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Camino de Santiago or Camino Francés

is an ancient pilgrimage trail, in use for over 1000 years.  There is a belief that St. James the disciple's bones were found in northern Spain, and are interred in the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, Spain.  People would travel there to get forgiveness for their sins.  The tradition goes on today, and in Spain there is a system of refugios - similar to youth hostels, that provide shelter for pilgrims for a minimal fee or contribution.

See Map of route in Spain. For a larger area map showing all routes from Europe, see the map from our Pilgrim Passport, that we got in Roncesvalles. If starting from Le Puy in France, or from Portugal, go to our third Camino page.

Puenta la Reina on the Camino de SantiagoSpain is just the end point of the trail.  There are trails from all parts of Europe, that merge as they go into Spain.  The Spanish part of the trail is about 450 miles. The pilgrims today do it for various motives - religious, spiritual, other personal reasons. Do read Nancy Frey's book for a good sense of who the modern day pilgrims are and why they do it.

.  Very few do it for frivolous reasons. You just carry a sleeping bag and personal gear, as shelter is available and you can buy food in the villages along the way.  Even with this, we as experienced backpackers, found it to be a demanding trip.  It is easy to get caught up in a refugio mentality - eager to get to the next one in time to get a bed.  You can only stay one night, and usually have to be out by 8am the next day.  There are a number of good web sites with more info, and for English speakers, a few classic books. Click here for a site with pictures of the route - (not ours).

Authors, Publishers, if you have a new English language Camino book that you think is appropriate for this list, please send a review copy to us - address on the Contact Us page

To get a feel for the route, watch our Camino de Santiago YouTube video.

Classic Camino de Santiago Books

There are two well known ones that need to be mentioned, even though they both are a mixture of trail experiences common to all pilgrims, and some other experiences that include visits with spirits of pilgrims past. They both make interesting related reading, but for those new to the Camino, be aware that these are in no way practical guides.

Paulo Coelho.  The Pilgrimage

Shirley MacLaine The Camino

Our book: Camino Chronicle: Walking to Santiago by Susan Alcorn. For more info go to our Camino Chronicle page, ask your local bookstore to order it or get it from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

For the day by day walking, you must take the Confraternity of St. James guide in the following list. I recommend that you also take the John Brierley Camino Francés guide. If you want to understand the historical significance of the areas you walk through. I suggest that you buy Gitlitz and Davidson before you go, and take some parts of it with you or carry their Kindle edition.

Walker's/Cyclist's Guides

Camino Francés to Finisterre

Stuart Butler.  Lonely Planet Hiking in Spain (Walking) When we walked in 2001 this book had a good section on the Camino and we used it as our planning guide. Note: we used the 2nd edition, published in July 99.  Nancy Frey and Jose Placer did the Camino part.  A 3rd edition came out in 2003 with the same authors - as far as I can see, mostly cosmetic changes, maps were a little easier to read, mileages changed slightly, 30 days instead of 28. There is a summary list of all the refugios at the beginning. The original Camino section authors have a well regarded walking tours company  www.onfootinspain.com that offers Camino tours of various lengths.  However, the 4th edition has a new author and I have not reviewed it.

Confraternity of St. James Pilgrim Guides To Spain 1. The Camino Francés - a small purple book (was yellow) that is your indispensable guide to the next refugio.  A must have. There is a new one issued for each year. Get the current one if you can, as refugios are added and closed from year to year. This by the way, will have to be ordered from England.  We got ours from the website www.csj.org.uk . If you don't get it in a week, call to make sure they got your web order. Also, for bicyclists in their Practical Pilgrim Notes section you can find The Cycling Pilgrim on the Camino Francés.

Davies and Cole Walking the Camino de Santiago - an excellent guide that first came out in 2003 and was updated in 2009. They no longer publish a hardcopy, but an abbreviated version is an ebook free on the authors' website.  pilipalapress.com.

