What’s your favorite Amish book?

favorite amish book

Commenting on a post last week, Donna Godfrey recommended reading books by Donald Kraybill.  I’d second that.  The Riddle of Amish Culture was one of the first I read and I think essential to understanding the Amish.

The very first book I read on the Amish was Amish Society by John Hostetler, another good one, first published in 1963 and going through a number of editions.  In recent years there have been a lot of interesting new books as well.

Many have focused on specific communities, or particular aspects of Amish life.  Titles that come to mind include An Amish Paradox, Train Up a Child, and Growing Up Amish: The Teenage Years.

Each of these has complemented experiences I’ve had in Amish society and helped add to my understanding of Amish life.  There are many others, most by non-Amish but a few written by Amish as well.

How about you–which book on the Amish have you most enjoyed–or learned the most from?

Get the Amish in your inbox

Join 15,000 email subscribers. No spam. 100% free

    Similar Posts

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


    1. Richard

      Id say most anything from Donald Kraybill Erik, i admire his writing very much. And your very good as well. Richard from the Amish Settlement of Lebanon,Pa.

    2. Mark Biernat

      Amish books - What the future holds?

      I use to read an Amish recipe book believe it or not at my beside when I was a teen. My folks are from Southern PA and I found this one in the attic and loved reading the wit and wisdom in between the recipes. I do not know if it is still in print but I am sure it is still kicking around my parents house.
      I guess I have another question, that is what books do the Amish read? And do they read fiction?
      Also why type of Amish books would other people have interest in or would they like to see published in the future?

    3. sadie

      Favorite Amish Book

      Well, since you didn’t specify that it had to be non-fiction, I am going to say that apart from all the text book types out there, like Amish Grace etc. I am partial to the fictional stories that incorporate the element of culture clashes. So, something like “The Redemption of Sarah Cain’ by Beverly Lewis, or Amy Clipston’s “The Gift of Grace” purely for the insight into worlds colliding.

      Living as I do in Amish Country … and not commercial Lancaster, but rather Central PA where our closest old order types are the Nebraska Amish … I am always aware of how these gentle people are perceived by tourists and invariably, there are a lot of misconceptions. Any book that can clarify in some small way the bias or misunderstanding that exists, even if done fictionally, is good.

    4. Robin Miller

      Amish Books

      I have so many favorites and a bookshelf full to prove it … romance-fiction, cook books, informational. Some of my favorite authors are Beverly Lewis, Amy Clipston, Beth Wiseman, Mindy Starns Clark and Barbara Cameron, to name a few. Love my Amish cook books, especially one compiled by mothers in Lancaster County to benefit their childrens’ school. Also recommend Sherry Gore’s cook book. It’s beautifully illustrated and chock full of tastiness!! Just this morning I used Beverly Lewis’ recipe for baked oatmeal, one of my breakfast favorites!!

    5. John Lueders

      Amish Books

      Greetings. One of the first books I read on the Amish and the one that offered an early wealth of information was A Peculiar People: Iowa’s Old Order Amish. I was young and my mind was wide open to the ever expanding Amish culture that was beginning to become my life long passion.

    6. Ann

      Amish book favorites

      Well the most favorite of mine are of course the cookbooks. I love their recipes. Secondly a Beverly Lewis was the first book I read and that hooked me on them. I am now reading The
      Caregiver. Enjoy other authors as I learn about them also.

    7. Mary

      Which book?

      I never read any of Krabill’s books so I can’t comment on his. But the only one I ever read that was 100% correct was “Amish Society”, by John Hochstetler. I can’t stand to read the fiction books by Beverly Lewis, etc. I have tried to and they made me….ugh! They are so not for real or true to life! Being born and raised Amish I want the books that are ‘REAL’! We are not all the same, which is good, or else those authors of the fiction books would be going hungry! 🙂 And yes, some Amish do read fiction books. I read lots of them besides romance books when I grew up Amish. Every family is different so I won’t speak for all of them.

      1. Lee Ann

        Thanks Mary for the information! As you grew up Amish, would you be interested in keeping in touch with me? I could really use some pointers on quilting and such. Im a beggining quilter and grew up quilting the old way. Sorry this is off the subject.

