How do readers choose Amish novels?

If you were looking for Amish fiction in, say 2002 or 2004, your choice would have been limited to a handful of selections, most by Beverly Lewis or Wanda Brunstetter.

Today, you can have your pick of over 60 authors, and well over 250 titles.

In the opening pages of Thrill of the Chaste: The Allure of Amish Romance Novels, Valerie Weaver-Zercher describes the rapid growth of the Amish fiction market. In the early to mid-2000s, just a few books were published each year, sometimes just a single release.

Thrill Of The Chaste Amish Romance Weaver-ZercherThe year 2007 saw a sudden jump, with 14 Amish titles issued that year. By 2011, the number had skyrocketed to 63 new novels, growing further to 85 new books in 2012.

“During both 2011 and 2012,”  Valerie writes, “more than one Amish romance novel appeared on the market each week.  In 2012, the rate was about one every four days.”

The sheer number of Amish novels was brought home to me in the comments of last week’s post on Amish fiction readers.  Some of you described impressive collections of well over 100 Amish novels, or owning all the titles by a specific writer.

And as readers well know, these aren’t just tales of Amish maidens born and raised in Lancaster County. Valerie describes the variety:

You can read an Amish-themed romance set in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon, Colorado, Missouri, Kansas, Montana, Maine, Wisconsin, or Mexico.  You can have your heroine young, youngish, or middle-aged, single or married or widowed.  You can have her Amish, formerly Amish, soon-to-be Amish, soon-to-be-not-Amish, born Amish but adopted by the English, born English but adopted by the Amish, neighbor to the Amish, or snowbound with the Amish.  Within inspirational Amish romance fiction, you can now find Amish historicals, Amish suspense, Amish Wild West adventures, Amish cozy mysteries, Amish quilting novels, and multigenerational Amish sagas (Thrill of the Chaste, p. 6).

And as Valerie elaborates, the diversity of Amish novels stretches well beyond this description.

Choosing Amish fiction

Besides being impressed by the amount of reading going on, this left me with one question.  With so many novels available, how do Amish fiction readers choose which one to read next?

Do readers stick with a certain author?  How important are friends’ or family’s recommendations?  Does the cover influence the choice?

What about things like online reviews, the publisher, plot, or setting of the novel?



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    1. Roberta Klooster

      I chose books about the Amish because I love their God centered family and community supportive life, and their love of all of God’s creation. I love that they strive to remain pure in relationship until marriage. I feel I have come to know their heart, being a fellow Christ follower, and if the characters don’t think and speak as Amish I don’t bother finishing the book.

      My favorite author remains Beverly Lewis because she so beautifully handles the less than perfect aspects of Amish life and how they are resolved within their community. It has been good for me to read that they too struggle with things less than perfect, for we all fall short of the glory of God. But I so look forward to meeting my Amish fellow believers in heaven and am thankful for being able to get to know them through books which bring peace and love into my day.

    2. Erin

      I picked up my first Amish fiction book at a garage sale several years ago. It wasn’t the first in the series, but not knowing that, I read it anyways. Of course, I went out and bought the rest of the series and have read every book by Wanda Brunstetter since. My friend is a librarian so she recommended Beverly Lewis and I have since read all of her books. The other authors (Woodsmall and Wiseman to name a few), are also recommendations from her and her readers. I love to collect books so most of my books have been purchased at small independently owned bookstores or used book stores. I had the opportunity to meet Beverly Lewis in MN last year and she was a peach! Very soft-spoken and kind-hearted. I would have to say that I rarely look up a synopsis or review of a book before purchasing it. I’m a loyal reader and am never disappointed!

      1. Jean Junkin

        Amish Authors

        My first Amish book was by Beverly Lewis. Then as others came on the market, I purchased and read them also. I have over 150+ actual Amish Fiction books in my library. My husband had to build me a whole wall full of shelves to hold them. Now, that I have a Kindle Fire, I can download them also, but I still prefer to have the book in hand. I just ordered a book from Vanetta Chapman who is also a wonderful Amish Fiction writer.

      2. Knowing or meeting the author

        Erin I would think meeting a writer in person would make reading their books more special…even if you don’t “know” the author you can feel a sort of connection. As for Amish books I mostly read non-fiction but it is certainly nice to know the person who wrote the book, it adds a dimension to the experience.

        1. Erin

          Absolutely agree! I had my 8 year old daughter with and Beverly asked me if she was my traveling partner and of course the answer was Yes! There was a long line of fans behind us but I never felt rushed. She even shared whom to get a buggy ride with should I ever travel to PA.

    3. Denise

      My favorite authors have been mentioned above. By trial and error, one finds an author who truly knows the Amish religion/culture, and can craft a great story within those boundaries. I am looking for a great read but hope to be inspired, too. There are a couple of authors writing “suspense/thrillers” and after reading one author’s book, I could barely sleep it was so graphic. Won’t be reading that author again!

      1. Amish fiction accuracy an important factor?

        Denise you mention knowing the culture. It’s not the main focus of Valerie’s book, but there is a section which I read today on accuracy/authenticity of Amish novels, and how that factors in to the equation. It sounds like that is important to you, I am wondering how high accuracy ranks in a reader’s evaluation of a book. Might make a good follow-up.

        1. Sadie

          I really don’t know what’s accurate and what’s not, but sometimes, I do. I like the fiction I read in this genre to have at least a little truth mixed with the fiction.

