Whatever It Is, I Don't Like It

More than once in these selected columns written for The Independent, Man Booker Prize winner Howard Jacobson (The Finkler Question) highlights the improving effects of written works that challenge -- rather than just entertain -- us. But this wide-ranging collection, tackling topics as diverse as British politics, the Bard, bicycles, and the BBC in his trademark wry, rapid-fire style, is testament to Jacobson's ability to both entertain and challenge the reader.

April 21: " 'Pull' includes 'invitations to tea' at which one hears smiling reminders that a better life is available to people who stop talking about massacres..."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…