In my last post, in which I listed the books I read in 2019, I promised that I would post reviews of some of my favorite reads of 2019. Well, here is my first book recommendation – a collection of essays titled The Book of Delights by Ross Gay. In addition to being a book that’s a great read at any time, The Book of Delights has the added benefit of being a wonderful diversion – a great book to read in the middle of, say, a global coronavirus pandemic in which you are staying home and possibly feeling a little less than happy.
I discovered this wonderful collection of 100 short essays all on the topic of delight in October 2018 at the Heartland Fall Forum, a midwest indie bookstore gathering that takes place each year. Ross Gay was one of the featured authors at the event who read from his book and signed advanced copies well. I was lucky to get a chance to talk to Gay for a few minutes while he signed my book. He’s one of those people who radiates grace and being in his presence made me feel both calm and ecstatically happy. Of the 70 or so books that I brought home from the conference, The Book of Delights is the one I reached for first. I loved the book so much that I wrote Ross Gay a letter to tell him so.
Here’s a review of the book that I wrote right after I finished reading my advanced copy: The Book of Delights is a perfect little gem! It’s hard to talk about this book without saying that it’s delightful, which feels a bit like cheating because delight is in the title and Gay states right off that his collection of essays is about finding delight in the day to day but, hey, this book is delightful. It simply is a delight to read and share the short essays that Ross Gay wrote longhand over the course of a year. I received a galley of the book at Heartland Fall Forum (signed by Ross Gay!) and have since been reading an essay or two (or three or more) before bed. I’ve read many essays aloud to my family. My daughter especially loves the one about carrying a tomato plant on to an airplane. I look forward to reading the lovely little essays again and again.
Yeah, well, from my overuse of the word “delight” and variations thereof, you sure can tell I found the book delightful, can’t you?
I still have my advanced copy of The Book of Delights and have several of the essays marked so I can go back to read them often. The Book of Delights can be read cover to cover or in snippets. I love the fact that it’s hard to feel sad when I read the essays. I also love the book because it inspires me to see what a person can create when they take the time for a daily writing practice (in other words, when I read any of the essays in The Book of Delights, I feel like there’s hope for me as a writer!)
I do hope you get a chance to spend some time with The Book of Delights! It’s a day brightener, for sure!
Have you read The Book of Delights? Do you have a favorite essay or essays? Let me know in the comments!