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Plain and Simple: A Woman's Journey to the Amish [Paperback]

By Sue Bender (Author)
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Item description for Plain and Simple: A Woman's Journey to the Amish by Sue Bender...

The true-life account of how an urban Californian is drawn into the beautiful yet austere life of an Amish community

Publishers Description
"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.

Citations And Professional Reviews
Plain and Simple: A Woman's Journey to the Amish by Sue Bender has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -

  • Quill & Quire - 12/01/2001 page 16

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Item Specifications...

Studio: HarperOne
Pages   176
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 7.75" Height: 6"
Weight:   0.55 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 25, 1991
Publisher   HarperOne
ISBN  0062501860  
ISBN13  9780062501868  
UPC  099455014007  

Availability  4 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 28, 2016 06:29.
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More About Sue Bender

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! 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.

Sue Bender currently resides in Berkeley, in the state of California.

Sue Bender has published or released items in the following series...

  1. Ohio

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Leaders & Notable People > Religious
2Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Specific Groups > Women
3Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Womens Studies > General
4Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Womens Studies
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > Womens Issues
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Protestantism > Amish
8Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Spirituality > General
9Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Spirituality

Christian Product Categories
Books > General Interest > Literature & The Arts > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about Plain and Simple: A Woman's Journey to the Amish?

Absorbing read  Nov 16, 2007
I received this wonderful book as a surprise gift. Knowing very, very little about the Amish and certainly never having read about them before, I was fascinated by the glimpses of their lives offered by the author.
I believe that the title is incorrect or at least, misleading. From the first pages of the book, I was under the impression that the book was about quilts and the journey with the quilt not a book about the Amish or women in general.
I am surprised that so many reviewers were annoyed by Ms Bender. Even though I did not always like what she wrote, I appreciate her frank and honest comments, which at times read like a private diary.
Is it necessary to love the personality of an author, or more to the point, may we simply enjoy writing for writing's sake and overlook the personality of the author?
Tedious Book-Tedious Author  Jul 18, 2007
After Sue Bender forcefully insinuates herself into an Amish home, she proceeds to criticize and judge the family. She comments on their "bad choices" - chief among them in my view is their decision to let her into their home. She is rude, condescending, preachy and shrill. She eats the family's food and then criticizes both the food and the woman who prepares it for her. She demands fabric for a "craft project" and then kvetches when her host doesn't respond. She proceeds to purchase 1/8 of a yard from 25 bolts of fabric from a polite storekeeper. I looked up halfway into this book and told my husband "God, I hate this woman". I hated this book too. The book mostly focuses on the author, not the Amish community that she invades. We learn that the author is self-absorbed and shallow with a healthy sense of entitlement. The author's fixation on the Amish "faceless" dolls is telling - they represent her void of self-awareness. More disturbing than the book is the biography listing the author as a "therapist".
We could all use a little plain and simple in our lives.  Jun 7, 2007
I bought this book because it was mentioned in another book I was reading. I have always had an interest in the Amish from an anthropological point of view and this was not a disappointment at all. Sue Bender runs across antique Amish quilts and is fascinated by their unique simple designs and bold colors. For years she has her contacts on the look out for more examples of this beautiful "art" that is so functional. Then she discovers the "faceless" dolls that Amish mothers make for their daughters. The dolls have no facial features because the Amish proscribe to the "no graven image" commandment very strictly. She was delighted with the doll sent to her by an Amish woman with whom she started a correspondence. She then decided she wanted to live among the Amish for a time. She was told they would not take her in; however, a small ad in an Amish paper elicited a response from a family willing to have her live with them for a time. So her journey began. Her impressions did not always fit with her romantic illusions of the "simple" life and she learned much. After several weeks, she goes home to digest what she has learned. Then, she decides to go back and try the experiment again with a different (very different) family. She learns even more. All stereotypes are mostly shattered as she lives with a midwife, her large family and her chiropractor sister and she leaves much richer (emotionally) than when she arrived.

I enjoyed this volume very much. It had an excellent layout and is a fast read. The impressions are honest and introspective and Ms. Bender is kind enough to wrap the most important lessons learned into a nine-patch quilt for us at the end. There are many fine ideas we can take with us at the conclusion of the story not the least of which is how much we have in common with the Amish as opposed to how different we are. It's a book I will return to again and again for insight.
Plain and Simple  Feb 6, 2007
I felt this was an extremely well written and moving little book, and I have recommended it to many friends. In fact, I bought copies and sent them out. It made you stop and think about your own life and how we complicate and prioritize.
Less About the Amish...  Jun 25, 2006
This book is a very fast read but perhaps a bit misleading in its intentions. Or perhaps it's more that I felt misled about the contents. Either way, this book wasn't exactly what I was looking for, but it is still a nice, quiet little book that discusses the Amish lifestyle and its effect on the author.

Sue Bender became fascinated with the Amish way of life during the 1980s and eventually found her way into the homes of two separate Amish families in order to experience more of their culture. She spends a good deal of time explaining how her journey is an analogy for the Amish quilts she admires. While the premise of the book is interesting, Bender lets us know as we read that her fascination is also a personal spiritual journey into more meaning for her own chaotic life. Expecting to find more on the day to day life of the Amish, I was let down when Bender chose to focus more on herself. However, the parts that do describe the Amish lifestyle are objective and well-done, and Bender shares her surprise at the many things the Amish actually can do within their community. Her visits do sound delightful, and she did seem to receive the peace she was looking for.

If you are hoping for a book that delves into the Amish community and allows us as outsiders to see and understand the inner workings, this book only partially does that. However, overall it's an interesting little book that is heavy on personal feeling and light on the Amish.

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