        Mary if you could please contact me and help me out, I’d appreciate it!

    8. The Amish Way

      I posted on Facebook with a brief answer but have more to say so here goes:

      I recently read The Amish Way: Patient Faith in a Perilous World this year and just loved it. It was written by Kraybill, Nolt, and Weaver-Zercher as a follow-up to Amish Grace, which focused on the 2006 tragedy at Nickel Mines. The Amish Way is more of a well-rounded look at Amish culture and religion. It is beautifully written, is never dry, and is very even-handed in its explanations of all things Amish. I was sorry to finish the book.

      I don’t usually pay much attention to what’s in the appendices, but am glad I did in this case. Included was a devotional the Amish use called Rules of a Godly Life, which has evolved over the past 300 years or so and was translated into English by an Ontario Amish minister in 2000. It contains simple rules for Christian living, delivered in a blunt, yet somehow eloquent, manner. It caught my attention near its beginning with the words, “In the morning, awake with God and consider that this might be your final day.” Boy, did that stop me in my tracks!

      I should also mention that Amish Grace was excellent, and Nolt’s History of the Amish, while sometimes dry, offers probably the best overview of their history.

    9. Bob the Quaker

      I think “Rosanna of the Amish” by Joseph Yoder is true to Amish life, and in fact it was sort of a rebuttal to popular books and magazine articles which Joseph concluded told little of the true Amish life. You can get it for “Kindle”. I have also purchased “Buggy Spoke” series by Linda Byler for my grandchildren (who are homed schooled). The series goes through several ages, so I give them to them when the ages match. They love them.

      I read one romance-fiction, but it wasn’t for me. Haven’t read another.

    10. Christina

      I do enjoy most Amish fiction and some of the little gifty books that some of the those authors have written. Beverly Lewis just came out with a book called “Amish Prayers: Heartfelt Expressions of Humility, Gratitude and Devotion” that includes prayers translated from “Die Ernsthafte Christenpflicht” (translated: ‘Prayer Book for Earnest Christians’ which I also have in English). Anyway, this new prayer book by Lewis is particularly lovely in illustration and set-up. I’ve read “A History of the Amish” by Steven Nolt, which was interesting and many of Donald Kraybill’s books. I also like the People’s Place Series books published by Good Books–informative, but short books.

      But, like many of the comments that I’ve read above, I have a small collection of Amish cookbooks and do enjoy perusing them occasionally. There’s such a variety of recipes and variations that I’m bound to find something that I have all the ingredients for in my cupboard!

    11. Debbie Welsh

      I love reading all kinds of Amish books, whether it be the whole gamut of Amish romance novels, or a variety of non-fiction, such as ” A History of the Amish ” by Steven M. Nolt; ” The Amish Cook’s Anniversary Book ” by Lovina Eicher with Kevin Williams; and ” Why I Left The Amish ” by Saloma Miller Furlong, just to name a few.

    12. Plain and Simple

      Here’s mine, although I’m not sure I’ve read many more books about the Amish. I read it years ago, and a lot of the book still resonates with me.


    13. OldKat

      Success Made Simple! Not entirely kidding, because aside from some books I read about the Amish when I was about 12 years old I have never read anything else about them other than an occasional brief article in a magazine, a newspaper or some other questionable source … like the internet! I have been intending to write an email to Erick and ask just which non-fiction books, not cookbooks either, that he would recommend about the Amish. Now I know; guess he beat me to it.

      I read virtually everything that was in the nearest public library about the Amish when I first learned that they even existed. My older sister’s high school graduating class took a trip to New York City when I was 12 and she sent me a postcard from Lancaster County, PA which featured a picture of some Amish people in a buggy rolling down the highway. I was hooked. I had my mom drive me into the city to the branch library and I checked out every book they had on the Amish. I think there were three of them. I don’t remember any titles, but I now know that most of what I read was inaccurate. In fact, even at the time I suspected that two of the books just took what was in the first book and reworded it slightly. I am ready for some serious reading, by informed and insightful authors so I am looking forward to see what titles emerge. Good thread Erick.

