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Books

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

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

"When your job is the only thing holding your life together, what happens when you get fired? Journalist Christina Patterson explains how she weathered the storm in this funny, frank book." Mail on Sunday, Books of the Year, 2018

"A moving and funny book, The Art of Not Falling Apart describes with searing honesty what it's like for a single woman in middle age to lose the one thing that was holding life together – her job." Alan Johnson, New Statesman, Best Books of the Year, 2018

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

"A page turner! Insightful, sad, funny and so well written" Kirsty Wark

"This is not a typical 'how to' guide that promises all the answers - readers may find some along the way, but they may also simply enjoy it as a witty and beautifully written memoir."  Irish News

‘The Art of Not Falling Apart... is moving, poignant and extremely funny, it's filled with wisdom and it's enormously uplifting. I'm going to keep it on my bedside table forever, in case of emergency, and buy a box of copies so that I can distribute them to the people I love when they need a boost.’ Daisy Buchanan, The Pool

"If you’re 50 and feeling a failure, you must read The Art of Not Falling Apart"  Liz Jones, Mail on Sunday

"When journalist Patterson was sacked from the job she loved, she could have fallen apart. Instead she set about interviewing people who could have gone to pieces but didn’t and wrote a funny, uplifting memoir." Craig Brown, The Mail on Sunday

‘‘What do you do when you feel you've messed it all up and your friends seem to be doing just fine? Ditch the self-help books and keep buggering on’ sums up journalist and broadcaster Christina Patterson's attitude in this brilliant, poignant and also very funny memoir about picking yourself up and starting afresh.’ Caroline Sanderson, The Bookseller

"Brave, honest and readable" Wendy Cope, the Week

"The Art of Not Falling Apart is required reading for all journalists past and present, and anyone else who has – at times – struggled to hold it together." Dominic Ponsford, Editor in Chief, Press Gazette

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. This makes it sound like a misery memoir, but I promise you, it isn’t! It was picked by The Bookseller as its Book of the Month and by The Times and Sunday Times as a Best Summer Read. You can read the interview in The Bookseller with me here and order the book here.

I was interviewed about the book 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

"A powerful and honest, personal memoir of love and loss" ― Woman's Own

"She has a talent for vivid, visual description and writes about her sister's schizophrenia with candour and sensitivity" ― Spectator

"Christina Patterson's beautifully written memoir spans all the emotions, from joyful to heart-breaking and back again" ― Choice magazine

"A memoir full of wit, wisdom, tenderness and heart. Deeply moving on the devastating impact of childhood schizophrenia on a family. Christina Patterson writes so beautifully, and with searing honesty. I loved this book" Dr Rachel Clarke, author of Dear Life and Your Life in My Hands

"She writes beautifully - crisp, yet emotional and page-turning. For me, it is something about her clarity and brutal honesty in describing both heartbreak and heart-bursting life and love. In the end it is only the love that matters. Her memoir will give hope to those that are suffering and cannot see the light." Julia Samuel, author of Grief Works and This Too Shall Pass

"This is a joyful book. Despite the sorrows, there is a determined joy to this tale, a pattern of finding the good despite the bad, of turning to face the sun so the shadows fall behind. It's a wonderful, heart-wrenching, compelling read." Dr Kathryn Mannix, author of With the End in Mind

"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

"Devastating, funny, wise, intimate and beautifully written. It's filled with empathy and light. This is a handbook for loving and living fully."  Daisy Buchanan, author of Insatiable

"All families have stories of mental health struggles but Christina and her family have had more than their fair share… There is a lot of death and suffering in this book yet precisely because Christina is so candid and compassionate there is hope within it too. I am sure this will be a welcome addition to the books helping to break down stigma and taboo about mental illness." Alastair Campbell, author of Living Better

"This is a beautiful book. Heartbreaking and heartwarming, it's an immersive family memoir that is deeply personal and yet somehow universal. Highly recommended." Adam Hamdy, author of Black 13

People Say:

I thoroughly enjoyed it - a kind of war reporter’s dispatches from the barricades of modern life

Robert Harris bestselling author

A page turner! – insightful, sad, funny and so well written

Kirsty Wark TV presenter and novelist

brilliant, poignant, but also very funny

Caroline Sanderson non-fiction editor The Bookseller

It’s terrific – moving, wise and funny

Terence Blacker novelist

A witty and wise book … Highly recommended if you’re feeling blue. Or if you’re not.

Sarah Churchwell author and academic

Tender and funny

Sunday Post

poignant and very funny

Sunday Express

A tender, beautiful exploration of how we survive pressure, from a tender, beautiful writer

Johann Hari bestselling author

The whole book was such a gripping read... The honesty is refreshing. It is also beautifully written... Everyone who works in healthcare would benefit from reading this book.

Peter Carter Nursing Times

wise, funny… you feel as if you are listening to your cleverest, funniest and, above all, kindest friend

Kathryn Hughes Mail on Sunday

a beautifully written and uplifting memoir about love and loss – and finding the resolve to carry on

Matthew Syed The Times

If you’re 50 and feeling a failure, you must read The Art of Not Falling Apart, by Christina Patterson

Liz Jones Mail on Sunday

poignant and very funny

Sunday Express

a very different kind of self-help book: witty, wise and wonderfully relatable

Sarah Hughes the I

funny and uplifting

100 Sizzling Summer Reads Mail on Sunday

Brave, honest and readable

Wendy Cope The Week