I have read a lot of chessbooks in my time, over a hundred _read_, not simply purchased. At one time I had around 120 books, I was reading them, then I would trade them in for more chess books when I was done. I’ve also read books cover-to-cover that I have simply checked out from a library.
I am reading this book by Lane, going over the games in the Alapin Sicilian. I really like this author, it’s more of a games collection even though he is thorough in regards to the opening. The games are fun and improving my positional and tactical play.
Another author I really liked was Mednis. The saying “anything by Mednis is good” still roughly applies.
S*ltis books really seemed to be driven by example, almost to where ‘the specific incident proves the rule’, which I find baffling, but he picked out nice interesting games regardless of whatever greater rule that he was trying to prove. If you could remember but also ignore the rule and just be amused by the games, then it was provocative and helpful. Actually, he does give multiple examples of how the rule works, but I don’t think great players are thinking “Man, that general rule in the blah-and-blah opening really kicked my @ss again.” They are aware of the general rule, but chess is much bigger than “tricks”.
I have had three of Minev’s book. Some authors seem to be in love with a certain number of games. My last two books by him both contain 200 games. The book on the Fantasy var. of the Caro-Kahn seemed like a rushed job. The biggest problem with this book, meager amount of annotations aside, was the game selections. I have no doubt that it was quite difficult when he wrote it to scrape up 200 games on this variation, but I feel as though over half of the games should never have seen the light of day in print because of their quality. You sort of forget that there are bad games out there when you read a lot of books because they always try to include the most impressive/instructive games played. Yes, even masters wake up on the wrong side of the bed sometimes and should burn their scoresheet after the game.
But this gets to my main point, the most important thing is an author’s reputation and game selection. Monographs seem needless in the day of the database, but their worth is really even more in the game selection than in the annotation – game selection is much, much more important than annotation, something I had never realized before. No offense meant by this, but annotations are much more necessary for the reader below 1900 rating strength. I still gain a lot from annotations and the author’s opinion of moves, often done only with words not necessarily with variations.