Suggested Reading Habits

If you are reading Ulysses on your own, I recommend setting yourself a schedule: read at least one episode per week, and you should aim to read each of the first eight episodes within the same day (if not in one sitting).  

With regard to the resources on this website, people tell me that they find it useful to read the relevant episode guide prior to reading the text itself. Those resources are designed to help prepare you for the main plot points, highlight the major stylistic innovations, and clear up any confusing sections before they bog you down.

Joyce trains you in how to read his novel, beginning with challenging but rather short chapters.  If you finish each episode the same day you start, you will build the momentum and confidence you need to finish the book.  Joyce gradually builds your reading muscles in these manageable early episodes so that you are prepared to handle "Scylla & Charybdis," "Oxen of the Sun," and "Circe" later.  

In terms of the ergonomics of reading this novel, I strongly recommend reading actively with a pen or pencil at a table or desk.  If you want to get answers to a few of the many "what on earth does that mean?" passages, have your copy of the Gifford open beside the novel.  

But you needn't get bogged down in checking each of the annotations.  You may find entire paragraphs and even full pages where you say "well, there's a lot of stuff in there that I don't understand."  That's fine.  Keep going.  Even after studying the book carefully for over a decade, I still encounter many passages like that.  Just accept that there's no way of grasping the entire book in one reading (or five...or ten, for that matter); indeed, Joyce famously hoped that Ulysses would "keep the professors busy for centuries."  

So, make a schedule and do what you need to do to stick with it.  Once you finish reading the novel, you'll want to read it again, and no book better rewards re-reading than Ulysses.  But first thing's first: read well, read on, and read Ulysses.