I’m changing up the format of my book review today because the review just wanted to flow before I prepared all of the busyness of the standard review. If you have an opinion on this formatting, let me know.
I am going to tell you that The Book of (More) Delights by Ross Gay was life altering for me. And, I’m not going to mean it in the way some book bloggers throw around the phrase “life altering” when they’re talking about a raunchy romance novel and you wonder just how much life altering that could provide and what was that life altering and do I really, really, want to know? What I mean is that in the two weeks I’ve taken to read the book, I have changed and continue to change. This book has brought something back into my life.
You may wonder why, for a reader like me who devours books like popcorn, it took me two weeks to read The Book of (More) Delights, I will tell you that it wouldn’t have–normally. I put the brakes on as I was reading because savoring words and experiences is something you must do when the quality demands it. To read this book quickly would have diminished its impact. So I chose to savor and read other books while slowly enjoying this one.
While we’re all acquainted with the idea of being grateful everyday, looking for the small things, the simple things, and finding joy, it doesn’t always take. Sometimes you need someone who has been doing it, living it, to show you the way or remind you of the way because sometimes we forget how to look, live, be. The Book of (More) Delights has done that for me.
This book has given me the gift of writing again because it made me think. It made me think about thinking, which is not, despite how it seems, over-thinking unless one does it far too long about something that just doesn’t need to be thought about that much. But rather about how I think and my thoughts and what those thoughts have become in the past seven years. That maybe I don’t need to keep the thoughts and way of thinking that judge or cancel or loom toward arrogance.
It made me think about people, the ones who stand out because they aren’t afraid of being different, who bring flavor and guidance to our lives by the mere fact of their otherness. How being different is not a curse.
The joy of throwing a child into the air and hearing the giggles, of putting ungloved hands into the soil as you garden to feel that texture of cold earth, coffee made your favorite way, exercising to feel the life in your body, the freedom, reading good books and listening to good people, and hearing old songs that make you dance in your chair, and being around people you love and who love you. These are the experiences Ross Gay shares with us through his essays, as well as others. Some more heartfelt, sad, angry than you might expect.
After reading a few essays, I texted a friend to recommend the book for his mother, although later I saw the f-bomb and had to find out if she would be put off because she is older and despite keeping current might be old-school enough to think another word might have sufficed. He told me it would be fine as long as its use was justifiable–and it was. Because sometimes, even in a book of delights, if you’re angry enough, no other word will do.
I am going to buy The Book of (More) Delights and the first, The Book of Delights (which I haven’t read), for myself because while I am not a re-reader, much, this I will re-read. And I’m also going to buy the set as gifts because delights, especially these, are meant to be shared.
Thank you to Algonquin for sending me a copy and allowing me to be a part of this book tour.
Blurb: In Ross Gay’s new collection of small, daily wonders, again written over the course of a year, one of America’s most original voices continues his ongoing investigation of delight.
For Gay, what delights us is what connects us, what gives us meaning, from the joy of hearing a nostalgic song blasting from a passing car to the pleasure of refusing the “nefarious” scannable QR code menus, from the tiny dog he fell hard for to his mother baking a dozen kinds of cookies for her grandchildren. As always, Gay revels in the natural world—sweet potatoes being harvested, a hummingbird carousing in the beebalm, a sunflower growing out of a wall around the cemetery, the shared bounty from a neighbor’s fig tree—and the trillion mysterious ways this glorious earth delights us.
The Book of (More) Delights is a volume to savor and share.