Friday Faves: Ulysses by James Joyce

Each week I invite someone bookish to tell us about one of their all-time favourite works of fiction, and why it’s so special to them. This week’s Friday Fave comes from voracious reader and blogger Lisa Hill:

It’s really hard to choose an all-time favourite book so I’m going to use a simple criteria: Ulysses by James Joyce is the book I’ve read and re-read most often. It was a real thrill for me to visit Dublin and see the places that come alive in this novel, though of course there are so many great writers and bookish things to do in Dublin we were spoiled for choice.


The reason I’ve read Ulysses four times – and enjoyed it more each time – is because it’s so rich in obscure allusions and cunning metaphors that I always find something new each time I read it. I like challenging books, but only if they are worth the investment of time to read them.

I didn’t always like Ulysses: it was on the reading list at university and I used to joke that it was a great cure for my chronic insomnia. It took me the whole summer to read it, and I was not very keen on having to read it again during term. Which just goes to show that first impressions can be wrong, because it was then with the guidance of my tutor that I began to understand and appreciate it.  And fall in love with it.


I read it again when my adult son tackled it, and I read it again in 2010 in an online readalong. I blogged each chapter that time, partly because I thought I might be able to help someone else who was floundering with it, partly because I liked being part of an online community that was sharing their interpretations, and partly because I just wanted to turn the chaotic notes in my reading journal into something coherent, ready and waiting for the next time I read it!

But first I’m going to have a go at Finnegan’s Wake…


Lisa Hill is a primary school librarian who lives in Melbourne, Victoria. A voaracious reader (last year she read an astounding 167 books), she blogs prolifically about about Australian literary fiction, Australian classics and (less often) non-fiction at ANZ LIt Lovers.  There are also regular blog posts about contemporary international fiction and the classics. ANZ Lit Lovers is archived by the National Library of Australia and in 2012 won the Sydney Writers Centre Best Australian Blog Award in the ‘words’ category.

Your turn:

Have you read Ulysses? I must confess I struggled through a few chapters and gave up. One day, I’ll give it another go.

Want more?

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Friday Faves  Ulysses by James Joyce   ANNABEL SMITH

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