Amish and such. Research heaven.

Pat Davids here, talking about books. Amish books that is. Straw hats, buggies, beards, bonnets. You know, those folks. They are currently popular fodder for fiction, but what do we really know about them? Even people who live close to the Amish sometimes find themselves at a loss to understand them.

To that end, I thought I would share some of my favorite research books on the subject. If you want to write a bonnet book, this is where you should start.

1. Amish Society by John A. Hostetler
     This is the first book you should own if you plan to write about the Amish. It gives an insider's understanding of the development of the Amish faith and details such things as their church services and dress. Very informative.

2. The Amish in Their Own Words compiled by Brad Igou
   This is a collection of Amish writing from 25 years of Family Life magazine. Family Life is the Amish owned and printed monthly magazine published for Amish and Plain readers. This book gives insight to how Amish people view their own lives and troubles. Anyone can subscribe to Family Life magazine. It has no glossy photos and no ads. It's written on a typewriter on plain white paper. The graphics are all pen and ink drawings. The poems, household hint and heartfelt letters are a window into the mindset of the Amish people.

3. Success Made Simple, An Inside Look At Why Amish Businesses Thrive by Erik Wesner.
   This book looks at how the Amish view business, not only among themselves, but with outsiders or the Englisch, as they call anyone who isn't Amish. It show how they deal with marketing in a computer world while they remain true to a horse and buggy lifestyle. Did you know that there are Amish millionaires? That they have no health insurance or retirement funds and yet they always take care of their own. They also pay property taxes, as well as income taxes. The only tax they are exempt from is social security tax. However, if they have a non-Amish employee, they do pay into social security for that person.

These three books will give anyone a basic understanding of the Amish and how they live. If you're writing Amish romances, never forget that the romance is the heart of your book. Your book should be able to just as engaging if they weren't Amish. Matters of the heart cross all religious and cultural boundaries. My books are about the romance. The fact that my hero or heroine is Amish, just makes it easier to dress them. Put a bonnet on her.

Have you read much Amish romance? What appeals to you about the genre? What doesn't appeal to you about the genre?


Reese Mobley said...

I've never considered writing an Amish story, but I have enjoyed learning about them. Somehow I don't think my characters would fit in.

You manage to make it interesting, though. Thanks for the education along with a great read.

Joan Vincent said...

I've read a few, Pat. I like yours best as you meld their way of life into the story rather than hitting people over the head with it. Your stories flow naturally and while the environment is important it doesn't overshadow your characters. Thanks for sharing your primary sources.

Rox Delaney said...

Interesting stuff! I wouldn't mind reading a couple of the books you listed, but not for writing research. Different lifestyles have always interested me, whether historical or contemporary. You blend so many of those together so well, Pat!

Pat Davids said...

Thanks, ladies. I try to write the best book possible no matter where the setting takes place. Carla Cassidy once told me she could write a romance with green people from Mars. I know just how she feels.