If this year’s reading has a theme, it’s one delineated by Philip Roth quoting Kafka: “I believe that we should read only those books that bite and sting us. If a book we are reading does not rouse us with a blow to the head, then why read it?”
And so it was that I gave myself permission, this year, to put down books that just weren’t doing it for me. You’ll see them below. Life’s too short, I figured, to finish books just to finish them. If, a hundred pages in, I wasn’t in love, down it went with no regrets. The books that I did finish run the gambit, from cooly earnest (Marilynne Robinson, Emily St. John Mandel) to hilariously raw and Jewish (Roz Chast, Philip Roth). Let’s get to it.