The Art of Not Falling Apart

When I lost my job, I dreamt of plunging my employers in burning oil. Instead, I wrote a book, The Art of Not Falling Apart. It’s a mix of memoir and interviews about how we cope when life goes wrong.

It was described by the Mail on Sunday as “a manual on how to survive in the 21st century” and by Robert Harris as “a kind of war reporter’s dispatches from the barricades of modern life”. It was a New Statesman Book of the Year, a Mail on Sunday Book of the Year, a Number 1 Amazon Kindle bestseller in five categories and recommended self-isolation reading in The Guardian and the i. You can order it here.

Here are some other quotes about it:

“Patterson is a passionate, funny woman who refuses simply to struggle on. She believes in living,” Sunday Times 

“I’m in awe of the honesty and bravery”, Booker-prizewinner Bernardine Evaristo

“A beautifully written and uplifting memoir about love and loss – and finding the resolve to carry on,” Matthew Syed, The Times

“How does a person not fall apart when everything that matters to them is taken away? That’s the question Patterson poses in this wise, funny book. Part memoir, part psychological enquiry, she uses herself and her wide circle of friends as laboratory specimens to work out what stops people going under… Patterson invests her case histories with such intelligent passion and cracking candour that you feel as if you are listening to your cleverest, funniest and, above all, kindest friend. This is a manual on how to survive in the 21st century.” Kathryn Hughes, Mail on Sunday

“Shames the sleek, smug lessons of the Lean In brigade by celebrating… the varied circumstances, uncertain fortunes and individual abilities that shape human effort,” TLS

“A tender, beautiful exploration of how we survive pressure, from a tender, beautiful writer,” Johann Hari, author of Lost Connections

“a surprisingly joyful book by a writer so good that the people who sacked her were clearly morons,” Allison Pearson, Sunday Telegraph

“Incredibly inspirational… a witty and beautifully written memoir,” Irish Times

“A very different kind of self-help book: witty, wise and wonderfully relatable,” The i

Watch this 3-minute film about The Art of Not Falling Apart, made by award-winning film director Randall Wright, with award-winning cinematographer Patrick Duval, and with music by the great John Harle.

The Art of Not Falling Apart is also available as an audiobook, from Whole Story Quest.

Outside, the Sky is Blue

When my brother died, very suddenly, I had to clear out his house. I had to sift through box after box of letters, papers, photos and belongings, not just of Tom’s, but of our parents and our older sister, Caroline.

Those boxes told the story of our family: of my sister’s mental illness, my brother’s struggles with anxiety and my own ups and downs, ranging from cancer to dramatic romantic failures. Outside, the Sky is Blue was selected by The Bookseller as their non-fiction Book of the Month and was a Times/Sunday Times Best Summer Read. You can read The Bookseller‘s interview with me here and order the book here.

I was interviewed about the book on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, Radio 2’s The Jeremy Vine Show, Times Radio and on the following podcasts: A Truth Universally Acknowledged, Always Take Notes, The Five Rules of Writing, The Shift, The Sunday Salon and The Meaningful Life and for Humanists UK here.

Here are some reviews and responses:

A bracing, heart-lifting read. Patterson is a superb writer – part of the redemptive message of this memoir is that beautiful prose can make almost anything bearable. Outside the Sky is Blue is a lesson in generosity, in accommodation, but most of all it’s a lesson in resilience” Alex Preston, The Observer

“Written with savage honesty about grief and sibling rivalry, this book slices deeply. A memoir about family loyalty and gut-wrenching goodbyes but it serves too as a wise guide from someone who has endured more than her share of life’s slings and arrows, and has still come out swinging”Laura Pullman, Sunday Times 

“A compelling memoir of faith, hope and loss. Her beautifully written and insightful account of a family living with mental and physical ill health” ― Daily Express

“A hymn to optimism, and a beacon of unflagging hope”Nick Duerden, iPaper

“A memoir about the loss of faith and hope. The book journeys to dark places but it’s too honest and well written to be dispiriting – she perseveres in her quest to understand” ― Blake Morrison, The Guardian

“A superbly told, heart-buffeting memoir – a powerful account of how we carry the distress that life’s blows cause to us; of how we keep sane and carry on; and of how love within a family can endure even the sternest tests” ― Bookseller, Book of the Month

“Patterson has poured every ounce of love and compassion she possesses into this compelling memoir” ― Daily Mirror

“I read this beautiful and exceptional book in one sitting‘”― Kate Mosse, author of Labyrinth

“Moving and ultimately uplifting and beautifully written” ― David Nicholls, author of One Day

“This is a profound and beautiful memoir. Anyone who reads it will go on an extraordinary journey – you will learn about a remarkable individual, and also about our shared humanity.’ Johann Hari, author of Lost Connections