Tuesday, August 16, 2022

The Book of Delights


The Book of Delights is a well curated short essay collection on the nature of delight/joy by Ross Gay. Released in Feb 2019 by Algonquin, it's 288 pages and is available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats, with a paperback due out 16th Aug. 2022. 

The author began and ended the year's ruminations on life, joy, the realities of daily life, patterns in our daily routines (and the immediate joy of occasionally breaking them) on his birthday. It became a habit, an exercising, he says in the preface of a delight radar, a muscle and it's a treat. Much of the prose is luminous and on dreary days, gave me a small boost. It was a joy to read. I would recommend sampling essays rather than a cover to cover binge, but I admittedly did just that, thinking "just one more" until I had read it all. I've revisited the collection several times since that initial read, however, and the re-readability is very high. 

This book is what the "Chicken Soup" books would've been in a much better, more intellectual world. There aren't any platitudes, no saccharine falseness, just an intelligent man's observations about the nature of the universe and our zany unpredictable place in it. It both is, and isn't, poetry. I've heard that authors expose their inner selves in their creative works, and if that's true - what a lovely person Dr. Gay must be.

This would make a superlative choice for public library acquisition, for gifting to discerning friends, and for the home library. There are books in most bibliophiles' libraries which come and go. I believe this one will be sticking around. 

Five stars. Profound and intimately kind, philosophical and generous.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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