          I’m not fond of Beverly Lewis’s books. My favorite Amish fiction author would likely be Linda Byler, because even if I don’t think the plot sounds so interesting ( as in her latest “Sadie’s Montana” series ), if I just go ahead and read it anyway, I always end up enjoying it.

          I just finished a book by Beth Wiseman, and I just can’t quite figure out the ending and whether it could ever happen in reality. But I won’t give it away, and I guess fiction is fiction, and reality is often the reason for reading fiction — as a distraction, escape, etc.

    4. SharonR

      Readers choose Amish novels

      I too, agree with Roberta Klooster, and Erin — the Amish novels I’ve read are like a breath of fresh air, and have been a very good distraction for me, personally, while I struggle with my husband’s cancer for the 2nd time, and being his caregiver. I find some peace at the end of the day, to be able to relax and pick up my Beverly Lewis novel and read!!

      I happened upon a Wanda Brunstetter novel, after learning of the Amish, from my friend in Indiana, and her personal dealings with them, in her antique store. I got curious, and started reading Amish novels, more and more, to learn just “who” these wonderful people were!! I then branched out to Beverly Lewis — and have read everyone of hers — what I look for in the author, is if they have some background (family) that are Amish or Mennonite, etc… I know that what they write about, is FACT with a little fiction thrown in. And they are not all the same — they take different subjects of every day living and write about them in numerous ways, which keeps it interesting, and wanting to read more.

    5. New York State of Mind

      I have always had an interest in the Amish. My first author was Wanda Brunstetter, I came across her book at the library. Then I found Beverly Lewis. I have several authors that I read now. Amish novels give me a peak into their way of lives. They also give me a deeper look into the way I should live and a closer way with the Lord.

    6. Sandra Kathleen

      I’ve read Amish novels at numerous times over the past 30 years. I do read reviews — especially those that aren’t 5-star, but taken with a “grain of salt.” Right now, I’ve been going through a personal rough patch, and those stories of hope and redemption and community life lived in all its complexities, but undergirded by the love of God give me comfort.

      My favorite author right now is Carrie Woodsmall: her book written with Marian Flaud, Plain Wisdom, had me quite teary-eyed with gratitude and hope — I just wish it had been available 40 years ago: it would have been wise counsel for young parents. I also enjoyed thoroughly her Sisters of the Quilt…there was a real message along with a good story line and good writing.

      I prefer novels that are not completely predictable…and appreciate stories that are well-written. That’s not always the case and you don’t know it until you get into the book, which is why I download samples from Amazon onto my Kindle: I can get a good feel for what’s going on before I purchase the book.

      In short romance is okay, but I prefer good story telling that has a message; I prefer stories that are somewhat “real;” and I prefer story lines that are not completely predictable.

      1. 4 star vs. 5 star reviews

        Sandra, you bring up a good point about book reviews in general (or reviews of any kind of product). I certainly don’t discount 5 star reviews, especially if they are justified well in the reviewer’s comments.

        But in some sense a 4 star review is almost more valuable to me–because then I know that there had to be at least some thought put into it, a critical eye that discovered a flaw or something less than perfect, which in turn helps me believe what’s written in the rest of the review.

    7. Marilyn

      Amish Novels

      Having Mennonite relatives, I enjoy learning all I can about the Amish too. I have read several of Beverly Lewis’ books and enjoyed them and perhaps a few other authors. There are some easy reading books out there that area definitely facts about the Amish and give more insight, though perhaps not written in a romantic setting, but still interesting. My desire is to learn, but there are so many different orders, we’ll never know it all!

    8. Debbie

      I picked up my first two Amish fiction books at a book swap. The first I read was so, so. The second not to bad. Reading those two books peaked my interest in the Amish so I started to research their beliefs and life style on the internet which led me to purchase a few non fiction books on Amish, Mennonite and Quaker. I only read fiction before bed so I researched some Amish fiction and stumbled upon Beverly Lewis. I have recently begun reading her books. I picked her books because #1 they are series which I like because you get to know the characters and #2 because she had family who were formerly Amish. I still find mistakes in her books but I do in other fiction as well. The final reason is I like her writing style.

      The cover of the book never influences me since I use the library’s computer catalog to search for books. I do read the synopsis to determine if the story line is something I would enjoy.

      1. Sounds like a book being part of a series is a plus to you Debbie. I guess it is better to have more of a storyline and characters if they happen to be ones you like. I guess you can really flesh them out to a degree that you might not be able to in a single 200 page book.

        1. Series and stand-alones

          The series question I had I think you answered by saying 200+ pages might not be enough to develop characters to the satisfaction of a reader. That would explain why there seems to be little to no “stand-alone” Amish fiction novels. I was wondering why does everything have to be a series?

          The “Blueberry Patches of Lancaster” series, etc.

          The cover, head shot of beautiful Amish woman with Kapp, looking downward and to the left. In the background large baskets of blueberrys and an open work wagon. The woman nicely made up with natural makeup,ready to join the Ford Model agency if she runs away.

    9. Jerry Eicher is one of my favorites.

      One thing that bothers me at times is just impossible happenings. For instance, the book might be set in Pennsylvania during the spring or early summer ; yet the gardening that was happening was producing fruits and vegetables that couldn’t possibly be growing all at that time of year in that locale (unless it was being done in some climate-controlled facility). I find that sort of thing a little disturbing because readers that are unaccustomed to gardening could think that is the norm.

