After hearing about The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett ever since it came out a few years ago, I finally decided to try it. I borrowed the audiobook, read by the author, from my local library.

About the Book:

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett (cover)The Uncommon Reader is a brief little novel about what happens when the Queen of England takes up reading. It all begins when she unexpectedly encounters the bookmobile while following her dogs. After investigating, she feels obligated to borrow a book, which she then feels obligated to read. And so begins a new hobby which will make the Queen quite happy but will drive those around her a bit crazy.

My Thoughts:

I don’t have a whole lot to say about The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett. I think the best way to describe the book is quietly charming. It wasn’t my favorite book, but it was certainly enjoyable. I thought the premise was rather clever, taking a famous figure and speculating about what might happen were she to suddenly discover a passion for books. There were some nice little reading-related details woven throughout the story that made me smile. I really liked the Queen, once she started thinking for herself. Her observations about literature were often amusing, when she mentioned an author I’d read myself. Most of the people around her were sort of caricatured, but still entertaining.

The audiobook was quite good. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m often leery of authors narrating their own books, but Bennett did a nice job. He has the British accent this story required, as well as nice pacing and inflection. Listening to him read his novel was a nice way to pass a few hours.

I think book lovers, in particular, will enjoy The Uncommon Reader, as they will best understand the Queen’s new obsession. I’d recommend the audiobook to anyone interested. And that’s about it!

Those are my thoughts. Check out The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett on GoodReads or LibraryThing, read other bloggers’ reviews, or listen to an Audible sample!

Your Turn!

Have you read The Uncommon Reader or another book like it? What did you think?

Join the Conversation


  1. I admit I only made it halfway through this one and then the joke just got old. I also felt the claustraphobia of being back in that mindframe of “need more books at all costs” and books becoming an obsession that starts ruining lives. I’ve been recovering from that obsession for the last year and so I sort of had a negative reaction to the Queen ignoring everything else in her life for books… I’m so cranky these days aren’t I? Maybe I should just take a month away from books altogether.

  2. I have read so much about this book, but I think I am the last person on the planet who hasn’t read it! It sounds like a sweet, fun little read that would be perfect for a weekend afternoon (perhaps sipping some tea and eating some biscuits?), and a nice book that would lift the spirits. I have been reading a lot of heavy/serious/somber books of late, so this would probably be a great way to change things up. I have been in the mood for heftier books of late, so perhaps when I’m feeling like I want a quick read I should pick this one up.

  3. I have been wanting to read this book for such a long time, and can totally relate to someone who lets her love for books overwhelm her life. Though this book was not a favorite for you, it does sound like it was charming and like Steph, that’s something I need in my life right now. Thanks for your great thoughts on this book!

  4. I’ve wanted to read this one for a while but am always forgetting about it. I like the set up and the possibility for humour. Now I know it’s quite short I think I’ll look for it soon.

  5. I like charming, fun books like this especially when I’ve been reading a lot of intense, powerful or depressing books!

    The idea of the queen stumbling on a book cart and feeling obligated to borrow and read a book is pretty funny, too. She could probably get any book she wanted within a short time of requesting it!
    I enjoyed your review!

  6. This one was one of my fav books of 2009 but I’d agree that it is “quietly charmng.” I sometimes feel just like the Queen, that people think I’m just a bit daft because I love to read. Loved the twist at the end with the writing.

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