John Brierley Pilgrim's Guide to the Camino Francés: From St. Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela This 2012 9th edition is full color with  excellent maps and trail profiles along with route descriptions. Each map represents a typical day. Good beginner info, self help info for the spiritual journey. This is my personal favorite. We cut out appropriate sections from this guide on a recent trip, as well as carried the confraternity guide. In practice we mostly used the Brierley guide because of the color maps, and its accommodations were even more accurate than the comparable confraternity guide. For recent updates to the guide, check http://www.caminoguides.com/latest.html

Alison Raju The Way of St James Le Puy to Santiago A Walkers Guide This 2001 guide starts at Le Puy en Velay in France and gives detailed route info all the way to Santiago, including some photos and maps. Weighs about a pound. The author updated this and broke it into two books.

Alison Raju The Way of St. James: Pyrenees - Santiago - Finisterre We don't have this 2004 guide, but assume it is similar to the Le Puy to the Pyrenees guide.  Good, but for this section I still recommend John Brierley.

John Brierley A Pilgrim's Guide to the Camino Fisterra The same format of fine maps, photos and route descriptions as in his Camino Francés guide if you want to go on to Finisterre. For recent updates check http://www.caminoguides.com/latest.html.

Milan Bravo Lozano A Practical Guide for Pilgrims: The Road to Santiago This heavy 1999 guide is published in Spain in Spanish and English and includes a popular set of maps. Some people leave the book and take the maps. I saw a copy recently - large, stiff pages, I didn't measure, but would guess 6 in wide, 11 in tall - must have weighed a couple of pounds.

Jaffa Raza The Village to Village Guide to The Camino Santiago I haven't had a chance to read this yet - the 2006 2nd edition, in paperback. It is a detailed guidebook, highly recommended by the Catholic Times, and currently the most expensive guidebook at about $37.

Cordula Rabe Camino De Santiago: From the Pyrenees to Santiago De Compestela (Rother Walking Guide) Justin and Aleza, who's Circumvent the Globe blog I am following, are using this and like it. It is small 6.5 by 4.5 by .5 in., in color, somewhat weather resistant, and packed with maps, route descriptions, history, and fairly tiny type. Weighs about 8 ounces.

Davies and Cole Camino de Santiago Map This little 4 x 8.5 in booklet weighs 3 ounces, and is an excellent choice if you want the comfort of maps with more amount of detail than the simple sketch maps in the guidebooks. It breaks the route from St. Jean to Santiago & Finisterre into 40 maps, and includes maps for the 6 cathedral cities along the route. No longer in print but some copies around, including pilipalapress.com.

caminodownunder.com Waterproof Camino Francés map, 30 pages, refugio and other info on back of each page. 5x10 inches. A useful addition to maps available.

John Brierley Camino de Santiago Maps/ Mapas/ Cartes I haven't seen this, but I have used his guides, which include very useful maps, and this appears to be those maps and town guides extracted into a separate publication.

John Higginson The Way Of St James: A Cyclist's Guide : from Le Puy en Velay to Santiago de Compostela This little pocket sized Cicerone Guide looks useful, with daily stages listed. For each day, a simple line map, an elevation profile, photos and town descriptions. For accommodations, I suggest also carrying the Miam Miam Dodo for the French part, and Confraternity of St. James guide for the Spanish part.

In the Confraternity of St. James Practical Pilgrim Notes section you can find The Cycling Pilgrim on the Camino Francés.

The Galician government has built an excellent website, with info on the various routes, including a pdf for bicycling the French Way

Raimund Joos and Michael Kasper. Spanien: Jakobsweg Camino Francés: Der Weg ist das Ziel (Broschiert)A guidebook in German to the Camino Francés. You can browse it with Amazon's Search Inside the Book.

Downloadable Guides. www.caminoguide.net has free guides for via de la plata and camino aragones, and both a basic free guide and a for fee downloadable guide to the Camino Francés.

