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The Uncommon Reader
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Group Reads - Fiction > The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett (August Group Fiction Read)

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Shirley | 4177 comments Please discuss our August choice here.

LauraT (laurata) | 13213 comments Mod
I've loved this book and I'm really keen on reading it again!!!!

Shirley | 4177 comments I've never read it, but I have heard it's good...

Shirley | 4177 comments Just ordered this from the library, hope it doesn't take too long...

Angela M I'm planning on starting it tomorrow or later tonight . Looking forward to a fun read .

message 6: by Everyman (new)

Everyman Just got it from the library. Will take it with me tomorrow when we go off-island for a doctor's visit.

Pink Ordered from the library too, I'll join in once it arrives.

LauraT (laurata) | 13213 comments Mod
It's such a short and charming book it takes half a day to go through it!

Greg | 7488 comments Mod
Looking forward to this one for sure!

message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

As this is nice and short I've downloaded it onto my kindle. Unfortunately my kindle is not with me (perils of moving) but I will hopefully start it tomorrow

Sarah. B Will have a look for this in the library today. Heard good things about it

Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 11717 comments Mod
On my kindle, will probably take me a while to catch up with you guys on this though.

message 13: by Rebecka (new) - added it

Rebecka (tricours) I think I will join you on this one :)

Angela M I've finished reading it and all I'll since so many are still reading it or will be if that it is a book lover's delight! Enjoy !

Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 11717 comments Mod
Good to hear Angela.

Shirley | 4177 comments I've finished it too, a great little book, very funny, yet insightful.

Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 11717 comments Mod
Good to hear Shirley, glad I bought it now.

message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

What a delightful read! I love to read about reading, and the Queen added such an interesting twist to the story. I liked this very much.

message 19: by Everyman (new)

Everyman It's just the start of August, so I won't be too specific right away to avoid spoilers for those just starting (or who haven't yet started) it, but here are some preliminary thoughts.

I've read about a hundred pages into it. I enjoyed the first fifty pages or so very much. Nice writing, nice concept, well offered. But after that, it started to be more of the same, and the tone remained almost flippant. It felt like eating chocolate ice cream; the first few bites are a delight and pure enjoyment. Then it becomes still pleasurable for awhile, though not as joyous. But after another ten or fifteen bites it gets to be too much of the same thing, it's no longer pleasurable, and you've had enough.

That's about where I am in this book. It doesn't seem to be going much of anywhere. I've gotten the point, and the fun, but now I want it to go somewhere, and it isn't.

Am I the only one who feels this way, or do any others share this feeling about it?

LauraT (laurata) | 13213 comments Mod
Reread it with extreme pleasure!
I don't know though if I'd liked it so much if I was the queen!!!

Angela M Everyman ,
I love every taste of chocolate ice cream , especially the last bite ! I wasn't so much looking for anything to happen in this book , other than taking pleasure from someone who learns to love books . You are right - not much really happens but it is a wonderful tribute to books and the people who love to read . It was such a short book that I never felt that there was too much repetition . If it were a longer story, I may have felt the same as you did .

LauraT (laurata) | 13213 comments Mod
It doesn't go anywhere, you're right!
But for once I like it this way! Just for the fun of loving books ...

Leslie | 15985 comments Everyman -- Just as with chocolate ice cream, I devoured this quickly so perhaps in my gulping it down, I didn't give it a chance to start palling...

However, I do understand what you are saying. I found that the ending made me think about it in a slightly different way than the middle did, so maybe when you get there you will feel it was worth finishing (even if you felt stuffed before you got there).

Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 11717 comments Mod
Really enjoyed reading this, surprised at how quickly I got through this one.

Evelyn | 1410 comments Just finished, read it this afternoon, really quick read. I laughed out loud a couple times and found a few of the thoughts about reading wonderful, how it opens up new worlds, etc.
I do agree with Everyman though on the length. I was getting a bit bored in the last stretch and thought it had gone on long enough. Perhaps it would have been better as a short story?

Sarah. B Finished it this morning and really enjoyed.

message 27: by [deleted user] (new)

Angela wrote: "Everyman ,
I love every taste of chocolate ice cream , especially the last bite ! I wasn't so much looking for anything to happen in this book , other than taking pleasure from someone who learns ..."

Angela said this better than I could. I totally agree!

