Glance at any inspirational fiction shelf these days, and you're sure to run across at least one Amish-themed book. Series from authors like Beverly Lewis, Wanda E. Brunstetter and Lauraine Snelling are all regulars on Christian fiction bestseller lists. The books are easily recognizable: series titles include the words "sister" or "daughter"; covers almost always bear the image of a woman in an old-fashioned white bonnet, staring wistfully into the distance. Every Christian publisher has at least one Amish series to its credit. Thomas Nelson chimed in last month with Plain Perfect from debut novelist Beth Wiseman. Her editor, Natalie Hanemann, says the genre "provides an environment that is centered on God, making it a perfect landscape for Christian fiction."
Other aspects of the Amish lifestyle make it intriguing to readers. "Everyone loves a good romance story, but the perceived simplicity of the Amish community moves it away from the common stresses of our everyday life," says Shannon Marchese, an editor at WaterBrook who works with Cindy Woodsmall on the Sisters of the Quilt series, including her recent release When the Soul Mends. "We can imagine a 'loftier' romantic story for these people who still travel by buggy."
Both editors say the future of the genre is bright, and see it diversifying (secular publishers like MIRA Books have also had success with Amish stories). "Amish is beginning to mix with other genres—suspense and mystery, for example," says Hanemann. "I personally love these books and would be thrilled to bring on more authors who write well . . . the competition is stiff, but the readers' appetites seem to be insatiable!"