Thursday, June 25, 2009

"One had always read. Only these days one is reading more."

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

Queen Elizabeth II chases after her runaway corgis and happens upon the library book-mobile that comes to the palace every Wednesday. Originally selecting a book merely to be polite, she soon finds herself drawn into fascination with books. It is a fascination that causes no end of problems for Her Majesty's staff as they have trouble keeping her on time for appointments and no longer know exactly how to prep members of the public for likely questions when they meet the queen. And what to do when she runs into a Dickens' lover and goes over the scheduled time because of their animated conversation?

On another level, this book looks at the joys of reading and allowing one's mind to expand. Soon the way that the world is viewed becomes colored with the literature one has read and that can lead to its own kind of trouble. The kind of trouble that comes with becoming a writer as well as a reader.

I found Bennett to be kind to both those expanding their minds and the queen. He acknowledges that much of her personality has had to express itself within the perimeters of her job which leaves no time for hobbies such as reading.

This is a short novella, easy to read, and highly recommended.

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