Sowell on book reviews

Over the years, I have come to find writing book reviews even more distasteful than reading them. Part of this is my own fault, for being one of those old-fashioned holdouts who still believes that you should actually read the book before reviewing it.

Sometimes I am only into the first 20 pages of a 500-page book when it becomes painfully clear that this one is a real dog. The rest of the ordeal is like crossing the Sahara Desert—except that often there are no oases. True, the reviewer gets to slaughter the author in print at the end of it all, but this merely appeases the desire for revenge, which only real blood would satisfy.

—Thomas Sowell, ‘Some Thoughts about Writing’


  1. I’m assuming he must be a paid reviewer with assigned books – otherwise I call masochism if you know by page 20 the book is not for you, and keep reading. Life is too short.

    Besides, it is almost impossible to properly savage a bad 500-page book: there are too many errors per page.

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