December 18, 2010

Take Me Away: It's Baaaaack!!

Take Me Away Saturday

For those of you unfamiliar with Take Me Away Saturday: I started it because I love books that take place in different cultures and are about different cultures. Take Me Away is a way to share with other readers books that can transport them into another culture. Each week I feature a different country or culture (ex. Cherokee, Jewish, etc. that do not have a specific country per se) and list some books that can transport you there. (Note: ex. not necessarily books by a German or an Australian, but books set in Germany or Australia.) I try to provide a variety of fiction genres as well as nonfiction selections.

I am keeping a map of the countries we visit, which you can see at the bottom of this post. There is also a list of both countries and cultures visited in past Take Me Away posts. Check them out and discover some good books to read and recommend some, too!


This week we are visiting the culture of the Amish people:
This is the best I could find for where the Amish are located.

This is a (very) brief overview of the Amish beliefs that I got from religioustolerance.org:
The faith group has attempted to preserve the elements of late 17th century European rural culture. They try to avoid many of the features of modern society, by developing practices and behaviors which isolate themselves from American culture.
Here is more info on the Amish.


Click on the titles of the books below to read reviews and/or purchase the book. Disclaimer: I do not receive commissions if you purchase a book through the link I provide, whether from Amazon, Indiebound, or otherwise.

Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy by Donald B. Kraybill

When a gunman killed five Amish children and injured five others last fall in a Nickel Mines, Pa., schoolhouse, media attention rapidly turned from the tragic events to the extraordinary forgiveness demonstrated by the Amish community. The authors, who teach at small colleges with Anabaptist roots and have published books on the Amish, were contacted repeatedly by the media after the shootings to interpret this subculture. In response to the questions "why-and how-did they forgive?" Kraybill and his colleagues present a compelling study of "Amish grace." After describing the heartbreaking attack and its aftermath, the authors establish that forgiveness is embedded in Amish society through five centuries of Anabaptist tradition, and grounded in the firm belief that forgiveness is required by the New Testament. The community's acts of forgiveness were not isolated decisions by saintly individuals but hard-won "countercultural" practices supported by all aspects of Amish life. Common objections to Amish forgiveness are addressed in a chapter entitled, "What About Shunning?" The authors carefully distinguish between forgiveness, pardon and reconciliation, as well as analyze the complexities of mainstream America's response and the extent to which the Amish example can be applied elsewhere. This intelligent, compassionate and hopeful book is a welcome addition to the growing literature on forgiveness.


Plain Secrets: An Outsider Among the Amish by Joe Mackell

In an engaging personal memoir, Mackall, an Ohio-based writer and professor of English, describes the close-knit relationship he has cultivated over more than a decade with a neighboring Amish family. This is neither an exposé nor an outsider's fanciful romanticization of the Amish. By focusing on the loves and losses of one large Amish clan, Mackall breathes life into a complex group often idealized or caricatured. He refers, for example, not to "the Amish" writ large, but instead to "the Swartzentruber Amish I know," describing in some detail the tremendous differences between the Swartzentrubers, by far the most traditional sect, and the Old Order, New Order, Beachy and other Amish groups. The Swartzentrubers not only eschew electricity but also padded or upholstered chairs, souped-up buggies, indoor plumbing, the tradition of rumspringa (a running-around period for some Amish teens) and—perhaps most important for this narrative—contact with "the English." Mackall's is the first book to venture behind-the-scenes of this most conservative Amish group. At times Mackall is critical of the Swartzentruber way of life (such as when an eight-year-old girl dies in a buggy accident because the sect rejects safety measures for buggies), but it is a deeply respectful account that never veers toward sensationalism.

Rumspringa: To Be or Not to Be Amish by Tom Shachtman

A teenage Amish girl sits in her buggy, one hand dangling a cigarette while the other holds a cellphone in which she is loudly chatting away. This girl, like many Amish teens 16 and older, is in a period called rumspringa, when the strict rules of community life are temporarily lifted while an adolescent chooses whether to be baptized into the church and abide fully by its laws. Shachtman, a documentarian who began studying this phenomenon for the film The Devil's Playground, is a sensitive and nimble chronicler of Amish teens, devoting ample space to allowing them to tell their stories in their own words. And their stories are fascinating, from the wild ones who engage in weekend-long parties, complete with hard drugs and sexual promiscuity, to the more sedate and pious teens who prefer to engage in careful courtship rituals under the bemused eyes of adult Amish chaperones. Shachtman's tone is by turns admiring—of the work ethic, strong families and religious faith that undergird Amish life—and critical, especially of the sect's treatment of women and its suspicion of education beyond the eighth grade. Throughout, Shachtman uses the Amish rumspringa experience as a foil for understanding American adolescence and identity formation in general, and also contextualizes rumspringa throughout the rapidly growing and changing Amish world. This is not only one of the most absorbing books ever written about the Plain People but a perceptive snapshot of the larger culture in which they live and move. (Also a movie.)

