It is a dream of mine to walk the Camino de Santiago. I had plenty of time to read during quarantine so I filled my Kindle with books about the Camino de Santiago. I read and imagined what it will be like to someday go on this pilgrimage. You might even say that I became a little, wee bit obsessed with reading Camino books!
These books I’ve included about the Camino de Santiago are not travel guides or how-to books. All but one of the Camino books that I list are memoirs from real people who walked the camino. Apparently there is something about the Camino de Santiago that draws people to write about their experiences.
I’m glad that they have. Hope you enjoy!
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Books About the Camino De Santiago
I am going to be honest about my feelings regarding these book sabout the Camino de Santiago. Some I liked more than others. One I didn’t like at all.
Buen Camino! by Peter Murtagh and Natasha Murtagh
Buen Camino! was written by Peter and Natasha, an Irish father and daughter walking the Camino de Santiago together. It was one of my favorites. Peter and Natasha alternate writing and tell about each day that they were on the Camino.
This day by day format made Buen Camino! one of the best books to give you a feel for the Camino as a whole. You learn what it is like to walk with blisters, in the rain, through beautiful countryside, and alongside busy roads.
It was also enjoyable to read perspectives of the walk from two generations. Peter tends to write a lot about the history of the Camino de Santiago and Natasha writes more about the feelings and friendships that they are making along the way.
There were some particularly sweet sections of the book where the father and daughter write letters to one another. The letter from Natasha to Peter was especially moving.
The Way, My Way: A Camino Memoir by Bill Bennet
This was one of my favorites because it was wasn’t as serious as many of the others. Bill Bennet brings a wry and self-deprecating sense of humor to his memoir. It was very Bill Bryson-esque. If you like A Walk in the Woods by Bryson you will definitely enjoy The Way, My Way.
Mr Bennett is coming up on age 60 as he starts his walk on the Camino and isn’t used to “roughing it” and isn’t even sure *why* he wants to walk. He is also a little bit curmudgeonly, but funny.
Unfortunately, Bennet hurts his knee early on in his Camino journey and paints a vivid picture of continuing to walk through pain, as well as life in the albergues, and the people he meets along the way.
In addition to being humorous Mr Bennett is also introspective. I love the things he learns about life and about himself along the route. There were many lessons but one of my favorite quotes was, “I learned I could achieve big goals by taking small steps. A lot of small steps. But only if I didn’t give up until I reached my goal.”
So simple, but so important to remember.
Two Steps Forward by Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist
This is the only book of fiction on my list. Two Steps Forward is a story about two people, Zoe, an artist from California, and Martin, an engineer from England who choose to walk the Camino del Santiago for very different reasons and in very different ways. They cross paths from time to time but each walk a very different Camino.
The book is told from by both Zoe and Martin’s in alternating chapters. Though this might sound complicated it is actually easy to follow. I enjoyed seeing how differently they experienced the walk.
Although the book is fiction the authors have walked the Camino themselves and you can sense their familiarity with the pilgrimage in the little things that they share. There are lots of details about walking, finding accommodations, and the food on the trail. There was even technical talk about gear and walking shoes. I liked these parts of the book better than the story of the two people walking!
Sauntering to Santiago: The Camino de Santiago for Slow Walkers by Kenneth Cline
Sauntering to Santiago is a story of an older couple, a husband and wife, who walked the Portuguese route of the Camino from Porto Portugal. They have some health issues, therefore they take a very careful and methodical approach to the walk. They paced themselves and planned ahead. Because of their careful planning Kenneth and his wife, Bina managed to walk the 200 miles without any injuries, blisters, or health problems.
This book is definitely more about the logistics of the walk than the personal reflections. The author has some good advice about shoes and things that you will need along the way. He also shows you that the Camino can be done comfortably if that is your choice.
Their style of walking might not be for everyone, but I think it is good to read books that give you the wide variety of options and choices that you have when walking the Camino de Santiago. They say that each person walks their own Camino and this book is another reminder of that adage.
This was one of my very favorite books about the Camino de Santiago! Author Beth Jusino and her husband, Eric, began their trek in Le Puy, France adding approximately 500 miles to the typical Camino route. The majority of Camino walkers begin in St. Jean Pied de Port in France just near the border of Spain.
Beginning in Le Puy meant that the couple traversed most of France before arriving where most people begin! I’m sure that they really did feel that they were Walking to the End of the World.
My favorite parts of the book, and seemingly their favorite part of the route, were the parts when they were walking in France. This is not something I had read about before and it made ME want to walk across France.
Beth was not an athlete or particularly prepared to walk 1,000 miles and she is a worrier and an over-planner all of which made me relate to her immediately. I loved the way she rose to both the physical challenges of the trek as well as the mental challenge of learning to let go of control.
Best of all she can tell a story. Her writing is vivid and clear with sensory descriptions that help you to feel as if you are walking right along with her. I loved her descriptions of the food they ate and the wine they drank along the way.
She writes with honesty and a self-deprecating humor about both the good and the bad aspects of walking the Camino.
