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The Book of Delights

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  3,550 ratings  ·  703 reviews
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 liv ...more
Hardcover, 274 pages
Published February 12th 2019 by Algonquin Books
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Average rating 4.32  · 
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 ·  3,550 ratings  ·  703 reviews

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Sean Gibson
Apr 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
A delightful buddy read with the delightful Allie, who is working hard to remedy her many Nicolas Cage-related character defects. We are disappointed in her progress, but we choose to believe that humanity is generally good and that people will eventually do the right thing, so we will benevolently continue to give her the benefit of the delightful doubt.

Gay is an accomplished poet whose prose is dense and digressionary. That’s not to say that it’s bad, or even unpleasant to read; it may, howev
Julie Ehlers
There's no better book to read in these (to put it mildly) trying times. Ross Gay is not blind to the horrors and injustices of the world, but he has the kind of optimism and faith in humanity most of us can only dream of having. And because he's a poet, he knows how to make the most of small moments and imbue them with vivid, colorful detail. He's the best. He is the best. Tempting as it may be, don't binge on these short essays—read one a day, just as they were written, and see if you don't fi ...more
Apr 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved Ross Gay's volume of poetry, Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude so I was eager to read this book of essays. Plus I'm always looking for ways to increase my own gratitude, to notice what is good in life as well as what is lacking or painful.

It took me a while to get into the rhythm of this book, mostly because I tend to rush through books and this one resisted such treatment. It demanded to be read slowly, to be savored. Once I caught on to this, I began to appreciate it better and to enjoy i
Laurie  Anderson
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A book best read slowly and savored. I dipped into it from time to time and enjoyed discovering a new perspective.
May 11, 2019 rated it liked it
These essays are briefer than Fruit of the Loom, most three pages or less in an already-miniature-sized book. If you're looking to compare Ross Gay to stellar essayists like David Shields, John D'Agata, Marilynne Robinson, and Sarah Vowell, you'll find him wanting.

It's more fun and loose, an experiment he did wherein he'd try to find joy in something every day for a year (only he didn't write every day, so it's not a year, I fear). All of these "essayettes" were written by hand, too. Le Pens, t
Oct 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 you, Mr. Gay, for being a light. The world needs you and people like you very much right now.

February 3, 2019: So, I spent the last couple of days listening to the audiobook on my commute and, if possible, I might be even more in love with the book the second time around. If a book could be a hug, th
Apr 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
i finished this book when it was sunny outside & it made me feel a lot more joyous and grateful towards the world. i'm inspired to devote more time to notice everyday delights in my path because of this lovely book!! ...more
May 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
being alive has never been something that feels natural to me, or easy. it is a shivering wildflower in early spring, dangerously close to wilting at all times, turning its hopeful & terrible face up towards the sun. help me live, it says. this book is one of the things that is helping me live.

the book of delights is a — you guessed it, delightful — book of short essays in which ross gay spends a year writing about delights every single day. perfect for those feeling down or overwhelmed with al
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: tender
as the title warns you, thoroughly delightful. carried me through warm tea and warm dinner and made me smile endlessly and write down minute details in my own tiny book of delights.
I loved this book so much I hugged it.

I can’t do it justice so I won’t try. If you haven’t read it yet, I’m jealous of you and also excited for you. I keep buying it and giving it away. I am grateful that it exists and horrified that it sat on my bookshelf for a couple of months and what if I never picked it up and read it??

Two favorite excerpts, the first especially because it’s a phenomenon I have chafed at since I could remember, understood it was a way of insisting on the otherness of peop
Mar 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is such a delightful book. It's politically engaged, and yet it refuses to be cynical. It's funny, sexy, unabashedly joyful and it inspired me to start my own catalogue of delights. And perhaps just as importantly, Ross Gay has found more ways to talk about the physical feeling of joy than I though possible (some of my favorite: "All the herons in my chest whacking unrepentantly into the sky" and "My heart cooing like a pigeon nestled on a windowsill where the spikes rusted off.")
Apr 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Buddy read with the delightful Sean, OG of GR, whose hilarious review can be found here:

Poet Ross Gay turns to prose to capture moments of delight in his daily life over the course of a year, in a series of short essays. He writes with great exuberance in a warm, authentic voice. Gay is a progressive, feminist, tree hugging, African-American writer whose values align closely with mine. So I fully expected to love this book.

