This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Saturday 2 June 2012

Saturday Rave: The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett.

Queen Elizabeth II is celebrating her Diamond Jubilee this weekend, so I'm celebrating with a book in which she stars.

Now, even if you are neither a subject nor a monarchist, consider: the Queen has done this job for sixty years. Without once assaulting a Minister of State.

How can we be otherwise than awe-struck?

In The Uncommon Reader it's the corgis

 that start everything. They lead the Queen to the palace mobile libary, where she borrows a book by Ivy Compton-Burnett.

'She read, of course, as one did, but liking books she left to other people...Hobbies involved preferences and preferences had to be avoided; preferences excluded people...Her job was to take an interest, not to be interested herself.'

 Remarkably, the Queen not only reads the book but survives the experience, and is set free to explore whole worlds until now closed to her.

Well, isn't that what books do for all of us?

Word To Use Today: preference. This word arrived in England in the reign of King Richard II. It comes from the Latin word praeferre, to carry in front or to prefer, from prae, in front, and ferre, to bear.


  1. I still have not read this book which is a disgrace. I adore Alan Bennett. He's one of the people I'd most like to have round for tea and scones. Apparently, the Duchess of Cornwall is a reader, which makes me like her a lot!

  2. I now have read it, thanks to you and loved it. Thanks so much. A few things I'd quarrel with but all in all a delight that you can read after supper in one go, so to speak!


All comments are very welcome, but please make them suitable for The Word Den's family audience.