Bring Your Baggage and Don't Pack Light: Essays (Paperback)

Bring Your Baggage and Don't Pack Light: Essays By Helen Ellis Cover Image
On Our Shelves Now
On hand as of Sep 27 6:03pm


The bestselling author of American Housewife and Southern Lady Code returns with an “inspiring, hilarious, straight-to-the-point” (Entertainment Weekly) collection of essays on friendship among grown-ass women.

When Helen Ellis and her lifelong friends arrive for a reunion on the Redneck Riviera, they unpack more than their suitcases: stories of husbands and kids, lost parents and lost jobs, powdered onion dip and photographs you have to hold by the edges, dirty jokes and sunscreen with SPF higher than they hair-sprayed their bangs senior year, and a bad mammogram. It's a diagnosis that scares them, but could never break their bond. Because women pushing fifty won't be pushed around.

In these twelve gloriously comic and moving essays, Helen Ellis dishes on married middle-age sex, sobs with a theater full of women as a psychic exorcises their sorrows, gets twenty shots of stomach bile to the neck to get rid of her double chin, and gathers up the courage to ask, "Are you there, Menopause? It's Me, Helen."

A book that reads like the best cocktail party of your life, Bring Your Baggage and Don't Pack Light is alive with the sensational humor and ferocious love for her friends that won Helen Ellis legions of fans. This book has a raw vulnerability and an emotional generosity that takes this acclaimed author to a whole new level of accomplishment.

About the Author

HELEN ELLIS is the author of Southern Lady Code, American Housewife and Eating the Cheshire Cat. Raised in Alabama, she lives with her husband in New York City. You can find her on Twitter @WhatIDoAllDay and Instagram @HelenEllisAuthor.

Praise For…

SOUTHERN BOOK AWARD FINALIST A New York Post Best New Book to Read • A Garden and Gun Best Book of the Year • A New York Times New and Noteworthy Book • A PureWow Best Beach Read • A Buzzfeed Book to Read this Summer • A People Best Book of the Week

“Sharply funny… Ellis has clearly found her stride — or, in her case, her strut. The writer who so memorably opened American Housewife with a Beyoncé-inspired 'stallion walk to the toaster' is indeed noticeably unbridled and self-assured in this collection… The spirit of Nora Ephron… hovers over this book… Ellis' prose is filled with so many laugh lines, you might want to go ahead and book the Botox… Ellis is a hoot. She's also a force… She has come to own the power of her personality — and her work.”
—Heller McAlpin, NPR

"Despite how often I type the letters 'LOL,' it actually takes a lot for me to laugh out loud. But I found myself doing so at least once a chapter while reading the Alabama native Helen Ellis’s new essay collection, Bring Your Baggage and Don’t Pack Light... Hilarious."
—Amanda Heckert, Garden and Gun

"As with everything written by the Alabama-born novelist who gave us Southern Lady Code, this collection of twelve essays is equal parts irreverent and poignant—a mirthful toast to friendship at middle age."
Southern Living

"Helen Ellis has done it again. And by it, we mean she's pulled together her thoughts on life's disparate moments and produced an inspiring, hilarious, straight-to-the-point essay collection."
—Entertainment Weekly

"Ellis is a humorist, a writer with a sharp eye for finding the funny in any situation... Secrets are exactly what make Ellis’s essay collection fun. She doesn’t hold back... A little bit naughty, but also self-aware... She writes without fear of exposing her own vulnerabilities, of putting on display for everyone to see what many people would want to hide, and in that willingness, what emerges feels real and genuine."
—Southern Review of Books

"You gotta love a middle-aged gal who enjoys the 'good ole-boy adonises' at a water park in Georgia, plays professional poker in her pearls and speculates with her chagrined husband about her friends’ sex lives ('Those two have costumes'). Ellis is as original as she is hilarious, and in these laugh-out-loud essays she unleashes her no-holds-barred humor while sneaking in sharp and generous insights."

"An uproarious joyride, best enjoyed with a souvenir cup of white wine. Her tales of travels and tribulations with her middle-aged crew are both deep and deeply funny, seeded with bumper-sticker lines like, 'Instead of a chip on my shoulder, I keep a Nestlé morsel under my brastrap.'”
Martha Stewart Living

"Ellis, whose uproarious essays call to mind the warm, brassy and amused tone of a latter-day Erma Bombeck, here celebrates middle-aged female friendship."
—The New York Times

"Masterful wit...Helen Ellis shares twelve humorous yet poignant essays chronicling issues faced by her friends and herself as they wade into their fifties. During a reunion on 'the Redneck Riviera,' the women dish about middle-aged married sex, family, careers, double chins, mammograms, poker, and more. You'll laugh -- and, perhaps, cry -- along with them in this slim collection."
—Zibby Owens, Good Morning America

"What do you get when you cross an Alabama debutante with an Upper East Side socialite and a world class poker player? You get Helen Ellis’ s new collection of essays, delivering home truths with an iron fist wrapped in a cashmere glove. Whether she's writing about the outrageousness of 'her kind of people' or why she needs to take the Greyhound for her trips to Atlantic City, you'll chuckle along on every page."
—Emily Crowe, Buzzfeed

"Imagine your funniest friend—the one who can take make you laugh with little more than a sideways glance. The one who can make light of even the direst of situations. Now imagine that friend sitting you down and regaling you with twelve of her trademark wonderful stories... Conversational, witty and often poignant, the collection is one you’ll blow through while ear-marking pages to send to your group chat with your friends... Above all else, Ellis is an absolute joy to read."
—Sarah Stiefvater, PureWow

"This collection is sneaky good. At first reading, it feels like a trifle, a treat. But once you've finished, you realize how important its messages are: Friends are how we get through a punishing world; it is absolutely imperative to fully embrace who you are; never take yourself too seriously; all we can do is take the next best step for us."
The Bitter Southerner

