A number of short stories focusing on different aspects of life in the city. I can’t speak as to it sociological value, but taken as literature almost all of the discrete pieces is very nicely done. The stories are very short--most under ten pages, and within the limited narrative scale Joyce provides a lot of punch to his depictions. There’s never the space in any single story to manifest the same scale or psychological complexity afforded by novels--and right here is the basis of my main reluctance with short stories--but there is some very good plotting and characterization on display. Best of all, the fact that all these stories in some degree make Dublin a central character in the drama allow them to be read in aggregate effectively, showing with skill a wide variant of scholars, merchants, priests, sensualists and politicians. Highly recommended.
Better than: Welcome to the Monkeyhouse by Kurt Vonnegut
Worse than: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce