As the author of nearly 90 works of Amish fiction, Wanda E. Brunstetter is considered one of the founders of the genre. She has sold over 10 million copies of her books worldwide; her latest, The Farmer’s Market Mishap, written with her daughter-in-law Jean Brunstetter, releases June 1 from Barbour Publishing.
As a child, books and poetry took me to places I couldn’t visit, allowing me to step out of my dysfunctional home and into a world of make-believe. Over the years, before and after I began making my living as a writer, I’ve discovered spiritual, emotional, physical, and academic help through numerous titles. Each of the books I’m sharing has lent an inspirational thread, or learning tool, I’ve found to be helpful.
1. Nancy and Plum by Betty MacDonald
Nancy and Plum was one of my favorite childhood books. The insecurities of my childhood often left me feeling frightened and lonely. However, the struggles Nancy and Plum faced in this story made me grateful that even though my home life was far from perfect, at least I had two parents who took care of my needs. I immersed myself in the story of two young girls trying to cope with the loss of their parents, while dealing with a deceitful woman who is supposed to take good care of them. My desire to write stories that would not only entertain, but help people with difficult situations they might be dealing with was born while reading this book.
2. Self Talk, Soul Talk by Jennifer Rothschild
If you’re seeking to change the way you think about and speak to yourself, look no further than Self Talk, Soul Talk. As a young adult, Jennifer lost her eyesight, but not her faith. The author’s tender spirit and delightful humor leaps off the pages in this inspirational book. She emphasizes the power of positive words and shows how to talk to yourself without negativity.
3. Rosanna of the Amish by Joseph W. Yoder
I’ve been interested in the Amish since I was a teenager, and this is one of the first books I read about these special people. It’s a true story of an Irish orphan, raised by an unmarried Amish woman. A different kind of story, since few single Amish women would attempt to raise an orphaned child by themselves. Reading the story of Rosanna’s life, and learning how she became part of the Amish faith, increased my desire to get to know the Plain people better, while learning about their ways—especially after I discovered that my great-great grandparents were part of the Anabaptist faith [from which the Amish sect of Christianity grew].
4. Christy by Catherine Marshall
I read Christy many years ago, but have returned to it several times for the pleasure of reading a good story. In it, a young woman leaves home to teach school in a poverty stricken area of the Smoky Mountains. The story includes mystery, romance, suspense, humor, and a strong faith in God—elements that I like to include in my own stories.
5. Lord, I Need Your Blessing by Anita Corrine Donihue
This uplifting devotional drew me closer to God and encouraged my heart during a difficult time. How often do people ask God for assistance but aren’t sure when He answers? This inspirational book moves the reader away from life’s trials and concerns and into God’s loving arms.
6. At Home in Hickory Hollow by Daniel Miller
Everyone needs a little humor, and there’s plenty of that in my Amish friend Daniel Miller’s book, At Home in Hickory Hollow. His tales of family and friends reminds me of my favorite Bible verse, Proverbs 17:22: “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” Humor is scattered throughout, blended with a message of how our actions can have serious consequences.
7. Love Finds a Home by Janette Oke
Love Finds A Home by one of my favorite fiction authors Janette Oke is a poignant story about a young woman who discovers the only way to find peace is to put God first in her life. I enjoy reading historical novels, and this inspirational story reminds me to seek God’s will in all that I do.
8. The Quilt of Life by Mary Tatem
I was drawn to The Quilt of Life because I love quilts, and this story-based collection of devotions combines spiritual insights with quilting tips. The book teaches that our lives can be formed by the Master’s hands; much like a quilt maker sews pieces together on a lovely quilt. He will use our talents and abilities for a purpose greater than our own.
As an advocate of healthy eating, exercise, and taking natural supplements, my books often reference Amish peoples’ endeavors to maintain good health. The Maker's Diet is an important book that changed my health routine. I found his story of restored health fascinating because he changed it mostly with diet and supplements—something I did several years ago, during a time when I was faced with a health challenge. The Maker’s Diet offers a healthy experience that changed my life.
10. Outdoors with God by Lance Moore
When the weather permits, I do much of my writing outside—so I was excited to find Outdoors with God. This devotional invites you to lose yourself in the great outdoors and get closer to God through the lessons found in nature where He can be seen in everything. I appreciate this reminder: “As Jesus knew, whenever you are feeling overwhelmed, a garden can be a soothing retreat.”