Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life with Less Baggage by Allison Vesterfelt

Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life with Less Baggage

Summary: A great reminder of what is gained and lost by stability, and what happens when we are willing to find out.

There is a great quote by CS Lewis from God in the Dock about the importance of reading old books.  He says that it is not because they are inherently better because they are old, but because they have different biases and blind spots and we get things out of them that we cannot out of modern books because those books can speak to us in ways that modern books cannot.  This book reminds me that this is generationally true as well.

I have read a lot of 20 something memoirs.  Donald Miller, Shauna Niequist, Anne Marie Miller and the many others.  There is something particularly bold (and foolish) about writing a memoir when you are only about 20 or 30 percent through your life.  There is so much more to learn and understand and experience that it is just not possible to have learned, understood or experienced when you are still in your 20s.

But I keep reading these memoirs (and Packing Light is particularly good example) because as someone that is now in my 40s, I have something to learn from somewhat naive, innocent and hopeful people nearly half my age.  I have different biases and blind spots at 40 than these 20-something authors.  And in spite of the fact that occasionally I am left smiling at the profound thoughts that get shared (that are not unlike the profound thoughts that have been shared in so many other 20-something memoirs), I am not smiling because I am beyond the lesson, but because I often still need to put into practice that same lesson myself.  The role of trust in God, the freeness of a life that is still unencumbered and free, the fear of a life that is wide open, these are still a part of life, even if I have a bit more experience of life than the author.

Packing Light is the story of the author’s (and her friend’s) trip across all 50 states.  Of learning how to ‘pack light’ both their car and their hearts as they traveled.  Allison Vesterfelt, an introverted, middle school teacher and wanna-be writer, agreed to travel the country with her friend, a wanna-be singer/songwriter.  They go from town to town, playing coffee shops and street corners, bumming places to stay and food from friends and strangers.  They learn lessons and see places and get into fights and lose things that are important to them.

I picked this up from Noisetrade, and while the whole book is no longer there, the intro and first three chapters is still available to sample.  (Or you can get the whole book for free if you sign up for an email newsletter from Moody Collective, the publisher.) This is a book that is well written and enjoyable.  I picked up a paperback copy to give to a friend (who is a wanna-be singer/songwriter herself and I think would love to take on this trip.)

If you are in your 20s and enjoy hearing about what others are doing in the process of maturing, this is a good book to pick up.  But if you are in your 40s or older, this may be an even better book to pick up. We all need to remember what it means to grow up, to find our way when we have thought it lost and to step out, even though we are afraid.

Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life with Less Baggage Purchase Links: Paperback, Kindle Edition, Audiobook (you can also get the audiobook free if you sign up for a newsletter from Moody Collective, the publisher.)


Adam, this has been an insanely busy day for me, but I increasingly find it nigh impossible to hurry past any of your book reviews. You said you were reposting this, so I must have missed the original posting. I’ll read reviews of books in which I have no interest just to see what you say about them. And after reading your reviews, no question my interest is piqued. Because my reading time is limited and my reading priorities somewhat fixed, I am glad to learn about other books through your blog. This review was especially lovely! Thank you.

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