    14. Marilyn

      The Amish Midwife

      I like The Amish Midwife, by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould and so many others Beverly Lewis and Wanda Brunstetter and ect.
      I enjoy reading all the Amish books.
      I enjoy everything Erick writes about and the pictures, Good Job!

    15. Forest

      “The Amish in their Own Words” by Brad Igou, is probably my favorite.

    16. Robin Miller

      More favorite books!

      @Bob the Quaker … I loved “Rosanna of the Amish” when I was a young girl … don’t know how many times I borrowed that book from the school library. I also loved “Henner’s Lydia” and would love to find a copy for my little niece, also named Lydia.

    17. Bob the Quaker

      Yes Robin, that is a nice book, but out of print now. There is one on Ebay right now for $24….


      If you are not set up on Ebay and want we to get it for you, I’d be glad to. I’ve been selling things to downsize.

      1. Linda Umble

        Henners lydia

        You can buy a new copy of Henner’s Lydia on Amazon. De Angelii’s anabaptiat related books have all been bought by herald press – yonie Wondernose, skippack achool, thee Hannah and reprinted. I loved these books as a child and was delighted I could buy them as an adult!!

    18. On the Amish reading list

      Wow, really enjoying reading the wide range of books you are all recommending (Oldkat you get extra points, you too Marilyn ;))

      On my current Amish reading list are a couple quite different books but looking forward to sharing more about both–“History of the Bernese Anabaptists” recently translated by John A. Gingerich, and “Growing up Amish: A Memoir”, by Ira Wagler, which I’ve been fortunate enough to get an advance galley of.

      I’ll have more to say on both coming up soon as well as interviews and a giveaway (just realized it’s been quite awhile since the last one of those!)

    19. Robin Miller

      Thanks Bob the Quaker … I’ve been checking it off and on and have seen the used copies. I believe that book was written in the 1930s or 1940s? Love the illustrations. I will keep checking; have the book in mind for my little niece for Christmas. I’d love a copy for myself too. I’m on eBay almost daily!!

    20. Karen Pollard

      Amish books

      I’m going in a different direction by saying I love reading The Amish Cook column that’s in the newspaper regularly. My newspaper doesn’t publish it, but my mother in law clips it and mails it to me. Love hearing what Lovina is doing in her every day world. Plus her recipes are really good!

    21. Chelsea

      One of the few non-fiction books I enjoyed was “Plain Secrets: An Outsider Among the Amish” by Joe Mackall. I’ve started to read a few of Kraybills books but have not been able to get into them enough to finish the book. I personally enjoy fictional reading much more than any non-fiction book, but I do understand there are many who are the opposite!

      I have several Amish cookbooks which I enjoy flipping through every once in a while, but I’m not one to cook a lot from cookbooks 🙂

    22. Richard

      I have to admit a long time ago i used to try and read every book pertaining to Amish Life, and now i hardly pick-up any book now. Not because i don’t like to read, i love to read. I’m thinking maybe its the lack of time on top of so many other little things that i have to do everyday. So i would love to start a really good book and be able to have the patience to finish it. Richard from Pennsylvania.

    23. Tamara

      Mark – The Amish Cook’s Baking Book sounds like what you described. The stories and reminiscings of Lovina Eicher are truly heartwarming. Our nearest plain community has their very own (very small) bookstore. Many books are published by Christian Aid Ministries. I’ve heard some Amish have library cards,… does anybody know for sure?

      Keith – I really liked The Amish Way, too. It had a lot of history and factual information, much like The Riddle of Amish Culture and Amish Society, but recorded more personal experiences and observations.

      Chelsea – I agree, Plain Secrets was very enjoyable, but sad,too. The author’s experience shows how, because of the “weight” of the church, the Amish can never really enjoy a friendship with an outsider.

      What do others think? Has anyone had a very close relationship with someone who was a “member in good standing” in the Amish church? New thread, Erik?

    24. rick

      cheap book source & linda byler's lizzie books

      abebooks.com is a great source for hard to find and out of print books. I would choose a condition of “good” as a minimum for a decent reading copy. “Henner’s Lydia” is around $12 including shipping; many common titles are under $4 total.

