Book Review Superman and Me

“I loved these books, but I also knew that love only had one purpose. I was trying to save my life”. “Superman and Me” by Sherman Alexie, and “Reading to Write” by Stephen King are both essays regarding the importance of reading. Sherman’s piece reflects on the power reading has on success within an ethnic group, while King’s essay describes how reading can be a powerful weapon for an aspiring writer. Both of these essays express the true impact reading can have on peoples’ lives. While both authors have a different purpose relating to the significance of reading, they approach the idea in similar ways. 

Sherman Alexie’s piece focuses on the importance of reading, specifically for Indian children in today’s society. He writes, “As Indian children, we were expected to fail in a non-Indian world”. Even as a child he was able to determine the disadvantage he must endure simply because of his ethnicity. With this knowledge, he was able to understand the importance of literature. “I loved those books, but I also knew that love had only one purpose. I was trying to save my life”, wrote Alexie. We can understand that similarly to King, he doesn't just read for fun and understands there can be a greater purpose within the literature. Towards the end of the essay, Alexie explains his effort to get his message across to young Indian children like he once was. “They refuse and resist. ‘Books,’ I say to them. ‘Books,’ I say.” Throughout the essay, Alexie does not only recognize the role literature played on his life, but he reflects on how books can be revolutionary to the stereotype of a culture.

Stephen King also writes about the importance of reading, but unlike Alexie, the group he believes will benefit from reading is aspiring writers. Right from the beginning of the essay, King makes it clear that reading is essential. “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot,” King wrote. Since he is a highly experienced writer, his target audience is expected to value his opinion. He continues later in the essay to explain how reading can benefit writers. He writes, “So we read to experience the mediocre and outright rotten; such experience helps us to recognize those things when they begin to creep into our own work.” By giving an example that is specific to writers, it is obvious his purpose is to inform the writers. Once again, towards the end of the essay, King is obvious with his intention of appealing to writers. “The real importance of reading is that it creates an ease and intimacy with the process of writing,” King writes. Throughout the essay, King consistently stressed the idea that reading is essential in order to write.

Sherman Alexie’s “Superman and Me”, and Stephen King’s “Reading to Write” both agreed that reading was essential, but differed in the audience. Alexie’s stresses the importance of reading for young American-Indian children, while King’s relates more to the significance of reading for writers. These pieces also differ in tone in terms of the urgency and severity the author speaks with. For example, Alexie writes his in a way that makes it seem as though reading is essential, and people’s lives depend on it. “I am smart. I am arrogant. I am lucky. I am trying to save our lives,” Alexie writes. He makes it clear that reading is essential if any American-Indian truly wants to be successful. King too agrees with the essentiality of reading, but his approach is much more light-hearted and less intense. “If there’s no joy in it, it’s no good. It’s best to go on to some other area.” King wrote. Unlike Alexie, his audience is given the option if reading is something that will be essential in their lives, making the entire piece a bit less heavy. Overall, both pieces agree on the importance of reading for specific groups, but their groups and tone differ.

“Superman and Me” by Sherman Alexie, and “Reading to Write” by Stephen King had the same concept, but their ideas differed in the audience. Alexie’s piece was specific to the American-Indian. King’s was focused on the importance of reading for an aspiring writer. Both pieces were appropriate for their intended audience, as Alexie’s was much more dramatic and intense than King’s because of his intended audience. Overall, both pieces were had similar topics but were effective in different ways.