfound obsession by Norman, a young man from the royal kitchens, the Queen comes to question the prescribed order of the world and loses patience with the routines of her role as monarch. Her new passion for reading initially alarms the palace staff and soon leads to surprising and very funny consequences for the country at large.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312427646, Paperback)

From one of England's most celebrated writers, the author of the award-winning The History Boys, a funny and superbly observed novella about the Queen of England and the subversive power of reading

When her corgis stray into a mobile library parked near Buckingham Palace, the Queen feels duty-bound to borrow a book. Discovering the joy of reading widely (from J. R. Ackerley, Jean Genet, and Ivy Compton-Burnett to the classics) and intelligently, she finds that her view of the world changes dramatically. Abetted in her newfound obsession by Norman, a young man from the royal kitchens, the Queen comes to question the prescribed order of the world and loses patience with the routines of her role as monarch. Her new passion for reading initially alarms the palace staff and soon leads to surprising and very funny consequences for the country at large. 

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:56:19 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

When Queen Elizabeth becomes hooked on reading, neither she nor England will ever be quite the same.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 8 descriptions

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