Bloomsday Readalong (Master Post)

Posted June 16, 2012 by Heather in Read-alongs / 15 Comments

Ulysses and Ulysses Annotated

Today is Bloomsday, the day on which Joyce’s Ulysses is based (the protagonist’s name is Leopold Bloom, hence Bloomsday). In honor of this day, O of Délaissé is hosting a readalong of this book (or any other of Joyce’s works, in case interested readers aren’t ready to dive into Ulysses). I am going to attempt to read Ulysses. I’m sure I won’t be able to get through the entire thing in a day, but I’m going to do what I can. The book is based around the events of June 16, 1904, and this is how the time frame of the story is broken down (taken from O’s blog):

  • Part I – 8am
  • Part II – 10am
  • Part III – 11am
  • Part IV – 8am
  • Part V – 10am
  • Part VI – 11am
  • Part VII – 12pm
  • Part VIII – 1pm
  • Part IX – 2pm
  • Part X – 3pm
  • Part XI – 4pm
  • Part XII – 5pm
  • Part XIII – 8pm
  • Part XIV – 10pm
  • Part XV – 12am
  • Part XVI – 1am
  • Part XVII – 2am
  • Part XVII – Monologue

I probably won’t be able to stick to this schedule, not only because I won’t be out of bed by 8am (this will actually post while I’m still sleeping), but also because there will be kid-related interruptions throughout the day. I’m going to do my best, though! As you can see in the photo above, I have the Gabler edition of Ulysses, published by Vintage Books/Random House, and I purchased Gifford’s Ulysses Annotated because it has been revised and expanded to work with my edition of Ulysses. I’m sure referring to the annotations when I need to will slow me down a bit.

I’d rather not rush this book, anyway. I know that I will never understand it all in one read, but I want to take my time and absorb as much of it as I can. There will probably be lots of Googling in spite of having an entire book of annotations.

If you’re interested in joining, the sign-up post is here and a post with more information about the book is here.


I will be updating this post with my progress throughout the day so I’m not spamming my followers’ inboxes or feed readers. I will start my updates when I start reading, and probably post an update every few hours or so. We’ll see how it goes.

9am-2pm: I rolled out of bed at 9am–I wanted to go back to sleep, but I resisted the urge and just got up. I’m a slow starter in the morning, so I sat around and yawned and thought about Ulysses. I took some pictures. I went through my phone and updated myself on all the goings-on. I started reading the introductory text to both Ulysses and the book of annotations at 9:30(ish). I called my parents to wish them a happy anniversary. I read some more of the introductory stuff. I showered. I made lunch for Ashley, then for myself. I finished the introductory shenanigans during lunch. Then I messed around trying to get this update right. Now, NOW, I’m finally ready to dig into the actual text of Ulysses… and lo, I come prepared.


2pm-7pm: I have just started reading chapter/episode 2. How many pages into the book is that, you ask? Twenty. I’ve read twenty pages of Ulysses. I AM KICKING ASS AND TAKING NAMES! WOOOOO! I’ve decided to go about my reading like this: I’m reading a chapter of the book, and then reading/skimming the annotations for that chapter. I hate to keep interrupting my reading to check annotations every two minutes. That’s no fun. So really, I’ve read twenty pages of Ulysses, and sixteen pages of annotations…in five hours. Oh, and I’ve taken some notes. Honestly, I’m having a hard time concentrating, but it’s not the book’s fault. It’s just one of those days, unfortunately. At 3:30pm my body started telling me it was nap time, and you know what they say–sleepiness is next to godliness. I decided to shut my eyes for a few minutes, but then my daughter (who has no concept of “quiet”) started doing a bunch of noisy stuff. I think I’m going to sneak into her room tonight after she’s been sleeping for a few hours, and start blowing on the harmonica…LOUDLY. Anyway, then I was annoyed and I can’t concentrate when I’m annoyed. Then it was time to make dinner for the kids. Then Eric came home and it was time to make dinner for us. Anyway, I’m starting chapter 2. Onward!

7pm-Midnight: Last call! I was much more productive for these five hours than the previous five. I read through all of sections 2 and 3, I’ve read all of the annotations for section 2, and I will be finishing up the annotations for section 3 before I go to bed (I have only a few more pages to read). I’m exhausted, but I have learned SO MUCH through Gifford’s notes (about all kinds of things), and I’m really enjoying Ulysses. It’s going to take me a long time to get through the whole book, but it’s going to be worth it. I’m also taking a bunch of notes that I’ll probably slap together by section when I’m all done, instead of trying to write a review (which would be hard and stressful with a book like this).

I hope everyone who did some Bloomsday reading had a good time! I’d love to hear some of your thoughts!


  • You are an incredibly brave person Heather, I never got past 5 pages of Ulysses 🙁
    But I did read a review today that convinced me to find my self a copy of Dubliners, a collection of short stories by Joyce.

    Do visit!

    • “The Dead” is excellent, from that collectiion. 🙂

    • Thank you, Amritorupa! We’ll see how this goes…

  • Good luck! I’ve got that annotation book pictured on the right, as well. And then the full Ulysses with notes by Oxford World Classics. I definitely don’t intend to read it all today. Just a taste. I want to read The Odyssey before I read Ulysses in full. Have fun, Heather!!

    • Thanks, Jillian! I probably should have read The Odyssey before today (I’ve only read bits and pieces of it here and there), but I didn’t really think about it until yesterday. Good luck to you, as well!

  • Good Luck! I’ll carry my Kindle around and pretend to read it – but I’m still quite immersed in the Russian culture of AK at the moment and quite enjoying it 😀

    • Haha! Ok, Geoff! I’m really happy that you’re enjoying AK so much. 🙂

  • Happy Bloomsday and happy reading 🙂 I agree about the pace. I’m not trying to read all of it today and I did manage to read it once some years ago (took me ~two weeks and some pain). Hope you’ll enjoy it!

    • Thank you, Claudia! Happy Bloomsday to you, as well!

  • I am ALSO 20 pages in. I’m doing the exact same thing- reading a bit, then reading/skimming the corresponding annotations. I think I would have…about…20% of a clue about what’s going on without the annotations. This is going to take forever. BUT I’m LOVING it.

    • Oh, thank goodness. I thought it was just me. Haha! I agree–without the annotations I wouldn’t “get” a large majority of this book, but I’m really enjoying it, too!

  • Happy Bloomsday – good luck on your reading challenge! I hope you’re still going strong!

    • Thank you, Cassie! I am, but will be heading to bed soon.

  • Good luck, Heather with this challenge.

    • Thank you! This one is going to take me a while.