The Book of Delights

The Book of Delights Review

Ross Gay’s The Book of Delights is a genre-defying book of essays—some as short as a paragraph; some as long as five pages—that record the small joys that occurred in one year, from birthday to birthday, and that we often overlook in our busy lives. His is a meditation on delight that takes a clear-eyed view of the complexities, even the terrors, in his life, including living in America as a black man; the ecological and psychic violence of our consumer culture; the loss of those he loves. Among Gay’s funny, poetic, philosophical delights: the way Botan Rice Candy wrappers melt in your mouth, the volunteer crossing guard with a pronounced tremor whom he imagines as a kind of boat-woman escorting pedestrians across the River Styx, a friend’s unabashed use of air quotes, pickup basketball games, the silent nod of acknowledgment between black people. And more than any other subject, Gay celebrates the beauty of the natural world—his garden, the flowers in the sidewalk, the birds, the bees, the mushrooms, the trees.

This is not a book of how-to or inspiration, though it could be read that way. Fans of Roxane Gay, Maggie Nelson, and Kiese Laymon will revel in Gay’s voice, and his insights. The Book of Delights is about our connection to the world, to each other, and the rewards that come from a life closely observed. Gay’s pieces serve as a powerful and necessary reminder that we can, and should, stake out a space in our lives for delight. 

Title:The Book of Delights

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    Some Testimonial About This Book:

  • Laurie Anderson

    Poet Ross Gay has written an exquisite collection of short essays. He is a master of observations, opening many of the essays with close attention to the details in his world then taking the reader al...

  • Billie

    I really needed this right now. I am grateful to Ross Gay for embarking upon a project to record one delight every day for a year and then finding a way to share those delights with all of us. Thank y...

  • Gretchen Lida

    This is a book to teach us to look up and be rebellious enough to find beauty where we were told there was none. It is filled with Tiny essays, perfect for a read a day or to read all at once. ...

  • Jaime

    This was, for lack of a better word, delightful. Or “delight-full,” quite literally. Gay’s warm prose is compulsively readable, and his eye for detail brings you deep into the little things. Sen...

  • S. A. Hackett

    As a 1st time reader of Gay’s work, I loved the simple and interesting real experiences he had that nerved him to write essays for a whole year. This ‘Book of Delights’ made me appreciate the li...

  • Beck

    Having really liked Ross Gay's Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, I was very excited to read The Book of Delights. I absolutely loved it. Gay recorded daily delights for a year, and then collected them i...

  • Karin Schott

    This becomes the problem with a little book like this, you want to gobble it down. Sorta like potato chips. You promise yourself you'll only eat a handful. Enjoy their flavor, perhaps think on the sal...

  • Caroline

    Who doesn't want to read a collection of essays title The Book of Delights?! I parceled out these wonderful observations so that they would last. Reading one or two over my morning coffee were the per...

  • Georgette

    An excellent reminder about how the small things in life are the things that bring the most delight....

  • Laura

    This was, yes, you guessed it, a delight. What I loved most about it was how loose it felt, how familiar. These little essays are not necessarily elegant, which is not a criticism, as I'm not sure tha...