Amherst College DeMott Summer Reading

Image of Book Cover and Photo of Ross Gay  

We are pleased to announce thatThe Book of Delights by Ross Gay is this year's DeMott Reading for incoming students. In addition to this 2019 collection of short essays, Gay is the author of three books of poetry and winner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2016 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. He is a professor of English at Indiana University. Co-author of several chapbooks, he is a founding editor, with Karissa Chen and Patrick Rosal, of the online sports magazine Some Call it Ballin'and an editor with the chapbook presses Q Avenue and Ledge Mule Press

Professor Gay will deliver this year’s DeMott lecture at the close of Orientation week.

We have reserved a copy of The Book of Delights for each incoming student. Instructions for receiving your copy were shared in communications from the Office of Student Affairs. If you need assistance with receiving your copy, please contact

There will be an opportunity for questions and discussion with Professor Gay immediately following the DeMott Lecture. Starting in early August, you can also sign up to participate in a small-group discussion with President Martin during the first two weeks of classes (spaces are limited).

Download an E-book of The Book of Delights

The DeMott Lecture was established in 2005 by Alan P. Levenstein’ 56 in honor of Benjamin DeMott, a cultural critic and much-loved member of the Amherst English faculty from 1951 until his retirement in 1990. Inspired by his example, the DeMott Lecture seeks to expose incoming students to an engagement with the world marked by intellectual originality of thought and concern for issues of social and economic equity.

Professor DeMott was a frequent essayist for popular publications, including The Atlantic and Harper’s, and the author of more than a dozen books, including The Imperial Middle: Why Americans Can’t Think Straight About Class; The Trouble with Friendship: Why Americans Can’t Think Straight About Race; and Killer Woman Blues: Why Americans Can’t Think Straight About Gender and Power. 

Request a copy of The Book of Delights (for Faculty/Staff)

President Martin and Dean of the Faculty and Provost Epstein are pleased to make this year's DeMott Summer Reading available to faculty and staff (with a limit of one copy per staff/faculty member). Request your copy of Ross Gay's The Book of Delights

Please note that due to remote work and social distancing during the pandemic, we are using a modified distribution system this year: upon receipt of your request, a copy of the book labeled with your name will be placed on the bench outside of the front entrance to College Hall (the building where the Loeb Center and Campus Print and Mail are located). You will receive an email when your book is ready to be picked up (usually within a day or so of receipt of your request).