Confraternity of St. James is also developing an array of downloadable guides, donativo only. Checkout www.csj.org.uk/guides-online.htm

Le Puy Route and France Guides

Alison Raju.  The Way of St. James (Chemin de Saint-Jacques de Compostelle): Le Puy to the Pyrenees We used this excellent 2004 guide - the most detailed English language guide available for this section. Weighs 8 oz. Also take the GR 65 topo-guides and Miam Miam Dodo guides - in French but still useful if you don't read French.

Miam Miam Dodo guides, They are in French but essential even if you don't read French. You can get the Miam Miam Dodo from Amazon France. Be sure to get the current one, they frequently have older ones as well. I ordered mine from Amazon France using Google Translate to translate each page, since I don't speak or read French. Also, be sure you get one for the correct route. There is one for the Arles route as well as the Le Puy route and the Camino Francés.Their website (in French): www.chemindecompostelle.com.

Alison Raju The Way of St James Le Puy to Santiago A Walkers Guide This 2001 guide starts at Le Puy en Velay in France and gives detailed route info all the way to Santiago, including some photos and maps. Weighs about a pound. The author updated this and broke it into two books.

Birgit Götzmann Frankreich: Jakobsweg Via gebennensis - Via podiensis: Via Gebennensis - via Podiensis (Broschiert) - a guide in German to the Le Puy route. You can browse it with Amazon's Search Inside the Book.

Marigold Fox Pilgrim Guides to the Roads through France - Arles to Puente la Reina - Arles to Toulouse 2007 isbn 9781870585989.

Marigold Fox Pilgrim Guides to the Roads through France - Arles to Puente la Reina - Toulouse to Puente la Reina 2007 isbn 9781870585992.

Mireille Retail, Marie-Virginie Cambriels Miam-miam-dodo du chemin d'Arles + le camino aragonés : Chemin de Compostelle (GR 653) d'Arles au col du Somport, du Somport à Puente la Reina, isbn 9782916446127 We ordered this from Amazon France.

Louis Laborde-Balen - Jean-Pierre Siréjol Le chemin d'Arles vers Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle - isbn 9782841823475. We ordered this from Amazon France. It is listed in us and uk, but not available.

Francois Lepere & André Dehnel Sur le chemin de Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle, la via Tolosona, la voie du soleil... - isbn 9782915156003 We bought this from a CH en route. It doesn't have a printing date, and Amazon France lists the same isbn saying it is 2003 edition, and has no image. The site in the link is the only one with the correct image, but don't know if you can order from them. We used very little.

Les Chemins De Saint Jacques De Compostelle En Europe - a map showing all the routes to Santiago de Compostella through Europe. In French, for before or after trip, not something you take with you.

Florence Chatzigianis 26 Gorgeous Hikes on the Western Côte d'Azur. by This is an area very near the start of the Arles route, so if you are planning to spend additional time in the area, you may find this book useful.

Camino Portugués Guides

John Brierley.  A Pilgrim's Guide to the Camino Portugués In the same style as his other guides, this is an excellent guide for the Portugal route from Porto Santiago de Compostella. Also check for recent updates at http://www.caminoguides.com/latest.html

Davies and Cole Walking in Portugal Now out of print. The authors are mostly out walking - a loss to we users of guidebooks.

The Confraternity of St. James guide for this route is available online for a donation: http://www.csj.org.uk/guides-online.htm.

Via de la Plata

Davies and Cole.  Walking the Via de la Plata: The Camino de Santiago from Sevilla to Santiago de Compostela. Like the other Davies and Cole titles, out of print. It was in the same style as their classic Camino de Santiago guide.

Alison Raju Via de la Plata: The Way of St James: Seville/Granada to Santiago Published in 2010. This route is about 1000km, typically starting in Seville. This guide includes the Camino Mozárabe from Granada to Mérida. We used it on our walk from Granada to Córdoba. It is in the same style as her other guides, terse, pocket size, very helpful, with a dose of history. She also did a 2009 Confraternity of St. James guide for the Camino Mozárabe that contains almost the identical information included here.

