Overview – who are Quakers?

  • Hamm, Thomas, Quakers in America. (A concise history of the Religious Society of Friends, an introduction to Quaker beliefs and practices, and a vivid picture of the culture and controversies of Friends today. Freshly published.)
  • Brinton, Howard, Friends for 350 Years. (A slightly updated version of the classic Friends for 300 Years. Either one is fine. Even the more recent version of this book is a bit dated, but it is still a classic, definitive explanation of who Quakers are and how we function, socially and religiously.)

Guides for entry into the Quaker world:

  • Birkel, Michael, Silence and Witness: The Quaker Tradition. (Introduction to Quaker thought, practice and spiritual life. Interlaces historic writing and current thought.)
  • Brinton, Howard, Guide to Quaker Practice. (This booklet provides an overview of how the Friends community works–worship, structure, decision making, testimonies, and more. A bit dated, but still excellent.)
  • Punshon, John, Encounter With Silence: Reflections from the Quaker Tradition. (A small, rich, and readable book on Quaker worship. The writer speaks personally from his own experience as a Christian Friend.)
  • Pym, Jim: Listening to the Light: How to Bring Quaker Simplicity and Integrity Into Our Lives. (Summarizes liberal Quaker thought and spiritual practice. Language and descriptions of Quaker structures are British. The writer speaks personally from his own experiences as a universalist Friend.)
  • Smith, Robert Lawrence: A Quaker Book of Wisdom: Life Lessons in Simplicity, Service and Common Sense. (Personal reflections by a lifelong Friend who came of age in the World War II generation, looking back on his roots in a Quaker family and community. Easy read.)


  • Kelly, Thomas, A Testament of Devotion. (A short book of devotional essays written in the mid-twentieth century. Still widely read among Friends.)
  • Moulton, Phillips, ed. Journal and Major Essays of John Woolman. (Classic American and Quaker literature. An 18th century New Jersey Friend records his efforts to “walk the walk” of his Quaker faith. Other editions by other editors may be found in libraries, and are equally worthy. Also available on audio cassettes.) Earlier version available online in digital form at Bartleby.
  • West, Jessamyn: Quaker Reader. (Selections from writings of well known early Friends.)

Adapted from the booklist at http://www.quakerinfo.org/resources/books