      My vote is for the Lizzie books by Linda Byler. Hard to get more accurate than an Amish author without an agenda or relying on a gimicky title. Her re-packaged Lizzie Searches for Love series are based on the original books, but I’d highly recommend getting all 7 of the originals to get a full appreciation for her talent.

    25. Al in Ky.

      I like Plain Diversity by Steven M. Nolt and Thomas J. Meyers.
      In the introduction it states,”In the first book to describe the
      complexity of Amish cultural identity, (the authors) explore
      the interaction of migration history, church discipline, and
      ethnicity in the community life of nineteen Amish settlements
      in Indiana.” I especially enjoy the chapter on The Paoli-Salem
      Communities, which are four small Amish communities, each of
      a different affiliation ranging from New Order to Swartzentruber. I have visited these communities many times and it’s interesting to
      be there and then come home and read again in this book about
      A new book I’d like to read is Unser Leit, but I’ll have to
      wait til I have more time and money because it’s expensive
      and long (1,000 pages).

    26. kerry

      Tamara, I am a librarian who lives and works in Ohio’s Amish country. There are a number of Amish here who have library cards, but they are mainly New Order and Beachy Amish. They do not use the library regularly (as in weekly, like many others). We did have more Amish who visited our bookmobile when we still had it; many timed stops were at Amish homes. The bulk of books on the bookmobile were children’s books about horses, animals, outdoors, etc., and occasionally some Amish-published books and series, cookbooks, etc..

      Sadly, my workplace, like many libraries, has cut rural bookmobile service except to schools. There are a number of public
      schools here that serve mostly Amish (around here, there is no separation of church and state, and you won’t hear a complaint from either Amish or English), and these students have library cards, but only for the bookmobile, which carries children’s books and materials generally considered acceptable by the Amish.

    27. Rose

      I don’t really have Favorite Amish book, I pretty much like all books written about the Amish culture

    28. Tamara

      Kerry – Thanks for the information.

      No separation of church and state? Hmmm, all those years of private christian school tuition. If only I had known!

    29. kerry

      Oh, I suppose *technically” there is separation – but as a student, parent, or other school-supporting person, you’d never know it. 😉 That’s how the community likes it and why people move here. There are a couple of public elementaries which have no English students at all.

    30. Slightly-handled-Order-man

      Leafing the pages, eh

      I don’t know who did it, and it wasn’t specifically Amish, but there was a coffee table book size publication I recall from when I was in pre-high-school in our library called “Mennonites”, there was quite a bit of writing in, but there where beautiful pictures, black and white and colour. I wish I could remember the name of the Quaker book in my high school library, I read that two or three times. My high school library also had the Communist Manifesto, too, but that didn’t hold my attention.

    31. Osiah Horst

      Kraybill books

      It is quite difficult to say which Amish book I enjoyed most but Riddle of Amish Culture was probably one of the first so that would rate highly. Amish and the State and Amish Enterprise are also right up there as is An Amish Paradox. I never could get into the Amish fiction as the first one I read did not seem realistic. My brother who claims to not believe also admits to reading the Kraybill and similar books. I always wonder what the attraction is for someone who grew up plain and claims to have totally rejected that way.

    32. Jane Reeves

      Amish Books

      I have read alot of amish books and can’t say which is my favorite. I love them all!!!
      @Robin Miller – I am very interested in purchasing a Amish Cook Book that is compiled by the mothers to benefit Amish schools. Do you know of any that are available for purchase? Any information you can give my would be much appreciated.

    33. Tamara's Friendship Question

      My first friend among the Amish was an Old Order bishop. You can read about how we met here:


      He was 46 years my senior and we enjoyed a very full friendship until he died almost two years ago at the age of 88. It was through him that I met several of his children who have also become some of our best friends, exchanging phone calls and letters several times a year. We plan our family vacations around visits with them, and are getting ready to visit once again in August (and I can’t wait to get there!).

      I haven’t read the book you mentioned but it sure doesn’t sound like it matches my experience. It could be that stricter communities limit the potential for outside relationships and I can see why. The world is a dark and sneaky influence, especially on the young.

