Back in the ’80s there was a mania for everything Amish. Cross-stitch was a very popular craft then and Amish images were huge sellers in the cross-stitch pattern market. Country home decor was big, too, so it went together well. I bought, but never made, a few of them. Harrison Ford’s blockbuster film Witness probably helped this cause. (It’s a great movie, by the way).
And who hasn’t been gifted with a starter for Amish Friendship Bread? Hands up if yours accidentally raised its young in the back of the refrigerator? It’s a Christmas classic, am I right? Photo source
But, those are just some little facts to build the story here. The real mania that developed–and is still going strong today–is for Amish books. Romances, mysteries, cookbooks. Most are from Christian publishers and most are aimed at women. The tv shows like Breaking Amish have added a new dimension to the story–“Leaving Amish” books and books about what the Amish believe. Then, too, the tragedy of the Amish schoolhouse shooting showed the world another side of the pacifistic Amish. Today I’m taking a look at the Amish books I’ve read and enjoyed.
Christian best-selling author Beverly Lewis is the queen of all things Amish between two book covers. Her fiction is very well crafted and extremely enjoyable–and I am not a Christian fiction fan! Her series, Abram’s Daughters, was my introduction to this genre and I still love the series. There is so much in this series to keep you reading–I remember avidly scouring used bookstores to try to find a copy cheap enough to keep reading! I was a very broke single Mom then and even a dollar often had to be seriously considered. Happily, when the library couldn’t supply the right book, I found one at a garage sale and a few others thru careful searching of the used book store’s clearance rack. I read straight thru–nothing else would do! Someday I absolutely WILL buy them all brand-new just to have. Beverly Lewis also writes Amish books for teens and children (both chapter books and picture books).
Just Like Mama by Beverly Lewis
Not everyone who is born Amish regards the life with pure joy. Many leave. All are given a year “off” to chose–they can experience the “world” in order to make an educated decision. The Amish do not allow education beyond elementary school–making them a legal exception to mandatory schooling age laws. Some find this too limiting. Some are unable to commit to a life “set apart” from the world. While different Amish communities have different rules, many find living in a different century at a slower pace to be too much. Others object to total church control over their lives and see the sect as a cult. Here are three memoirs of people who left the order–there are many more and a serious look at the Rumspringa or “year off.” Rumpspringa: To Be or Not to Be Amish; Born Amish
Amish Grace tries to explain the other-worldy response of the Amish to the horrifying murder of 5 children in an Amish schoolhouse. No revenge, just grace. Journalist Bill Moyers, himself an ordained Baptist pastor, has praised this book repeatedly for its excellent explanation of the Amish view of God’s grace.
The Amish Way: Patient Faith in a Perilous World is the follow-up to Amish Grace. I won a copy of this book several years ago at a librarian’s conference. This book looks at the ways in which the Amish worship and live the spiritual side of their lives.
Amish-Wanna Be’s and Amish Fangirl Books
Minimalist? Slow Life? Set Apart? Break Away? Many people today think they really admire the Amish life. Few could really live it–even with a propane fueled refrigerator. But many people do use the Amish as real inspiration in how they approach their lives. No one has asked the Amish what they think of these efforts, but these two books get a decent grade for effort. Neither is very “Amish” in reality–its more about the spiritual side of being Amish, not the lack of material goods. About needs versus wants; about community over self; simple over unnecessarily complicated choices in life.
Amish Quilts and Cooking
I live in Amish Country–the Ohio Appalachian version. People have this idea that when they boy Amish canned goods that they are some how homemade. They aren’t. Those bottles of pickles and chow-chow and jam are all factory produced, but the labor is provided by Amish men and much of the produce (all?) comes from Amish farms. Same with cheese. Great stuff but open your eyes. Most of the Amish bakeries and food stores around me are for tourists and the pricing reflects that. Still, if you can’t live without a fried pie or a cream cake or donuts, then it’s great stuff. Lots of the salads and other deli things are great too.
Amish-made furniture for homes and porches, Amish made storage barns and play houses are everywhere out in my neck of the woods. Quilts, too. They are beautiful and fine quality, but they are priced for tourists and tourists love to overpay! Ditto the fresh, local produce.
There are many, many more books of Amish recipes and Amish quilts. These are just two especially nice ones.
Do you have a favorite Amish series? Or recipe? Can you recommend other Amish resources? Leave a comment.