      1. This is why I could never write fiction–I’d have apples getting picked in the spring and citrus too far north. Though one of my Amish friends keeps some fig trees in his greenhouse. They seem to grow pretty well in subtropical North Carolina, but I’m not sure that they would in Pennsylvania where he lives.

        1. Figs in Ohio

          Hey Eric..Your friend COULD grow figs in PA. I’m just outside Cleveland Ohio and I’ve got a fig tree outside that’s about 6 years old. You just gotta find the right variety!! For us Yanks,it’s the Chicago Hardy Fig. 🙂

    10. John Lueders

      Amish Novels

      My girlfriend just reads all of them thanks to our public library.

    11. Judy B

      Love Amish Fiction!

      Oh my goodness…I started out years ago reading Amish fiction. Beverly Lewis was the rage, then came Wanda Brunstetter and between the two authors I was patiently waiting for their next books. Since then, there have been so many great Amish fiction authors added to the mix. I can’t believe how many there are to choose from. I still haven’t read all the newcomers books but I do have them on my wish list and some of their books are in my to be read pile. I might add there are some great male Amish fiction authors that have jumped on the band wagon too. Through it all though, I am still a die hard fan of Beverly’s and Wanda’s. I have even met them in person. Such nice sweet ladies who genuinely care about their readers!

    12. Patty Tolliver

      How do readers choose Amish novels

      I started out reading Beverly Lewis and Wanda E. Brunstetter. I have progressed on to authors like Beth Wiseman, Barbara Cameron, Kelly Long, Lynda Beiler, Cindy Woodsmall, Kathleen Fuller, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Mary Ellis, Jerry Eicher, Dale Cramer,Ruth Reid, Tricia Goyer and BJ Hoff to name a few.

      I tend to combine the cover, the author and the description of the story on the back of the book when I am selecting something new to read. I know what I’m looking for and what intrigues me like character growth, story line growth and a great end. Sometimes the stories are bittersweet, sometime it doesn’t quite end like I thought it would but as long as the story is written well, I’ll deal with it. Most of all I look for characters that are real whether they are English or Amish and real life issues that everyone faces.

      I also like Anna Schmidt from the Love Inspired books by Harlequin.

      After reading all of these authors stories I come away feeling much better about my problems and judge myself less harshly.


    13. Claire

      How do readers choose Amish novels

      I agree with comments from Roberta, Erin, and Debbie. My Amish reading journey began with Beverly Lewis and has expanded to include Amy Clipston, Mindy Starns Clark, Wanda B., and many others. They all inspire me to make do with less “things” in my life; to treat others more kindly; to be more thoughtful & patient; and to make more time for family…….which is exactly what God’s Word instructs us to do.

      Roberta was speaking for me also when she said, “if the characters don’t think and speak as Amish I don’t bother finishing the book.”

      I’ve visited Holmes County, Ohio twice and look forward to a 3rd visit. I wish it was possible to visit an Amish family for a day . . . . share a meal, attend a quilt making session, and learn to make one of their delicious pies.

    14. Mary Yoder

      Amish Novels

      I read all the comments and now have to share my feelings. I hesitate to reveal that I am Amish because so many think it terrible that I am on HERE! I am at work.

      I was glad to read that Beverly is so kind and soft spoken. The first series I read of hers I fell for, but since then she started with shunning and the bann in ways that I shudder over… I just don’t bother reading them. We do not use such strong measures when disciplining through bann…it seems she has friends in very conservative communities. She is very interesting but there are so many others like Wanda B who are interesting also.
      Just wanted to warn you that Beverly isn’t popular among the Amish.

      1. Ed

        Hi Mary, nothing wrong with being here! Good to read your comments.

      2. Mary Alice I just think some people find it surprising that some Amish people use computers and the internet for their jobs, but as you know that is simply the way things are…which makes me wonder if a character using a computer has ever popped up in an Amish novel?

      3. Monica

        Amish Novels

        My Amish reading journey also began with Beverly Lewis and now has expanded to Amy Clipston as well as Wanda B. and Cindy Woodsmall along with several others

    15. Ed

      Help me choose an Amish fiction novel to read!

      I’ve decided I have been fiction-deprived for to long and am determined to read an Amish fiction book cover to cover. I’ll post my thoughts here when I’m done. Couple of questions for those into this genre:

      1) Are there any Amish novels with male protagionists?
      2) Any Amish fiction written by Amish themselves?
      3) Notwithstanding the above, what is one REALLY GOOD Amish fiction book you’d recommend to someone who doesn’t read much fiction?


      1. Amish author Linda Byler

        Ed I’m not the expert, but I can try to answer 2)–Linda Byler I believe is the only Amish person producing Amish fiction for a mass market (though there are some former/raised Amish).

        Her 7-book, originally self-published Buggy Spoke series was acquired by Good Books, and was condensed to a 3 book series, along with new covers. Apparently Linda Byler’s books are quite popular with Amish people, but “read” differently from most other Amish novels.

        Valerie covers it pretty well in Thrill of the Chaste (she interviewed Linda for the book). I was really amused by the excerpt Valerie includes in Thrill of the Chaste–she seems to have quite a playful sense of humor in her writing.

        Maybe someone else can answer 1) and 3) for you?

      2. Mary Yoder

        Cindy Woodsmall has a very good book, title has something about Christmas, my husband also really commented about hers.

