At 6:00PM on Thursday, February 9, UW-Madison Professor Mark Louden will visit the library to discuss the lifeways, history, and beliefs of the Amish and similar religious communities.? We hope you’ll join us!? Until then, why not whet your appetite with a few books about Amish life and living?
The Amish Way: Patient Faith in a Perilous World highlights Amish spiritual practices.? Authors Donald Kraybill, Steven Nolt, and David Weaver-Zercher discuss how Amish Christianity influences and shapes innumerable aspects of Amish life, from the technologies they use (or don’t) to how they choose their religious leaders.? Drawing on knowledge gleaned while writing their first book, Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy, Kraybill, Nolt, and Weaver-Zercher are outsiders to the community, but well-versed in its religious customs.
Ira Wagler’s Growing Up Amish: A Memoir is a firsthand look at life among the Amish.? Wagler, who was born into and ultimately left the community, chronicles his childhood in a Canadian Amish settlement and his family’s move to a different settlement in Bloomfield, Iowa.? After that move, Wagler repeatedly left and returned to his family and their traditions, until he finally and permanently broke away from them at age 22.? Growing Up Amish is a close-quarters look at everyday Amish life and the pressures faced by some of its members.
For an outsider’s account of Amish lifeways, look to Plain Secrets: An Outsider Among the Amish.? Plain Secrets focuses on the Swartzenruder Amish, a community based in Ashland County, Ohio.? The book’s author, Joe Mackall, documents the lives of his Amish neighbors, the Shetlers, over the course of three years, highlighting their customs, accomplishments, and struggles.
Any one of these books would be a great place to start for facts about Amish life and culture, with or without Professor Louden’s excellent overview.