“De gustibus non est disputandum.”

The Romans knew how to turn a phrase. The problem is the meaning of their brilliant sayings is lost on the average dude or dudette because they opted out of Latin class. But there is hope for you yet if you are an old school monk because a monk had to learn Latin. Whether Latin is still required is in question since services today are in the vernacular of your country.

For those who are open to new experiences and new tastes, it is frustrating to deal with folk who refuse to venture beyond the borders of their comfort zone. For example, going out to eat with picky eaters can be a challenge. A challenge we are willing to deal with when it comes to children because they will outgrow such eating limitations, we hope.

When children do not evolve in their willingness to try new foods, the world is left to deal with physically grown up but dietarily timid adults. You probably know such folks. The simple process of choosing a restaurant or cuisine they are willing to try can test our patience and the relationship.

If you believe that disparity in tastes is limited to food and drink alone, you overlooked the wonderful world of books. Some people enjoy one particular genre while other indulge in a mixture of several. The selection is vast, thrillers, mysteries, romance, fantasy or science fiction to name a few. Normally, you choose a book according to your specific preference. At least, that would be the most logical course of action.

But if you want to take a walk on the wild side or irrational side, take a few moments to read book reviews on Amazon. For full effect, they should be reviews on the same book. But beware, your head might explode. On the other hand, if you can remain calm, reading reviewer comments can be a form of cheap entertainment.

Pick a book you have read or any book on Amazon and glance at the reviews which range from five stars to one star. It will not be long before you wonder if all those folks read the same book. For example, a book described as an action thriller had reviews ranging from one star: “does not keep your attention” and “too much violence” to five stars: “something entertaining and fun that isn’t too heavy.”

To put things in perspective, how do you reconcile “something entertaining” with the content of a guy’s face burned, his finger chopped off and then he is blown up? Of course, the latter is true of many movies as well: lots of explosions, car crashes, etcetera. The only answer can be the individual viewer’s or reader’s tolerance or lack thereof.

Take the “Fifty Shades of Grey” books, please. Some people (predominantly females) raved about the books and you have to wonder if the books supplied something that was lacking in those females’ lives. When we pressed for comments beyond “it was hot”, more thoughtful readers mentioned that the quality of the writing was appalling, but when the “plot” seemed to lag, another steamy scene appeared to save the day. Did the author realize her literary failings and injected such scenes to distract the reader from questioning her literary aptitude? It is doubtful but possible in some alternate universe where substance still matters.

The irrational nature of readers can be best summed up in a conversation between a romance author at a book club meeting and a well-seasoned widow. “I don’t like explicit sex scenes. I prefer the couple going in the bedroom. Then they walk out the next morning saying something along the lines of ‘that was nice.’” Then the lady added, “Whenever I see a man my eyes immediately zoom in on his crotch.”

See, personal preference is subjective and irrational. To argue otherwise is futile.



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