Maia has recently decided that everyone has a superpower, and I was informed the other day that mine is reading. Reading? Really? A superpower? Who knew? All this time, I’ve been selfishly thinking that my love of reading was just for my own personal entertainment. But this is, after all, the child who, when I told her once that reading makes you smart, immediately exclaimed in reply, “No wonder you’re so smart!” So if I am to be gifted with a superpower by my superpower-granting daughter, I can understand why it would be this one.
As I presume anyone newly possessed of such novel talents would do, I’ve been contemplating how I might use this alleged reading superpower to benefit humanity, subvert the bad guys, and save the world. But first things first. I need a catchy alias. The Battling Bookworm? The Revolutionary Reader? The Paperback Protector? The Literate Liberator? So many good candidates to choose from! And, equally important, what about the requisite spandex costume? I certainly couldn’t practice my new powers without looking fashionably ridiculous. I’m picturing something in black and white, reminiscent of pages fresh off the printing press, with a cape meticulously tailored to evoke a book cover. But wait a minute, I watched The Incredibles. I’m afraid I’ll have to nix the cape. Finally, I’ll need some scholarly sidekicks to complete my new identity. They will help me carry out my mission to read every book ever written and use the acquired wisdom for good, rather than evil. Any volunteers?
As for how to vanquish the enemy, I’m new at this sort of thing, but I have some preliminary ideas. I mean, books would make good weapons, right? Especially the weightier volumes of hardcover variety. I’m sure with a little practice, I could aim well enough to take down an illiterate adversary or two with my specially crafted, one-of-a-kind, auto-firing book catapult. Except how could someone who loves books treat them with such disrespect? I’d probably be too worried about damaging them or not getting them back. Besides, the logistics would never work. How could I reasonably carry around a good supply of ammunition? Instead, when I really need to send a message to the masses, I can always lead a riot of… peaceful reading? I can picture it now. An angry mob reading silently in protest over some dastardly and evil book ban. Yeah, that’ll show ’em!
So maybe this particular superpower isn’t about what I do with books so much as what is inside them. That’s where the real power lies. Books open up new worlds of knowledge and imagination. With a good book I can learn something new, challenge myself to be better at any number of things, or just lose myself in a cleverly fabricated yarn. Reading won’t give me x-ray vision or superhuman strength or the ability to fly, but it keeps my intellect engaged and stimulated, which I hope in turn makes me an informed and productive member of society. Since the only foe I’m fighting is a stagnant mind, that’s good enough for me. And hey, if I’ve set a good example for my kids to be readers themselves, that’s really all the superpower I need.