“You were kind of hard on your blog readers today, weren’t you?” my wife said. She’s always taking your side.
I assumed my wife was getting on to me about articulating my opinions about The Road and The Giving Tree. I began patiently to explain how I had made it clear that I wasn’t criticizing anybody who had recommended those books.

Then my wife patiently explained that she was talking about something else. She was talking about the fact that on Monday I invited people to tell what books they liked, then on Wednesday I told them why they shouldn’t like those books. “If I were Joe, I’d never come back.”

“Joe? Just because I  described one of his favorite books as ‘creepy’? Joe understands. Surely Joe understands.”

I thought on it. “Maybe I’ll write a nice email to Joe. And to Gina. And Aaron [who, by the way, likes both The Giving Tree and The Road].”

“Okay,” my wife said. “But what about everybody else? Because you created an unsafe environment. I wouldn’t answer next time you ask people to give their opinion.” It takes courage, she said, to commit one’s opinions to writing and put them out there for the world to read.

Which is true. I asked you to put yourselves out there, then I smacked some of you on the hand with a ruler. In other words, what we have here is a failure of hospitality. You are my guests here, and you deserve better treatment.

I am a man of strong literary opinions. I hope my blog readers are interested in my opinions, which, if you ask me, are very well-informed. I hope becomes a place where we feel free to respectfully discuss disagree about topics literary and otherwise. But I went about Sad Book Week all wrong. I asked you to tell me what you liked, which is a different thing from asking you what opinions you hold. Your likes sit a little closer to your self than your opinions, and to pass judgment on your likes was beyond my jurisdiction.

So Joe, Gina, and Aaron–and everybody else–I hope you will forgive me for my lapse in hospitality. I want this to be a safe place for people to write and try to tell the truth without having to worry about my sailing down from the rafters to knock them down. In the future, I plan to open the floor to debate many times, but I’ll try to make that clear from the start of the discussion and refrain from the old “Tell me what you like…oh, but you shouldn’t like that” routine.

Fair enough?