“The Uncommon Reader”

July 21, 2008 at 11:08 pm | Posted in Fiction | 3 Comments

Alan Bennett’s novella The Uncommon Reader is like a chili pepper, a caper, or a gherkin: small, but packing a punch that will definitely get your attention.


The premise is that the Queen of England suddenly discovers the joys of reading, rather late in life.  It’s a sweet story.  If you love choosing new books, reading in bed, and finding stolen moments to get in a few pages, you’ll smile in recognition.  Ah, but that’s just the beginning.


There is something subversive about The Uncommon Reader.  We imagine a world leader who becomes passionate about literature, and then about the Great Conversation.  She starts out reading some light fiction, and goes on to start asking some pretty big questions.  The end of the story is as much a sharp political commentary as it is a charming fable.


PS Here’s something I’d like to see more of: a famous person reading non-fiction.  See how he marks his place with his finger?  Also note the title, The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria.  Watch this space for an upcoming review of this book as soon as I can get it from BookSwim.





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  1. What a perfect photo — that finger says he was actually reading a moment ago. Not carrying it around just to look cool. 🙂

    The Uncommon Reader sounds fantastic! What a great idea.

  2. Ditto what you and Julie said about Obama reading that book. How cool is that?? A leader that reads fiction, that might possibly have a hobby that isn’t a sport?

    I’m going to add the book to my list too, but I really just wanted to comment on the picture.

  3. Even better, a leader that reads nonfiction!

    I have to admit, he looks kinda cute in this picture – if I didn’t know who it was, I would have guessed some movie star.

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