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May 25, 2020

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What are you reading?

Debbie Engelhardt's list spreads from Amish fiction to Christian fiction

By Darlene Bowers
"Better to stop one paddle short than one too far."
— Suzanne Woods Fisher, A Lancaster County Christmas

Debbie Engelhardt, substitute teacher, 45 year Alger resident

A Lancaster County Christmas by Suzanne Woods Fisher is Debbie Engelhardt’s favorite book “It is a good Amish Christmas story,” shares Debbie.

The story revolves around two couples stranded together at Christmastime who come to help each other understand the holiday’s true meaning.  Tourist destinations abound where one can attempt to understand the Amish, a community-focused religious group that believes in values of hard work and family and tends to shy away from modernity.

But are these tourists the same people who read Amish fiction? One writer, Valerie Weaver-Zercher studied typical readers of Amish fiction to attempt to understand who the readers are and why they read this genre.

“I found out that they’re a quite diverse lot, and are not all evangelical Christian women. There are lots of male readers of the novels, and high school and college students, and readers in other countries.

I found out that many of them read quite widely, and that Amish fiction is only a portion of what many of them like to read. I discovered that, for many of them, Amish novels function almost as devotional texts. That is, they like the story and the romance and the way that they learn about Amish life when they read the novels, but they also like the way that their faith is strengthened by reading the novels, and the way that they are challenged in their Christian lives through reading about the protagonist’s spiritual journey.”

Debbie Engelhardt’s reading list spreads from Amish fiction to Christian fiction. She is currently reading Law and Old Order from the Amish Inn Mysteries Series by Jan Fields and five other books Debbie recommends are:

• The Beloved Christmas Quilt by Wanda Brunstetter (Amish fiction)

• Brimming with Questions by Elizabeth Adams (Christian fiction)

• No Time for Trouble by Olivia Newport – Sugarcreek Amish Mysteries Series (Amish fiction)

• Amish Sweethearts by Leslie Gould – Neighbors of Lancaster County Series (Amish fiction)

• The Handmaid and the Carpenter by Elizabeth Berg (historical fiction, Christian fiction)

So what are your favorite books? What books do you recommend to others? Join in, fill out the Ada Icon/Ada Public Library Favorite Book Survey (see attachment below or pick one up at the library) and submit your recommendations. Let’s start a reading revolution or at least have a spectacular time sampling all sorts of reads and exploring the Ada Public Library.