The Book of Delights: Essays (Paperback)
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As Heard on NPR's This American Life
“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 winner of the NBCC Award for Poetry offers up a spirited collection of short lyrical essays, written daily over a tumultuous year, reminding us of the purpose and pleasure of praising, extolling, and celebrating ordinary wonders.
In The Book of Delights, one of today’s most original literary voices offers up a genre-defying volume of lyric essays written over one tumultuous year. The first nonfiction book from award-winning poet Ross Gay is a record of the small joys we often overlook in our busy lives. Among Gay’s funny, poetic, philosophical delights: a friend’s unabashed use of air quotes, cradling a tomato seedling aboard an airplane, the silent nod of acknowledgment between the only two black people in a room. But Gay never dismisses the complexities, even the terrors, of living in America as a black man or the ecological and psychic violence of our consumer culture or the loss of those he loves. More than anything else, though, Gay celebrates the beauty of the natural world–his garden, the flowers peeking out of the sidewalk, the hypnotic movements of a praying mantis.
The Book of Delights is about our shared bonds, and the rewards that come from a life closely observed. These remarkable pieces serve as a powerful and necessary reminder that we can, and should, stake out a space in our lives for delight.
As Heard on NPR's This American Life
“The delights he extols here . . . feel purposeful and imperative as well as contagious in their joy.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Perfect for this tense and distracting moment—beautiful, small bites you can consume when you need some sustenance for the soul.” —Time
“What emerges is not a ledger of delights passively logged but a radiant lens actively searching for and magnifying them, not just with the mind but with the body as an instrument of wonder-stricken presence.” —Brain Pickings, Favorite Books of 2019
“These charming, digressive ‘essayettes,’ in the manner of Montaigne, surprise and challenge . . . Gay, an award-winning poet, knows the value of formal constraint: his experiences of ‘delight,’ recorded daily for a year, vary widely but yield revealing patterns through insights about everything from nature and the body to race and masculinity.’” —The New Yorker
“Ross Gay’s poems are little celebrations of joy, and this book of mini-essays—each centering around a particular 'delight,’ from sleeping in your clothes to planting tomato seedlings to the nod of greeting between the only two black people in a room—is a pure balm for your soul. Savor one at a time every morning, this summer, or wolf them all down en masse on a gorgeous sunny day.” —Celeste Ng for GoodMorningAmerica.com
“You’ll find that the delights of Gay’s world illuminate the delights of yours, that his wonder is contagious and has caused you to deepen your own.” —GQ
“From cover to cover, the beautifully written essays highlight the little miracles that happen all around us. It encourages the reader to slow down, take in each moment and find joy in the everyday.” —Today
“Ross Gay is able to use as little language as possible to populate a world where his memories are your memories, intertwined, reaching out of the pages.” —Hanif Abdurraqib, author of ALittle Devil in America
“I am indebted to this book for reminding me, reminding us, that there is so much to celebrate in the world.” —Clint Smith, author of How the Word Is Passed
“His delight is infectious. It’s hard to read Gay and not to be won over.” —The Seattle Times