Never was a book so aptly titled. Ross Gay brings small wonders and beautiful memories to life, while also meditating on race, class, and gender. In these times of nearly constant bad news, reading this book was, well, a delight! Recommended By Leah B., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
The winner of the NBCC Award for Poetry offers up a spirited collection of short lyric essays, written daily over a tumultuous year, reminding us of the purpose and pleasure of praising, extolling, and celebrating ordinary wonders.
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.
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.
“Ross Gay’s eye lands upon wonder at every turn, bolstering my belief in the countless small miracles that surround us.” Tracy K. Smith, Pulitzer Prize winner and U.S. Poet Laureate
"The delights he extols here (music, laughter, generosity, poetry, lots of nature) are bulwarks against casual cruelties. As such they feel purposeful and imperative as well as contagious in their joy."
The New York Times Book Review
“The Book of Delights is a joy explosion...There is no other book on the planet I’d rather read right now, no other writing that can make me believe in the future — and us — again.” Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Misfit’s Manifesto
“Ross Gay is a writer perfectly suited to find delight. His eye is so brilliant, it seems to glow from within. When I need hope, I turn to his words. And this collection will remind you how beautiful it is to be alive.” Luis Alberto Urrea, bestselling author of The House of Broken Angels
"Gay leads us on a merry walk through the mundane, illuminating moments of his day with intense, exquisitely detailed observations...They are all here, stuffing this slim book with their abilities to delight the author."
About the Author
Ross Gay is the author of three books of poetry, including Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, winner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2016 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. Catalog was also a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award in Poetry, the Ohioana Book Award, the Balcones Poetry Prize, the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award, and it was nominated for an NAACP Image Award. He is a founding board member of the Bloomington Community Orchard, a non-profit, free-fruit-for-all food justice and joy project. Gay has received fellowships from Cave Canem, the Bread Loaf Writer's Conference, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He teaches at Indiana University.