        1. Erin

          Welcome to this blog, Mary! I think it’s wonderful to have Amish, ex-Amish, parents of Amish converts, and English all contribute to this site. Everyone has different experiences and all are appreciated!

          I believe the book you’re referring to is called Christmas in Apple Ridge by Cindy Woodsmall. I have not read that yet but will add it to my list!

          It’s interesting to hear that Beverly Lewis is not well received by the Amish. I know when I mentioned to an Amish man that I read Amish fiction he replied “They’ll write anything to make money.” I love how I can get lost in a good book. While I have learned a lot, I also realize that it is fiction.

          Thanks again for your contributions! I hope you’ll continue to post.

          1. Beverly Lewis popularity among Amish

            It’s interesting for me to hear too; I would guess Beverly Lewis is probably among the more polarizing, at least in part by virtue of her being the biggest and best-known Amish fiction author…if more people know you, there will be more opinions about you. Though certainly styles and other aspects of writing are going to appeal or not appeal to certain readers.

            Here were a couple of quotes from Valerie Weaver-Zercher’s recent article on the Amish fiction genre which suggested there are some “pro” Beverly Lewis voices among Amish too:


            My friend Karen, who supplies several of her Amish friends with Beverly Lewis and Wanda Brunstetter novels, said that they sometimes tease each other for not being able to put the books down.


            “All of my Amish friends, and their friends, and their friends read my books,” Wanda Brunstetter told me at a book-signing, and Beverly Lewis says Amish fans of her books write to her frequently. Lewis told one reporter that an Amish correspondent once wrote to her, “I don’t want to mislead you, Mrs. Lewis. All of us are reading them under the covers.”

            That noted just like anything else involving Amish I wouldn’t take these quotes either to represent the totality of “Amish opinion”, just anecdotes suggesting different opinions.

            Generally speaking (from what I’ve heard and from reading Valerie’s work) I’ve come to feel it is more a mixed bag of feeling about Amish fiction among Amish people, than what I would have guessed say 5 or 6 years ago.

      3. Sandra Kathleen

        Some recommends

        Hey, Carebear!

        I know i read some Beverly Lewis many,many years ago when I was a young mother — I’m 63 now, so that gives you an idea how long ago that was!

        Recently, I’ve rediscovered Amish novels. I wanted reading that was soothing and not too disturbing in order to sleep well.

        Well! I found some new authors. The one I can recommend hands down is Cindy Woodsmall’s “Sisters of the Quilt Trilogy.” It’s available @ Amazon in print or on Kindle and is 3 books in one. She also has a trilogy of Christmas-themed novels, also in one volume, “Christmas in Apple Ridge, 3 in 1” — which was good, but not nearly as in depth and satisfying to read as SOQ Trilogy. She has also co-authored a book with Miriam Flaud, and Old Order Amish woman, called “Plain Wisdom: and Invitation in an Amish Home and the Hearts of Two Women.” From what I understand, she “runs” her books through Miriam to make sure that the Amish culture and faith are represented authentically.

        To be honest, Woodsmall’s trilogy has spoiled me a bit: it really is mature writing with a great storyline that keeps you glued to the book(s) until the end…so much for lazy-to-sleep reading!


      4. Greg Miller

        Males and Amish

        Before I ever read any Amish novels, I wrote a novel with an English protagonist getting involved in an Amish settlement but the story surrounds an Amish male protagonist/helper (role type). It is all about his world and how he views it and how the Amish culture changes the English woman’s outlook on life. In the process of playing out the plot I hope to dispel the myths people have about the “riddles of Amish culture.” And I hope to do that as accurately as possible.

    16. Beverly Lewis Most Authentic Voice

      I discovered Beverly Lewis’ first book “The Shunning” through my church library back when she first started writing adult Christian fiction, and have just read them along as she writes them. It’s like Christmas when a new book of hers comes out,as they’re like gold to me! Her style of writing is my personality style, and she also is the only author that I’ve read who is able to capture the authentic voice of the Amish. I mean that in two ways, you feel as though you are a part of the story and you know she know what she’s talking about, having lived in that area. Most Amish authors don’t have first-hand experience in Amish country, and it shows in their books/stories. I do read Wanda Brunstetter’s books as well, but they aren’t quite the same, and it’s more like someone is just telling a story, not like you’re involved in them. And there are too many “Christian” novels that are not clean these days, but these are! Yay!

    17. My sister Ethel Hostetler, who is Amish Mennonite wrote 2 books.
      “Out of the Thorn” and “Blossoming Thorns”, sequel to “Out of the Thorn”. Publisher: L&E Family Books, Shelbyville, MO. 63469.
      Its the real life story of our Mother growing up in the twenties, based on the “Kropf Family Diary” she started writing when she was thirteen and diaries she kept the rest of her life.

      1. KimH

        Hey, this sounds interesting, I’ll have to see if I can find it., Thanks for sharing it.

    18. carebear57

      Ellie's People Series

      I was first introduced to Amish fiction in the 80’s. I was a newlywed & my husband, who is from Ohio, took me to the Holmes County, OH, area to visit. I came across the Ellie’s People series of books by Mary Christner Borntrager. I purchased a few of the titles in the series & enjoyed them very much (even though they’re written for teens!). Since I knew nothing about the Amish, their culture, beliefs, etc., I found it fascinating reading. I now have 150+ books in my “Amish” collection–fiction, juvenile fiction, nonfiction, & e-books. Some I enjoy more than others, but I always come away with an appreciation of a different way of life & someone w/ questions/struggles who is striving to live a faithful life. Yes, I spot errors in some of the books, but there are errors in other fiction books that I read, too. Doesn’t bother me. I haven’t read the Ellie’s People books in many years–it would be interesting, I’m sure, to re-read them & see how my view of the books may have changed over the years.

