The book reviews I've been doing lately and the impending publication of my new book Turned Out Nice Again: the story of British light entertainment have caused me to think far too deeply about approaches to reviewing. The one that annoys me most is the reviewer who tells you how they would have written the same book, and that the approach taken by the author is, as a result, worthless. As far as I'm concerned, a reviewer's job is to say whether the book works or not, and, if not, why not. There are many ways to reach the same conclusion, and to suggest that you have the one true path is appalling arrogance.
The other thing that annoys me is reviewers who think they're the main feature rather than a mildly illuminating sideshow. When my first book-shaped thing came out, one reviewer spent roughly half of the article talking about his own life and career before summarising the book dismissively in a couple of paragraphs at the end. Among his more perceptive comments, he said that the book was dense and confusing in places, which it was. It was a dense, confusing subject and, several years on, I'm happy to admit that I bit off a bit more than I could chew (I'm still enormously proud of the book, but I did feel the need to lob in the kitchen sink - I'd write it a bit differently now). However, as an example of density and confusion, he chose to quote a bit that I wrote in a quite deliberately dense and confusing manner (think Danny Kaye doing the vessel with the pestle) to show what a cat's cradle of guff the record industry had become.
Anyway, get yer lovely pre-orders in for the perfect stocking filler here.