Marcus Wilder Naïve & Abroad: Spain, Limping 600 Miles Through History I've only read a few excepts from Marcus's newspaper accounts, but enjoyed them. This was the only pilgrim account I had heard of for the Via de la Plata for several years. Now Tony Kevin has one in Personal Accounts below.

Camino Norte, Primitivo, Inglés, and Finisterre guides

Laura Perazzoli and Dave Whitson. The Northern Caminos. Norte, Primitivo and Inglés An excellent guide from the Cicerone Guide series. In color. My only reservation is that it is heavy 3/4 pound for this 4 1/2 by 6 3/4 inch guide. Possibly will be available in Kindle later.

The Confraternity of St. James guides are available online. You can download any of these guides as a word file, which you can edit, or a pdf file which cannot be edited. A donation is expected. See: http://www.csj.org.uk/guides-online.htm.

History and Academic accounts

Derry Brabb.  The Roads To Santiago, The medieval pilgrim routes through France and Spain to Santiago de Compostela This is a gorgeous coffee table book, in color, with many striking images from the pilgrimage paths. It is much more than a book of beautiful photos. This work is a Tour de Force. Imagine Gitlitz & Davidson (below), but with color photos and including the four major routes through France. The text alone is worthy of publication, just as a description of the history of the route.

Gitlitz and Davidson The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago has more than most people want to know about everything along the path.  It also weighs almost one and a half pounds. We edited it with scissors, cut the weight by half, and discarded pages after we went thru a section. When we got home, we bought a new copy. It is now also available on Kindle.

William Bonville. A Traveler's Highway to Heaven: Exploring the History & Culture of Northern Spain on El Camino de Santiago I haven't read this yet, but has been mentioned on Yahoo groups as a competitor to Gitlitz and Davidson. Others have pointed out its many inaccuracies re current pilgrimage customs, but it may be better on historical detail.

Edwin Mullins. The Pilgrimage to Santiago Architecture and history with authority. This reissue of the 1974 classic follows architecture on the pilgrim path from Paris to Santiago. Part of the time by car, part on foot, he follows the Christian architecture from church to church, carving to carving, as the techniques move south. Slow reading, but he captures your interest. Worth reading both before and after your pilgrimage.

William Melczer. The Pilgrim's Guide The first English translation of the original 12th century guidebook to the Camino. This 345 page book is heavily documented with notes, introduction, thumbnail descriptions of saints and place names. The actual Codex Book 5 translation is 50 pages. Excellent after Camino read for history, or a before read if you have a good memory for facts.

Louise Collis. Memoirs of a Medieval Woman Margery Kempe was a woman of the middle ages who aspired to sainthood. As part of this, she went on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, to Rome and to Santiago de Compostella. She could neither read nor write, but got others to write her story for her. There is very little about the trip to Santiago; it was practically a trivial trip compared to the others, but it is a fascinating glimpse into the experience of being on pilgrimage in those times.

Walter Starkie. The Road to Santiago: Pilgrims of St. James Published in 1957, is a combination guide, history and personal account of his Camino de Santiago pilgrimages. Dr. Starkie made 4 pilgrimages to Santiago between 1924 and 1954, and from what I gathered from the book, lived in Spain for a number of years. This is a classic reference used as the Camino began to revive in the 1970s and 80s. Out of print and now very expensive. It was also reprinted in 2003.

Nancy Frey. Pilgrim Stories The author walked the Camino, worked in the refugios, and interviewed many pilgrims about their experience.  It gives a good feel for the nature of the experience.

James Michener. Iberia: Spanish Travels and Reflections A personal favorite that I have read several times. Easier reading than Cees Nooteboom (in Personal Accounts), but a similar love of Spain. The last chapter is about the pilgrimage to Santiago, and worth reading even though he drove. Written during the Franco era and sheds light on that time.

Kathy Gower. doctoral dissertation Her doctoral dissertation on how pilgrims incorporate their pilgrim experience into their daily lives is good reading. You can find it in the Yahoo Group Santiagobis files section.

