The Uncommon Reader, Part II
Immediately after finishing The Uncommon Reader I was disappointed. The last few pages were a little strange. However, letting the experience age over the weekend made me realize that the novella was definitely worth the read. As I mentioned in Part I, there are many good reviews out there about this book. Let me just add the following:
I thought the ideas conveyed about reading were innovative. All book lovers love books about loving books (and they are plentiful). However, this book made me think about book-loving in the context of public opinion. Illustrative of this is an exchange between the Queen and her personal secretary:
“I feel, ma’am, that while not exactly elitist it sends the wrong message. It tends to exclude.”
“Exclude? Surely most people can read.”
“They can read, ma’am, but I’m not sure that they do.”
“Then, Sir Kevin, I am setting them a good example.”
I have always been of the opinion that people who don’t read on a regular basis are somewhat questionable—not to be completely trusted, not up for a position as a bosom friend. It has never occurred to me, though, that the non-book lover might view the book lover with a similar suspicion.
Alan Bennett is an artful writer. The writing and dialogue flowed throughout. I even, upon reflection, enjoyed the turn towards the end to writing. I do disagree, somewhat, though, with the statement that reading is not doing.
Also, as an aside, I thought the few (and far between) crude comments were out-of-place and disappointing. It also made it so I couldn’t recommend the book to my somewhat sheltered book club.
In all, I highly recommend this little book about reading and the Queen.
The Uncommon Reader, by Alan Bennett [rating:4]
See here for Part I of my thoughts on The Uncommon Reader.
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