If there is one thing that is more boring than a boring book, it is a boring review of the boring book. I remember seeing some reviews of Amartya Sen’s book, “Argumentative Indian” that were as stretched and verbose as the book itself. It is difficult to outdo Amartya Sen on verbosity, but the reviewers put in valiant efforts.
An article that appeared in The Slate refers to the three rules of book review:
1. The review must tell what the book is about.
2. The review must tell what the book's author says about that thing the book is about.
3. The review must tell what the reviewer thinks about what the book's author says about that thing the book is about.
The third rule must not be taken as a licence for the reviewer to present an entire thesis on what he thinks the author is saying. Brevity is the soul of a review.
That’s why I liked this story I came across:
In 1944 a children’s book club sent a volume about penguins to a 10-year-old girl, enclosing a card seeking her opinion.
She wrote, “This book gives me more information about penguins than I care to have.”
American diplomat Hugh Gibson called it the finest piece of literary criticism he had ever read