2009 Non Fiction

Modern Delight – Various

Modern Delight

Modern Delight is a collection of short essays by some of today’s eminent authors, artists, actors, politicians, comedians and celebrities on what gives them delight. The inspiration for the book came from JB Priestley’s Delight which has been re-released to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the publication.

The book gave me immense pleasure – I read a few ‘delights’ each night and frequently found myself laughing, or sharing quotes with my husband. Even the ones which weren’t funny left me with a warm, glowing feeling.

My favourite essay was the one in which Harry Hill (a British comedian) delights in the tormenting of telemarketers.

‘Brrrring! Brrring!’


‘Hello, to who am I speaking please?’

‘To whom.’


‘It’s to whom am I speaking. You could say “Who am I speaking to?” But not to who am I speaking please.’

‘To whom…I mean, who am I speaking to?’

‘To whom am I speaking?’

‘I’m calling from – Replacement windows.’

‘At last!!’ (as if calling to someone in another room) ‘Darling! fantastic news! – Replacement windows have called us!’

The mad conversation continues and I was crying with laughter by the end.

If you aren’t a fan of comedy then there are a lot more serious, thoughtful delights. I loved Lionel Shriver talking about ‘when anything goes right’ and agree completely with Clive James’s delight in the second-hand bookshop, but one of the most amazing delights was Charley Boorman talking about harvesting potatoes with his motorbike for which he thought after reading at Motorbike Sport. I wasn’t sure this was possible, so was very excited to see this video, proving it to be true!

There are over 80 contributors and I think this book would make a lovely gift. All profits raised from the sale of the book will be donated to Waterstone’s charity partners, Dyslexia Action and the London Library. Unfortunately, this book is only available from Waterstones in the UK, but if you are able to get hold of it, then I’m sure you will be delighted!





Have you read the original Delight?

What would your modern delight be?

23 replies on “Modern Delight – Various”

Oh, this sounds so lovely! It really does sound like a book that would warm your heart and make you feel great! Just goes to show that a book doesn’t have to be all serious in order to influence us. I think it’s a great idea to have people talk about things that make them happy rather than focusing all the time about our worries and things that stress us out!

And as a grammar fiend myself, I loved the snippet you posted in which the errant caller is apprised of the correct use of “whom”!

Steph, Yes, it was very refreshing to find such a positive book. I must seek out a few more as I do seem to be surrounded by tales of doom at the moment!

Sounds interesting; I hadn’t heard of the original Priestley book but I’ve put it on my wishlist after reading about it on Amazon. I’m a big fan of Priestly and lots of his stuff seems to be being reissued at the moment.

Verity, I hadn’t heard of Priestly before receiving this book. I look forward to finding out what Delight is like. I am very tempted to get a copy.

Jeane, I would love to mess with telemarketers, but I’m too polite. I had a brief job as a door to door salesperson and know what a terrible job it is, but I would also love a bit of humor – so I’ll leave the messing to the comedians!

Oh that is priceless! He’s funny, AND creative! I wonder if they will ever figure out a way to sell this over across the pond? As for my modern delight, I guess I am blessed because I can come up with a bunch! Walking with a good audio book in cool weather, drinking a superb glass of wine with my husband, a vacation at the beach, watching my kids play sports, riding rollercoasters, and hanging out at my parents’ farm. I could go on and on!

Sandy, I think the problem with this book is that a lot of the personalities are British, so wouldn’t be known in the US. I don’t know who some of them are, but still found their thoughts good to read, but I guess it wouldn’t sell very well when noone knows who 50% of the people are.

I agree with all your delights – apart from rollercoasters – I’m scared of them!

softdrink, Sorry! I have been known to buy expensive books from other countries and you can always keep an eye out for friends who might be travelling to the UK – I know I ask people to bring books back from other countries for me!

I am really kicking myself that I didn’t buy this when I had the chance when I was in Waterstones in London!!!! My modern delight would have to be a cup of tea and chocolate (not very modern I know but definitely delightful!)

Karen, Sorry I didn’t tell you about it sooner!
I’m not a big fan of tea, but I do delight in chocolate!

For some reason I thought this book was solely about food. Stephen Fry mentioned it some on twitter (I’m right in thinking he is one of the contributors, yes?)

Hmmm, my modern delight? Definitely the internet!

This book sounds wonderful! I am so happy to know there are some delights that are comedic and you found yourself laughing while reading them. So many books I read are not funny and don’t have comedic elements so it would be nice to end the day reading a funny delight or two. But it also sounds like most of the essays are enjoyable, funny or not and I think my husband and I would really enjoy this book.
A delight for me would be a play room filled with cute, cuddly rambunctious puppies and me on the floor in the midst of them playing with them!

A delight in my actual life is warm, home-baked chocolate chip cookies with a good cup of tea while I am reading a wonderful book all cosy inside at night while it is raining outside (hmmmm, sounds like here yesterday!)

Thanks for a great post Jackie!

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