Reviews for Bomb Shelter: Love, Time, and Other Explosives

Named a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice; an Indie Next pick by booksellers nationwide; an Amazon Editor’s Pick; a most anticipated read for 2022 by publications including the Washington Post, Lit Hub, BookPage, the San Diego Union Tribune, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Off the Shelf; and a best book of spring by The Millions, Parade, and more.

Read an excerpt of Bomb Shelter in The Atlantic — and another in the Washington Post.

“I was struck to my core by Mary Laura Philpott, or more precisely, by her new masterwork, Bomb Shelter.” – Judith Warner, the New York Times Book Review

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“A beautifully wrought ode to life. Nora Ephron would approve. Her love affair with life… is a precious gift to the world.” – Katie Hafner, The Washington Post

“From a lifelong worrier who’s also a reveler in the joys of human existence, engrossing essays on living with both.” – PEOPLE

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“It’s a perfect book for 2022, honestly: existential dread, but make it hopeful.” – Most Anticipated Nonfiction, BookPage 

“How do we keep living when the unexpected can happen at any moment?” TODAY.com, 22 Books the Read with Jenna Community Can’t Wait to Read in 2022

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“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

“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”

“An unforgettable memoir about holding it together when it’s time to let go, Bomb Shelter met me exactly where I am and gently walked me towards humor and hope. This book is a must read—a treasure to savor now and save for always. I loved it.” —Glennon Doyle, Author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller Untamed and Founder of Together Rising

Bomb Shelter is a gorgeous, gut-wrenching memoir that drew me in immediately. Mary Laura Philpott puts words to the human condition in a life-affirming, joyful, and surprisingly funny way — even as she leaves readers in tears. I’m blown away.” —Lori Gottlieb, New York Times bestselling author of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone

“If you’ve ever loved someone or been loved by someone, Bomb Shelter will have resonance for you. This book deserves pride of place alongside Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, Joan Didion’s The White Album, and Nora Ephron’s Crazy Salad.” – Garrett M. Graff, New York Times bestselling author of Watergate and The Only Plane in the Sky

“Each of these powerful, beautifully written essays is like a tiny grenade aimed straight at the heart. Mary Laura Philpott is a trustworthy guide, ushering us through the magnificent, harrowing terrain of being human. Trust me: you will laugh, you will cry. You will fall in love with her voice.” —Dani Shapiro, New York Times bestselling author of Inheritance

“At the heart of Bomb Shelter is a truth parents know deeply: ‘I felt the universe had entrusted me with so much more than I could possibly keep safe.’ I put this book down feeling less anxious as a mother and more inspired as a writer. Why? Philpott reveals, page after page, that the love that makes us vulnerable is the same force that makes us powerful.” —Maggie Smith, bestselling author of Keep Moving and Goldenrod

“I have never met Mary Laura Philpott, but reading Bomb Shelter felt like sitting up all night talking with a dear friend who saved up all her best secrets to share with me. Delicious.” —Duchess Goldblatt, author of Becoming Duchess Goldblatt

“Witty, inspiring, and piercingly honest, this book will pull you in and it won’t let go. Mary Laura Philpott has the gift of making the ordinary extraordinary as she invites you to reflect and laugh. You’ll leave these pages with a deeper appreciation for this exceptional and explosive thing we call life.” —Tembi Locke, New York Times bestselling author of From Scratch

“Smart and compassionate, tender and incisive, Bomb Shelter examines the way love is always braided through with fear. I read it with my heart in my throat, gripped especially by its account of the worry and awe in raising children. ‘The pain came with the territory, but the territory was so glorious that the pain didn’t matter.'” – Flynn Berry, New York Times bestselling author of Northern Spy

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

“Beautifully written…eloquent…offers pleasure and comfort to anyone who has ever worried about someone they love.” —Booklist

“Philpott’s greatest gift as a writer is her ability to tell a story as if she is simply sharing the events of her day with a friend… A master of the timely digression, Philpott is as skilled at handling painful subjects as she is offering hilarious glimpses inside her life and mind, and she often intersperses the two with great effect.” – The Nashville Scene / Chapter 16

“Philpott’s newest explores the extraordinary and the mundane with humor, anxiety, and hope.”The Millions

“Philpott’s openhearted joy and fear is relatable regardless of your parenting status—a reminder that, even amid the most frightening challenges, we are rarely alone.” BookPage, starred review

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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 is, 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.