Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

Any common reader will enjoy a good laugh from British playwright Alan Bennett's The Uncommon Reader, which can be consumed in a few spare hours. But readers expecting a work as brilliant and scathing as Bennett's plays The History Boys (2004) and The Madness of King George (1991), or even his other short stories, should expect something completely different. A political and literary satire, it pokes fun at the British monarchy while revealing the lasting power of literature. Reviews suggest that The Uncommon Reader should be enjoyed like the sort of reading it espouses: casually, but with a sensitivity to serious things as well.

Dear Dewey,

While the circumstances for this reviewing method are anything but cheerful, I have came to the conclusion that I quite like this idea of mine. I think you will have many letters from me throughout the coming year. That's a good thing, though, right? I am trying to read books that you read that are already on my TBR pile (this book is an exception), so with every letter that I write, I am cleaning one more book off the shelves. You are agreeing with me that it is an excellent idea, right? I thought so! (There will probably be lots of exceptions, I know what you are thinking, but we are going to ignore that and just keep our eyes on my halo, okay?)

Moving on... I am going to try and review a book that is just barely over 100 pages. That is not an easy thing to do, you know. You told the story of how the book came into your hands (and then later noticed that you had two copies). My story is not that impressive, I am afraid. I just wanted a new book tonight, so I went to the bookstore and bought this with my gift card. I have plenty of books coming in the mail, but that was the future and I was concentrating on the present... I wanted instant gratification instead of waiting. I have never been very good at waiting!

This was a fun book. As a resident of Canada, the queen is technically still the leader of my country, so it was kind of fun to poke fun at a political system that my country is still a part of. It is amazing how much the author gets into such a short book. He really has a grand ole time poking fun of the British monarchy, and it is things that I could totally see, even if I have never really voiced them aloud! I am too busy paying attention to my own prime minister, as in many ways the queen is just a figurehead nowadays. I am not sure if I liked this book as much as you did, you liked it enough to keep it, so you had to really like it! I am not as picky with the books I keep (though I really should be), so saying I am going to keep it is not the same as you saying you will. I do believe I will read this book again, though, and since I only say that about books that I really really like; I think I have come pretty close to you in terms of my enjoyment level.

It is really too bad that you never had the chance to read this book again... I keep going back to that thought in my head, and I am sorry to be depressing, but I had to mention it. Even though it cannot have very many words in it, I still think it is a book you can read a couple times and keep seeing different things! The book also reminded me that I really should read more classics, but I am going to ignore that insight for the time being. You won't tell anyone, will you?

Until next time...


  1. I really enjoyed this book at well. I definitely would like to re-read at some point. I guess it's just a matter of when that some point will be.

  2. I just read this in the last couple of weeks. I think this is definitely a reader's book...if you know what I mean!

  3. Nicole: It was good!

    Marg: I know what you mean!

  4. I really wish she'd had the chance to read it again too. And I don't think it's morbid of you to mentioned it. It crossed my mind too.

    I finally went ahead and ordered a copy of this from thebookdepository. Hopefully it will get here before long! I think I'll really enjoy it too.

  5. I look forward to your review, Nymeth. I think I am going to order East today... I added like 5 or 6 more books to my wish list reading your best of 2008 list. This is what happens when I am forever falling behind on blog reading and having to select 'mark all as read'. I miss all the good reviews!

  6. Anonymous3:32 PM

    I really liked your review and will have to pick up a copy of this book soon.

  7. Thanks Stephanie! I hope you enjoy it!

  8. I keep running into this book. Now, after reading your review, I will definitely put it on my TBR list!

  9. Another great letter/review Kailana...I love this method of reviewing...you sick of hearing that yet? lol. I wish Dewey could've read this one again too :( It's definitely a keeper! It made my "top 16" list of the year. And you're right...it really is a big story for a small number of pages. Loved it!

  10. Robin: I kept running into it too. I figured Dewey's challenge was as good a reason as any to pick it up the other day!

    Chris: I really like the review style, too, that's why I keep doing it. I am not sick of hearing it. lol I didn't even remember you had read it! I read too many blogs to keep everything straight.

  11. This is a book I would like to read one of these days. I am glad you liked it, Kelly. Your letter to Dewey was very touching. I miss her posts.

  12. Thanks! I find that I like that review style so much, I will probably carry it into the New Year. But, with Dewey, it is making me read books on the TBR pile because I sort of like to write the reviews... But, yet, I wish I didn't have to. If you know what I mean!


Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

I am so sorry, but I turned anonymous commenting off. I have had it from the very beginning, but that is how the spam is getting by my spam filter at the moment. If it is a big deal I will turn it back on and moderate all comments. I also changed moderation from older than 14 days to older than 7.