Plain and Simple: A Journey to the Amish

Plain and Simple: A Journey to the Amish

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by Sue Bender
     
 

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"I had an obsession with the Amish. Plan and simple. Objectively it made no sense. I, who worked hard at being special, fell in love with a people who valued being ordinary."

So begins Sue Bender's story, the captivating and inspiring true story of a harried urban Californian moved by the beauty of a display of quilts to seek out and live with the

Overview

"I had an obsession with the Amish. Plan and simple. Objectively it made no sense. I, who worked hard at being special, fell in love with a people who valued being ordinary."

So begins Sue Bender's story, the captivating and inspiring true story of a harried urban Californian moved by the beauty of a display of quilts to seek out and live with the Amish. Discovering lives shaped by unfamiliar yet comforting ideas about time, work, and community, Bender is gently coaxed to consider, "Is there another way to lead a good life?"

Her journey begins in a New York men's clothing store. There she is spellbound by the vibrant colors and stunning geometric simplicity of the Amish quilts "spoke directly to me," writes Bender. Somehow, "they went straight to my heart."

Heeding a persistent inner voice, Bender searches for Amish families willing to allow her to visit and share in there daily lives. Plain and Simple vividly recounts sojourns with two Amish families, visits during which Bender enters a world without television, telephone, electric light, or refrigerators; a world where clutter and hurry are replaced with inner quiet and calm ritual; a world where a sunny kitchen "glows" and "no distinction was made between the sacred and the everyday."

In nine interrelated chapters--as simple and elegant as a classic nine-patch Amish quilt--Bender shares the quiet power she found reflected in lives of joyful simplicity, humanity, and clarity. The fast-paced, opinionated, often frazzled Bender returns home and reworks her "crazy-quilt" life, integrating the soul-soothing qualities she has observed in the Amish, and celebrating the patterns in the Amish, and celebrating the patterns formed by the distinctive "patches" of her own life.

Charmingly illustrated and refreshingly spare, Plain and Simple speaks to the seeker in each of us.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061873836
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
03/17/2009
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
176
Sales rank:
693,277
File size:
952 KB

Meet the Author


Sue Bender is the author of Plain and Simple: A Woman's Journey to the Amish (HarperSanFrancisco). The book was a New York Times bestseller. A fascination with Amish quilts led Sue to live with the Amish in their seemingly timeless world, a landscape of immense inner quiet. This privilege, rarely bestowed upon outsiders, taught her about simplicity and commitment and the contentment that comes from accepting who you are. In this inspiring book, Bender shares the lessons she learned while in the presence of the Amish people.

In Everyday Sacred: A Woman's Journey Home (HarperSanFrancisco: now in its sixth printing), Bender speaks to our longing to make each day truly count. She chronicles her struggle to bring the joyful wisdom and simplicity she experienced in her sojourn with the Amish back to her hectic, too-much-to-do days at home. Bender discovers for herself, and in the process shows us, that small miracles can be found everywhere'in our homes, in our daily activities and, hardest to see, in ourselves.

Profiles and interviews with Ms. Bender, as well as book excerpts have been published in countless national publications including Reader's Digest, The Washington Post, Ladies' Home Journal, The Chicago Tribune, The Utne Reader, and W Magazine. She has also appeared as a guest on dozens of radio and television shows.

Born in New York City, Sue Bender received her BA from Simmons College and her MA from the Harvard University School of Education. She taught high school in New York and English at the Berlitz School in Switzerland. She later earned a Masters in Social Work from the University of California at Berkeley. During her active years as a family therapist, Bender was founder and Director of CHOICE: The Institute of the Middle Years. In addition to being an author and former therapist, Sue Bender is a ceramic artist and much sought after lecturer nationwide. She lives in Berkeley, California with her husband Richard, and is the mother of two grown sons.

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Plain and Simple: A Journey to the Amish 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Fiddlesticks More than 1 year ago
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. 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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.