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The Uncommon Reader

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  20,969 Ratings  ·  3,952 Reviews
The eponymous reader of Alan Bennett's good-natured novella is none other than England's own Queen Elizabeth, who pursues her incorrigible corgis into a mobile library parked near Buckingham Palace, discovers the world of serious literature, and forsakes her duties for the pleasures of obsessive reading. Guided by a former kitchen employee, Her Majesty dives headlong into ...more
Hardcover, Large Print, 197 pages
Published May 16th 2008 by Thorndike Press (first published 2007)
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Annie the authors mentioned are; i was able to google them all. I'm sure the characters are not, except for the Queen and the DUke of course.
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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The Book Maven
Oh wow. If I could give this book six stars, or heck, even ten, I would. It is so great--there's a lot of subtlety in here that Readers' Advisory librarians will definitely clue into, especially in how society views readers, reading, and books.

A lot of us read, sure. A lot of us really enjoy books. But because we are average joes, commoners, small potatoes, this is nothing groundbreaking. It likely will not become upsetting if we take up reading as a hobby. But what if someone important takes up
Feb 11, 2013 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Michael by: Florence
Reading this feels like putting a pot of water on to boil, forgetting about it, and coming back to find a delightful stew. The analogy relates to Queen Elizabeth wandering into a bookmobile, getting hooked on reading books, and the various consequences that ensue.

I have 14 or 16 GR friends now who rate this 4 or better. Must be the word "reader" in the title that inspires a grab. You can’t go wrong, as it’s a short pleasant read. Very subtle and understated, with humor that builds quietly until
Richard Derus
Nov 20, 2011 Richard Derus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rating: 4.125* of five

Witty, irreverent, and completely charming, Bennett's novella is one I would sincerely hope that Her Majesty read and laughed at when it was published.

There are many reviews of this effervescent entertainment, so I will confine myself to noting that the book carries with it a none-too-subtle punch line which I can't imagine would have made Mr. Bennett more likely to be in line for a life peerage, but which I can imagine made him a popular figure around Highgrove.

A delightfu
Jan 15, 2010 Manny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Manny by: Daniela, Elisabeth and others
Several people had recommended The Uncommon Reader to me over the last year, but somehow I only got around to it this morning. Don't be as slow as I was! The idea is very simple - the Queen gets hooked on reading - but Bennett handles it perfectly. It's a delight, and takes about an hour to read.

Maybe a short extract will do the job:
'Exploded?' said the Queen. 'But it was Anita Brookner.'

The young man, who seemed remarkably undeferential, said security may have thought it was a device.

The Queen
My first thought was, "I wonder what the Queen thought of this". She probably didn't read it, and if she did, I hope she thought it was funny because it was. In this story she becomes an avid reader after accidentally stumbling upon a mobile library outside the palace. I didn't count them, but Bennett mentions more book titles and authors names than any book I've read. The Queen, much to everyones dismay, spends all her time reading and begins to neglect her queenly duties. She takes on everythi ...more
Nov 15, 2011 TK421 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary
What would happen if the Queen started to notice the little things in life? You know, the type of things that seem to only matter to the lower stations. Futhermore, what if she was only noticing these things because she started reading books? That is the premise to this very fast-paced novella from Alan Bennett.

Overall, this story has some wonderful insight in to the magic of reading, exploring new worlds and meeting new characters through the written word. Additionally, this slim story is also
Mar 11, 2013 Elyse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The Old Gal", (the Queen), is reading....'again'!!!!

"Reading is untidy discursive and perpetually inviting. Briefing closes down a subject, reading opens it up."

"With this dictionary always in hand, Norman read out: 'Opsimath: one who learns late in life'.
"It was a sense of making up for lost time that made her read with such rapidity and in the process now making more frequent (and more confident) comments of her own, bringing to what was in effect literary criticism the same forthrightness
This was a delightful interlude.

Indeed, a mischievous wit is driving this novella about the Queen discovering reading and the consequences for the nation.

The opening incident in the book with the French president started me off with wicked giggles, and it continued with the subtle parody on staff and politicians gracing her majesty's world.

A perfect Sunday afternoon read. Great read for Mother's Day!
Jun 23, 2011 Kinga rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What’s better for a book lover than a book about books? It’s like when Xzbit in Pimp My Ride puts a car inside of your car because he knows you love cars.
And Alan Bennett puts books in your book. He also puts the Queen there, so you know you are in for a treat.

Imagine that the Queen, old as she is, suddenly discovers the joy of reading. She engages a certain Nelson to help her acquire books and guide her through the world of literature. That does sound like a dream job, doesn’t it? To become so
There are already thousands of reviews of this delightful book about the Queen's new-found love of reading, so you don't need me to tell you how much fun it is. In lieu of a review, I'll list some of the best quotes about reading I have ever seen, all featured within the pages of this book.

