I just finished reading The Yiddish Policemen's Union, and I can honestly say that it has changed my life. Not because it's a great book, because I really didn't enjoy it that much. I just couldn't really get into it. For one, I'm not a huge fan of murder mysteries. I enjoyed the dialog and I didn't really find the Chabon's use of Yiddish too distracting, I just felt that the story never really developed enough momentum. The story is organized into relatively short chapters that all end with a punchy one-liner, which was amusing at first, but by the end, it started to feel like Chabon was putting more effort into his chapter endings than the overall plot.
So how did this slightly above average alternate history murder mystery change my life? For one, it's made me finally realize that there's no point in trying to read a novel if I'm not going to be able to be able to finish it in 2-3 weeks. I lose too much of the story if I try and read a novel 10 pages at a time. The other thing it has made me realize is that it's better to seek out books that I really want to read instead of reading whatever happens to fall in my lap. I've been meaning to read Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay for a long time, but every time I look for it at the library, it's checked out. I don't tend to buy a lot of new books, and while you can often find gems at the used book stores that I love so much, you're unlikely to find specific titles. I picked up Yiddish Policemen's Union from the remaindered rack at Barnes & Noble, which can also occasionally yield gems, but if you take the money I've wasted on second-rate discount titles over the years, I could have bought a small library of decent books instead. Or better yet, I could just request the titles that I'm interested in from the library and read them free of charge.
One final note, according to this article from last year, the Coen brothers are working on a film adaptation of The Yiddish Policeman's Union.