Here's a conundrum: how to review a book that's all about how people judge (and review) things? It's well-researched, really interesting, and has the potential to be widely popular. It's fascinating stuff about literal and figurative taste, what we like, and how we like. It is a dense book, full of information, but entertaining nonetheless. I also really like his book Traffic.
What follows is a very specific example of how my attitude towards this book is colored by an unrelated aside, and is not intended to be part of the actual review of the book, but just the bit that sticks out at me as an illustration of some of the concepts he writes about, and that I feel compelled to write about because while I'm aware that other people might read my reviews, they are primarily a journal of reading for me to look back at. So feel free to skip the following.
<spoiler>I generally like it when nonfiction writers let a little of their personal lives bleed into their work: the pretense of detachment and disinterest and "fair and balanced" is bogus and everyone knows it. And mostly it works well here. But early on he casually observes how his neighborhood in Brooklyn happens to be mostly thin people. Okay, this is a guy who should know that thinness correlates with wealth and that fat people are penalized to hell and gone in the US in healthcare, education, advancement at work as well as the ubiquitous fat-shaming. It's not some kind of statistical fluke that his neighborhood is thin: it's thin privilege letting him be oblivious. Like I said, this is pretty early on, like the introduction or first chapter. So he kind of accidentally mentioned a topic that I know a fair bit about, and that brief flash of annoyance became attached to the signifier Brooklyn. And then (it seemed like constantly but couldn't possibly have been), he kept mentioning Brooklyn. So now even though I really appreciate his writing I'm left feeling really hostile towards smug Brooklynites, which by exposure to only possibly one is unfair both to the innocent smugless residents of one of New York's five boroughs, and probably to the author in particular as well. But there it is: my opinion of the book might well be forever colored by a casual aside and I'm quite likely to always be put on edge when I come across Brooklyn as well. And now I've written about three times as much about my emotional reaction to this aside as I have about the book in general, because that's how people's taste and discussion of same tend to roll. And if anyone else bothers to read this little spoiler, they will probably have an emotional reaction towards what I've written which could easily go "The hell?" or "Oh, me too, I hate that" and life is really complicated isn't it?</spoiler>