'Reading is untidy, discursive and perpetually inviting.'

'A book is a device to ignite the imagination.'

'I think of literature,' she wrote, 'as a vast country to the far borders of which I am journeying but wi
Apr 21, 2016 Claudia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Let me kiss the Queen! :) Deutsche Rezi dahinter.

A highly recommendation. What a funny and warm-hearted book.

It's an explanation of love to reading.

The Queen, looking after her corgis, discovers a mobile library parked near her Palace. She feels obliged to borrow a book - and then she borrows another and another...
The servants around her are very confused and think it's the beginning of Alzheimer's disease.

The story is very humorous and tells how reading can change people and life.

Run, don't wal
Libro sottile e che si legge molto rapidamente, ma non per questo una velina: mi è piaciuta molto l'idea di Bennett di rendere la regina un'assidua lettrice e mandare così in crisi tutto l'establishment intorno alla sua persona, perché non sta bene che una sovrana abbia un hobby così solitario e le tante sciocchezze che le ripete il primo ministro (LOL, è davvero Tony Blair). È bellissimo come viene descritto il potere della lettura e il percorso di crescita della regina come lettrice, che mette ...more
Aug 14, 2008 Alana rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really didn't like this book at all. I picked it up because so many people seem to like it and I thought it would be probable that I would like it too. However, I found it to be extremely boring. This author is supposed to be a great wit and I just didn't "get" his humor in writing style or otherwise. This book seems to be an endless author and book review which I didn't like. The book moved along so slowly that I was surprised to find that I was halfway through the book still waiting for the ...more
Feb 14, 2010 ·Karen· rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
What a change from the 800 page behemoths that seem to be fashionable at the moment. Sly humour, warmth, thoughtfulness, alongside a revolutionary vision, and all within the space of around 120 pages.

I re-read this for a group that actually pay me to come and talk booktalk to them. There is always a limit on the length of any work due for discussion. This one slides in under the wire with ease: we shall see if we manage to fill 90 minutes talking about it.

Questions, anyone?

That won't fly the mo
I don't know how this little novella ended up on my radar, but it was a sweet grin of a book. Queen Elizabeth, in her eightieth year, discovers the joys of reading literature quite accidentally when she happens upon a book mobile in the process of trying to round up her barking Corgis. Norman, a cook from her Royal kitchen, is a borrower and a friendship ensues, with him becoming the purveyor of the world of pleasurable books. As the Queen's interest becomes more avid in the plethora of fiction ...more
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Dec 29, 2012 Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Florence (Lefty) by: Petra Eggs
A short novella that’s odd and original and wise; chalk full of clever, understated and so typically British humour. The Queen accidently stumbles across a bookmobile and despite the disapproval of her advisors, decides to take up reading. “I feel, ma’am, that while not exactly elitist, it sends the wrong message. It tends to exclude.’ Reading that becomes a passion bordering on obsession. She’d got quite good at reading and waving, the trick being to keep the book below the level of the windo ...more
Angela M
Jul 24, 2014 Angela M rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How can I not like a book about someone who loves to read? In this case that someone just happens to be the Queen of England .It was clever and really a pleasure to read. There is not too much to say about the plot; its a short read. However,like others,I'll mention a few of my favorite quotes.

"What she was finding also was how one book led to another, doors kept opening wherever she turned and the days weren't long enough for the reading she wanted to do."

"Books are not about passing the time.
Dhanaraj Rajan
May be Three and half stars.

It is a funny little novella that speaks of the pleasures of reading. To expound this thesis, the author's creative imagination and liberty had sought the help of the Queen. Yes, Her majesty, the Queen is the main protagonist of this novella and the story is about how in her older days she gets enchanted by the pleasures of reading.

All through the book there are some interesting observations on reading. And they are certainly a delight for the regular reader.

Here are
Carol ♔Type, Oh Queen!♕
Jan 25, 2016 Carol ♔Type, Oh Queen!♕ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Carol ♔Type, Oh Queen!♕ by: Erica
Who would have thought! I have something in common with the Queen of England!

Well, kind of! I wasn't a non reader (which is how Bennett portrays the Queen) but for eight long years I worked in our local supermarket, originally on checkouts (soul destroying) & then managing the Bulk Bins. This was the hardest I had ever worked in my life. One of the few perks we had in what is essentially a miserable way to make a living was we were able to read the unsold magazines. (at work only - that was
Feb 13, 2013 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When the Queen of England stumbles across a traveling bookstore, her newly developed appetite for books turns into an obsession.......and the fun begins.

There are many great lines and phrases for us readers to enjoy in this short favorite:

"What she was finding also was how one book led to another, doors kept opening wherever she turned and the days weren't long enough for the reading she wanted to do."

Amusing little novella!

