February 10th, 2012
When my dog starts barking like crazy, I know he is sitting in the upstairs window, watching the horse and buggy coming up the road. Occasionally, I see them tied up in front of the grocery store. When we head up towards Lancaster, we always pass young Amish teens walking or riding bikes or scooters. The Amish are a normal part of our community and yet we can’t help but be fascinated by them! They are so much like us, but at the same time, so very different. No wonder everyone wants to read about them.
Lucky for us, Cecil County Public Library has a wide variety of items about the Amish. There are nonfiction books about their way of life, with explanations of all those details we are so curious about, such as why or why not they allow the use of electricity, tractors or cell phones. There are picture books showing the pastoral farms and the girls in their bonnets hanging out the wash. There are books of Amish quilts and Amish cooking. We have books about the strength of their community and the power of their religion, which contribute to their ability to deal with the stresses of living in the “English” world and events like the tragedy at the Nickel Mines School. I loved the book “Rumsrpinga: To Be Or Not To Be Amish,” an in-depth look at the “running-around” period that the teens have, allowing them to take part in the “English” life before deciding whether to join the church. This book was research done for the movie “The Devil’s Playground,” in which we can watch them explain their lifestyle as they assume the dress and behavior of the non-Amish.
Of course, there’s also a lot of fiction about the Amish: inspirational stories by Beverly Lewis and Wanda Brunstetter are extremely popular. Beverly Lewis alone has sold over 12 million books. Other popular writers are Shelley Shepard Gray, Cindy Woodsmall, and Beth Wiseman. Amish books are now mixing with other genres, such as Amish romantic suspense. Mindy Starns Clark combines Amish beliefs and community settings with mystery and love. My favorite was “Secrets of Harmony Grove,” which was set in Lancaster County.
If you too are intrigued by the Amish, you will be happy to know that Saloma Furlong, author of “Why I Left the Amish” will be speaking at the Elkton Central Library on February 15 and the Rising Sun Branch Library on February 16. She will talk about growing up Amish and how hard it was to break away from her family and culture to satisfy her longing for freedom and education.
What fascinates you about the Amish?