Bomb Shelter: Love, Time, and Other Explosives

“One reason we read is to know that burst of recognition when someone supplies new language for that which we once found indescribable. Mary Laura Philpott finds words for [an] intense experience known to so many—and she’s consistently hilarious, too, even when discussing all the terrifying things in life that we can neither predict nor prevent… This book has felt like a comfort even when cutting close to the bone.” – Nicole Chung, “I Have Notes,” The Atlantic

Named a most anticipated read for 2022 by publications including the Washington Post, Lit Hub, the San Diego Union Tribune, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Off the Shelf.

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“Philpott reckons with how we manage to exist when there’s always some unknown threat lurking nearby. Bomb Shelter is the literary equivalent of a therapy session.” – Washington Post“The Books to Read in 2022”

“This quirky work has a lot of heart.” – Publishers Weekly

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“Do I need to even say anything about Bomb Shelter other than that it’s the latest from national treasure Mary Laura Philpott? Written in measured, precise, warm prose, this memoir-in-essays centers on a terrifying, traumatic incident—I’d rather not reveal it, so you can read this with the same breathless discovery as did I—involving Philpott’s son, and its aftershocks. But it’s also, in a way, Philpott’s life story, told through the lens of disaster: fear of, preparation for, family history with. Philpott writes in long, novelistic scenes, threaded with lovely, resonant humor and unforgettable details. (In the first chapter, a small moment having to do with hair as a child has etched itself into my brain.) She is a brilliant and insightful chronicler of family life—probing deeply into what it means to be a mother, a daughter, a wife—but she is also a serious cultural commentator; and some of my favorite moments in this almost unbearably enjoyable book involve her dissection of the mass mindset of the 1980s as manifested in, for instance, after school specials. But, mostly, this wonderful book, to me, felt like spending the weekend with a dear friend. Something I, and maybe you, sorely need right now.” – Joanna Rakoff, author of My Salinger Year

“There’s a line in Bomb Shelter that I can’t stop thinking about and that perfectly sums up Mary Laura Philpott’s writing style: “I keep trying to make sense of my life by stacking stories upon stories upon stories.” It’s what I love about this book. Whether she’s telling a frightening story about her son’s first epileptic episode or the time the turtle kept showing up and knocking on the back door, she connects so many different snippets of her life and previous scenes we’ve encountered in way that imbues deeper meaning into everything. She’s so perceptive about her own actions and those around her that it may even change the way you view your own life.” – Emily Lewis, Off the Shelf

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Reviews for I Miss You When I Blink

“There aren’t many books that have made me tear up from both laughing and crying — on the same page. Mary Laura Philpott… establishes that there can be many ‘yous,’ among them the childhood you, the single you, the married you, the parent you, the career you. Through sometimes painful, often funny, and always heartwarming self-reflective stories, she shows readers that one of you doesn’t have to give way for another — that your many ‘yous’ can coexist as ‘a crowd of selves.’” — Meghan Collins Sullivan, NPR’s Favorite Books of 2019

“Some women spend their whole lives searching for the perfect black dress or the best waterproof mascara. I am not one of them. 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. It’s a tall order. These writers were masters of spinning extraordinary stories from life’s ordinary details. They were the sisterhood of thinking locally and writing globally. Good news: I have finally found their successor. Her name is Mary Laura Philpott. Like her literary forebears, Philpott has an eye for detail: the ant lugging half a Cheerio, the notched edge of a leaf, the eerie aimlessness of a Roomba. But 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 by the time you finish I Miss You When I Blink.” —Elisabeth Egan, The Washington Post (read more)

“There’s a roadmap for a certain kind of memoir. A woman realizes her life isn’t working, so she blows it up and hits the road. Mary Laura Philpott’s new memoir does not follow that path. The book is called ‘I Miss You When I Blink,’ and it’s about how to stay in your life, how to do the hard work that it takes to get to OK, even if your relentless perfectionism tends to get in the way.” — NPR, All Things Considered (listen)

“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.” — Esquire

“Philpott explores modern adult life in a funny, touching, and genuine voice.” — TODAY.com

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“Philpott’s stories cover the complicated spectrum of womanhood, as she reflects on the depression she suffered despite having achieved all she thought she wanted. With refreshing, relatable musings on perfectionism and failure, consider it Eat, Pray, Love for those without the leisure of a months-long sabbatical to figure their shit out.” — Elle Australia

“It’s the kind of book that shapeshifts into what each reader needs most.—The Millions

“Mary Laura Philpott’s memoir-in-essays is like a reassuring pep talk from someone who’s been there, full of wry observations about the expectations and disillusionments of adulthood. Finding herself unsatisfied after doing everything ‘right’ — job, family, house, etc. — she wonders if her only options are a sort of grim resignation or a complete upheaval of all she knows. Those who find both options equally terrifying will be comforted by Philpott’s meditations on identity and the possibility of countless tiny reinventions.” — Buzzfeed

“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

“Philpott knows how hard it can feel to be a perfectionist and rule-follower. But don’t mistake this for a downer either. Philpott’s writing is laugh-out-loud funny, even when she’s talking about the darkest of moments in her life. Buy one for yourself and for any woman in your life who could use a little reassurance that it’s OK to not know where your life is headed, to make mistakes, to be angry about the grammatical mistake at the grocery store, to say no, to wonder whether this is as good as it gets. This is the one book you should read right now.” – Real Simple

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An excerpt from I Miss You When I Blink ran in the Sunday Review section of The New York Times. (Read it here.)

“This delightfully personal but relatable collection of essays-as-memoir puts Philpott in league with Elizabeth Gilbert, Nora Ephron, and Cheryl Strayed.” — Garden & Gun

“A memoir about following the rules and what happens when you veer off track. Spoiler: happiness ahead.” — theSkimm

“Philpott simultaneously provides levity and illuminates the tragicomic nature of modern American life, wherein even the most fortunate of us struggles 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.” — Ed Tarkington, The Nashville Scene

“Heartwarming… Philpott’s prose is conversational and easy to settle into….Comforting and reassuring.” – Publishers Weekly

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(That time Reese Witherspoon went shopping and picked it up.)

“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

“Brimming with vulnerability and sparkling humor.” — BookPage

“Philpott’s collection of essays on what it means to want something different when you already ‘have it all’ is… 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—thinking, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.’” — Town & Country

“Her collection of essays reads like a brutally honest conversation with your most relatable friend. It’ll make you feel infinitely less alone.” – HelloGiggles

I Miss You When I Blink is about all of the lives we can lead, all of the people we can be, all of the decisions we can make and unmake and then make again throughout our lives — and it’s about the passage of time: unyielding, unforgiving, yet ultimately hopeful.” – Bustle

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Marie Claire Australia
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In MM LaFleur’s “Woman of the Week” feature: “Mary Laura explores the relationship between work and self, taking a hilarious and self-effacing look at her perfectionist tendencies. She gives us all permission to have the occasional identity crisis in the name of reinvention, and she uses phrases like ‘Holy hammerheads!’ What’s not to love?”

Find I Miss You When I Blink on the recommended reading lists of everyone from happiness expert Gretchen Rubin to super-chef Joy the Baker.