A spirited collection of short lyric essays reminding us of the purpose and pleasure of praising, extolling, and celebrating ordinary wonders.

Paperback edition

Product Code: 8986
ISBN: 9781643753287
Format: Paperback / softback
Publisher: Workman Publishing
Pages: 288
Published Date: 08/04/2022
Availability:In stock
Price: $17.99

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 other subject, 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.

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My Birthday, Kinda
Flower in the Curb
Blowing It Off
Hole in the Head
Remission Spill
Praying Mantis
The Negreeting
The High-Five from Strangers, Etc.
Writing by Hand
But, Maybe…
“Joy Is Such a Human Madness”
House Party
Just a Dream
“That’s Some Bambi Shit”…
The Irrepressible: The Gratitudes
Tap Tap 66
Coffee without the Saucer
Lily on the Pants
Sharing a Bag
Umbrella in the Cafè
Beast Mode
Airplane Rituals
Weirdly Untitled
The Do-Over
Nota Bene
“Love Me in a Special Way”
“Stay,” by Lisa Loeb
Stacking Delights
Donny Hathaway on Pandora
“To Spread the Sweetness of Love”
Baby, Baby, Baby
Giving My Body to the Cause
Among the Rewards of My Sloth…
Not Grumpy Cat
Some Stupid Shit
Not Only…
Micro-gentrification: WE BUY GOLD
Reading Palms
The Sanctity of Trains
Bird Feeding
Kombucha in a Mid-century Glass
Annoyed No More
Church Poets
Public Lying Down
Babies. Seriously.
“My Life, My Life, My Life, My Life in the Sunshine”
Botan Rice Candy
“Joy Is Such a Human Madness”: The Duff Between Us
“It’s Just the Day I’m Having”…
The Purple Cornets of Spring
The Volunteer
Fishing an Eyelash: Two or Three Cents on the Virtues of the Poetry Reading
Found Things
Found Things (2)
The Jenky
The Crow’s Ablutions
Flowers in the Hands of Statues
An Abundance of Public Toilets
The Wave of Unfamiliars
Not for Nothing
Ambiguous Signage Sometimes
Heart to Heart
Caution: Bees on Bridge
Tomato on Board
Name: Kayte Young; Phone Number: 555-867-5309
Still Processing
My Scythe Jack
Papaw Grove
Get Thee to the Nutrient Cycle!
Pulling Carrots
Filling the Frame
Reckless Air Quotes
Judith Irene Gay, Aged Seventy-Six Today!
Rothko Backboard
The Marfa Lights
The Carport
My Garden (Book):
Black Bumblebees!
My Birthday

“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

“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 fruits of this experiment—for which gardens and gardening provide a frequent, apt metaphor—attest to an imagination cultivated in hostile conditions. Gay’s optimism is as easy as it is improbable, his ‘heart cooing like a pigeon nestled on a windowsill where the spikes rusted off.’” - 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

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