I've been a part time student of James Joyce's Ulysses for years. I use the word student carefully as I believe it's not a book anyone can take lightly and just "read" it.
There have been times when I've agreed with Roddy Doyle that Ulysses needed a damn good editor to shorten it. However I can never help dipping back into it in phases and researching or learning more from it. I like it on many levels....
* In a simplistic way, as a Dubliner I enjoy it. It's full of places I know well. Also, some of the little expressions which come out in dialogue remind me of things I heard my paternal grandparents saying. A small example would be a description of Paddy Dignam at his funeral..."As decent a little man as ever wore a hat." My Grandad was always using such an expression. I've heard many say that it's a book that is better read out loud, and there is some truth in this. I think there are some parts of the book where you can just chill out and have a laugh, you don't always have to take it so seriously and it includes many interesting working class characters.
* Some of the descriptive images were very powerful. Stephen's description of his mother and her death are very strong. Even a simple description of the sea by Buck Mulligan will strike a chord with many people used to the Dublin coastline..."The snot-green sea...the scrotum tightening sea."
* Its depths and paralleling are of course hunting grounds for scholars. The Homer parallels and the little linked events in different chapters. Then of course each chapter is often in a different style altogether, it's almost like reading multiple but linked stories from different writers. And we have the Stream of Consciousness revised style at the time.
* In another way I'm interested in Joyce's wonderful blend of Dublin and Irishness and the greater World. He is a very free spirit globally. We see considerable analysis of Shakespeare's work and other English writers and Greek literature of course. I can't yet figure out if he was before his time in his view of Irishness or was somewhat taken in by the strong English influence on the artistic Dublin at the time - which maybe encouraged the wider global study. I suppose both views are compatible. There is mention of the Irish language in the book and Irish heritage but it seems subdued and almost strikes one as being of historical interest. The Irish freedom struggle from England is not given any serious analysis to the best of my recollection. This is interesting even though it would have been highly topical as he wrote Ulysses from 1914-1921(albeit abroad), but maybe in the setting of 1904 it was less topical. Joyce clearly liked Dublin and had strong memories as an exile. He used to say he felt he never left Dublin in his heart.
* Some of the beauty of Ulysses is that it constantly causes debate and analysis of meaning for scholars. This is assisted by Joyce's refusal afterwards to offer any help in answering detailed questions on the book. Nothing like a bit of innuendo to get literary sleuths excited.
I could waffle on longer about Ulysses, but one think is certain. The book is considered essential study for literary scholars Worldwide and by many as one of the most important works of literature in the last century. And it is all set on one summer day in Dublin - 102 years ago today. What a national treasure for us.