Review of The Book of Delights by Ross Gay
The Book of Delights is a sunshiny set of thoughts and examinations, yet it's not overly earnest, and it's never corny. I just loved it.
“I suppose I could spend time theorizing how it is that people are not bad to each other, but that's really not the point. The point is that in almost every instance of our lives, our social lives, we are, if we pay attention, in the midst of an almost constant, if subtle, caretaking. Holding open doors. Offering elbows at crosswalks. Letting someone else go first. Helping with the heavy bags. Reaching what's too high, or what's been dropped. Pulling someone back to their feet. Stopping at the car wreck, at the struck dog. That alternating merge, also known as the zipper. This caretaking is our default mode and it's always a lie that convinces us to act or believe otherwise. Always.”
Ross Gay resolved to write about a joy or delight, large or small, every day for a year, beginning on his birthday, and he pulls together the highlights of these experiences as The Book of Delights. It's a sunshiny set of thoughts and examinations, yet it's not overly earnest, and it's never corny. I just loved it.
He considers his process (he's not allowed to hoard or save delights for days that might light on the good stuff; he has to find or notice something new each day), reflects on human nature, recognizes the intense delights of food and love and friendship, shines a light on small moments, and considers everything in between. Some passages are just a few paragraphs, while others are pages long.
I listened to this as an audiobook (which I highly recommend), and Gay's voice (both his writing style and his speaking voice) are immensely appealing. He's wonderfully joyful and mischievous. I found myself smiling repeatedly while going about daily tasks and it felt fitting that I listened to the author's many delights for hours while happily planting my spring garden.
Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?
My BFF Neha mentioned that her book club read this book, and it wasn't on my radar before that.
This was my first Ross Gay book, and I really like how his mind works, so I'm in for all of his books now.