Hi Friends! I've developed a friendship with a man who is homeless. He's had a pretty hardscrabble life and did not have the benefit of much education. He has been very ill lately so I've done what I can to help him a bit. One thing I've learned about him is that he likes to read. He prefers history and biographies. I picked out a few books from our collection for him and was going to add a book or two about Quakers or Quakerism but I'm not finding any that would be accessible to him, assuming that he reads at an 8th grade level (which is the average level for adults in the U.S.).  We Quakers sure like our $10 words. Any suggestions for reading material written for an adult but easily comprehended? 


Mary Linda

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Why do the books have to be written for adults? I have enjoyed many books about Quakerism written for young people...or even children.

THat being said, Quaker novels are an easy way to learn our history and culture... Daisy Newman first comes to mind: Serenity, Autumn Summer of the Heart. Also Jan De Hartog's novels..and there are others whose names escape me.


Best wishes,


Thanks, Ramona. Having talked with him, I don't think he'd much care for most of the novels you mentioned, although De Hartog might be very good. Thanks for the suggestion! 

Christian Faith and Practice in the Experience of the Religious Society of Friends - the London/Britain Yearly Meeting compilation of short pieces from life.  If some are beyond his ability, there are many more.

Thanks, Roger. I was also thinking of maybe some Pendle Hill or other pamphlets if there are topics I think might interest him. 

Mary Linda said:

Thanks, Roger. I was also thinking of maybe some Pendle Hill or other pamphlets if there are topics I think might interest him. 


#49 Christ in Catastrophe by Emil Fuchs was one of the good ones. Likewise #116 The Candle, The Lantern, The Daylight [and at least one other...?] by Mildred Binns Young. (I'm having trouble accessing their catalog, having to look at what's around the house...) I'm personally partial to 'Meditations on the Prayer of St Francis' by Anne Curo, but what do I know?

I've not read any of those titles, Forrest; thanks for the suggestions!

Letters to a Fellow Seeker: A Short Introduction to the Quaker Way, by Steve Chase. This book was published last year by FGC Quakerpress and is very readable. I would recommend it to anyone! Noah Baker Merrill is quoted on the back cover:

In language that is simple, bold, and lovingly vulnerable, a contemporary Quaker reaches out to his neighbors asking, "Is this way yours, too?" It is part testimony, part spiritual biography, part invitation, and part challenge.

For myself, I have an extensive Quaker library, much of which I have never read but hope to someday. . . meaning that I have to have the time to STUDY rather than simply read. However, Steve Chase's book is fast and engaging; I read it once when I bought it, and another time when I was preparing to give a talk on Quakerism to a local women's club.

Excellent, Paula. I've seen that book listed but hadn't picked it up. I had a number of Quaker titles and then married a man with a huge collection of Quaker books: We found we had multiple copies (sometimes, strangely, 3 or 4 of the same thing) of some (Patricia Loring's "Listening Spirituality 1 & 2 and Tilden Edwards "Living in the Presence" come to mind). None of what I'm aware of, though, seem accessible or like the kind of thing my friend would enjoy reading. 

You know who has been most helpful to me as I've filled holes in a Quaker library? Graham Garner at Quakerbooks. Anyone who goes to the FGC Gathering and ends up in the bookstore knows Graham by site. He is extremely knowledgeable about Quaker books, having worked in the FGC Bookstore and in a British Quaker bookstore before that. Call 800-966-4556.

You might try going to the website and just browsing; there is a section called "Welcome to Quakerism," with introductory books and pamphlets. Here's the link:


I'm not sure whether or not it's still in print, The Quakers by Jean Kinney Williams was written for middle schoolers. If you can't find it, send me a message on my QuakerQuaker page.

Dear Mary Linda,

I recently read "Listening to the light" by Jim Pym, which is an introduction into Quakerism. I thought it was a very good introduction, simple and easy to understand. I can't say if your friend would be comfortable with the level of reading skils needed, but at least on the website of amazon.de you can take a look at the book and read a couple of pages. I hope this helps -good luck!


I suggest ministers' journals as a possibility.

In particular, I like Samuel Levick, Richard Jordan, Ann Branson, Stephen Grellet, Rhoda Coffin and Allen Jay.  Most of these are available either in modern editions or as print on demand copies of the originals.

I would admit that enjoying ministers' journals is an acquired taste!  However, in terms of comprehension, they would probably be very accessible for your friend.  And, spiritually, they are treasures.

Another quality that I appreciate is that they have not been filtered through one or another modern Quaker ideological lens.  They represent "unpasteurized" Quakerism from the 18th and 19th centuries.

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