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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"To Read Is To Withdraw”*

In The Uncommon Reader, as the Queen’s new passion for reading takes up more and more of her time, the Buckingham Palace staff becomes worried. As her chief aide Sir Kevin explains, “To read is to withdraw. To make oneself unavailable. One would feel better about it if the pursuit were less . . . selfish.” Sir Kevin suggests a press release encouraging the improvement of reading standards among the young or literacy in general.

Her Majesty disagrees. “One reads for pleasure. It is not a public duty.”

What are your thoughts? Is reading a pleasure or a duty in a literate society?

*Once a week, library staff will post an entry here on The Uncommon Reader, this year’s All Fairfax Reads selection. The project invites all residents of Fairfax County and the City of Fairfax to read and discuss the same book. Check our Web site for a book discussion guide and upcoming events as they are scheduled.


Diane said...

Although not currently a Fairfax resident, I have read this book and have to disagree (respectfully!) with the Queen. Reading is indeed a pleasure - an escape to different or better times and places but I think it's also a duty. We have to take responsibility for the information we receive and read widely on various subjects. We can't rely solely on one viewpoint or the viewpoint given us by TV/Radio/Newspapers. It's only by dutiful reading (and that doesn't mean only reading the views you agree with) that we can make informed, important decisions for ourselves and our future.

Anonymous said...

Diane --

I wonder if there is a place for both types of reading. I think the Queen's attitude changes a little toward the end of the book when she moves from reading to planning to write a book. She says it will be a tangential history of its times, but about books and people -- not gossip.