The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

I started this book this afternoon, and finished it this evening. This is the first Alan Bennett book I have read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Here is the Amazon synopsis for The Uncommon Reader:

The Uncommon Reader is none other than HM the Queen who drifts accidentally into reading when her corgis stray into a mobile library parked at Buckingham Palace. She reads widely (J. R. Ackerley, Jean Genet, Ivy Compton Burnett, and the classics) and intelligently. Her reading naturally changes her world view and her relationship with people such as the oleaginous prime minister and his repellent advisers. She comes to question the prescribed order of the world, and loses patience with much that she has to do. In short, her reading is subversive. The consequence is, of course, surprising, mildly shocking and very funny.

I really enjoyed this book. I think Bennett looks at the Queen from a different point of view, like an ordinary person with a great passion, reading. He takes the time to assess how this would change her attitude and her priorities. I found myself relating to her (the Queen, I know!) as she faced people who don’t like reading and understanding how she felt when she believed jobs boring in comparison to reading.

I like how Bennett portrayed all the characters, to the common kitchen boy to the pompous prime minister and I just loved the way he assesses books and what they mean to us e.g. how they can be an extension of ourselves.

As an avid reader I found myself getting cross with people who found the books a problem, and I liked that. I enjoy a book where I get emotionally involved, and this is a book where that happened.

There were times when what I read was a tad boring, but that may be the fault of my ignorance in terms of certain books he mentioned.

A good book and a quick, enjoyable read.


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The Twits by Roald Dahl

This is a book I read and loved as a child, and recently decided to re-read my Roald Dahl books. I have to say, I think I found The Twits funnier this time round!

This is a very short children’s book. The main characters are Mr and Mrs Twit, the monkey family and their friend the Roly-Poly bird.

Here is the synopsis from

Mr and Mrs Twit are extremely nasty, so the Muggle-Wump monkeys and the Roly-Poly bird hatch an ingenious plan to give them just the ghastly surprise they deserve!

I just adored this book. Roald Dahl has such an amazing imagination. I wasn’t sure what to expect as this is a predominantly children’s book, but actually I was pleasantly surprised. Although I would not call this book particularly politically correct – having been written some years ago – the book had me laughing all the way through. Some of the nasty tricks Dahl thinks up are incredible. How he has come up with ideas is just beyond me!

My favourite character was the Roly-Poly bird. He definitely had the the funniest one-liners, which were relevant even to our society today. It was these lines which make this an excellent book for adults as well as children.

If you are looking for a book to enjoy with your children, or just a humorous light read, The Twits is certainly a good contender. There are some books we will just never be too old for!