The Uncommon Reader, by Alan Bennett

The Queen (as in our current Queen, Elizabeth II) is out walking and comes across a mobile library. More out of politeness than anything else, she borrows a book. This is the start, for her, of a voyage of discovery as she realises that there's a whole world of imagined lives available to her.

This was a recommendation from A Good Read. It was a nice book, but it's quite short, and the problem was that many of the best things about it had been covered by the reviewers in the radio programme - e.g. the way the Queen gets so enthusiastic about reading that she goes "off script" when doing walkabouts, and asks members of the public what they've been reading recently. One thing I don't think they mentioned which I thought was funny was how the Queen was kicking herself when she realised that many of the books she now found herself admiring had been written by people that she'd met, or given honours to, in the past - without then having fully realised what it was they'd accomplished.

The main thing I think the book tries to say (again, mentioned in the radio programme) is that reading is a powerful and important way to get insight and empathy about other people's lives: something that the Queen herself (in this story) has never really considered before.

A nice little book, worth reading, but spoiled by having heard them talk about it in A Good Read.

Completed : 14-Dec-2013

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