The Book of Delights

BALTIMORE — This year, 2021 One Maryland One Book author Ross Gay will make virtual visits to Maryland to discuss his book, The Book of Delights: Essays. Maryland Humanities, which coordinates One Maryland One Book, has partnered with organizations across the state for six free virtual events Oct. 3–6. Participants must register to receive a virtual event link.

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.”

"As we look towards recovering from the traumas of the past year and a half, 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 the first book of essays ever chosen for the program, giving Marylanders a wide range of topics to discuss. We look forward to these timely conversations.”

Gay said, “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 decades ago!). And I’m really looking forward to the conversations we’ll have about the book this fall.”

About the Book

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 acknowledgement 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 a space in our lives for delight.

About the Author

Ross Gay is the author of The Book of Delights, a genre-defying book of essays, and four books of poetry, including his most recent, Be Holding, a love song to legendary basketball player Julius Erving—known as Dr. J—who dominated courts in the 1970s and ‘80s as a small forward for the Philadelphia ‘76ers. Gay is a founding editor, with Karissa Chen and Patrick Rosal, of the online sports magazine “Some Call it Ballin’.” A founding board member of the Bloomington Community Orchard, a non-profit, free-fruit-for-all food justice and joy project, Gay has received fellowships from Cave Canem, the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He teaches at Indiana University.

“Wandering Books”: Where will you find The Book of Delights?

Copies of the 2021 One Maryland One Book selection were dropped off in public spaces in three counties beginning in mid-August as part of “Wandering Books,” a fun campaign that introduces readers to The Book of Delights and the One Maryland One Book program. Anyone can receive clues about where to find books via Maryland Humanities’ Maryland Center for the Book Facebook page or by following @MDHumanities on Twitter.

This year, libraries in Baltimore County, Caroline County, and Talbot County distributed books throughout their communities. After finding a copy of The Book of Delights, readers log on to www.bookcrossing.com and register their book’s ID number, post a comment or review when they’ve finished reading, then leave the book for another reader to find. Instructions are located on a label inside the book cover. Participation is free. Those who register books will be automatically entered to win a $25 gift certificate to Bookshop.org after the campaign ends on Nov. 15 and must include their name and email to be eligible.

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