To the Field of Stars: A Pilgrim’s Journey to Santiago de Compostela by Kevin A. Codd
“I am about to share here a story about stars that dance. . . . If the very thought of seeing stars dance piques your curiosity at some deep level of your soul, then pay attention to what follows, for the walk to the Field of Stars, to Santiago de Compostela, is a journey that has the power to change lives forever.”
This is a quote from the introduction of this book which is one of the few that I have read that is written from a distinctly spiritual point of view. It is surprising that the purpose of this walk which historically was almost entirely about spirituality has changed so much.
Kevin Dodd, the author of To the Field of Stars is a catholic priest who set out to walk the Camino as a pilgrimage in the older sense of the world. I wasn’t sure if I would like this aspect of the book, but I did! Dodd does not come across as preachy or churchy in any way. He is just trying to grow, and learn, and become better the way so many are who walk the Camino.
He brings out the idea that although there is nothing magical about the Camino but there is something magical about the rhythm of walking day after day that draws out an appreciation for life and for nature and for other people and yes, for God.
The Way of Love: on the Camino de Santiago by Angela Leslee
The Way of Love was an interesting read. Angela was 62 when she decided to become a pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago. She has definitely been unlucky in love, but when she starts walk she doesn’t think that this is the reason she has decided to walk the Camino…
Her walk beings in St Jean Pied de Port. She walks with several women who had met online. Knowing that she would have some camaraderie at the start of the journey gives Angela the courage to begin. As it turns out the group proves to be fluid as are many things on the Camino. One of my favorite parts of Angela’s journey is the way she prays for her ailing grandson throughout.
What I like about this book was the author’s candor. She is incredibly honest about the good and the bad. She writes about the people she is meeting, her feelings, her failings, her jealousies, as well as her growth. One of the things that this book brought home, that I am trying to help myself remember as I prepare for my own journey, is that each Camino is personal.
It is about facing fears and changing habits and looking at oneself. I enjoyed the way that Angela Leslee did these things.
Steps out of Time: One Woman’s Journey on the Camino by Katherine Soper
Another book about an older woman walking the Camino? I didn’t intentionally seek these books out…they just seemed to come to me.
Steps out of Time was my favorite of the memoirs featuring older women. In fact, It was one of my favorites overall and I think people of all ages would enjoy it! I like Katherine Soper’s straightforward writing, her attention to detail, and her descriptions.
This book was the best combination of both memoir and travelogue. Some of the books I’ve mentioned are predominantly memoirs, mostly recounting the author’s feelings and personal experiences. This author of this book did a great job of weaving together details about the history and traditions and ancient stories of this ancient pilgrimage along with daily life on the modern day Camino.
I found Steps out of Time to be both poignant and funny. Soper addresses aging, the changing roles of women in society, as well as a desire to have a richer and more fulfilling life. She also tells tales of the crazy and sometimes hilarious things that happen and people that one meets on the road to Santiago. This was a book and an author that I related to deeply.
An Awakening Walk: 500 Miles to Self-Love and Acceptance on the Camino de Santiago by Jennifer Johnson
I did not relate to the book, An Awakening Walk, particularly well. This is definitely a book that is more about the inner journey of the author and her thoughts and feeling just weren’t familiar to me. Perhaps the timing just wasn’t right for me on this one.
That said…I can see this book being very appealing to anyone who is struggling with self-image and negative thoughts about themselves. Jennifer Johnson is brutally honest and open-hearted about her own struggles and thought processes.
She shares the way that the walk brought forward old wounds and allowed her to heal. She is honest about dealing with her feelings of self-judgement and shame and how the walk helped her to let go of those things. However this is definitely a book that is about one woman’s internal journey that might not be relatable to most.
I did like the positive affirmations, prayers, and quotes in the book and found them both uplifting and thought provoking. I also enjoyed the way that the book wrapped in the ideas of becoming more aware of the moment. After completing her own pilgrimage the author now arranges tours for others who want to grow personally by walking the Camino de Santiago.
The Camino: A Journey of the Spirit by Shirley MacLain
If ever there was a book to make me NOT want to walk the Camino…this was it.
I barely got through MacLaine’s The Camino...and in all honesty I skimmed a lot. It started out ok, early on in the book Ms MacLain writes more about the various places she stayed and the people she was meeting. Unfortunately, she seems to think that almost every albergue she choose was horrible and dirty and filled with rude people.
Towards the end of the book the local press had discovered that the actress was walking the Camino. It was mildly interesting to learn about the ways she deceived them and how people along the way helped her avoid being accosted and interviewed.
A huge portion of the book is about MacLain’s dreams, her sleeping dreams. Have you ever had someone who HAS to tell you about a dream they had last night and you inwardly sigh and try to listen and pretend to look interested but in reality you are bored? These parts of the book were like that. She also writes a lot about her past life. Pages and pages and pages of her dreams and her past life where she was a raven haired girl and as well as pages and pages of her imaginary world full of aliens and androgynous beings.
Read this is you are interested in a different view of the world. NOT if you are interested in the Camino de Santiago. I’ve always like Shirley MacLain as an actor, however, she came across as boring and self absorbed in this book.
I get that lots of people loved this book. I did not.
Hope you enjoy this list of books about the Camino de Santiago!
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