    19. Monica

      Hey, Roberta!

      I also look forward to meeting all of my Amish fellow believers in heaven and glad to be able get to know them through books that bring peace and love into my daily life

    20. Alice Mary

      Way too many books, not enough time!

      I actually became interested in Amish fiction by way of a Shaker book (I believe a kind of non-fiction memoir) I read. I figured that with celibacy being “the rule” for Shakers, there probably wouldn’t be a whole lot more to read, as they’re literally dying out (last I heard a few years ago, there were only 2 or 3 Shakers left). Then I found Beverly Lewis’s The Shunning & found it fascinating. I’ve read (as far as I can tell, and I work in a library) all of her series (just picked up The Guardian—can’t wait to start it!) I also enjoy Wanda Brunstetter, (among others) and even enjoy some of the “male-dominated” Amish “mystery” series (though the main characters are “Englishers” involved with solving mysteries involving the Amish) by Paul L. Gaus (maybe you’d like to start there, Ed).

      Somehow, by way of both this blog and via her own website, I’ve “met”(online) Suzanne Woods Fisher, and am happy to say that I’ll be meeting her in person next Fall when she comes to my library to do a program (I helped set it up at her suggestion)…I’m REALLY looking forward to meeting her, and very grateful that she’s such a generous woman (small-ish libraries like mine don’t have a lot to spend on programming, and “author visits” can be quite costly!) I also started reading her children’s books (“Lily”), which are co-authored by a former Amish woman, Mary Ann Kinsinger. They’re a good choice for parents looking for true-to-life but “gentle” reading for their elementary school-age daughters. I’ve read and enjoyed a number of Suzanne’s “adult” books, too. I appreciate her research; for example, beekeeping is a subject her characters are involved with in her “Stoney Ridge Seasons” series, and I learned some interesting facts there!

      I’ll try most any Amish fiction, though it’s the skill of the writer that makes it interesting & keeps me coming back to that author for more.

      Covers don’t really matter that much to me, as again, it’s the picture the author paints with words that hooks me…or not.

      Alice Mary

    21. kerry

      Always an interesting topic to me! I am a librarian in Amish country, and Christian fiction (not just Amish) is generally our 2nd best circulating genre (mystery is first). There are few Amish who come into the library and fewer still who check out books (when they do, the books are about farming, repairs, etc., not fiction). However, the inspirational fiction is heavily checked out by the large Mennonite and other conservative populations here.

      I obviously am exposed to and have access to books by most of the Amish fiction writers. The authors are often in this area for library programs or book signings. I myself prefer inspirational/Amish fiction because it’s “clean” and for the religious basis.

      I order materials and so have to know what is popular. Brunstetter was obviously THE one for awhile, but interest in her has really waned, comments being that the writing has become too repetitive and simplistic (afraid I agree). Beverly Lewis is still popular, although that has also waned a bit. More requested authors these days would be Suzanne Woods Fisher, Woodsmall, and to a lesser extent Wiseman and Clipston. We do order basically every fiction book about Amish out there, as it’s going to circ whether it’s poorly written or not.

      As far as myself, I would say Woods Fisher is probably my favorite, at least right now, as she portrays characters realistically, with personalities good or bad, rather than someone’s idealized version of the “perfect Amish”.

      I never choose a book by the cover – we laugh at the covers all the time at work. We’ve never seen any of our Amish neighbors wearing makeup or with lovely swirls and curls of hair hanging out of very loose-fitting coverings, lol!

      Sometimes an Amish fiction book will aggravate me with its many inaccuracies and I just quit reading it. It’s just fiction, of course, but sometimes the information is so off base that I feel it completely misleads perceptions of the Amish for readers who aren’t as familiar with them.

      1. Very interesting to hear kerry, I know you may not want to reveal where, but would you say you are in a more traditional Amish area? Sounds like you have your finger on the pulse of what is popular now.

        1. kerry

          Erik, in answer to your question – where I live is definitely traditional and also very conservative, where I work serves a wide range from traditional to very progressive Amish, Mennonite, and others, depending on the branch and building location. I would call the area overall “traditional”.

          I can say, the Amish and inspirational (or Christian) fiction is huge here across the whole area, in what is typically thought of as “Amish country” in Ohio – Wayne, Holmes, Stark, Tusc. (Though as you know, many people think only of Holmes as “Amish country”, but that, of course, is not true. It’s just the touristy part of it).

    22. kerry

      I forgot to add that Mennonite fiction is very much growing and becoming quite popular here.

      For the readers who enjoy Amish fiction, you might try reading Kim Vogel Sawyer’s Mennonite books (I like her Amish/inspirational books also, forgot to add her to previous post) and Dianne Christner, who grew up conservative Mennonite but is not now. I think you would enjoy these authors.

      There is a teen Mennonite fiction series by Sawyer, the “Katy” series. If you have teens in your family who like inspirational fiction, or if you also read young adult books (I do!), these are well-written and address the dilemma of a conservative Mennonite teen trying to fit in to the “real” world and also keep her values. I enjoyed them.