"Whether she’s playing poker or second fiddle, Ellis proves again she is in it to win it, with this essay collection... Unpretentious and uplifting, Ellis’s writing on friendship reads more like a conversation you’d have with your best friend than an essay by a stranger... Readers looking for a new literary pal who’s classy enough to wear pearls at the poker table, and brave enough to visit a crowded water park post-menopause, need look no further. Recommend to fans of Nora Ephron and Annabelle Gurwitch."
Library Journal, starred

"The author of American Housewife and Southern Lady Code cuts loose with uproarious observations on friendship, middle age, and her own life... This smart, sassy, page-turning collection will appeal to fans of the author’s work as well as anyone who enjoys the quick-witted jocularity of a singular Southern woman who refuses to let anything—or anyone—get her down... Darkly hilarious."

"With the ongoing pandemic, many are in need of a good laugh. Thankfully, Ellis’ essays deliver hilarity on every page, providing the perfect way to get one’s socially distanced jollies. A seasoned Manhattanite by way of Alabama, Ellis entertains with a spicy blend of good ol’-gal snark and seasoned urban savvy, disarming folks with her tongue-in-cheek Southern bellecharm and shocking the unsuspecting with her flinty, no-nonsense persona."

"Ellis... shines in this collection of essays that lovingly underscores the importance of having a circle of close friends... Charming and frank life lessons ensue... Ellis balances intimacy, humor, and directness... The result is a candid, funny reminder that one need not take life too seriously."
Publishers Weekly
Product Details
ISBN: 9780593081686
ISBN-10: 0593081684
Publisher: Anchor
Publication Date: April 26th, 2022
Pages: 192
Language: English

How to read more
( Birmingham Museums Trust’s Digital Image Resource shares thousands of images that span decades of Birminghams vibrant past)

How To Read More

If you love reading, but for some reason you read less and less, know that everything is fine. It happens.
Our lives today have so many things that distract us - how can we not put books away when all these movies, TV shows, YouTube videos, social networks and endless surfing in online stores are around ...
Yes, it's really hard to resist, but you certainly can!

In this article, we want to share with you some tips to read more often and more successfully.
These are some notes and some practices that we have collected for our SUNDOG BOOKS readers club.
And maybe it will bring more books into your life!

Why do we want/need to read more?

To start reading more, you have to understand why you need it.
And you will be surprised, but your goals can be quite varied:

- for work
If you read a lot on duty, then you definitely need to speed up the process. The logic here is simple: read faster → work faster → more time for books for yourself.

- for education
you need this for your educational career or sometimes you just want to read to learn. And, with all the new alternative ways to gain knowledge (podcasts, online courses and videos), the book still does an excellent job of this task too.

- for self-development
all exercises for increasing speed, one way or another, improve cognition and memory.

- for fun
because good books always = fun!

Book lovers have an additional special goal for reading more often. If you love literature, you will understand what we mean: you want to catch everything - to follow modern literature, and not forget about the classics, look into non-fiction and children's publications. And there’s so much you want to reread! The goals are ambitious, but attainable if you read a lot.


And so - How to read more:
We will tell you about the methods that we use ourselves. Perhaps some will suit you as well.


15 minutes a day

You've probably already heard this rule: if you want to start a healthy habit, devote 15 minutes a day to it. Once upon a time, we all read irregularly, in jumps and starts. Sometimes we cannot open a book we have begun weeks ago. Therefore, you should decide to create a rule: devote at least 15 minutes a day to reading. Try reading before bed, or maybe during lunchtime, or even when you are having your morning coffee.

You will see progress immediately. You will notice that almost always your 15 minutes will grow into half an hour or more. But the most remarkable thing is that in three weeks your hands themselves will be looking for a book.


50 First Pages
This method advises - If the book hasn't hooked you from the first 50 pages, put it aside! Life is too short to read uninteresting books.

It is necessary to change the approach to books. At first it will be hard for you to stop and put the book down. Even if we put the book away, it will seem to reproach us from the shelf, mocking us as quitters. But in the end we should come to one simple thought: if it doesn’t hook your attention, you should not force yourself to read it.

***Fifty pages is not a bad test. Not the most objective, but definitely effective. It helps to determine whether it interests you or not, and whether to spend time on things that do not excite.


Reader's Diary

This should be used to improve the quality of reading - to make it more conscious. For starters, it can be a simple notebook with headings:

  • Author
  • Year of publication
  • Main characters
  • Scene
  • Plot
  • Theme
  • Quotes

And, yes, a reader's diary is not a thing about quantity, but about quality. But, it can also motivate. When you open your diary and start looking at quotes (especially quotes), you immediately really want to read.


Maybe a Book Bet?
Several people can participate. Members of the betting group can come from friends, family, and also your colleagues. And of course you can set your own rules for participation, but we'll give you a simple example:

Everyone in the group should read and review a book over the course of a month with weekly updates. Anyone who does not finish a review buys the book for all other participants for the next month.


Speed Reading

Another effective way to increase the amount you read is speed reading. The logic here is simple - the faster you read, the more books you can enjoy.

*There are many online courses on speed reading, and you can also study on your own using instructional books. But, it is worth noting that this is a serious learning process that will require some effort on your part.



Reading every day is quite attainable, the main thing is to try to make it a habit.
Sometimes, instead of heading for Facebook, try opening a book and soon you won’t even remember why you needed to wander around social media.
And also - don't forget about audiobooks. They are a cool way to take the load off your eyes sometimes and just immerse yourself in the story. Some books are really strong in voice acting.


Indie Bestsellers

This feature require that you enable JavaScript in your browser.

Indie Next List

This feature require that you enable JavaScript in your browser.
Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.