Joyce's ability to capture the world through his words greatly impressed me. Each story is incredibly realistic and amazingly readable. However, I was not impressed with the plots behind each story; Joyce seems to hint at the issues and sometimes I felt too much was left for me to guess at. But while I didn't love the stories themselves, I would highly recommend reading Joyce's stories solely for the beautiful writing and careful character development. Reading the stories in Dubliners is an example to me that plot doesn't necessarily make something I read "great"; good writing makes it great.
Until I picked up his volume of short-stories, I hadn't thought I'd ever read James Joyce. He's always intimidated me. To my surprise, I'd read one story, "Araby," which had been assigned reading in my ninth-grade English class. It remains my favorite of Joyce's stories because, just as at age 14, the main character's frustrations and "unrequited crush" resonated with me. If you choose one of Joyce's stories to read, I'd recommend "Araby." As I said, much in the underlying plot is left to the reader to untangle, and yet, the characters, setting, and emotions are perfectly captured.
Cross posted at Rebecca Reads.