Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Review : The Uncommon Reader

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett. Picador (2008).

The Uncommon Reader is a clever, witty and insightful look at one person's, namely the Queen of England's, entry into the world of books and reading. Bennett masterfully crafts a tale of what it is like to become immersed, and indeed obsessed, by reading. Through books, the Queen comes to be a more thoughtful observer of the world and the people around her.

One of my favorite passages reminded me of the current interest in what President-Elect Barack Obama is reading. While I've wondered why people care, the following made me realize why it is so important.

"But ma'am must have been briefed, surely?"

"Of course," said the Queen, "but briefing is not reading. In fact it is the antithesis of reading. Briefing is terse, factual and to the point. Reading is untidy, discursive and perpetually inviting. Briefing closes down a subject, reading opens it up."

This is why it is so important that our President-Elect reads. In fact, it is why it is so important we all read. Reading helps us grow as people. It allows us to see the wider world around us. The Uncommon Reader is a love letter to reading and its ability to mold a life. I highly recommend this book.


  1. I won this in a blog contest, and can't wait to get it. Thanks for the review!

  2. "a love letter to reading"...I love that phrase!

  3. Nice review! The book seems compelling! I agree with you completely about how reading opens up the world around you. Reading really does help you understand things better.

  4. I have a reading site for young people which was started for my own children's benefit. I found that others wanted to be part of our page and it moved ahead. Our page is called Paradise Readers

    Reading is making a comeback. People who want to move up in life have found that the road to success is paved with good books.

  5. The kind of book I like to read, is one that invites you into the covers and lets you travel along with the characters and when you exit at the last page, you have been revitalized, recharged and entertained. Reading apart from your books is like looking through the window, it is much better to go inside and feel the warmth.