My New Book: Fifty Fascinating Amish Facts

Do Amish ever live in town?

Which musical instruments do Amish play?

How old do you have to be to become a bishop?

Do Amish ever accept government aid?

When do Amish grow a beard?

Do Amish ever drive cars?

When and why do Amish make exceptions to the Ordnung?

How are store-bought Amish quilts different from those in Amish homes?

Do Amish ever adopt?


These questions just scratch the surface of what’s covered in my new book, Fifty Fascinating Amish Facts (coming soon).

Topics include Amish women, technology, names, food, church, health, transport, taboos, and more.

Amish Buggy Plates
1950s buggy plates at auction

Each is covered in 2-3 pages, making this an easy book to pick up and learn something new from.

Surprises Inside

I’ve been researching and writing Fifty Fascinating Amish Facts for much of the past three years. Many of the things I discovered were surprising.

Readers who already know something about the Amish will learn a lot more.

And–based on feedback from Amish and English who’ve read the manuscript–those who know a lot will find much of interest here too.

We’re moving closer to publication. In the coming weeks and months I’ll be sharing more about the book, and the process of creating it.  I’ll be posting more about that right here on the site.

I’m also starting an email list for those interested in the book. We’ll be having some giveaways and extras offered exclusively via email. Sign up below and I’ll send you occasional info on all of that.

Thanks for your interest!

Buggy plates photo: ShipshewanaIndiana

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    1. Janina

      I can’t wait to read it and to learn the answers to the questions above. Hopefully it’ll also be shipped to Belgium? 🙂

      1. Yes, it will be internationally shippable 🙂 Also will be available in the most shippable form of all, electronic form.

        1. Janina

          I’m old-fashioned when it comes to books, I like a paper version. 🙂 Especially if I can get a copy in Belgium, so glad to hear it’s shippable! Can’t wait to read it.

    2. Margaret

      Kindle format

      Please don’t forget us Kindle users! I would love a Kindle copy! I’m trying to be more environmentally friendly…

      1. Margaret, definitely. There will be a Kindle and other e-versions.

    3. Peggy M

      New Book

      Sounds like a great read. I look forward to getting more details.

    4. Robert Gschwind


      I will be looking forward to getting my copy. Even the Kindle copy would be nice. Another research tool in my box.

    5. Alice Aber



      Erik, I cannot wait for your new book. Sounds very interesting! And coming from you, I know it will be accurate.

      Congratulations and best wishes on your new book!!

      Blessings, Alice

      1. Thank you Alice and everyone 🙂 The book is divided into 12 sections–Church, Schooling, Signs & Symbols, Crossing Cultures, etc.

        In it I try to address lesser-known facts about the Amish–and also the things that may seem to have a simple answer on the surface…but looking a little deeper shows otherwise.

        Sometimes the answers aren’t immediately as we think they are–for instance the common response to the beard question is “after marriage” but that is definitely not the case everywhere.

        Or, consider the various situations in which Amish adopt–sometimes even internationally. Or the cases where Amish, contrary to their well-known stance of separation, have actually accepted state assistance.

        Writing this book has strengthened my sense that Amish life is not always so simple, with some fascinating nuances the closer you look.

    6. New York State of Mind

      I can’t wait until your book comes out so I read it.

    7. Bethrusso

      Sounds great – can’t wait!

    8. Slightly-Handled-Order-Man

      I might go to my local library and ask them to find me a copy of Success Made Simple, even if they have to go out of town to get it. I mean, there is a branch that I visited that has a number of Amish fiction books, but I can’t find SMS anywhere, I even tried a book store’s computer system and I couldn’t find it. I am bound and determined that I am going to read it now in some way in print form.

      Much success on your new book!!

    9. Lattice

      Congratulations, Erik!

    10. Andrea green

      Looking forward to some great reading 🙂

    11. Kathy Rowe

      Congratulations on the upcoming new book. Cannot wait to get it. I know it will be one of those “can’t put down books.”
      Always enjoy your blogs!

      1. I hope so Kathy. In the book I weave in observations and personal stories in the introductions to each section (the 50 facts are divided into 12 sections). So it’s a little “bloggy” in that way 🙂

    12. So if an Amish man becomes a widower, does he shave the beard so it is obvious (to the English and Amish from other settlements) that he is “available”?

      1. Interesting question but Amish widowers don’t shave their beards. The beard is a sign of maturity and religious commitment and not just marital status.

    13. Jamie

      My New Book:Fifty Fascinating Amish Facts

      Congratulations on the upcoming book. Will be anxious to read it! Thank you for all you do to keep us well informed on all things Amish. There was something I was wondering yesterday…I looked at my Amish Courting Candle which I purchased in Lancaster County and wondered do the Amish still use the Courting Candle??

