The best and most eclectic books about those quirky Mennonites

Who am I?

I was born and raised in Kansas and will forever have a soft spot in my heart for golden wheat fields, sunflower-filled ditches, and sunsets that explode colors on the horizon. I always knew I’d write a book set in Kansas, and I’d explore my long Mennonite linage and its seemingly unrealistic theology. Pacifism is a beautiful concept until you’re faced with protecting the people you love. As I grew older, I became more curious about larger, practical questions. It’s one thing to be a conscientious objector to war. It’s another thing to confront the cosmically dark evil of your neighbor. From that, Never Enough Flamingos was born.


I wrote...

Never Enough Flamingos

By Janelle Diller,

Book cover of Never Enough Flamingos

What is my book about?

Ahhh, those quirky Mennonites. They choose peace and forgiveness, but then how do they confront evil in their midst, especially when that evil—the man who steals the souls of little girls—is also the savior for so many in the congregation who are financially desperate. What do they choose to do? Save the farm and sacrifice their daughter, or save the daughter and lose the farm?

Kirkus Reviews says this about Never Enough Flamingos, a 2017 Kansas Notable Book Selection: "It is a testament to Diller's authorial strength that, through the despair, she weaves in disarming humor... Peopled with some enduring characters and driven by both compassion and sarcasm, this is a vivid, surprising page-turner."

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Menno-Nightcaps: Cocktails Inspired by That Odd Ethno-Religious Group You Keep Mistaking for the Amish, Quakers or Mormons

Janelle Diller Why did I love this book?

I love to cook, and given the passion Mennonites have for potlucks, this list wouldn’t be complete without a favorite cookbook recommendation. The trouble is, which one? There are so many classics. I grew up with the worn and scribbled-on pages of The Mennonite Community Cookbook and later the More-with-Less World Community Cookbook, but ultimately decided on Menno-Nightcaps because, well, I warned you this list is eclectic, right? This book is loaded with not just yummy, practical drink recipes, but loads of Mennonite history. My own husband wooed me with stories of his ancestor who supplied George Washington’s troops with whiskey. How could I not love a book like this? Trust me, it’ll be fun and you’ll never view Mennonites in quite the same way.  

By S.L. Klassen, Michael Hepher (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Menno-Nightcaps as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A satirical cocktail book featuring seventy-seven cocktail recipes accompanied by arcane trivia on Mennonite history, faith, and cultural practices.

At last, you think, a book of cocktails that pairs punny drinks with Mennonite history! Yes, cocktail enthusiast and author of the popular Drunken Mennonite blog Sherri Klassen is here to bring some Low German love to your bar cart. Drinks like Brandy Anabaptist, Migratarita, Thrift Store Sour, and Pimm’s Cape Dress are served up with arcane trivia on Mennonite history, faith, and cultural practices.

Arranged by theme, the book opens with drinks inspired by the Anabaptists of sixteenth-century Europe (Bloody…


Book cover of Peace Shall Destroy Many

Janelle Diller Why did I love this book?

I first read this book about Mennonites in western Canada during WWII while I was in college. Wiebe had the audacity to pull back the curtain and expose the very human inconsistencies between what we Mennonites believe and how we sometimes behave, particularly around pacifism, racism, and money. Mennonites pride (uh oh) ourselves on living our theology, so the book created quite a stir in the Mennonite world because Wiebe took some shine off the denomination. That very act raised important theological questions for me, ones that I’ll always grapple with in one form or another.

I like to think Wiebe would approve that I, too, have pulled back the curtain with Never Enough Flamingos.

By Rudy Wiebe,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Peace Shall Destroy Many as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it.

This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work.

Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. To ensure a quality reading experience, this work has been…


Book cover of Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home

Janelle Diller Why did I love this book?

This is a long way from Peace Shall Destroy Many and is a bit dangerous to even recommend. When I read it, I laughed out loud and shook my head at the familiar denominational references. I also shook my head because Janzen had grown up Mennonite, did all the Mennonite rites of passage, and even had a father who was a Mennonite minister, but ultimately, she didn’t really get the theology. Oddly enough, that’s why I’m including the book on my list. Her lack of “getting it” is reflective of a lot of people I know in the denomination—every denomination has them. They may have gone to church every Sunday but haven’t ever owned for themselves what it means. 