    23. Missy

      I guess I’m in the minority in not liking Beverly Lewis. For one thing I’ve never heard an Amish person speak like she does her dialog, and I know quite a few. Her dialog “sounds” more Irish than Amish to me. Secondly with The Shunning she totally gave a bad picture of adoption and adopted children. It left a bad taste in my mouth to say the least. Now Wanda Brunstetter I really like. I finally had to stop buying Amish fiction because there were just so many coming out it was too expensive. And some of them are poorly written. Someone mentioned the “Ellie” series, they were really good. The “Eden” series were good as well. I finally donated all buy my Brunstetters to the local library. They were most grateful!

      1. KimH

        You may be in the minority, but you arent alone, Missy. I’d rather not read an Amish novel than to read one by her. I even bypass them when they’re offered free for Kindle on Amazon.. yeck! They’ve never had a true feel for me.. kinda like milk-sop & honey.. yeck!

        I quit buying any kind of books (for the most part) without checking them out from the library first.. I was spending thousands upon thousands of dollars a year on books that I dont have anymore room for. 😉 Our library is part of a 130+ consortium so I can get my hands on most anything, and if I cant, I can request the library system buys it & every book I’ve ever recommended, they’ve bought.
        A person doesnt have to spend thousands unless they just really want to. 😉

        1. Missy

          So glad there is at least one person who agrees with me. 🙂 They just didn’t ring true.

          1. Sadie

            You aren’t alone! You can add me to the “rather not read” Beverly Lewis list. Now, Lewis’s book covers are typically absolutely beautiful, and in interviews with her that I’ve read, she seems like a genuinely kind, intelligent, good person, and I DON’T want to come off as judgmental. It’s just that I can’t get into her writing style, my mind wanders; her constant use of the phrase “wunderbaar gut” is annoying; and, I dislike how each book and series of books she writes seem (to me) to be blatant attempts at evangelization toward more “fundamental” Christianity, in which the Amish are used as the denomination that needs to be converted. By often portraying Amish people as ignorant, backward, uneducated, and as adults trying to “hold back” their youth and their children from becoming truly “saved by Christ,” she has lost my interest in reading her books.

            Each of her books I read — or each series — seemed to follow this plot line: The “heroine” always “saw the light” after a struggle or tragedy, and subsequently joined a “higher” church in order to marry, become “saved” or “borm again”, for example, going from Old to New Order Amish, Old or New Order Amish to Conservative Mennonite, or Amish to any type of Mennonite. I personally just don’t care for that type of writing, and coming off as if putting down one religious group for the “championing” of another.

            Again, I don’t want to sound mean! These are only my perceptions, my own impressions, based upon reading most of her Amish-themed books through 2011 (I love reading, and am not against reading something I know I probably won’t like too much — it’s a good pastime, either way!). The last book I read by her, I think, was called “The Judgment,” book #2 in her “Rose Trilogy,” and was published in April 2011.

      2. Beverly Lewis grew up in Lancaster a long time ago and maybe the dialect was different then. I’m sure it probably was, just like anywhere 40 or 50 years ago. And one of the things that kept me reading her, was true to my own story and feelings the adoption story was. I was also an adopted redhead who struggled with what all of that means about who I am. She’s a complex writer who draws you into her stories, to where you think you are in the story.

        1. And the dialect she uses is NOTHING like Irish!! :>

      3. Dialogue and circumstantial plot

        Decidedly, Beverly Lewis’ diaglogue didn;t sound “Irish” but it did n’t seem right. I grew up north of Reading and am more familiar with PA Dutch sounds so maybe that’s why hers disn’t ring true. But more disturbing is her sprinkling in “gut” so often and words like that. They seemed to pop in here and there and every time it had the effect of taking me out of the story. They were so periodic that after awhile I was waiting for the next one to arrive on cue.

        The other problem I had with Lewis is how circumstantial her plot in the shunning. At the end the reappearance had the effect of a “it all happened in a dream it’s not real” situation that writers are told to avoid at all costs. I was truly amazed.

        To give her a fair shake I’m goign to have to read more but I’m hoping it’s not a chore because of the occasional “gut” and other timed dialect.

    24. Valerie Weaver-Zercher

      I just wanted to chime in here to say thank you all for your comments and insights into how you choose Amish novels. I wish I could have interviewed each of you for my book about the genre! It’s really helpful to hear your thoughts on how you choose novels, what sense you make of them, and the reasons that you find Amish novels so appealing (or, for those of you don’t, why not). I will definitely keep your words in mind as I write and speak about this type of fiction. Carry on!

      1. KimH

        I think the reason I find Amish novels so interesting is that for the most part they take place among a people who are very family oriented and tend to value many qualities of life that I do. That is also why I admire the Amish very much. I also admire the fact that Amish are loyal to their own but are also very human just like anyone else as is often portrayed (not always) in them.

        When I pick up an Amish novel, Im wanting to relax and an escape from my own reality and if a writer is really good, it’ll place me in another.

        I also like to read them to learn about the Amish or any other groups of people as studying peoples and sociology are some of my favorite subjects. Its a quick, light, enjoyable way to satisfy this thirst.

    25. Judy Burgi

      I also would like to add that I have met Vannetta Chapman in person too. She was such a sweetheart and her husband was just as friendly. Vannetta was doing a signing of her books in Shipshewana, Indiana. I have read all of her books. Her first book published was a Christmas novel called, A Simple Amish Christmas. Then came three suspense novels, the setting for these were in Shipshewana, Indiana. Shipshewana Amish Mystery Series Falling to Pieces, A Perfect Square, Material Witness. Her Pebble Creek Series (set in Wisconsin, romance) is A Promise for Miriam, A Home for Lydia, and A Wedding for Julia – this one will be released in July of this year.

