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Sunday, March 10, 2013


Imagine this scenario. You're interacting with someone who you think is highly intelligent and/or a very discerning reader. Perhaps this person's intellect is mildly intimidating. In your mind, this person would be unlikely to read much fiction but if they did, it would probably be the classics. For the purposes of this exercise, it doesn't matter if your assumptions about this person are at all accurate.

Which author that you really enjoy would earn a qualifier of any kind when speaking to this imaginary person? Examples of qualifiers - "I read so and so when I want something light". Or..."So and so is my favorite beach read". Or..."just junk, you know", etc. Got the idea?

There's a fascinating human dynamic at work here. In my experience, qualifying our opinions is fairly commonplace. Years ago I began a project to review every recording in my personal collection. And even though no one will ever read these reviews, I recently discovered myself qualifying my positive opinion of  "Barry Manilow's Greatest Hits", using the expression "guilty pleasure". That led me to reflect on other stuff I routinely qualify, including contemporary authors I really enjoy.

Decided from now on when I mention Nick Hornby & Elmore Leonard, among others, I'm going to work on leaving out the qualifiers. My challenge will be retaining that resolve when encountering someone like the imaginary person in the first paragraph.       

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