The best Amish books

4 authors have picked their favorite books about Amish and why they recommend each book.

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Almost Amish

By Nancy Sleeth,

Book cover of Almost Amish: One Woman's Quest for a Slower, Simpler, More Sustainable Life

Parenting with intentionality necessitates a certain degree of extremism. It takes a lot of effort to do things differently from the society around us. In Almost Amish, we gain a glimpse into Amish communities and why they do what they do. We’re not challenged to overhaul our lives and do as the Amish do, but rather to consider the heart and purpose behind their ways of life and how we can implement some of those principles to strengthen family ties and purposefully raise our kids. My main takeaway from this book was the importance of slowing down and enjoying my kids — not making them the center of my world, but rather doing life alongside them in a meaningful and fun way.


Who am I?

Life is busy. We all feel it. As my husband and I have built businesses, published books, traveled the country, and homeschooled our four kids, we’ve worried at times that our schedule is too packed and we’re losing sight of what matters. Seven years ago, we took time to write out a “Family Values List,” which has guided our family’s trajectory. We measure every decision and opportunity up against our core values. This provides a depth of intentionality in our parenting, which has led us to read (and write!) resources around how to make the most of the time we have together as a family. “Do life together” is on our values list, and it’s what we aim to do each day.


I wrote...

936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting

By Eryn Lynum,

Book cover of 936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting

What is my book about?

"Each of these pennies represents one week you have with your child between birth and eighteen.” He handed us the jar along with this weighty explanation for the 936 copper coins inside. We all know “the days are long, but the years are short.” We feel it acutely as parents. Yet, with this jar, I had a visual for my kids’ childhoods. I can make the most of this time, infusing it with meaning, laughter, purpose, and memories.

At some point, every parent realizes time is moving swiftly, and they ask themselves, How am I investing in my child? Through personal stories and biblical examples, 936 Pennies will help you discover how to capture time and use it to its fullest potential, replacing guilt and regrets with freedom. Meanwhile, your kids will see how simple choices, like putting the cell phone down and going on a family hike, will make all the difference. Together you will “count time and make time count.”

More Than Happy

By Serena B. Miller, Paul Stutzman,

Book cover of More Than Happy: The Wisdom of Amish Parenting

Serena Miller is one of my favorite fiction writers. However, once when researching to write a novel based on the Amish, she couldn’t help notice that the Amish had the happiest, nicest children she had ever seen. So, she changed from writing a fictional novel to writing a book about how the Amish parent.

I recommend this book because it reminds you that your children don’t need video games, smartphones, or tablets to entertain themselves. The Amish children can easily, happily entertain themselves with very few simple toys. And they know how to cook and do practical skills as small children. Great inspiration.


Who am I?

When I had my twin boys 29 years ago, I started reading every parenting book I could. I was shocked at what I felt was really bad advice. It was permissive, indulgent, and lacked instilling virtues. It was then that I birthed the idea of writing parenting books with traditional Christian principles. Since then, I’ve spent the last 28 years learning all I could about raising well-behaved children. I also have done much research on the harmful effects of screen time on children. Other works include Rubric Rules: A Cleaning System for Kids and The Parenting with Focus Video Course.


I wrote...

Parenting with Focus

By Katie Ely,

Book cover of Parenting with Focus

What is my book about?

Parenting with Focus is the ultimate guide to biblical child training. Featuring a unique technique called “Training Sessions,” this practical guide will teach parents how to intentionally train their children’s behavior and their hearts. Also included in this well-researched book is the latest data on the impact of screen time on children, and what parents can do to prevent harmful effects. 

This book can be read alone or used with the Parenting with Focus Video Course.

New York Amish

By Karen M. Johnson-Weiner,

Book cover of New York Amish: Life in the Plain Communities of the Empire State

I first saw Amish people in New York during the mid-1970s while spending summers on my family’s abandoned dairy farm in St. Lawrence County. We (Jeffersons) arrived in 1972, and a Swartzentruber Amish community settled nearby in 1974. Although we overlapped with our simply living county neighbors for ten summers (my parents sold our farm in 1985), I knew very little about them. This book provides readers with a college-level education on the inception, migration, internal conflicts, socioeconomic and sociopolitical lives of the Amish.