      If you haven’t read any of Vannetta’s books you are in for a real treat!

      Judy B

    26. Sandra Kathleen

      We are starved for community

      This week I kept pondering the reason I so look forward to reading an Amish novel. I think it’s the thought of a community behind you, under you, and around you. I have moved over 15 times in my life time. 12 schools before college. 6 different colleges. 5 relocations due to employment. Is it any wonder I feel disconnected and unrooted.

      What I most appreciate in these novels is when there is a serious problem, more than likely one or more from the community is available. In very serious crises, the whole community steps in to lessen the blow — at least that is what is read…and, I’m sure SOME of that could be exaggerated. Nonetheless, fact or fiction, this is what drives the appeal for the Amish novel. Life is lived within the context of community — which as our technology grows more and more “progressive” and sophisticated, depletes community life and our relationships with one another.

      We strive for balance and stability.

      1. KimH

        Sandra, I agree completely with your thoughts… Its something that I yearn for and really admire the Amish about as well.. And it probably isnt exaggerated all that much at all. I imagine there is much good about this sort of community as there is not so good.

        My family has always been part of a small country community and I had a similar type of upbringing but the elders who held it all together either got too old and now they’re long passed on, and I live 1200 miles from them. The younger generations dont place the same value on community or at least nowhere in a similar manner. Its each man to his own which is too bad..

        At least in our own little neighborhood, we have a little community to help each other out when needed. We live in town but have great neighbors surrounding us and that is worth gold.

    27. Slightly-handled-Order-man

      A link?

      I’m not going to suggest that there is a coincidence, but am I alone in noticing an advertising link on Amish America to the latest offering from author Beverly Lewis? Just before Erik posted this “How do readers choose Amish novels?” blog entry. Or maybe it was put up judt around the time of “Who reads Amish fiction”.

      :p I am not a conspiracy theorist.

      1. Well, if you’re curious, that ad was reserved last November for April…the same month Valerie’s book happens to come out. Unless there’s something I don’t know, a happy coincidence 🙂

        I was sure I’d enjoy Valerie’s book, but did not think I would as much as I have. I don’t think I’ll become a regular reader of Amish fiction. I used to read a lot more fiction, but now I read maybe one fiction book of any kind per year. If anyone is curious I am probably most partial to history, biography, and Amish non-fiction(that is part work, part pleasure 🙂 ). My last three reads were a book on Europe post WW-2 (Savage Continent), the Steve Jobs bio, and Plain Diversity, on Amish in Indiana.

        But it has been very interesting to learn about the genre and the book has stimulated my curiosity over quite a few questions…still have a few of those to share in the weeks to come (and also, an interview with Valerie). Thanks to all of you who have shared feedback.

    28. Mona, Kentucky Lady 717

      Well guess I will get my two cents in 🙂
      I have read a lot of Amish books, by different authors, but I really must say that the best Amish book so far that I have read would be “SEEK ME WITH ALL YOUR HEART” by Beth Wiseman……I absolutely loved that book….. I also loved Suzanne Woods Fishers’ “COPPER STAR” and the sequel also, can’t remember the title tho…..both were great books….
      I keep a list on my computer of the books I have read,so I don’t end up buying that book again….

      I have just started a new book “THE FACE OF HEAVEN ” by Murray Pura a book I won on a book club 🙂 it sounds like it will be a good book also….maybe will comment later 🙂

      1. Sandra Kathleen

        Thanks for letting me know what you’ve liked, Mona…and the idea of keeping a list is good, too. I may add a “grade” for the books, too!

        Where do you live in Kentucky? I live near Midway.

        1. Mona, Kentucky Lady 717

          Hi Sandra,
          I live in Ohio now, from Ky tho…..about 2 hrs. from Lexington…lived in MI and now Ohio for over 40 yrs……
          I rate my books too when I read them…I’m pretty sure I gave “Seek Me With All Your Heart” a 10…….

          Not sure where Midway is…..

          I have a nephew who lives in Georgetown. KY.

          Nice chatting……TTYL

    29. Mary Yoder

      amish novels

      On reading Murray Pura…He wrote in one book (and I am done with him now) that when the ministers stepped away to have a short fellowship in the beginning of church services, they decided who would preach by picking straws, the shortest straw had to preach..oh my, let me tell you, THAT is PURE FICTION! They go by who’s turn it is on line of longest in the ministry… just so you know that such things make me cringe when I think of a novice learning about us. Doesn’t that thought make us look shallow?

      1. Sandra Kathleen

        Inaccuracies are distracting


        Yes! I find such things to be very distracting. I am not Amish, but from what (I think) I understand, adults and children alike call each other (largely) by first names…so, when I read one book where characters addressed people outside of the family as “Mrs.” or “Mr.” or “Miss,” it was all I could do to continue reading. (Please correct me If I’m incorrect!)

        While this is fiction, since authors are portraying a very much alive culture, accuracy should really matter — especially when the context of that culture is to be a witness.

