The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
Published September 2007 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
When The Queen goes in search of one of her Corgis, she inadvertently comes across a mobile library on the palace grounds. Feeling that she must check out a book now that she's there, she takes the advice of Norman, one of the kitchen workers.
"She had never taken much interest in reading. She read, of course, as one did, but liking books was something she left to other people. It was a hobby and it was in the nature of her job that she didn't have hobbies. "
The first book doesn't necessarily grab her but now she must take it back, and once she's back, she again feels compelled to check out another book. Bennett takes us along as the Queen becomes an avid reader, much to the chagrin of her entire staff and even the Prime Minister when it begins to effect her work.
"Still, though reading absorbed her, what the Queen had not expected was the degree to which it drained her of enthusiasm for anything else. "
The Queen has to sneak books in, her chief of staff keeps assisting in making them disappear, and the Prime Minister sends an aide to see to it that the Queen cease and desist immediately.
This book is charming and witty and it's easy to see why Bennett is so popular in England. He is able to skewer the whole of the system of royalty and while still making the Queen look good. He even has a go at writers, as well. When the Queen hosts a party for writers, she finds them to be quite boring. And he's able to throw in a surprise ending, just in case you weren't enjoying the book enough all ready! At 120 pages, this is novella is the first thing I have read in a very long time that ended much too soon for me.