And yet...I struggled with Gay’s
Mar 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
made me feel the same kind of warm little weirds had me feeling!! only read this in the mornings while having breakfast which only made it all so much brighter and joyful :-) whenever i remembered to use my calendar i wrote "breakfast with delights" and i dont know any better way to sum this experience up
Mar 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: essays
Absolutely delightful. Review to come
Sep 26, 2019 rated it liked it
I really wanted to love this book! But it didn’t really do it for me. I’m tempted to say it was cheesy but I don’t even think that’s what I didn’t like about it. I just didn’t really connect to it most of the time. Sometimes the writing annoyed me and I think I would enjoy his poetry more than his prose. There were certainly a few individual essays that did delight me though.
Teresa Kennedy
Mar 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a perfect book to read when everything else seems gloomy right now. Just reading this book was a spot of delight in each day that I picked it up. Thank you, Ross.
Rachel Nibbe
Jul 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
My favorite read of 2020 so far. It has encouraged me to look for delights in the everyday, which in 2020 is necessary. We are all living much smaller lives than before and need to find delight where we are, whatever our circumstances.
Colin Colter
Apr 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Mere minutes ago I resolved this delightful book, and to say it has buoyed me during this ridiculous time could not be more of an understatement.
I am a medical provider in this time of Corona. I closed the book for the final time (upon first reading) with an engagement ring on my finger that was not there when I opened the book (for the first time). This is the first book my group of friends and I have read for our newly created End of the World Bookclub that I created (which has been a goal of
Jul 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
For a year Ross Gay kept track of little things he noticed that sparked moments of joy in him. He called them delights.
You might wonder how many delights a 60-something Caucasian woman in Texas can share with a 40-something Black man in Indiana. You would be surprised.
And, now I am that much more aware of the little things I see every day that bring a smile to my face. You go, lone goat on a bluff in southwestern Wisconsin. Don't know what you were doing there, but you were a delight.
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
so so lovely and warm. i smiled my way through all of the delights!!!
simply put, reading this was affirming. it reminded me that yes, i’ll keep doing what i must do to leave my heart open and able to appreciate somebody else opening their heart to me, like this. because... i’ll tell you a secret... sometimes i feel really silly and naïve and cheesy, even like a hypocrite sometimes, since i don’t ALWAYS feel Mary Oliver-y and ‘one with the world’, you know what i mean? but then i read people who think and feel and experience the world like ross gay and i feel acco ...more
Ron Mohring
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
When I tried, in a fit of delight, to read aloud to my husband at bedtime a few of these brief essays, despite his history of falling asleep during (or against) my reading of certain poems, not even his disengagement (he distrusted the voice, he said, and felt it was shaded with a certain smugness) (an assessment which truly baffled me) could dim my pleasure at reading these, reading them out loud. I. Loved. This. Book.
Jan 03, 2020 rated it liked it
Ross Gay would be the one to write a book of delights. His style is so distinct. The essays are skillfully edited. This is a book for a hard year. Also, I found a typo on pg. 137!
Favorite essays: "Blowing it Off," "Writing By Hand," "Some Stupid Shit"

"A fly, its wings hauling all the light in the room, landing on the porcelain handle as if to say, 'Notice the precise flare of this handle, as though designed for the romance between the thumb and index finger that holding a cup can be.'" (3)

"And s
Lyd Havens
Aug 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Oh, I loved this book. I savored it, partially because after losing my grandmother at the end of July I needed any delight I could get, but also because these essayettes NEED to be savored. In a time when we are all hyper-aware of just how terrifying the world is, Ross Gay's extended, no-stone-unturned observations of how the smallest parts of our everyday lives can make said lives better are not just comforting, but necessary. Some of my personal favorite passages involved a TSA agent who mishe ...more
Brittany Viklund
Jul 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A most WONDERFUL book! This book is for all to enjoy & made for the perfect read in 2020. I read it in bite-size bits over the past few months, Ross Gay’s writing is a mix of so many things. I can’t recommend this one enough, what a delight indeed. ...more
Carl Lavigne
Oct 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Exactly what the title promised.
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’m a big believer in reading “the right book at the right time” and for me, this was the perfect book to read right now. The end of summer is sad, the start of a new school year is nerve wracking, and this tiny gem of a book has a year’s worth of observational essay-ettes about searching for joy—just what I need right now. The author finds simple delights in tree blossoms, a bike ride to a favorite restaurant, and the feeling of a stranger kindly patting your arm. I loved this book more than I ...more
I agree with Brian's review that there were perhaps more details and musings than necessary in one sitting. Nonetheless, I particularly enjoyed the themes/observations about being black in America, the loveliness of gardening and the natural world, and the love of language/poetry.

And in the current pandemic, the observation about grocery shopping hit me with an unexpected wave of emotion: "I wept in line watching people go by with their carts, watching the cashier move items over the scanner, fe
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Ross Gay is the author of Against Which, Bringing the Shovel Down, and Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude. His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Orion, the Sun, and elsewhere. He is an associate professor of poetry at Indiana University and teaches in Drew University’s low-residency MFA program in poetry. He also serves on the board of the Bloomington Community Orchard.

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“It didn’t take me long to learn that the discipline or practice of writing these essays occasioned a kind of delight radar. Or maybe it was more like the development of a delight muscle. Something that implies that the more you study delight, the more delight there is to study.” 12 likes
“I suspect it is simply a feature of being an adult, what I will call being grown, or a grown person, to have endured some variety of thorough emotional turmoil, to have made your way to the brink, and, if you’re lucky, to have stepped back from it—if not permanently, then for some time, or time to time. Then it is, too, a kind of grownness by which I see three squares of light on my wall, the shadow of a tree trembling in two of them, and hear the train going by and feel no panic or despair, feel no sense of condemnation or doom or horrible align- ment, but simply observe the signs—light and song—for what they are—light and song. And, knowing what I have felt before, and might feel again, feel a sense of relief, which is cousin to, or rather, water to, delight.” 4 likes
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