    30. Slightly-Handled-Order-Man

      Last week during a long break from work, I went to a local public library and wandered the bookshelves looking at this and that. Suddenly I came across a shelf part from the rest, neatly folded atop the shelf was a sign that read “Spiritually Uplifting” and the majority of the books where Amish romances.
      I was surprised, although perhaps I should not have been, I plan on going back again this week and take a closer look, see what I can find. I might not take anything out, but I want to look and see what is available in our public library’s system. It was nice to get “The Amish” on DVD a while ago from them
      I think if I where an avid Amish literature reader I’d answer the question of how does a reader choose to read a title I could honestly say I stumbled onto it. Although for most of the books I read I read the first couple of paragraphs and if I remain interested I read them. Mind you, I was given a book for a present and I’m still working on it more than a year after I received it for Christmas

    31. Amy

      I adore Amish fiction, and I think there are plenty of reasons people read it. I like lighthearted stories without a ton of drama, because we’ve got enough heartache this world without adding more and getting worked up by fiction.

      I wonder if those things perceived as inaccurate or fiction truly are or if they are just inaccurate in some communities. We know that Amish communities are as diverse as communities outside of them. It’s an interesting thought, something a writer has to ponder.

      1. Mark -- Holmes Co.

        Good point, Amy — what might be inaccurate in one community might fit to another one. On the other hand, I have come across things in Amish fiction that don’t apply to anyone. Sometimes it is “hard facts” but often it is conversation or attitude that just doesn’t reflect reality.

        One thing that came up in conversation awhile ago at our home (and this is really off the wall), is how the horses in Amish fiction are so “named.” All this “Hitch Lightning to the carriage!” and so on… Real people just don’t talk that way. I know that’s a very minor point, but it is kind of funny to Amish people. Most people will say, “Get the horse ready,” but we don’t “name” the horses as much as the characters in novels. Another thing is the more “old fashioned” English these characters use in novels… “Very well, I shall do as you wish,” etc. The writers tend to overlook the fact Amish people really do talk more like mainstream America than the story-books like to have it. In reality, a contemporary Amish character isn’t going to say “Very well, I shall do as you wish.” It’s more liable to be, “Okay, if that’s what you wanna do.” 🙂

        1. Mark your commment got me thinking about one language point…I have noticed Amish friends in PA in particular use “may” in the way that most Americans use “can” when giving permission…eg, “yes, you may have some cookies” rather than “yes, you can have some cookies”.

          I used to think (perhaps was taught this back in elementary school 30 years ago) that “may” for permission was the correct word to use and “can” was not. However, apparently both are okay according to this source, though “may” would be more appropriate in formal contexts:

          For whatever it’s worth 🙂

          1. Mark -- Holmes Co.

            Interesting points, Erik. I guess I would say the same — “You may have a cookie.” Not only is that what I was taught (and teach our children), it could be related to the PA Dutch where the “may” and “can” have very different meanings, but yes, I see what you are saying. And you may quote me because you can.

            1. Ha Mark, well I may just do that 😀 Thanks, and interesting point about PA Dutch.

        2. Amy


          Good point, Mark, about the horse naming. I’ve seen that, and while I’ve had my share of dialogue that doesn’t ring true and makes me want to take my editing pen to the page, I’ve never seen “carriage” used in place of “buggy” or a horse named lighting in Amish fiction that I can recall. I don’t remember if I’ve seen hitched used. I’ll count my lucky stars I haven’t seen anything so asinine.

          Interesting point about the outdated language. I tend to speak that way, but it’s definitely no longer normal.

      2. Gus Jones

        Not accurate

        Most of the so-called Amish fiction is inaccurate. It’s popular because there is no longer a Grace Livingston Hill, etc. churning out G-rated paperbacks. Christian publishing houses know who to market to and how to make the most money.

    32. Patrick E Craig and Maury Purra are men who’ve written some really good Amish fiction.

      The difference between men writers and women writers differs quite a bit.
      The men’s writings are not soft and fluffy like many women’s writings are…Though I have to say that these days not all of the women writers are all soft and fluffy either.

      Personally, I like them all.

    33. Susan

      Male/Female romance writers

      This is to KimH and Gus Jones, and anyone who finds it interesting. I am a published writer, and a full-time editor as well. I am involved in helping new writers market their books, whether through a traditional publisher, or other means. I can assure you that many female-name romance writers are actually men, and sometimes vice-versa. Yes – you read that right. I agree with Kim that women writers often have a softer, more emotional style; the men tend to be realists and write grittier stuff. Of course there are exceptions to that general rule. The same happens in mystery novels – those written by men tend to be much better structured and much more based in finer crime details; women write emotion. Whether the PC crowd admits it or not, our brains are wired differently. I tend to really enjoy more “male” writing and I’ve been told my own writing has a more male voice. But I’m the exception I guess. I find a lot of Amish fiction strikes me as very teenager in tone – even when the main characters are in their 20s. I don’t find that authentic and when I encounter a writer doing that as an editor, in a “romance” novel, I help them correct it to a more mature voice. Gus, you are partly right, but you assume Christian publishing house exist and have more power than they do. You’re correct that it is a business, regardless of genre, and you can’t blame them for having marketing considerations and looking at trends – yes, they have to make money like any other business. But today many novels are independently published, meaning the traditional publishers are less involved. As for Amish novels, it’s probably accurate to say that much of the time it is an author writing not only a subject they enjoy (regardless of the extent to which it actually has anything to do with real Amish experience), but one that can make them some money. A novel is incredibly hard work to write and market, and they do need to – and deserve to – make some cash.