Who am I?

Born in 1969 as the seventh of eight children to two Harlem-raised parents, I benefited from both the inner-city life of Queens, New York and childhood summers spent on a farm in rural upstate New York. Academic, professional, and physical accomplishments have punctuated my life. An adventurer by nature, I became the first African American to hike to the top of every mountain in the northeast US over 4,000' (115 of them) by September of 2000. At that time, less than 400 people had accomplished this feat; whereas thousands have scaled Mount Everest. My home city’s iconic landmarks create a psychological veil that blinds people to the vast open spaces that dominate New York State. 


I wrote...

Echoes from the Farm

By Jonathan T. Jefferson,

Book cover of Echoes from the Farm

What is my book about?

In the early 1970s, when the author (a.k.a. "John-John") was a young child, his parents did something unprecedented for a working-class African American family from Queens: They bought an old, dilapidated farmhouse in Upstate New York's dairy country as a summer home for them and their eight children. Initially fish out of water, over the next decade the Jefferson family became part of the landscape, the children eagerly anticipating those precious weeks of adventure in cow country. Journey with John-John as he reminisces: Enjoy the way his most vivid recollections are brought to life by wonderful illustrations. And be inspired to embark on your own adventure to build precious memories for you and your family.

Menno-Nightcaps

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

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

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.  


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."

Thrill of the Chaste

By Valerie Weaver-Zercher,

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

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.


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."

Guardians of the Garden

By Theresa Pocock,

Book cover of Guardians of the Garden

Superpowered people, living like the Amish, guarding the secret to eternal life. Like Blue Shadows Fall, this sets up a location so unique in the town of Edenia that it’s nearly a character by itself. Unlike that book, Edenia is less a place you’d want to live and more a mystery you want to unravel. This book really drills into the teenage frustration of having no control over your location or circumstances from some very different perspectives in the variety of POV characters. A lot of the story’s tension comes from the main cast’s refusal or inability to come clean with each other, but the underlying reasons for them to keep their secrets are very convincingly layered.


Who am I?

Monsters and magic have always had a hook on me, ever since I was just a kid going through a stack of Stephen King paperbacks that I was definitely too young for my brother to have given me – not that many would call his work “fantasy” exactly, despite the amount of vampires ghosts and magic that say otherwise. Urban fantasy, blending those elements with the familiar world we know, is a particular favourite of mine. So much so, that I wrote my own! Granted, the urban area in question is 19th-century Paris, but I say that still counts.


I wrote...

The Mummy of Monte Cristo

By J. Trevor Robinson,

Book cover of The Mummy of Monte Cristo

What is my book about?

Revenge takes time; fortunately, Edmond Dantes doesn't sleep. Or breathe.

In a world of monsters and magic, Edmond Dantes has a pretty good life. He's just been made captain of a ship, and he's about to marry his sweetheart. But when jealousy, spite, and ambition conspire to frame him for treason, he loses everything. To make things right, he'll need to give up the only thing he has left: his humanity. They thought their troubles died with Edmond. They were wrong on both counts.

Spiritual Midwifery

By Ina May Gaskin,

Book cover of Spiritual Midwifery

I love this book because it was the very first to talk about spirit and energy in the birth process. In it, world-famous midwife Ina May Gaskin describes how she learned about births from attending them, later studying with a doctor. She describes many births on the farm in which she and her midwifery colleagues learned that birth is a spiritual process that is deeply affected by the energy in the room. They learned to "suss out" that energy and to send people with negative energy out of the birthing room. And they learned that if you change the energy in positive ways, you also change the outcome of the birth in positive ways. In other words, change the energy = change the outcome!


Who am I?

I am a medical/reproductive anthropologist, and my passion for this topic stems from my own two birth experiences: one was an unnecessary cesarean which left me with PTSD, and the other was a vaginal birth at home, which left me feeling empowered—if I could do that, I could do anything! After my first birth, I started asking other women about their birth experiences, and came up with the question that guided my PhD research and became the subject of my first book, Birth as an American Rite of Passage. Given that birth is so unique for every woman, why is it treated in such standardized, non-evidence-based ways in US hospitals? 


