Saturday, March 31, 2018

Book Review: Almost Amish

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Almost Amish: One Woman's Quest for a Slower, Simpler, More Sustainable Life by Nancy Sleeth

Having graduated high school located within an Amish community, I'm sure my perception of the Amish is different than the average person.  When I hear "Amish" I automatically think of the elderly lady who would stop by to use the school's telephone, the lady who we would buy produce from by the side of the road who kept their buggy in their garage, or the girl who would take my money at the store that sells bulk foods.

This book was inspired when Nancy Sleeth was talking about hanging her clothes out to dry, and she was asked the question, "What are you, Amish?"  That is not the first thing I would think of when it comes to the Amish, but evidently that's the idea some have of the Anabaptist communities!

Within this volume, Sleeth discusses ten key values of the Amish and how we can incorporate them into our lives today.  Things like having homes that are more simple -- both in style and in less clutter to make them more useful.  Frugality and community play a huge part in Amish communities, and these are also points she emphasizes. 

She discusses family at great length.  She talks about how both her children moved to Kentucky to attend a Christian college and they asked her and her husband to move along with them.  They did, and they all still live in the same neighborhood.  However, one thing I wish she would have addressed more than what she seemed to was how this relationship is cultivated with children.  Perhaps it is applying the ten virtues she states, but very few children grow up to leave the Amish community, and evidently she raised her children to not want to be far from her and her husband, but I can't help but wonder if they did anything beyond the ten principles she outlines in this book.

Many of the things she discusses are values that were instilled in me since childhood.  Keep your money in the community.  Buy local.  (This is more difficult when mom and pop stores are closing and the grocery super center on the edge of town has meant the end of the supermarket that has been in business for a hundred years.)  She emphasizes that spending a few extra dollars to help a local is well worth it.

How would I classify this book?  While it's published by a Christian imprint, it's not just for Christians, but for anyone interested in the Amish.  It's part a book on finances, but don't forget it's a bit green because when you're not out buying new items and you are putting forth an effort to save money, you are often not consuming the resources you would otherwise.  It's a book about family and community and strengthening those ties.  I guess in the end, I would classify this as a book that should be read by anyone interested in improving their lives in almost any area as it could be considered a handbook on living more simply.  There's not only great practical advice, but how one family lives out this advice.  It's one thing to say what someone should be doing, but this book shows how the Sleeths live what she teaches. 

You can begin reading it here:

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