Together in Spirit

An online reading group ('TIS a reading group!) to bring together friends, and friends of friends, who aren't able to be in a conventional reading group due to constraints of time or geography.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Uncommon reader by an unfamiliar blogger

It's been so long since contributing, but here I am again....! And Emily cleverly suggested Alan Bennett's "Uncommon reader" as my first read back in.

I thought it was great. Terribly readable - diverting, entertaining and light-heartedly poignant. And what a pleasant "manifesto on how reading changes lives" (as one critic comments on back cover), I didn't feel preached at despite strong views being aired about why read and how to go about it. So being lobbyed on merits of reading - expanding vocabulary, raising sensitivity towards others by increasing powers of observation and reflection. That it's not to be exercised out of duty but rather for pleasure and enlightenment - which challenges my finisher tendencies, when I start a book, I like to finish it. Though I'm not convinced these need necessarily be kicked into touch (as Sir Kevin might say!). But it is good to be reminded that book reading shouldn't per se, be work.

Found little dig at Harry Potter amusing, considering this book at one level was an explicit rally call to read, something which JK Rowling has been praised for doing so through her writings.

Resonated with delight Queen had when author discovered, and found he/she has written others (reminded me of Mum and Ellis Peters Cadfael series). Loved the picture of the Queen participating in and excelling at pub quizes. And found musings on literature's indifference to its readers, that books don't care who's reading them or whether one's reading them or not, all readers are equal, poignant in the context of this "uncommon reader". And therefore the intoxicating appeal to her of reading - that it's anonymous, shared and common. "She who led a life apart craved it".

Just being slightly thick, could someone explain the comment "literature is a commonwealth, letters a republic", on pg 31.

Journey reading took her on, in which it was confirmed to her "she had no voice", and the reality this could be achieved through writing leading to the final twist and her abdication, reminded me of colleagues in the past who've struggled at times in representing the organisation we've worked for and who've exclaimed at their leaving dos "it's such a relief to have my voice back".

Finally, identified with analogy of reading to a muscle. Like so many things in life, it needs to be exercised. Something I've not done much of in the last 8 months. So starting out again with a light bit of exercise in the form of this delightful book was so therapeutic.