One of the best short stories I've read in the last few years, The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett is an entertaining parable on the pros and cons of being a citizen of the "republic of letters", explored through the eyes of the modern monarch by definition, Elizabeth II, the Queen of England. What is "the act of reading"? Is it purely selfish? Does it really improve one's life? How would it affect a person, especially one who is the very embodiment of life and action of an entire country? Is the act of writing a necessary consequence? This little page-turner will entertain and engage even the casual reader, and would be perfectly suited for a couple of hours to spare between opening a swimming-bath and having luncheon with the Archbishop of Canterbury.
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