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Review: The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

I briefly visited my brother and his family this past weekend. While waiting for my brother and his wife to finish at the bank on Saturday, I picked up The Uncommon Reader from the booksale table that many CIBC branches have (money going to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation).

I was attracted to the book since it was about reading (and a little about libraries). In particular, this novella delves into the question of can one read too much and is reading truly living. Amusingly, the “one” in this case is Her Royal Majesty, the Queen. I have never heard of author Alan Bennett before, nor this title, and so I started reading this with no idea how truthful the cover blurb: “A masterpiece of comic brevity” might be but I like brevity and comedy, so, why not?

Indeed this novella was filled with humour. I didn’t have any “laugh out loud” moments but I certainly smiled at many points and possibly chuckled. Also, considering all the contemplation and reflection this fictionalized Queen engaged in throughout the brief novel, I started to reflect upon my own reading habits and readers in general. “All readers were equal, herself included. Literature, she thought, is a commonwealth; letters a republic.” (p. 30-31) Among those who are literate, are we not all equal when we pick up a book? The book does not discriminate against the reader. Any reader has as much potential to gain insight from a book as the next.

So, a fun read by a witty writer. It’s only 121 pages, so definitely worth a couple hours of your time!



About Jen

An instructor, a reader, a dog-owner, and advocate; that's how I define myself and these aspects directly impact my interests and conversations.


One thought on “Review: The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

  1. I have often struggled with the question of whether or not “one can read too much and is reading truly living” – I will have to read this novel. Thanks for the review!

    Posted by Tricia | 24 Oct 2010, 9:30 PM

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