      1. Well the courting candle is not something in this book…I’m not really familiar with if and how much this might fit in the Amish tradition. Possible it’s something attached to the Amish from the outside? What first came to mind is the old style wick lamp which you still see even in more modern Amish homes with gas lighting. When I lived with Amish friends in PA they would sometimes leave one burning on the kitchen table if they knew I’d be home late. Although I wasn’t up to any courting then 🙂

        1. Jamie

          Well Eric I did a little research.
          Apparently, this is not used today but the story of the courting candle still lives on due to reproductions of it.
          In the late 1800’s when a suitor came calling, the father would light the candle. When the candle burned down to the metal courting time was over. However, if the young man was rich or showed some promise the father would raise the candle to give him more time. If he was a shady character the father would lower the candle to cut the time in half.
          The courting candle was made from wrought iron & resembles a loosely coiled spring. A piece of wood with a small peg sits inside the coiled spring and the candle sits on top of that and can then be lowered or raised. Just thought you’d like to know.

          1. Slightly-Handled-Order-Man

            I have a courting candle and that is roughly the explanation I was given for its usage.

            When I bought mine it was probably geared to an audience who re-enacted historical events between the end of the French and Indian Wars (the 1760s) and roughly the end of the North American chapter of the Napoleonic Wars (1814).

            I think it is a good idea, the courting candle and other measures formerly used to keep young people honest and respectable, though, as Erik noted, I’m not sure how much the Amish used it, or continue to use it.

            On a side note, had anyone watched the “Amish Deception” videos, although its about sexual abuse, there are some insights into [Swartz.] Amish courtship, rather or not entirely factual or based on the experience of family initiated sexual assault victims,I’m not sure, what is your opinion?

            1. Jamie


              I appreciate your response. Thank you for the info. Somehow I don’t see the courting candle as being a big hit with todays youth…it’s a different world.

              I haven’t seen the videos Amish Deception but I would be interested in doing so!

          2. OldKat


            Yep, I’ve heard that EXACT story before, except that it wasn’t labeled as an “Amish” thing. The way I heard it was that it was just something that fathers in general were apt to do under those circumstances.

          3. Thanks Jamie, very interesting. I saw some images of this online–don’t recall ever seeing one in an Amish home, but I really like the design.

    14. Alice Mary

      At long last!

      That’s terrific, Erik! I’m looking forward to it in both paper and eBook format. I have a Sony & a Kindle, so I’ll definitely put it on one of those to carry around…I never know when my family & friends (who know I love all things Amish) come up with questions I need quick answers to, relating to the Amish. (And as others have said, the info in YOUR book is definitely trustworthy!)

      Good luck with sales, promotions, etc. (If you’re ever in my area, my library would gladly offer use of our community room for a book signing! 😉 ) I’m looking forward to reading it and will send the info along to the person here who orders adult non-fiction.

      Alice Mary

      1. Thank you for the offer Alice Mary, I’ll be doing the majority of promotion online, at least at first, but may venture out at some point 🙂

    15. SharonR

      New Book

      Anxiously awaiting it being published!! I’m sure it will be a wonderful book.

    16. Paula

      Congratulations and….looking forward!!

    17. Julie Turner

      New Book

      Will we have to wait long Eric?
      I look forward to reading it too.
      Julie Australia

      1. Winter/early spring 2014. So not tomorrow, but not too long…and if I tour Australia I’ll be asking you for advice 🙂

    18. Rich and Polly Stevick

      Sign us up!

      In fact, we can sign you up for a book signing at our house. We will invite all of our friends and friendschaft. What a great idea for a book, Erik. We’re looking forward to it. R & P

      1. The Stevicks would make a perfect venue.

    19. Dali Castillo


      This is awesome, Erik! I can’t wait! And glad to hear it will also be available electronically. Good luck with the rest of the process. I’ll be looking forward to information when it comes out so I can request for our library to get it.

    20. Al in Ky

      Glad to hear the book will soon be available. I’m already interested in new things I’ll learn from the book.

    21. Brad of the Brethren

      Congratulations Erik ! Really looking forward to reading it, I’m sure it will be a smash ! Keep us posted. Any chance on some signed copies for your faithful readers ??!!

      1. Thanks very much Brad, that can probably be arranged. Your and Janina’s comment also made me realize one obvious drawback of e-versions of books…they’re difficult to sign.

    22. Tracy

      New Book

      VERY exciting about your new book, Erik! And I’m glad it wail be available electronically too, as I LOVE reading, but purchase fewer hard copy books now–using my Kindle app much more! I discovered your wonderful site a little while ago, and have been greatly enjoying reading all the back posts and articles! I’m originally from York County PA, just a stones throw from beautiful Lancaster County & “Amish country”. I’m now living in Northern Europe, in Norway. But my husband & I get home to York/Lancaster twice a year. It wouldn’t be a trip home without stops in Lancaster! I sew & quilt, and have soft spot for Amish quilts. For so long I’ve been inspired by the way of living and devotion of the Amish. Your site gives us Englisch a nice bridge between the worlds. Thank you! :o) Looking forward to reading your book soon-ish!

