I Miss You When I Blink: Essays (Hardcover)
April 2019 Indie Next List
“Mary Laura Philpott writes about today’s American woman in her marvelously frank and witty book of essays, I Miss You When I Blink. Women of all ages will nod their heads when reading about the decision to have babies (or not), the pitfalls of volunteering, the difficulty of getting a cat out from under the bed, the reward of crossing things off ‘the list,’ the challenge of finding time for relaxation, and, above all, the acceleration of time as we age. Philpott shares pivotal moments from her life in such a relatable way that, through both laughter and tears, readers will exclaim, ‘Yes, yes, this is ME!’ Don’t miss this gem!”
— Nancy Simpson-Brice, Book Vault, Oskaloosa, IA
One of Esquire’s Best Nonfiction Books of the Year
One of NPR’s Favorite Books of the Year
One of the Year’s Most Anticipated Books: BuzzFeed, Bustle, HelloGiggles, Literary Hub, She Reads
“I've spent my adult life prowling bookshelves for the modern-day reincarnation of my favorite authors—Nora Ephron, Erma Bombeck, Jean Kerr, and Laurie Colwin—all rolled into one...Good news: I have finally found their successor.” —Elisabeth Egan, The Washington Post
Acclaimed essayist and bookseller Mary Laura Philpott presents a charmingly relatable and wise memoir-in-essays about what happened after she checked off all the boxes on her successful life’s to-do list and realized she might need to reinvent the list—and herself.
Mary Laura Philpott thought she’d cracked the code: Always be right, and you’ll always be happy.
But once she’d completed her life’s to-do list (job, spouse, house, babies—check!), she found that instead of feeling content and successful, she felt anxious. Lost. Stuck in a daily grind of overflowing calendars, grueling small talk, and sprawling traffic. She’d done everything “right,” but she felt all wrong. What’s the worse failure, she wondered: smiling and staying the course, or blowing it all up and running away? And are those the only options?
In this memoir-in-essays full of spot-on observations about home, work, and creative life, Philpott takes on the conflicting pressures of modern adulthood with wit and heart. She offers up her own stories to show that identity crises don’t happen just once or only at midlife; reassures us that small, recurring personal re-inventions are both normal and necessary; and advises that if you’re going to faint, you should get low to the ground first. Most of all, Philpott shows that when you stop feeling satisfied with your life, you don’t have to burn it all down and set off on a transcontinental hike (unless you want to, of course). You can call upon your many selves to figure out who you are, who you’re not, and where you belong. Who among us isn’t trying to do that?
Like a pep talk from a sister, I Miss You When I Blink is the funny, poignant, and deeply affecting book you’ll want to share with all your friends, as you learn what Philpott has figured out along the way: that multiple things can be true of us at once—and that sometimes doing things wrong is the way to do life right.
About the Author
Mary Laura Philpott writes essays that examine the overlap of the absurd and the profound in everyday life. Her writing has been featured by The New York Times; The Washington Post; Los Angeles Times; McSweeney’s; The Paris Review; O, The Oprah Magazine; and other publications. She’s the founding editor of Musing, the online magazine of Parnassus Books, as well as an Emmy Award–winning cohost of the literary interview show A Word on Words on Nashville Public Television. She also wrote and illustrated the humor book Penguins with People Problems, a quirky look at the embarrassments of being human. Mary Laura lives in Nashville with her family.
One of Esquire’s Best Nonfiction Books of the Year
One of NPR’s Favorite Books of the Year
One of Lit Hub's Best Books of 2019
One of the year's Most Anticipated Books: BuzzFeed, Bustle, HelloGiggles, LitHub, She Reads
"Mary Laura Philpott is relentlessly funny, self-effacing and charming as she tells the story of living as a triple-A-plus perfectionist. Everything in her life is done on time and exactly right, until, of course, it all starts to fall apart. In her willingness to tell her own story, she taps into a universal truth for so many women: We plan to do it all until we find we can’t do anything anymore. I Miss You When I Blink made me laugh, it made me cry. I miss it already.”
— Ann Patchett, author of This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage and Commonwealth
"Mary Laura Philpott is a writer, artist, and creator of singular spark and delight. I adore her, and I love her work. Thank God she has finally written a memoir! By offering these dispatches from her own life experience, she leaves us thinking about ourselves—where we've been, where we're going, and who we really want to be."
— Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic
"Infinitely relatable. Beautifully written. I'm ready to read it again."
— Jenny Lawson, author of Let's Pretend This Never Happened and Furiously Happy
“What I love most about Mary Laura Philpott and her wonderful book is that she—self-proclaimed type A, obsessive achiever—gives herself permission to change. This book is inspiring for those of us with small children underfoot and forty close on the horizon. Mary Laura is a generous and funny guide to the midlife conundrums.”
— Emma Straub, author of Modern Lovers
“At once rueful, hilarious, brave, and inspiring, I Miss You When I Blink is beautifully relatable and reassuring, even as it makes you pause and think. This marvelous collection of essays belongs on the bookshelf sandwiched between Anne Lamott and Nora Ephron. Mary Laura Philpott is going to make a whole lot of readers feel seen and understood.”
— Dani Shapiro, author of Hourglass
"Mary Laura Philpott is the friend you call when you want to cry but need to laugh. What a treat to spend time with her distinctive voice as she plumbs life’s quotidian moments to unearth deeper, universal truths. Wry, intelligent, and searingly honest, this book is a joy."
— Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney, author of The Nest
“I Miss You When I Blink is a delightful, thought-provoking collection of essays, written with such spark and vulnerability that I was alternately laughing out loud and gasp-sighing at its poignancy. Mary Laura Philpott shows us her real, flawed self in these pages, sharing when she's made mistakes, when she’s been less than charitable, or when she wasn't sure who she was 'supposed' to be. It's easy to connect with her honesty, and damn fun to laugh at her jokes. This book is totally irresistible!"
— Edan Lepucki, author of California and Woman No. 17
"I've spent my adult life prowling bookshelves for the modern day reincarnation of my favorite authors--Nora Ephron, Erma Bombeck, Jean Kerr, and Lawrie Colwin--all rolled into one....Good news: I have finally found their successor....refreshingly honest and funny...her real gift lies in making the connection between the small moments and the big ones, so you feel you've walked into a complicated, glittering web...delicious."
— The Washington Post
"Be forewarned that you'll laugh out loud and cry, probably in the same essay. Philpott has a wonderful way of finding humor, even in darker moments. This is a book you'll want to buy for yourself and every other woman you know."
— Real Simple
"I Miss You When I Blink" by Laura Philpott is what happens when you live life according to a piece of paper. It's a memoir about following the rules and what happens when you veer off track. Spoiler: happiness ahead."
— The Skimm
"In re-examining her own priorities with warm and self-effacing humor, she makes a persuasive case for chucking to-do lists and rethinking life's 'right' choices."
"At once a love letter to type-A people everywhere and a gentle reminder that it's okay (necessary, even) to change, this full-hearted book is a warm embrace of a life lived imperfectly."
"There aren’t many books that have made me tear up from both laughing and crying – on the same page. Mary Laura Philpott’s essays truly capture the emotional pull of mothering beyond the baby stage – coexisting, for some, with a midlife crisis-esque period."
— Meghan Collins Sullivan, senior editor, NPR Books
“This wonderful memoir-in-essays from Nashville writer Mary Laura Philpott is a frank and funny look at what happens when, in the midst of a tidy life, there occur impossible-to-ignore tugs toward creativity, meaning, and the possibility of something more.”
— Southern Living
"Witty, and poignant, and a page-turner... If you have even one type-a bone in your body, it’ll leave you nodding your head, and—forgive the crude appropriation C.S. Lewis—but thinking, 'What! You too? I thought that no one but myself.'"
— Town and Country
“[A] delightfully personal but relatable collection of essays-as-memoir that puts Philpott in league with Elizabeth Gilbert, Nora Ephron, and Cheryl Strayed.”
— Garden & Gun
"In her memoir-in-essays, acclaimed writer Mary Laura Philpott addresses the conflicting pressures of modern adulthood and that inevitable "stuck" feeling so many of us become familiar with. Part confessional, part pep talk, I Miss You When I Blink is a reassuring read about learning how to accept that doing things wrong can be the way to do life right."
"Philpott offers wisdom about finding happiness even if your life isn't quite the hair-raising adventure you'd envisioned."
"Her collection of essays reads like a brutally honest conversation with your most relatable friend. It’ll make you feel infinitely less alone."
"A funny and self-effacing memoir-in-essays from a bookseller who thought she had her whole life figured out (and had done everything right and gotten everything she wanted) only to wake up one day and realize that . . . she hadn’t. Relatable!"
— Lit Hub
"The Best Books of 2019 to Add to Your Reading List: What happens when you get exactly the life you wanted and realize you want something completely different? You could run away from home ... or you can make like Philpott, who's been called 'the modern-day reincarnation' of authors Nora Ephron and Erma Bombeck, and enact some mini life changes that pay off in major happiness."
— Good Housekeeping
"Checking boxes doesn’t automatically equal happiness. Sometimes, you can do everything 'right,' like getting married and having kids, and still want more. With titles like 'Ungrateful Bitch' and 'A Letter to the Extremely Type A Person in Distress,' Mary Laura Philpott’s essays will remind you that it’s okay to reinvent yourself—no grueling three-month hike required."
— Hello Giggles
"Brimming with vulnerability and sparkling humor."
"Philpott simultaneously provides levity and illuminates the tragi-comic nature of modern American life, wherein even the most fortunate of us struggle with a search for meaning. 'I Miss You When I Blink' is a generous collection, written as if to say 'I see you; you are not alone' to the many readers who lead outwardly happy lives yet privately wonder why they don't feel as happy or fulfilled as the world tells them they should."
— Nashville Scene
"Laugh-out-loud funny....Mary laura Philpott's hilarious and comforting essay collection will reassure women questioning their abilities and choices."
— Shelf Awareness for Readers, starred review
"It feels like we are sitting at a table together and having the best conversation about all the things that truly matter. The tone is so perfect -- calibrated and balanced -- and I don't know how she pulled that off. The result is a kind of wisdom in these essays that comes from making so many wrong turns they strangely add up to something that is exactly right."
— Claire Cameron, author of The Last Neanderthal
“Heartwarming… Philpott’s prose is conversational and easy to settle into....Comforting and reassuring."
— Publishers Weekly
“Warm, candid, and wise, Philpott’s book is both an extended reflection on the pressures of being female and a survivor’s tale about finding contentment by looking within and learning to be herself. Delightfully bighearted reading.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“A mosaic of a life changing in subtle rather than radical ways . . . Readers with their own sets of anxieties should be charmed by the author's friendly tone, warm sense of humor, and relatable experiences.”
“By injecting dire moments with self-effacing irony and slapstick humor, Philpott simultaneously provides levity and illuminates the tragi-comic nature of modern American life, wherein even the most fortunate of us struggle with a search for meaning. ‘I Miss You When I Blink’ is a generous collection, written as if to say 'I see you; you are not alone' to the many readers who lead outwardly happy lives yet privately wonder why they don’t feel as happy or fulfilled as the world tells them they should.”