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2021 Selection: The Book of Delights

Book of Delights book cover

In The Book of Delights by Ross Gay, one of today’s most original 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 anything else, 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.

For more information, including frequently asked questions, visit the Maryland Humanities website. One Maryland One Book is a program of the Maryland Center for the Book at Maryland Humanities.

One Maryland One Book and Maryland Humanities logos


How To Participate

All Marylanders can participate in One Maryland One Book!

First, grab your copy. You can get a copy of The Book of Delights from the Pratt Library. Once you have a copy of the book, check out the One Maryland One Book Reading Guide.

Each year, more than 10,000 Marylanders read the One Maryland One Book. How many of those people are your friends or family members? How many are perfect strangers you sit next to on the train or stand in line with at the grocery store? Use the book to jump-start a meaningful conversation with an old friend or make a new one.

Get involved and join us in exploring the 2021 theme of hope with these Pratt Library One Maryland One Book events. Author Ross Gay will be joining the Pratt in conversation about his work on October 5 as part of the virtual Maryland Humanities One Maryland One Book Author Tour.


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