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Posted May 31, 2013
Incredibly unique and equally lovely!
Plain and Simple: A Woman’s Journey to the Amish is, I’m afraid, the sort of book I would probably never pick up of my own accord. Thankfully, my mom convinced me to do so, and any book recommendation from her has great weight, considering she doesn’t read much. To my delight, Plain and Simple turned out to be one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
I think one of the reasons the book resonated with me was its applicableness to issues I’m dealing with in my life, but its message is one that anyone could benefit from. It’s full of the sort of anecdotes that will be lodged in your brain, ready to be accessed when a need arises. Bender’s struggle, sort of a mid-life crisis, really, is so relatable. She’s not going through a drastic, dramatic change, but she’s dealing with the confusion and muddled nature of everyday life, trying to figure out what her place is in her family and where she belongs in this world. The dilemma may sound mundane, but upon reading Bender’s story, I realized that these are the issues that we inevitably face, often over and over again. I also realized that I’ll be reading this book over and over again when I find demons of self-doubt have risen once again.
A qualm I have with many books of this nature – self-helpy books – is monotony. It seems they always repeat the same “epiphany” in every chapter. The fact that this book weaves narrative with self-reflection helps eliminate this issue, but Bender also shows the reader how her epiphany evolved over time. Sometimes, in fact, she found that what she thought was a wise conclusion was, in fact, not, and she must keep looking for answers. In this way, Plain and Simple becomes less of a self-helpy book and more of a journey, an adventure.
I also appreciated the insights into the life of the Amish. It was fascinating to learn that there is much variation between different towns and families. Bender relates her visits with various Amish families in such a raw, unpretentious way that I felt like I was discovering and learning alongside her. She never judged their way of life, forcing her perception of them on the reader, instead displaying all that she saw and allowing the reader to form an opinion of their own.
This unpretentiousness is another factor that I loved. So often, I feel like the author of a self-helpy book is preaching to me. Bender never does this. She never proposes that she’s found the key to success and eternal bliss. Instead, she concludes with, “This isn’t a story about miracles, instant transformations, or happy endings. My journey to the Amish did not deliver a big truth. I’m not radically different. No one stopped me on the street and said, ‘Sue, I don’t recognize you. What happened?’ … And I am not wise. Not knowing, and learning to be comfortable with not knowing, is a great discovery. Miracles come after a lot of hard work.”
This simplicity is what makes Plain and Simple plain and simple. The messages of this book are not going to go over your head or be too abstract to apply to your own life. There isn’t really just one message. This book is a buffet of ideas and food for thought, and you’re left to do whatever you’d like with it. I love this. I love that it means this book can be something different for anyone and that it can be something new every time its reread. Plain and Simple is whatever you need it to be.
Posted June 14, 2011
I expected more of a history of the AMISH people but instead I got a history of the Author and her feelings. I heard in the book review that she had spent 6 months with them but the book said she spent 2 weeks. I was disappointed and thought the 10.99 price for 96 pages was not worth it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 28, 2006
Food for the Soul!
I read this with a bookclub--did not expect to enjoy it, but at least it was thin! Surprise! I loved it! At the very least, this book offers an inside view of Amish life, but it's SO much more! Every over-achieving, over-scheduled soul could benefit from this book. It reminded me that the joy in life is only found through family, friends, and community. The true value in work is doing it well, for the benefit of all. The Amish understand that life's greatest rewards are right in front of them, but we spend all our time chasing what is often unfulfilling or unattainable. Few books I've read have enriched my perspective the way this one did!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 27, 2003
I grew up in a small town outside of Phila., and went to Lancaster County often. I loved seeing the Amish and oftened wondered what their life was really like. I am now just 60, living in Arizona and a practicing Massage Therapist. I have several clients that are Mennonite, and one who left the Amish community. I have asked them many questions over the past several years. They love to talk and I have learned a lot. PLAIN AND SIMPLE is everything I have learned the Amish life to be. I so enjoyed reading this well written book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 8, 2001
Amish Simplicity: You Don't Need to Be Amish
For many years I have been interested in the Amish. I have also been interested in reading about how to live a simpler life, but haven't been able to find too many books on the topic. This is what I have been looking for. You don't have to be Amish to apply their principles of a simpler lifestyle.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 9, 2000
in celebration of a simpler life
I just finished this book, and I will say that serenity embraced me from it's pages. For all of us who long for a more simple and meaningful life within our families and our communities, it is inspirational.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 1, 2000
For those who find comfort in simple things
Like Sue Bender, I, too, find the culture of the Amish fascinating. I have visited Lancaster on several occasions and there is something there that is undeniably peaceful. I would definitely recommend this to someone who not only is drawn to incredible Amish people but also knows there is a simple life out there waiting to be embraced.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.