      1. So kind of you Tracy. Really neat to hear you are in Norway but keeping in touch with back home. Reminds me a little of what I do when I’m in Poland. I think your winters must be worse though.

        1. Tracy

          Hi, again, Erik! Yes, the winters here in Norway can be very cold and snow-rich… we live for the mild summers! My immediate family are still in the York/Lancaster PA are, and extended family too. We hope to go over soon for Christmas. We’ve not been to Poland… not yet, anyway…I’d love to see the city of Warszawa!

    23. Melissa H

      Looking forward to the book, Erik!

    24. OldKat

      My next "Amish" book

      For the past year to year and half I have been slowly working my way through the list of recommended books about the Amish that I created after Erik posted a thread about what books on the Amish the readers of this site would recommend reading.

      It so happens that I am finishing up my initial reading list right now with what has turned out to be one of my personal favorites … Growing Up Amish: The Teenage Years by Richard Stevick. In case any of you haven’t read it; you should do so while waiting for Fifty Fascinating Amish Facts to be published.

      I think I’ll take a little break from my readings on the Amish until “Fifty” comes out. I have about 6 or 7 non-Amish books that have just been collecting dust, so it is time to get to some of them.

      Congrats Erik on bringing this project to fruition. So as we use to say in the Southwestern Publishing Company book field … “Keep on bookin’ ” (It was a ’70’s thing!)

      1. Thank you Oldkat, I have enjoyed booking it 🙂 . I just got word that another group of readers have finished the latest review of the manuscript. Should be getting those in the mail soon.

        Rich’s Growing Up Amish is very good. I would also mention that there is an updated edition which will be coming out sometime soon, Rich could and hopefully will be telling us more on that.

    25. Questions

      Erik, so looking forward to your new book. I’m new to this site, and am reading everything I can about EVERYTHING Amish. Are there other books available out that you have written? I feel like I have been “left out” of the club. I am from Holmes County, Oh., so the Amish are not new to me. Matter of fact, my husband works for an Amish owned company. I have been reading Amish fiction for years, and still want to learn as much as I can about their way of life and their beliefs. Any info you have Will be deeply appreciated.
      @ OldKat, would you be willing to share the list of “must reads” recommended list, that you have gathered? I am feeling the need to play “catch-up”. LOL
      Thanks for all the interesting info!

      1. Sandy, welcome, and thanks for joining us! There are some very good books out there.

        I have written two books on the Amish. The first is on Amish business (Success Made Simple) if you are interested in that aspect. The second will only work if you can read Polish (Kim sa Amisze?) 🙂 This next one will be most geared to a general English speaking audience, so it may be worth waiting for that one.

        There are a lot of good nonfiction books–this is a partial list: .

        The recently-released book The Amish by Kraybill, Johnson-Weiner, and Nolt is probably the best place to start if you want a general but thorough book about the Amish–covers them from pretty much every aspect and across many communities.

    26. Kathy Rowe

      I’d be interested in getting that list too. Hopefully I have read some on the list already.
      Sandy, have you always lived in Holmes Co? I love going there. It’s my all time favorite place to visit. Will be there in early Dec and looking forward to it.

      1. @ Kathy Rowe, no I previously lived in Wayne County,(all my life). We moved here about 2 years ago. I am a country girl and love living here. I know I feel so much more content and happy. Don’t know what I would do if HAD to live in the city. Glad that you enjoy our piece of heaven.

        1. Kathy Rowe

          Sandy, you are lucky to have lived in that area all your life. Sure is peaceful there. If you have time sometime, email me at Thanks!

    27. A new child is born

      Hello Eric,
      it seems Donald Kraybill’s new child is born !
      Congratulations for your new book; I’ll read it with a lot of interest.

      Many wishes of peace from Belgium,

      PS : I suggest you write about Ben Girod one day; it’s an untypical man, but with a very large heart.

    28. Slightly-Handled-Order-Man

      Is everything going well with the new book, Erik, or are you a little overwhelmed? I wonder because the blog has, at least for now, become a once or twice a week thing, all good? I think some of us are getting worried.

      1. Thanks Shom, I do appreciate it. I should have noted but I was in Lancaster Co for a week, and posts have been a little light due to non-blog work. Things are moving forward though on my projects including the book. We’ll be back to more frequent posting soon. I have had one eye on the site though while I’ve been gone and am catching up with comments today. Have missed it as well.