The novelist and playwright J.B. Priestley had a reputation--among his colleagues and his own family--as a chronic complainer. Yet Priestley saw himself as a man who was wide awake to life's joys and took a keen pleasure in them, and in this book he set out to prove that. It contains 114 brief essays, some less than a page in length, none longer than a few pages, each of them describing a person, place or thing that pleased him.
Whether celebrating ordinary pleasures, such as reading detective stories in bed, or more exotic ones, like the smell of Tahiti on the horizon, Priestley's writing is pungent, humorous, touching and memorable. I first read this book about 20 years ago and have hunted down many second-hand copies and given them to friends and family. Some must have wondered why I had bought and carefully wrapped a somewhat faded book from half a century ago.
So it's a real delight to have this handsome new edition that fits nicely into the hands and does justice to a book that's bound to bring pleasure to a whole new generation of readers. You'll find that many of Priestley's delights are yours, too, although you may never have stopped to fully notice them before.
If I were a teacher, I'd ask each of my students to dip into this book as they wished, and then to try writing five or six hundred words to describe something that gives them special pleasure. They may not find it easy to do, but if they succeed, despite the buzz of jargon and circumlocution that surrounds us each day, they'll discover that one of the delights Priestley has to share with us is engaging language that goes straight to the heart.