    34. Marcus Yoder

      My favorite is cemetery directory of the Amish community in eastern Holmes and adjoining counties in Ohio. I have found a lot of mine and my wifes ancestors through this book. Another is dust between my toes, by Wayne Weaver.I would love to have the new book Unser Leit by Leroy Beachy. Might have to wait on this one.
      Marcus Yoder

    35. Chelsea

      Tamara – I agree, it is sad to see how the Amish in “Plain Secrets” are put under such weight of the church as to not allow friendship with outsiders, but I suppose that is part of what makes the Swartzentrubber Amish so conservative… I don’t know that other groups of the Amish would have this same weight placed on them, but I suppose it would depend on the community.

    36. Very interesting choices, Marcus, particularly the cemetery directory. I have to admit I am intimidated by the sheer size of Unser Leit. But I guess that means it must be pretty thorough.

      1. I read Unser Leit and it gives a good understanding of where we come from and dispells some our misconceptions. So its a must read for understanding the anabaptist history. I’m ex-amish-mennonite from Tampico Illinois.

        1. OldKat

          I find it ironic.

          That the very next day after I asked Erik where this thread was located that someone would post an update to it. Especially since it is a thread that is over a year old.

          I went through it last night and picked out 3 more books to order. I had thought about buying Unser Leit, but quite frankly it looked a little intimidating. Glad to see someone from that background endorse it. Maybe next time I’ll wade into it.

    37. Amish bookmobile use

      Kerry, thanks for adding more about the bookmobiles. I’m not sure which settlement you are referring to in Ohio (sounds like Holmes?) but was not aware that services had been cut. I have had the impression that they are quite popular and remain in service; I recently saw mention of the Geauga County bookmobile in an article.

      There is also this interesting-sounding paper which you may be aware of on the Holmes Co. bookmobile service. It dates from 1993; the following is taken from the abstract, but I thought it made a couple of interesting points:

      The bookmobile is used significantly by parts of the Amish community and provides a valuable service for its Amish constituents. The success of the service is largely due to the sensitivity and dedication of the bookmobile staff. The biggest issue facing the county bookmobile is collection development. Many books that the Amish love are no longer in print. The Amish are extremely specific about what they choose to read, and if the bookmobile does not supply these materials, its services will not be used.


    38. TomK

      #1 – Amish Grace – – #2 Plain Secrets – – #3 After the Fire – – #4 Success Made Simple and #5 Amish in Michigan (which needs some updating)

    39. Tom, Success Made Simple #4? Have you only read 5 Amish books total?!? 😉 Just kidding, I’m really honored to make your list 🙂

      And on your #5, I’d really enjoy more books in the same vein, that examine Amish populations on a state or even community level. Recently with books like New York Amish and Amish Paradox, we’ve seen more of them, and I hope that trend keeps up.

    40. TomK

      Erik, I probably should have put down that these were my top 5 books as to me getting something out of them, knowledge wise, LOL

      I have the others also like; History of Amish, The Amish and the State, Growing up Amish (the teenage years), Indiana Amish Dorectory, Michigan Amish Directory, Martyrs Mirror, etc. etc., several, several Amish cookbooks, plus some individual ones given to us, etc.

      Besides the fact I see them around me, I know how they live, I see them working, I’ve been in the buildings they built, I’ve bought veggies / bake goods most Saturdays from them, I’ve talked to them and kids have talked with our kids, I’ve seen the schools, I wave to Melvin and his or Milo and Elizabeth when they go by, I know where the Bishop lives, etc, etc… Not a big deal anymore in our lives, they’re just trying to live their lives the way they were taught/ bought up to do the best they can, just like Baptists, Catholic, Methodists, Atheists, democrats, republicans, etc. etc.

    41. kerry

      Erik, I work in a neighboring county which has a fairly significant Amish and Mennonite population, but Holmes County still has an active bookmobile service.

      It has, like almost every other library service in Ohio, been cut back in terms of materials and time between stops, etc., and also had to close branches which served Amish populations, due to the reduction in state funding. The neighboring counties, which also have large Amish populations, have basically curtailed bookmobile service except to schools (which include Amish parochial and public schools). Holmes could never do that with the bookmobile as it would lose a large percentage of its patronage (and therefore even more funding).

