Title: The Uncommon Reader
Author: Alan Bennett
Published: 2006, Faber and Faber
Category: General Fiction/Novella
And now for something completely different. :D I borrowed this one from the library because it was one of Meghan's favorite reads from last year. I'm always interested in bibliophile-type books.
This is short little story about Queen Elizabeth (the current one) that starts one day when her Corgis take off running toward a bookmobile. The Queen follows along and then feels compelled to board the bookmobile and actually check out a book, just to be polite. She's never had much time for books in the past, but now all of a sudden she becomes consumed by reading. Her staff and everyone in the government don't understand at all and are greatly disturbed by it.
There are some really interesting insights about how discovering reading affects such an unusual person. Part of the allure seems to be her desire to forget her unique position: "The appeal of reading, she thought, lay in its indifference: there was something lofty about literature. Books did not care who was reading them and whether one read them are not. All readers were equal, herself included." And reading about the stories of average people is enlightening for someone who has always had such a rarified existence.
Besides the pithy statements about the importance of reading, this book is really quite funny. Understated British humor. At one point the Queen's security detail confiscates the book the Queen is reading because the sniffer dogs think it's a device of some kind. It gets "exploded." I'd be upset by that too. ;)
Fun read. And this isn't important at all, but I have to mention that the book has gorgeous endpapers that look like vintage wallpaper.