An Amish Christmas by Cynthia Keller

Meg Hobart has everything: a happy marriage to a handsome, successful husband, a beautiful home in Charlotte, North Carolina, and three wonderful children. But it all comes crashing down around her the day she learns that her husband, James, has been living a lie—and has brought the family to financial ruin. Penniless and homeless, the Hobarts pack up what little they still possess and leave behind their golden life for good. But it’s not the material things Meg finds herself mourning. Instead, she misses the certainty that she should remain married to James, who has betrayed her trust so thoughtlessly. Worse, she is suddenly very aware of just how spoiled her children have become. Meg wonders what her family has really sacrificed in their pursuit of the American dream. A frightening twist of fate forces the Hobarts to take refuge with a kind Amish family in Pennsylvania, where they find themselves in a home with no computers, no cell phones, nothing the children consider fashionable or fun. Her uncooperative brood confined to the Amish world of hard work and tradition, their futures entirely uncertain, Meg fears she can never make her family whole again. Celebrating life’s simplest but most essential values, packed with laughter and tears, this is a story of forgiveness and the power of love. You will never forget the special moment in time that is An Amish Christmas.

The Amish Cook: Recollections and Recipes from an Old Order Amish Family by Elizabeth Coblentz and Kevin Williams

Ten years ago, aspiring newspaper editor Kevin Williams convinced Elizabeth Coblentz, an Old Order Amish wife and mother, to write a weekly cooking column called The Amish Cook. Each week Elizabeth shares a family recipe and discusses daily life on her Indiana farm, spent with her husband, Ben, and their eight children and 32 grandchildren. THE AMISH COOK, a full-color cookbook based on Elizabeth's columns, compiles more than 75 traditional Amish recipes, photographs of the Coblentz farm, practical gardening tips, cherished family tales, and firsthand accounts of traditional Amish events like corn-husking bees and barn raisings. A truly unique collaboration between a simple Amish grandmother and a modern-day newspaperman, THE AMISH COOK is a poignant and authentic look at a disappearing way of life. The Amish Cook column is syndicated in more than 100 newspapers nationwide. Elizabeth wrote THE AMISH COOK in longhand by the light of a kerosene lamp. Elizabeth has been a writer for the Amish newspaper, The Budget, for 40 years.

The Postcard by Beverly Lewis (Amish Country Crossroads Series #1)

Best-selling author Beverly Lewis has inspired millions of readers with her tender stories set in the amish country of rural Pennsylvania. She has written over fifty books, including the popular Heritage of Lancaster county titles: The Shunning, The Confession, and The Reckoning. In a terrible accident, Rachel Yoder loses her husband, her son, and her unborn child. Now, Rachel leads a reclusive life with her young daughter. Her soul is troubled, and her eye-sight has mysteriously dimmed. But the discovery of an old postcard, hidden for years, is about to change Rachel's world.. Filled with vivid scenes of Amish life, The Postcard is a heart-warming and thought-provoking examination of the powers of faith and healing. Narrator Barbara Caruso's performance brings a gentleness and warmth to this moving story.


Blood of the Prodigal by P.L. Gaus (Ohio Amish Mystery Series #1)

A compulsively readable new series that explores a fascinating culture set purposely apart. In the wooded Amish hill country, a professor at a small college, a local pastor, and the county sheriff are the only ones among the mainstream, or "English," who possess the instincts and skills to work the cases that impact all county residents, no matter their code of conduct or religious creed. When an Amish boy is kidnapped, a bishop, fearful for the safety of his followers, plunges three outsiders into the traditionally closed society of the "Plain Ones."

Do you want to recommend/share books that take place in Amish society? Or do you want to share other thoughts? Please leave a note in the comments!

Be sure to check back for another trip in books!

Here is what is coming up next:

African country of Morocco
South American country of Argentina


Where we've been and the books that take us there:
The Americas and the Caribbean
Guatemala
Peru
Brazil
Chile
Haiti
Honduras
Canada
Europe
Triple Threat-Baltic States
Spain
Norway
Hungary
Middle East
Turkey
Yemen
Israel
Asia
Russia
Vietnam
India
Japan
Taiwan
Africa
Egypt
Sierra Leone
Kenya
Zimbabwe
Australia, Pacific Islands
New Zealand
Fiji
Cultures Across the World
Australian Aborigines
Sioux Nation
Inuit Culture

6 comments:

  1. Yay! Glad you're back! :)

    I can tell you that map of Wisconsin is definitely accurate. I lived in the SW and there were often buggies on the road, and all up the Western border there were Amish communities. We used to drive up to one of them to get bulk groceries...yeah. Anyway, it's amazing to know just how much Amish lit there is out there! I've heard lots fo people talking about it this year and it's just crazy!

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  2. Glad to see this feature return. Thanks!

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  3. There are Amish people in Colorado! I had no idea.

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  4. +JMJ+

    Yay! =D Your virtual tours are always educational.

    Does this mean The Book List will be back soon, too? =P

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  5. What an inspirational post!! Thanks for sharing these ideas, i definitely want to read some of these.

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  6. What a great feature! Thanks for teaching us a little more about the Amish!

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