Angela M Thanks , Terri . :-)

message 29: by LauraT (last edited Aug 06, 2014 12:46AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

LauraT (laurata) | 13213 comments Mod
Here some sentences I noted down while readng. THey're in italian - since I don't have the english original version - so translated by me!!!
"Passare il tempo?» esclamò la regina. «I libri non sono un passatempo. Parlano di altre vite. Di altri mondi. Altro che far passare il tempo, Sir Kevin; non so cosa darei per averne di più. Per passare il tempo si può sempre andare in Nuova Zelanda».
"Biding your time?" exclaimed the Qeen? "Books are not a hobby. They talk of other lives. Of other worlds, sir Kevin; I don't know what I'd give to have more of them. To bide your time you can always go to New Zeland"

Un giorno, all'ora del tè, stava leggendo Henry James quando sbottò: «E muoviti».
One day, at tea time, she was reading Henry James when she screamed "Come on! Hurry up!"

E se si annoiava c'era sempre Trollope a portata di mano."
And if she got bored there was always Trollope at hand

I loved it!

message 30: by [deleted user] (new)

I read this little gem on my commute today (the one benefit of an hours travelling by train!). What a wonderful book. I also highlighted those quotes Laura! I also loved

"the appeal of reading, she thought, lay on its indifference: there was something lofty about literature. Books did not care who was reading them or whether one read them or not, all readers were equal, herself included; the letters a republic"

What a delightful book. I can see why you might feel that nothing much happened but for me, it was short enough to keep me entertained

message 31: by Everyman (new)

Everyman I wonder how Queen Elizabeth feels about somebody thinking she should abdicate to go write a book. It's clearly about QE, since it specifically mentions Diana.

I finished it last night. I enjoyed parts of it, chuckled a few times, and appreciated somebody writing about an increasingly rare passion for reading books, but in the end, looking back on it, there wasn't all that much there, was it? Not chocolate ice cream, but more Trader Joe's meringues.

message 32: by Greg (last edited Aug 07, 2014 06:14PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg | 7488 comments Mod
Just finished this yesterday - as many others, I found it an absolutely delightful read!

The funniest part of the book for me is when the Queen explains her plan for the Christmas broadcast to the prime minister. She will read the Hardy poem "The Convergence of the Twain" about the sinking of the Titanic in order to portray how we're all subject to fate. The prime minister's measured response is priceless: "I'm not sure that is a message the government would feel able the endorse." The whole scenario had me laughing for minutes! The queen reading the brilliant but infamously gloomy Hardy for a Christmas broadcast was funny enough .. but picturing the poor unimaginative prime minister's internal thoughts & frustrations as she explained her plan. Priceless!

Another highlight: I like how Bennett shows how reading affects the Queen's character, even in small things. She suddenly cares whether the maid's feelings are hurt because she understands her story & understands how she thinks. I think Bennett is quite right here. Reading develops empathy. On public radio a few months ago, I caught a special in depth report describing the results of a scientific study: after a sustained period of reading literature, test subjects were better able to accurately indentify how people were feeling by looking at pictures of their faces. Reading caused scientifically measurable increases in empathy test scores! Isn't that a curious and wonderful thing? Based on my experience, I believe it.

message 33: by Evelyn (last edited Aug 07, 2014 07:09PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Evelyn | 1410 comments Greg, thank you for sharing this scientific study, very interesting!

message 34: by Greg (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg | 7488 comments Mod
Thanks Evelyn! I wish I had a link to the whole radio program - so fascinating but I can't find it. Here's a Guardian article on what I believe is the same research though:

Evelyn | 1410 comments Greg, I like how at the end of the article they say they are not picking what constitutes literary fiction! I think if they were attempting to do that, their study would have many more people sharing their opinions. Can you imagine the controversy that would cause?!

message 36: by Greg (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg | 7488 comments Mod
That's true, Evelyn! I thought the same thing!

message 37: by Pink (new) - rated it 2 stars

Pink Finished this morning and while I agree that it was quick to get through and I liked the literary references and premise of the story, this one wasn't really for me.

message 38: by [deleted user] (new)

Thanks for the article, Greg. Very interesting.

message 39: by Greg (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg | 7488 comments Mod
My pleasure Heather!

David | 1 comments I enjoyed this. Raced through it very quickly, to be honest I thought it was hardly long enough to tire of the story, and in any case I thought it did change sufficiently when the Queen went from being only a reader to contemplating writing.

What did strike me though, is that it was quite snobby at times about the likes of Dick Francis and airport fiction, for something that itself was very lightweight (even if the books it discussed were not). Having said that, I am not one to be put off by snobbishness, so I just had a chuckle at the irony of it.

message 41: by Owen (new)

Owen Thomas | 18 comments Greg wrote: "Just finished this yesterday - as many others, I found it an absolutely delightful read!

The funniest part of the book for me is when the Queen explains her plan for the Christmas broadcast to the..."

Fascinating, Greg. Empathy is based on understanding and reading invites an appreciation for complexity. It makes total sense to me, but it is gratifying to see the social scientists prove that one up.

message 42: by Greg (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg | 7488 comments Mod
I agree Owen!

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