I’ve recently been re-reading Ulysses, after being gifted a beautiful copy of the clothbound Penguin edition by a friend - my original copy having vanished a decade ago when I enthusiastically lent it to a friend, who I also haven’t seen since shortly afterwards. (I’m trying not to read too much into that.)
Ulysses is one of those books that inspires eye-rolls and groans in even the most committed of readers. I’m not here to necessarily argue with that; yes, it is massively pretentious (deliberately so, pulling from everything from Greek myth and Catholic scripture to specific Dublin locations and the entire history of the English language) and imposingly intimidating. It can become an effort to wade through its 1,000 pages of made-up words, obscure references and stream-of-consciousness movement between dozens of characters, places, writing styles and historical time periods.
In fact, what I’m here to tell you is that effort is the very point - and if you enjoy getting to grips with the rules and strategies of board games, Ulysses scratches many of those same itches. If you spend hours poring over the specificities of rules and thinking up new game-winning tactics, Ulysses should be on your reading list. With the right approach, it’s a book that’s fun - not frustrating. Stay with me on this.
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