Thursday, 16 April 2009

The Uncommon Reader (2007) by Alan Bennett

Here's an uncommon treat for you, my readers, a book review!
People who have briefly met me, or overheard me going off on one, might think there's an annoying big-mouth who is well read. Well, I don't consider myself well read at all. I know things, but I probably haven't read them, I've probably just listened to my intense book-aholic sister talk about the books she has read, or listened to my well read mother or my (surprisingly) well read father. Or I've seen the film or the TV series.
I have a lot of books in my room, hundreds, people are easily fooled by them as well- in the same way people were fooled by my immense video collection "Wow! What a good collection!- Wait, what the hell is all this crap!?" Yes, my books are along the same lines. I have a whole three shelves dedicated to P.G. Wodehouse, (hey! you'll never guess what happens in this one! Someone steals the pig before an agricultural show, people get engaged to the wrong chaps but everything works out fine in the end!) I have two shelves for comics, three for picture books, two for reference and three or four for book-books.
Maybe I am well read for the average person these days, but compared to my family and friends I feel like right little idiot sometimes. Anna (my sister) reads at night before going to sleep, I tend to do one of the following: (1)Write, (2)Listen to an old Russell Brand podcast and remember the good old days, or (3)play tetris. I used to read but since that damn ipod came into my life I'm all about podcasts and tetris.
The thing is I go on a lot of train journeys and I like to read on the train, so I have hundreds of books on my shelves that are started. In the last two months I have had about seven books on the go, I can see from here; a book Suzie gave me but I got ill while reading it and haven't gone back to it, Obama's book which was great but my mum told me the childhood bits were the best bits so I didn't bother finishing it! Joseph Heller's Autobiography which is also really REALLY good, Kath and Kin by Stevie Davies which I always read wrong because Kath and Kim (the original Australian show, not the god awful American remake) is genius. And Simon Gray's Smoking Diaries which I thought I'd better re-read before seeing the play (these are very good btw, and remind me a lot of Heller's autobiography, but with more smoking).
My dad Gave me The Uncommon Reader and I read it in two hours.
Yes, I think this is the key, I should read short stories.
The Uncommon Reader is a nice silly short story with a fabulous ending (I didn't know where it was going, but it is perfect) about the Queen suddenly developing a passion for books. She discovers a mobile library in the grounds of Buckingham Palace while walking the dogs and to be polite she checks out a book.
It is fab. Just what you need for a grey afternoon. I was an Alan Bennett fan before, now I find I like him even more. Wow, what a review, I think it totaled about fifty words. Right, off to bed and play tetris!

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