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Mary Laura Philpott Recovering perfectionist and author of bestselling memoir I Miss You When I Blink

About the Author

Mary Laura Philpott is the author of I Miss You When I Blink, the nationally bestselling debut memoir-in-essays. I Miss You When I Blink was named to the #1 spot on the Indie Next List by booksellers nationwide, featured as one of NPR’s Best Books of 2019, and highlighted on must-read lists from Esquire, Newsweek, BuzzFeed, Town & Country, theSkimm, ELLE Australia, Lit Hub, Southern Living, Bustle, The Millions, BookRiot, and the Chicago Review of Books.

Her popular memoir asks: What happens after you check the boxes on your to-do list and realize you might need to reinvent the list—and yourself? A few years ago, Philpott had “everything to be happy about,” but found that instead of feeling content and successful, she felt anxious. Lost. She’d done everything “right” but 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? She came to believe that identity crises don’t happen just once or only at midlife, and that small, recurring personal re-inventions are both normal and necessary.

Philpott enjoys traveling to speak with people about creativity, work, the ups and downs of perfectionism, reinvention, reading, and writing. Combining an inspirational talk with a live reading from I Miss You When I Blink, she incorporates audience Q&A and discussion whenever possible. She brings humor, relatability, and meaning to every gathering, from ticketed luncheons for 100 women to ballroom keynotes for 2,000 professionals to book-club-style discussions of I Miss You When I Blink as a community-wide read.

Across her work, Philpott examines the overlap of the absurd and the profound in life, literature, and culture. Her writing also appears in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, McSweeney’s, The Paris Review Daily, O, The Oprah Magazine, and other outlets. Additionally, she is the author and illustrator of the humor book Penguins with People Problems; an Emmy-award winning co-host of A Word on Words, a literary interview show on Nashville Public Television; and a former bookseller with Parnassus Books. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her family.

 

Suggested Topics

  • Happiness and Creativity  
  • Personal Reinvention
  • The Trap of Perfectionism
  • Writing and Self-Expression 

 

Raves and Reviews

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Garden & Gun

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

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

As she spoke the last words of her talk about perfectionism, you could have heard a pin drop. Mary Laura had everyone in that room riveted. She spoke with a genuine intensity and levity so refreshing you couldn’t help but feel like you were listening to the story of a friend you had always known. Bravo!”

— Women’s Economic Development Council and The Scout Guide

Mary Laura was awesome. I have never heard a large room as intently focused as the lunchtime ballroom of our annual ERB conference while she read. Attendees were still talking the next day about it.”

— Educational Records Bureau

We thought it was important to bring in an author who could speak to topics that our employees could relate to — such as the pressures of being perfect, the importance of balancing different aspects of your life, and the experience of thinking, ‘Who am I and what am I going to do next?’” Mary Laura and I Miss You When I Blink were the perfect fit. Our employees loved hearing her speak and have raved about the book. We were so glad to highlight a woman that our colleagues could connect with by addressing issues that truly matter to them.”

— Guggenheim Partners

 

In the Media

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Books by Mary Laura Philpott

I Miss You When I Blink

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