Finding Comfort In Books

By Eugenia Vela

While we’re all practicing safe social distancing at home, some of us are turning to favorite movies and mind-numbing reality TV. Some of us are stress baking (and stress eating), or taking up knitting, or, possibly, scrolling through Twitter trying to catch up with the absolute worst news just to feel in control. (Some of us are doing all of these.) We are all dealing in different ways. I’m here to encourage you to read.

Sometimes a book finds you at the perfect time. It really feels that way, like it finds you

I Miss You When I Blink had been sitting on my shelves for almost two years. An old coworker handed me her Advanced Reading Copy and said, “You’ll like this.” I thanked her and set it aside, forgetting all about it for a long, long time. Then along came another coworker, a new girl who just moved to Austin from Miami, and she was marveling at a book she recently read that she referred to as “her bible”. I Miss You When I Blink, she said. I nodded, told her I had a copy at home and that I would check it out. And then I didn’t.

Fast forward to now. Global pandemic, remember? I searched my shelves looking for comfort. I had to have something here, right? A book that would hug me. A book that would make it all better. A book that would help me breathe again. The spine caught my eye, and something told me: It’s time. Pick me up. Check me out. You might find what you’re looking for.

It happens that way sometimes. Books take on a life of their own. 

No matter where you are in life, you will find wisdom in I Miss You When I Blink. In this collection of personal essays, Mary Laura Philpott– AKA your new best friend– writes about motherhood, moving abroad, adulting, the struggles of being a Type-A personality, and the power of reinvention. She talks about trying to find balance in a chaotic world, of craving control and seeking a center, and the need to hit Pause on your life because you’re afraid of it going by too quickly. Sound familiar? Gulp.

Mary Laura’s writing is wonderfully relatable. I constantly found myself laughing, muttering “yes, yes” and even reading aloud to my husband from certain passages that reminded me deeply of our own relationship. 

If you’ve ever questioned your place in life

If you’ve ever longed for escape

If you’ve ever wanted to start anew

If you’ve ever felt insufficient 

If you’ve ever felt like “a planet loose from its orbit”

If you’ve ever wanted to let go of all your responsibilities and eat junk food for every meal for a week, and

If you’re looking for a laugh

You will love this book. Not only because you will meet a new friend but because you will recognize an old one. You will find yourself in these pages. Personally, I stumbled upon my own insecurities and doubts, as well as sage advice I know I will turn to in the future. Here are a few gems I found in I Miss You When I Blink. I hope you find comfort in them, too.

“It was as if, given the quiet and permission to come out, past iterations of myself were emerging from their places in my memory and tumbling one over another, allowing me to sort through them and remember who I’d been. Who I still was.”

“A good quit feels powerful. Deciding what you won’t have in your life is as important as deciding what you will have. Trying out something you expect to love, realizing you don’t really love it, and giving it back, that takes guts.”

“I still love trying on a different persona every now and then. It’s a thrill to look in the mirror, blink your eyes, and see the glittery eyelids of a different person winking back. It makes you think, for just a second, Who are you?– which is a useful question to ask yourself from time to time. If you don’t check in every now and then, you might not realize that the answer changes. So if you’re feeling unsettled, I highly recommend getting a different haircut or outfit or eyebrow pencil (or guitar). It’s fun. And who doesn’t occasionally long to walk through the world as someone else for a while?”

“Life will surprise you. You’ll hit dead-ends and detours. There will be times when you can’t fathom what comes next. When that happens, remember yourself as you are right now. Remember yourself as you were when you were even younger. Who were you when you weren’t wondering who you were?”

Right now it’s even more important to buy from local bookstores! BookPeople is a beloved Austin book shop that I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy since I was a kid – it’s near and dear to my heart. Due to Covid-19, they had to close their storefront, however, thankfully they’re able to offer select books online, and I Miss You When I Blink is one of them (among so many others!). Feel free to shop their selection of books here, and thank you for supporting businesses we love!

Are you reading during this uncertain time? We’d love to know what book you can’t put down (…or stop listening to!). Feel free to leave a comment below.

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