I usually make a point of mentioning this one whenever I have occasion to teach a seminar in criticism:
2. Give [the author] enough direct quotation–at least one extended passage–of the book’s prose so the review’s reader can form his own impression, can get his own taste.
I’ve never heard a better piece of book-reviewing advice.
Alas, I no longer buy Updike’s first rule: “Try to understand what the author wished to do, and do not blame him for not achieving what he did not attempt.” To find out why, go here.
I continue to stand by the others, but Number Two remains my all-time favorite. It’s also the one most likely to be forgotten by big-name reviewers, as I had occasion to point out last month. Should you ever catch me breaking it, feel free to send me a rocket!