Maryland Humanities has announced the selection of The Book of Delights: Essays by Ross Gay for the 2021 One Maryland One Book program. The Book of Delights is a collection of lyrical essays. Gay wrote one essay per day over a year and took the time to find “delights” in his everyday life. The essays range in topic from the beauties in nature to what it is to be a black man in America. Readers can look to Gay’s collection as a guide to finding their own daily “delights.” The book was chosen by a committee of librarians, educators, authors, and bibliophiles in February from more than 160 titles suggested last fall by readers across the state for the theme, “Hope.”
“Strife on a global scale makes me people hunger for hope, which is what makes The Book of Delights a perfect selection for One Maryland One Book this year,” says Lindsey Baker, Executive Director at Maryland Humanities. “Ross Gay also doesn’t shy away from life’s hardships. It’s is the first book of essays ever chosen for the program, giving Marylanders a wide range of topics to discuss. We look forward to hearing about these conversations.”
Gay says: “I’m so grateful that The Book of Delights was chosen for One Maryland One Book. It feels lucky to get to share this collection of questions and wonderings with you all for so many reasons (one of them that my big brother was an English teacher in Frederick a couple of decades ago!). And I’m really looking forward to the conversations we’ll have about the book this fall.”
In The Book of Delights, one of today’s most 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 any 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 space in our lives for delight.