Hey fellow bookworms, I’ve got another recommendation for you: The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett. I hadn’t heard of this brilliantly hilarious novella before I read it this afternoon, as preparation for my upcoming Public Texts class on “Readers” (the people kind of readers, not the electronic stuff). I’ll be honest, usually I pick up unfamiliar school-assigned texts somewhat begrudgingly, because more often than not the books are just not to my taste. Happily there have been wonderful exceptions to this rule, otherwise I don’t think I would have lasted very long as an English student. The Uncommon Reader is one of these exceptions, to the point that I re-read it as soon I had finished it and now I want everyone else to do the same.
A fan of British humour since my dad sat me down at the age of 11 to watch Monty Python’s Life of Brian (he appropriately prefaced the film by saying “you’re welcome”), Bennett’s writing is the epitome of English wry wit. The story is about Queen Elizabeth (the one that’s not dead), and what happens to her when one day, randomly, she begins to read. I don’t want to say too much else about the plot because it’s so short and so sweet, and I don’t want to give anything away. I will say though that this book is not only just about the joy of reading, but what reading can DO. Maybe I like this book so much because it celebrates what any true reader already knows, through a story that in and of itself is delightful and giggle-inducing.
And since we’re on the subject, and because my brain has the attention span of a ferret on meth, all this talk about the awesomeness of reading reminds me of this other equally (though… less mature) celebration of books: