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3 Bookish Super Powers Every Reader Needs

Zoe Dickinson

Staff Writer

Zoe Dickinson is a poet and lover of language, as well as a newly minted librarian with her MLIS from Dalhousie University. She now lives in Victoria, B.C., where she works at Canada's largest used bookstore, and gradually adds to her vast cardigan collection. Zoe is a literary omnivore, devouring everything from ancient poetry to contemporary romance to science fiction. The only genre she doesn't read is horror, because she is kind of a wimp. If Zoe had a superpower, it would be the ability to walk and read without bumping into anything. Her two favourite places are the beach and the library. Twitter: @zoeidadickinson

I’ve been watching a lot of super hero movies lately, and that got me thinking about super powers I would actually use in my daily life. Sure, super strength would be great, or invisibility, or the power of flight – but when I think about what might really be useful in day-to-day life, everything that comes to mind is fairly bookish.

Reading itself is pretty much a super power: the ability to enter countless different worlds at will! But there are some other bookish super powers worth noting. Here are a few reading super powers I aspire to, and one I think I’ve (almost) mastered. What’s your reading super power? Let me know in the comments.

1. Eidetic page-number memory

We’ve all been there: your book tumbles off the arm of your chair, and you lose your place! There are few things more frustrating than paging through a book trying to figure out where you left off. I’m notorious for losing bookmarks, and dog-earing pages has its own set of issues. I have often wished for the ability to automatically remember the page number where I left off, or to magically be able to re-open the book at the exact right spot.

Sadly, I have not mastered this ability yet. If anyone has any tips, please let me know!

2. The ability to read in the dark

There are so many situations where this would come in handy! During evening cab rides, when I strain to angle my book towards passing streetlights, in movie theaters when the film gets boring, and of course in bed when I really want to finish just one more chapter but don’t want to wake up my partner. Ebooks fulfill this need to some extent, as ereaders and smartphones provide their own light, but they don’t do me much good when I’m right in the middle of a paperback. And, of course, there are those little reading lights you can attach to your book, but have you ever tried to read while walking home from a bus stop with one of those hooked onto your hardcover? I have, and it’s pretty awkward!

I really wish I could get bitten by a radioactive bat or something and develop the miraculous ability to read in the dark…

3. The ability to walk and read without bumping into things (much)

I’ve been practicing this one for years, and I’ve gotten to the point where I can walk and read at the same time (mostly) without bumping into things. What else am I supposed to do during that walk to and from the bus stop, to the grocery store, up and down the stairs to my bedroom, etc? That’s just empty time begging to be filled with stories.

Sometimes, if I’m at a particularly exciting passage, I’ll realize I haven’t been walking for several minutes, look up, and find myself nose-to-nose with a telephone pole. I’m not aware of noticing the obstacle, but some part of me must have told my feet to stop moving. I do occasionally bump into something, but it’s rare.
A word of caution: attempting this super power in highly populated areas is risky! Be careful to stop reading and look both ways before crossing any streets, and do not attempt until you have honed your peripheral vision to its utmost!

If you adopt this occupation, you should also be prepared to take some flak from your fellow pedestrians, especially if you’re reading an ebook. I’ve noticed that when I’m reading a paper book, I’m seen with tolerant amusement. Reading an ebook while walking draws only annoyance, maybe because people assume I’m texting, emailing, or some other less charming activity.