I wrote...

Birth as an American Rite of Passage

By Robbie Davis-Floyd,

Book cover of Birth as an American Rite of Passage

What is my book about?

This classic book, first published in 1992 and again in 2003, has inspired three generations of childbearing people, birth activists and researchers, and birth practitioners such as midwives, doulas, and even obstetricians to take a fresh look at the "standard procedures" that are routinely used to "manage" American childbirth. It was the first book to identify these non-evidence-based obstetric interventions as rituals that enact and transmit the core values of the American technocracy, thereby answering the pressing question of why these interventions continue to be performed despite all evidence to the contrary. This third edition brings together Davis-Floyd's insights into the intense ritualization of birth and the technocratic, humanistic, and holistic models of birth with new data collected in recent years. 

Centennial

By James A. Michener,

Book cover of Centennial

Set in the town of Centennial, Colorado, the story, like so many of Michener’s works, moves through the centuries from the Arapaho who inhabited the area, to the fur trappers, to the first settlers, all the way to modern times. Each generation is filled with incredible, remarkably vivid characters. You will find yourself anguishing over each and every passing. Yet remarkably, Michener is able to seamlessly transition into the next cast of characters with a skill few, if any, authors can match. Filled with action and heart-rendering people, if you enjoy historical works and broad tales, this American epic just might be for you.


Who am I?

I have a keen interest in history. I have been fortunate enough to have lived a life filled with wide-ranging experiences. I have lived in the smallest of towns and the largest of cities. At one time or another, I have called eight different states, Europe, and Asia home. As an Army veteran, I am driven to work on stories based on my own experiences and observations of the world we live in. It’s that insight that I hope comes across vividly in The Red Line.


I wrote...

The Red Line

By Walt Gragg,

Book cover of The Red Line

What is my book about?

World War III explodes in seconds when a resurgent Russian Empire launches a deadly armored thrust into the heart of Germany. With a powerful blizzard providing cover, Russian tanks thunder down the autobahns. Standing against them are the woefully undermanned American forces. What they lack in numbers they make up for in superior weapons and training. But before the sun rises they are on the run across a smoking battlefield crowded with corpses.
 
Any slim hope for victory rests with one unlikely hero. Army Staff Sergeant George O'Neill, a communications specialist, may be able to reestablish links that have been severed by hostile forces, but that will take time. While he works, it's up to hundreds of individual American soldiers to hold back the enemy flood.

Running with Sherman

By Christopher McDougall,

Book cover of Running with Sherman: How a Rescue Donkey Inspired a Rag-Tag Gang of Runners to Enter the Craziest Race in America

Author McDougall took a mistreated donkey—with hooves left untrimmed for so long he could barely walk—restored him to health and trained him to run alongside McDougall in a burro race. The contest had them scaling mountains and fording streams, something the author wasn’t certain Sherman could pull off. McDougall recalls with humor how the donkey gained confidence and developed a faith in humanity as a result.


Who am I?

When two dog breeders were caught coming into Montana with 180 shivering and malnourished collies stacked in crates inside a tractor-trailer, my heart stopped. Those dogs looked like scrawnier versions of my two shelties. I was a newspaper reporter at the time, and covering the exhausting rescue and rehabilitation of those collies awakened me to the suffering so many animals undergo at human hands. My first book, Saving Gracie: How one dog escaped the shadowy world of American puppy mills, was inspired by that case. Ever since, I’ve made it my mission to shine the light on the mistreatment of animals, to try to capture the indomitable resilience they are able to summon when given the chance.


I wrote...

Last Chain on Billie: How One Extraordinary Elephant Escaped the Big Top

By Carol Bradley,

Book cover of Last Chain on Billie: How One Extraordinary Elephant Escaped the Big Top

What is my book about?

Last Chain on Billie: How One Extraordinary Elephant Escaped the Big Top tells the story of an abused elephant who spent 23 years performing one-foot handstands and other tricks in the circus before she rebelled. She was taken off the road and housed in a cold barn for 11 more years until, finally, she was rescued. Last Chain chronicles the history of elephants in America and Billie’s rehabilitation at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, where—despite lingering anxieties—she will live out her life cared for and surrounded by nature.

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