    42. Susan

      Amish Book lover

      Beverly Lewis is by far my favorite author. I’ve been reading Amish books for many, many years. I grew up a few hours from Lancaster PA and when I got my license I took my first trip out there and visited it MANY times since. Now I live in the Midwest and have visited Jamesburg, Missouri and Pawnee City, Nebraska settlements. Looking forward to next spring for my trip to Kalona, Iowa.

    43. I liked “Rosanna of the Amish” by Joseph W. Yoder and “Amish Grace” by Donald B. Kraybill. Just started reading “The Choice”. I’ll have to report on that one later….

      Just spent all of October in Lancaster, PA, and ready to go back.

      Want to wish all my friends here a wondeful Hoilday season.

    44. Joan Sheldon

      favorite reading

      I love the 3 Pathway Publications (written by Amish, on family life and Amish schools), Plain Interests, and my daily devotional Beside Still Waters. I am glad my friends in the community in Unity, ME, told me about these. I am currently also reading “Amish Paradox”.

    45. Merry

      I have two new (to me) books to suggest

      Both are by David Kline, a member of an Old Order community in southern Ohio. One is “Great Possessions: An Amish Farmer’s Journal” 1990 – is his collection of seasonal observations on the Amish way of farm life and his relationship with wildlife he and his family share on their farm in their daily life.

      “Scratching the Woodchuck: Nature on an Amish Farm” continues his keen observations on nature.

    46. Thanks Merry. I found them both used at Amazon Books, so you can get both for about $10 including shipping. They have about 25 used one for each of these.

      I have no connection with Amazon Books 🙂


      1. Merry

        @ Bob... the folks from Wooster's Books are great too!

        This morning I sent an e mail note asking for their snail mail address so I can send a wee note of appreciation to be forwarded to Mr. Kline. I will start reading “Scratching the Woodchuck” today and plan on getting “Letters from Larksong” as a birthday present for my husband.

        The only connection I have with Amazon (or Wooster Books) is as a book buyer 🙂

    47. Merry

      @ Bob the Quaker

      Thanks Bob, that’s where I tripped across them. Mine were a mite more because I opted for one hard cover. Just goes to show Amazon doesn’t flub suggestions all the time!

      Wishing a health filled and peaceful new year to all 🙂

    48. Merry….You were so right about these two books. I’m really enjoying one and looking forward to the other. In Great Possessions in the introduction(xxii)he says “The field work starts in March with the plowing of the sod. This is leisurely work, giving the horse plenty of time to become conditioned, and giving us my version of what the Quakers call quiet time: a time to listen to God and His Creation as we participate in the unfolding of spring.”

      I can relate to that 🙂

      I also liked the statement “The Amish are not necessarily against modern technology. We have simply chosen not to be controlled by it.” Thanks again, Bob

    49. Lee Ann

      Wow! I didn’t know there were so many Amish Books out there. Looks like I have my reading to do! I’ve read alot of the Amish romance novels by Wanda Brunsetter, and by Beverly Lewis. I have also bought some Amish cookbooks through Amazon. I found out about the cookbooks through Erik. Thanks to him!

      Look forward to getting more indepth books to really learn about the Amish and their way of life. For those who are blessed to live so close to the Amish, I envy you!

      Keep us posted on other Amish books and their way of life please. I really enjoy learning all I can about them.

    50. Merry

      Just ordered two more books

      Both are non-fiction. Why I Left the Amish: A Memoir” by Saloma Miller Furlong. I found her review of Bender’s “Plain and Simple…” incredibly insightful so that one will be a library selection. Ms. Furlong mentions her blog in her review and I’ve found it very forthright so I decided to read the story of her Amish life first.

      The other is “Growing Up Amish: A Memoir” by Ira Wagler I have no recollection how I stumbled on his book but decided to read one by a male. It will be interesting to see what issues might be similar or different between them that prompted each to make such a difficult decision.

      1. Saloma and Ira

        Coincidentally I have just been enjoying Saloma’s book over the weekend here. Lot of tough experiences in there though.

        If you didn’t catch it first time around, Ira did an interview for us last July shortly after release: https://amishamerica.com/ira-wagler-on-growing-up-amish-6-book-giveaway/