In 2004, the Fairfax County Public Library launched All Fairfax Reads, one of 100 one community/one book projects in the U.S. at the time. The concept was born in 1998, when a Seattle librarian initiated a national movement that has been adopted around the world.
All Fairfax Reads encourages adults in our community to read the same book and talk about it in book discussion groups and other events. The result: strangers talking to one another, the first step toward community engagement.
Since 2004 we have encouraged all adults in Fairfax County to read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie and last year’s His Excellency: George Washington by Joseph Ellis.
This year’s selection is The Uncommon Reader, a novella by British playwright Alan Bennett, the author of the Tony-Award-winning play "The History Boys" as well as "The Madness of George III" and other plays and books.
In the book, the Queen of England stumbles upon a bookmobile on the grounds of Buckingham Palace. As her reading horizons broaden, her new-found passion first alarms the palace staff and finally threatens the monarchy. Bennett’s comic romp can be read both as satire and a more serious treatise on the subversive power of reading.
Each Tuesday between now and the end of September we will discuss aspects of the novella on this page and we hope you will chime in with your thoughts and ideas.
In the meantime, pick up a copy of the book and check the library’s Web site for an online reader’s guide. Also check back later for a listing of community-wide events to be scheduled in September. You can also pick up a printed version in your local branch in the near future.
Enjoy the wicked satire of Alan Bennett, who also shares some serious observations on the role of reading in society.
Welcome to the All Fairfax Readers this summer!