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The Book of Delights: Essays

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  1,008 ratings  ·  236 reviews
“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 lyric essays, written daily over a tumultuous year, reminding us of the purpose and pleasure of praising,
Kindle Edition, 289 pages
Published February 19th 2019 by Algonquin Books (first published February 12th 2019)
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 ·  1,008 ratings  ·  236 reviews

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Sean Gibson
Apr 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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,
Laurie Anderson
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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,
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,
Mar 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.")
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 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
Absolutely delightful. Review to come
Sep 26, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Carl Lavigne
Oct 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Exactly what the title promised.
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Gretchen Lida
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
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.
Rachel León
Jul 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays, read-in-2019, 2019
Lovely and delightful.
Oct 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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. Sentences would bring me up short with their simple, obvious brilliance. Or observations would make me smile as I turned the page, nodding my head yes. At a time when we could all use some beauty, this was perfect.
Austin Araujo
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mfa, 2019
A million little and big hearts fluttering
Some years ago I read a journal of short fiction from cover to cover, looking for a happy story. The only one that seemed to qualify was about a woman who turned into a hide-a-bed sofa and lived contentedly thereafter. I am still not sure it counts. Look--nothing I was ever assigned, nothing I was ever led to call literature, concerned itself with happiness. Happiness doesn't seem to make the interesting-enough-to-write-about list. So to hear Ross Gay say, "I've realized that my project is joy," ...more
Jul 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, delightful
This is one of those books that subtly changes your way of thinking, for the whole time that you’re reading it, and (I hope, we’ll see) for some time after. The change is small — just encouraging attention, and slowing down, and having faith and taking delight in people, but noticeable and wonderful.

All of this — the taking of delight, the noticing of lovely and funny and clever and wonderfully dumb things and moments that Ross Gay does in this book — isn’t about ignoring the reality of the
Anna Groover
The beauty of Ross Gay’s writing and poetry is that it always leaves me feeling so much more joyous, grateful, appreciative, and uplifted than before I read it. After finishing The Book of Delights this afternoon, I took a walk and felt so in tune with the beauty of my surroundings: the tactility of lamb’s ear planted in several yards and how it will always remind me of childhood; crows perched atop a building, looking down at me; and the eclectic perfection of the houses in the neighborhood I ...more
Aug 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fine, I’ll say it like everyone else: this was delightful. Though some of the essays are a bit meandering and I wonder if Gay can do that bc he’s a famous poet and all, I loved this collection. It forces you to contemplate the place of joy in this terrible (post-2016 election, especially) world. There is good; you just have to be open to seeing it.
Laura Hoffman Brauman
I enjoyed reading this collection of short essays . Gay wrote an essay a day (mostly) on the little things that brought him delight that day. I dipped in and out of this over the course of a week -- there was something wonderful about a daily practice of noticing and appreciating the little things that can bring us joy if we slow down enough to be aware of them.
Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
truly delightful.
Oct 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ross Gay is the most wholesome person alive. This book made me happy.
Karin Schott
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 salt on your tongue and before you know it, you've eaten the whole bag!

I loved this little book. Each eassayette a meditation on delight in all the ways it enters our days if we only take the time to observe how it weaves into our days, our minds, and our senses. I finished reading this book with
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 little things and our journey as humans in a world where we’re all trying to live one day, one step, at a time. Buy this book!
Liz Mc2
Aug 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
The one drawback of this book of “essayettes” by the poet Ross Gay is that I had it from the library and had to rush through it before it was due back. It’s a book that would reward savouring, reading one of these brief essays a day (as Gay wrote them). There is a certain sameness when you take them in bulk.

Gay’s project of writing about “a delight” every day is almost never sentimental or saccharine. He finds delight amid the everyday and while acknowledging many less-than-delightful parts of
Cassy Lee
This book has me floating on hope. Not only was it a good reminder for someone driven by an internal taskmaster like mine to let up once in awhile in order to take pleasure in delight and oh, was I grinning at the delights of this author, which is enough of a reason to love a book, but I also loved it because
it expanded my hope for mankind, and by that word I mean “men being kind”. It is an absolute delight to read the words of a hetero cis man unabashedly write about joy and human connection
Jeffrey Bumiller
This was a breath of fresh air. Really wonderful. I'm resisting the temptation to call this book delightful, I'm not gonna do it. Even though it would be delightful to do it. The whole time I was reading this it had me thinking of an author who is an absolute favorite of mine and then in the last entry Gay is reading a book by that author! I'm not gonna spoil it and say who it was. Also, I appreciated all the Philadelphia references, I enjoyed the Rothko entry, and I really related to Gay's ...more
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-read, netgalley
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 in this book of what he calls essayettes. (I would argue some could also be considered prose poems.) Gay has an incredible ability to see the absolute good in humanity, and he also stops and appreciates nature in all of its forms. I expected a lot of nature pieces due to his poetry, but what I didn't ...more
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Ross Gay is the author of three books: Against Which, Bringing the Shovel Down, and Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude. He is also the co-author, with Aimee Nezhukumatathil, of the chapbook "Lace and Pyrite: Letters from Two Gardens," in addition to being co-author, with Richard Wehrenberg, Jr., of the chapbook, "River." He is a founding editor, with Karissa Chen and Patrick Rosal, of the online ...more
“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.” 2 likes
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