The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

“You don’t put your life into your books. You find it there.”

I’m trying to catch up now with all the reviews I want to write. I’ve read four more books since the last book review I posted here but didn’t have much time to write a review until now. I don’t exactly review every book I read since it’s not feasible for a working person like me with a full-time schedule. But I can’t let The Uncommon Reader pass without me writing anything about the book.

The book is a novella about the reading habits of Queen Elizabeth as imagine by the author. The Queen starts reading out of duty when her corgis stray toward a mobile library parked near the palace, she feels an obligation to borrow a book and unexpectedly finds duty turning into curiosity, and curiosity into pleasure. Soon she becomes as obsessed about reading and neglects her duties and abandons her fastidiousness in order to cram in a few more pages. She struggle finding fellow readers and approval of others in her new found hobby. Reading also, opens up a whole new perspective for her on human nature, on relationships, and on emotion. The novels she consumes transform her and humanize her and eventually give her a voice of her own. In the end the Queen discovers that there is a writer inside of her that needs to emerge as a results of her reading.

I am amazed on how the author create a fictional story from a real person like Queen Elizabeth of England. The development of the Queen into a reader in her later years is very well done and quite believable. Alan Bennett fictionalize a famous living person and created a well rounded character in paper. Written with dry wit and poignant words the story is an enjoyable short read.

As a reader I can easy relate to the story. I like how the author captured the joy of reading and the possible results of addiction to written words. How one book can lead to another and another. It made me remember why I love reading so much. Reading allows me to experience things I normally wouldn’t experience, it takes me to places I normally wouldn’t travel. It opens my mind to new possibilities and ideas. It shows me the glimpse of the past and the future. It gives me some sense of satisfaction and so much more.

More than just the reading habit this book is about finding yourself, discovering your passion and broadening your horizons, no matter how old you are and what is your role in society. This book will let you experience the power and pleasure of reading books and the vast horizon it can lead you.