Friday, January 31, 2014

Delighting in J.B. Priestley

I came across this title in my morning reading and was reminded that long ago I tried to find this little book but to no avail. The book in question is Delight by J.B. Priestley. It was published originally in 1949 and contains 114 short essays in praise of simple pleasures. Things were pretty dismal in England at the time; its people were still suffering from the effects of the war and these thoughts offered a bit of cheer.

I am a sucker for this type of book! A 60th anniversary edition was published five years ago which may have been when I searched for it before.

Now I am on a quest once again. I have submitted an inter-library loan request and have contacted Powell's Books concerning a copy it has listed as available (I want to make sure it is not a former library book).

I await a response. 

Here is a bit of the review of Delight written by Lisa O'Kelly for The Observer in 2009:

There is much here to raise a smile, not least Priestley's wonderfully lucid prose, which is a delight in itself. The little things in which he takes pleasure are varied and often hugely affecting: dancing; fountains; a walk in a pine wood; a new box of matches; the sound of a football or an orchestra tuning up; long trousers; playing a cracking game of tennis; smoking in a hot bath; being silly with children; waking to the smell of bacon and coffee; getting a great idea.

Mr. Priestly was a novelist and playwright. In the 1940s, he wrote the play An Inspector Calls which was performed by a touring company here sometime in the 1990s. The company put a call out for some local folks to be a part of a crowd scene. I auditioned but apparently didn't have the look they wanted. Oh, well. My one chance at Broadway.

My failed theater career aside, after a gloomy and dreary January, this book sounds to be the perfect pick-me-up. 


  1. I'm not familiar with Mr. Priestley's book, but you might enjoy Personal Pleasures by Rose Macaulay. It sounds similar, essays on things she enjoys, like being in bed, in the bath, cows, reading. She also wrote two others that sound like more of the same, The Minor Pleasures of Life and Pleasure of Ruins. The Minor Pleasures one is available as a free download at

    1. Joan, I have read 'Personal Pleasures' by Ms. Macaulay. It was a long time ago but I seem to remember that I enjoyed it.

      One of my personal pleasures is reading and re-reading a book called 'Simple Pleasures' that was published in 2010 in Great Britain by the National Trust. It is a collection of essays on 'little things that make life worth living' by various authors.

      Another one of my favorites is by Barbara Holland entitled 'Endangered Pleasures'. I wrote about it here:

      This time of year I like to reflect on the uncomplicated pastimes and activities that bring me a bit of joy each day.

  2. Best of luck in your quest for "Delight". I am a sucker for these types of books as well, Belle, and hope to read a post one day soon announcing you are in possession of it.

    1. Thanks, Penny. I did hear back from a nice woman at Powell's telling me she didn't have access to the physical book to check on its condition, but she guaranteed me satisfaction or my money back. Can't beat that!

  3. Belle, I love J. B. Priestly! This sounds like my kind of book. And great that one of his plays was performed in Kentucky.

    1. Well, Kat, I certainly hope I can get my hands on a copy. I haven't actually read anything by Mr. Priestley but am also interested in his 'English Journey' travelogue from 1934.

      Now here is an odd thing: My library doesn't have a copy of his Journey book, but it does have a copy of a book written by Beryl Bainbridge in which she retraces Priestley's trip around England fifty years later. Go figure.