Jun 01, 2012 Salma rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
من خلال مكتبة متنقلة تقف قرب قصرها، قررت الملكة استعارة كتاب... لينفتح أمام ملكة بريطانية المسنة عالم جديد... عالم القراءة... الباب الذي إذا انفتح فلا مغلق له... فالكتاب صار شغلها الشاغل و تحولت إلى قارئة نهمة... و لكن هذا الشغف الجديد بدأ يؤثر على حياتها و مهامها، و يثير حفيظة كل من حولها و امتعاضهم، مثل كل قراء العالم! شخصية الملكة و بفعل القراءة بدأت تتطور، إذ أخذت تنتبه لأشياء لم تكن لتنتبه لها سابقا، و صارت تضفي العمق على ملاحظاتها و تصرفاتها و تغفل الكثير من الشكليات... مما زاد في قلق من ح ...more
The Queen is bored. The Queen needs a hobby. However, instead of pursuing a queenly hobby (ahem, don’t ask me what that is), she stumbles upon a mobile library just outside her gates and pursues reading; what ensues thereafter is a barrel full of fun, at least until the very end.

Alan Bennett’s, The Uncommon Reader, has been on my TBR since a very long time. To be honest, I don’t remember when or why I added it to my TBR as I don’t even remember reading the blurb, which incidentally is true of mo
Sep 27, 2007 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, novella
This new novella from the pen of Alan Bennett (author of the The History Boys) is without a doubt the funniest book I have read in recent memory. I started it while riding home on the bus and had a hard time keeping my seat as my laughter was almost nonstop. What a wonderful premise! Imagine the Queen of England patronizing a lending library van, and then imagine her actually reading books. The incongruity of the situation leads to hilarious consequences for the Queen, her family, her household ...more
Jul 14, 2008 Cecily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humour, favourites
Beautiful novella, imagining the effect on courtiers, corgis and protocol if the Queen develops a reading habit. The books she chooses are carefully chosen by Bennett to illuminate her metamorphosis. The main danger is reading it too quickly to savour it as it deserves. Bennett at his best.
Sep 14, 2014 Joey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fictions, novella
You may not be such a voracious reader if you could not relate to this novella.

The story is simple but interesting. It is about the queen of England, an UNCOMMON READER (look its meaning up in Wikepedia), who will fall to reading books when she meets across a travelling library. There she meets Norman, the kitchen boy, who will introduce her to different writers she has never met yet. The queen will completely immerse herself in books, derelict in her duty as Her Majesty of England. Ad nauseam b
Sep 05, 2011 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
My enjoyment of this little gem of a book was considerably enhanced by listening to it being read by the author.

Essentially a parable about the life-changing potential of an appreciation for good literature, it displays Bennett's caustic intelligence and wit to great advantage. Choosing Queen Elizabeth II as his protagonist gives Bennett amazing scope for making his point about reading good books. After all, if the Queen's life can be changed in both small and monumental ways through reading, s
Oct 31, 2016 Mahlon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2016
An experience so delightful that I want to leave the joy of discovery to the reader. I'll just say it really humanizes The queen.
At only 120 pages and with effortless, elegant prose from its author Alan Bennett, this short book can be knocked over in one afternoon. Just because it is light in weight does not mean it is lightweight. Indeed it is a most rewarding and insightful story, told with great economy and style by one of Britain’s critically acclaimed writers.

A chance encounter between a mobile library, a skinny young cook and the Queen of England, with corgis in train, leads to a minor Palace revolution. QE2 takes u
The Queen of England as a late-in-life book lover, annoying her staff and confusing the public as she undergoes the personal change that only reading and writing can effect.

I received this book in the mail today, and immediately sat down with it, finishing in a couple of hours. This never happens: I usually let new books sit for quite a while before the bug really strikes, but it's a credit to this book in every way that I was unable to put it down before I was finished.

Not only is the regal a
Aug 15, 2014 Kiwi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, humor
Despite the New Zealand bashing (poor Sir Kevin), I enjoyed this short quaint novella about the Queen taking up reading as hobby. This book follows in the same charming literary vein as another whimsy novel with a royal connection: The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise and has a brilliant ending. A delightful read.

PS: I also learn my new favourite term: opsimath.

Favourite quotes:

“Pass the time?” said the Queen. “Books are not about passing the time. They’re about other lives. Other worlds. Far f
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

Alan Bennett is an English author and Tony Award-winning playwright. Bennett's first stage play, Forty Years On, was produced in 1968. Many television, stage and radio plays followed, along with screenplays, short stories, novellas, a large body of non-fictional prose and broadcasting, and many appearances as
More about Alan Bennett...

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“What she was finding also was how one book led to another, doors kept opening wherever she turned and the days weren't long enough for the reading she wanted to do.” 3101 likes
“A book is a device to ignite the imagination.” 250 likes
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