My good friend Chuck Whittington was into Philip Roth, which is what introduced me to him as a young twenty-something (he was not one of those figures we learned about in high school American literature). I think, like many, I began with Portnoy's Complaint and read it at a good age for doing so. It was exciting and unlike anything I'd previously read (also true for many readers it seems). This was an era when I decided I needed to brush up on contemporary American writers and so started reading Roth, Updike, Morrison, etc.
My favourite Roth are two short stories in Goodbye, Columbus--"The Conversion of the Jews" and "Eli, the Fanatic." I reread the first of these the other day after the news of his death.
Over the last two decades I have read a Roth novel every few years. I've never gone out and bought a new copy of one, just picked them up at used bookstores and church and library book sales as I've encountered them. I thought The Human Stain was okay. I loved American Pastoral, his best novel that I've read. The Plot Against America was enjoyable.
But I hated Sabbath's Theater and couldn't finish it. Turned me off from trying to read more broadly in his canon. Also not long after trying to read it I started subscribing to The Atlantic where I enjoyed Christopher Hitchens' eviscerating reviews of each Roth novel as they appeared. I've, thus, read none of his work published in this century.
A few years ago I read The Counterlife, which was very good. It is set in Israel/Palestine in the 1980's and explores from a fractured identity the complexities of issues surrounding that region. That novel has been influential in my own understanding of the conflict, and I recommend it to people.
One of these days I'll read more of his novels from the 1970's and 80's. Since I'm a Library of America subscriber, I assume that eventually I'll get mailed one of their volumes.