By Rhoda Janzen,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Mennonite in a Little Black Dress as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"It is rare that I literally laugh out loud while I'm reading, but Janzen's voice―singular, deadpan, sharp-witted and honest―slayed me." ―Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love

Not long after Rhoda Janzen turned forty, her world turned upside down. It was bad enough that her husband of fifteen years left her for Bob, a guy he met on Gay.com, but that same week a car accident left her injured. Needing a place to rest and pick up the pieces of her life, Rhoda packed her bags, crossed the country, and returned to her quirky Mennonite family's home, where she was…


Book cover of Thrill of the Chaste: The Allure of Amish Romance Novels

Janelle Diller Why did I love this book?

Full confession here. I’m not a big romance reader and so I’m baffled by why Mennonite/Amish mystery romances are such a huge genre. Maybe it’s the perceived simplicity and innocence of the sect? Maybe they take people back to a time they never experienced themselves? That’s why I found Weaver-Zercher’s book helpful in clarifying why so many people love these books. Her writing is witty and engaging and kept me reading even though the subject itself is on the academic side. If you do want to explore the genre, the best source for a recommendation is the podcast Just Plain Wrong where three Mennonite librarians irreverently dissect Mennonite romances on a weekly basis.

By Valerie Weaver-Zercher,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Thrill of the Chaste as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Browse the inspirational fiction section of your local bookstore, and you will likely find cover after cover depicting virtuous young women cloaked in modest dresses and wearing a pensive or playful expression. They hover innocently above sun-drenched pastures or rustic country lanes, often with a horse-drawn buggy in the background-or the occasional brawny stranger. Romance novels with Amish protagonists, such as the best-selling trailblazer "The Shunning" by Beverly Lewis, are becoming increasingly popular with a largely evangelical female audience. "Thrill of the Chaste" is the first book to analyze this growing trend in romance fiction and to place it into…


Book cover of The Upside-Down Kingdom

Janelle Diller Why did I love this book?

If you’ve browsed my list this far, maybe you’re curious enough to peek into Mennonite theology, which truly is upside-down from the world we live in. Even though I’d been Mennonite all my life, this book, which I read decades ago, explained what radical Christian discipleship meant in a way I’d never fully understood. All those things that make the theology challenging—choosing pacifism, taking care of the least in society, living humbly instead of seeking power, turning the other cheek, forgiving when it’s easier to seek revenge—are also what make it transformative. If only living it were that easy.

By Donald B. Kraybill,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Upside-Down Kingdom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Upside-Down Kingdom calls readers to imagine and embody the reign of God on earth as it is in heaven. Since its publication in 1978, The Upside-Down Kingdom won the National Religious Book Award and has become the most trusted resource on radical Christian discipleship. In this completely updated anniversary edition, author Donald B. Kraybill asks: What does it mean to follow the Christ who traded victory and power for hanging out with the poor and forgiving his enemies? How did a man in first-century Palestine threaten the established order, and what does that mean for us today? Jesus turned…


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Winter Solstice in the Crystal Castle

By Jennifer Ivy Walker,

Book cover of Winter Solstice in the Crystal Castle

Jennifer Ivy Walker Author Of Winter Solstice in the Crystal Castle

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author French teacher Avid reader Lover of medieval romance European traveler

Jennifer's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

A medieval romance between a flame haired, fire hearted French princess descended from Viking Valkyrie and the chivalrous knight who suffers an impossible love for her-- the daughter of the king he is sworn to protect.

A Yuletide Joust will determine who wins Princess Gabrielle's royal hand in marriage and her valuable dowry, the Breton kingdom of Finistère. Without a title of nobility, the man she loves--Sir Bastien de Landuc-- is ineligible to compete in the tournament, and she will be forced to marry a man she loathes.

Will Yuletide wishes make impossible dreams come true? Can the valiant knight win the coveted hand of his Viking Valkyrie?

Winter Solstice in the Crystal Castle

By Jennifer Ivy Walker,

What is this book about?

Gabrielle is a flame haired, fire hearted French princess who dreams of becoming a Valkyrie warrior queen like her Viking ancestors from Normandy. Sent to Paris to learn the proper etiquette for a future French queen, she is called home to le Château de Beaufort for a forced marriage to a man she loathes when her father the king's precarious health takes a sudden turn for the worse. Chivalrous, solitary knight Sir Bastien de Landuc suffers an impossible love for Gabrielle, the unattainable princess he can never have. Without a title of nobility, he is ineligible to compete in the…


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