Joan Myers, Simmons & Pierce. Santiago - Saint of Two Worlds 1991 A beautiful black and white photo essay, almost letter size. Joan Myers did all the photos and some of the included essays. I am still reading this, and enjoying the essays. It was published by the University of New Mexico Press, and is unique in that it covers the influence of St. James in Mexico, and in New Mexico.

James Stone. The Cult of Santiago Traditions, Myths and Pilgrimages. Published in 1927. This is an early source that has been scanned and is available online. I haven't read all of it, but the author has an engaging style of writing, and I enjoyed the introduction, and the Sources of Authority chapters, where you will find deft and gentle criticism of earlier authors.

Kingsley Porter. Romanesque Sculpture of the Pilgrimage Roads This is another classic text referred to by later authors. This is a 3 volume work, and at least the first volume has been scanned and available online. It has also been reprinted, 1966, 1985 and you can find a few copies on Amazon.

Georgiana Goddard King The Way of St. James Published in 1920, This three volume set has recently been scanned by the University of Toronto. and you can view it in various ways in:
http://www.archive.org/details/wayofsaintjames01kinguoft . Change the 01 to 02 & 03 for subsequent volumes. I recommend the Flip Book choice for viewing it. Do take the time to view some of this book, particularly after you have completed some of the Camino.  Some text samples:

"Possibly it will be said that this little book is neither one thing nor the other as it offers archaeology without jargon, travel without flippancy... The original intention of this book was to examine the claims for the sources of Spanish architecture in the Gothic and Romanesque period." Sounds dry, but she strayed from her intentions and her descriptions of her travels captivated me. On page 260 she is in Pamplona, talking about the nightly promenade: "For an hour and a half every evening the nobility of Navarre walked in beauty there, in rustling and murmuring of silk, and voices, and dark leafage; warm puffs of perfume through a night wind blowing out of dark and mountains..." - not your usual travel narrative.

This three volume set has been reprinted by Pilgrims Progress and is available on Amazon.

William Caxton The Golden Legend - St. James the Greater by The Golden Legend published in 1483 is a translation of an earlier French work published in 1275. This is a history of the Saints, and the chapter on St. James is the source of information for many later accounts. For example, the account of where he preached, how his body got to Spain, the miracles preformed etc. The St. James chapter has been scanned and is available online. It makes interesting reading if you like nitty gritty.

Relevant Background on Spain, but not just Camino

Maria Rosa Menocal.  The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain An optimistic view of early Spain. For a different voice, also read Moorish Spain.

Richard Fletcher. Moorish Spain The culture and history of Moorish Spain, if you want more depth than a guidebook. I haven't read this, but reviewers describe as provocative, a storyteller, sharp insights.

Giles Tremlett. Ghosts of Spain The Camino travels through areas stained with blood from the civil war. The pain of that period is still being resolved some sixty years later. This book brings that period into focus. Recommended reading if you want a a deeper insight.

Richard Ford Handbook for travelers in Spain Published 1845. Another online source. This work is referenced by many later authors when they talk about the history of early Spain. He writes with intimate knowledge of Spain, and also with a note of satire. A quote from his account on bullfighting:
"All the streets or open spaces near the outside of the arena are a spectacle. The merry mob, always on the scene, like the chorus in a Greek play, is everything. The excitement of these salamanders under a burning sun, and their thirst for the blood of bulls is fearful. It is the bird-lime with which the devil catches many a male and female soul. There is no sacrifice even of chastity, no denial which they will not undergo to save money for the bull-fight........The profession of bull-fighter is very low-caste in Spain, although the champions are much courted by some young nobles, like our blackguard boxers, and are the pride and darlings of all the lower classes. Those killed on the spot are denied the burial rites, as dying without confession. Springing from the dregs of the people, they are eminently superstitious.

Personal Accounts or a combination of personal and historical

Susan Alcorn Camino Chronicle: Walking to Santiago - Our book. I'm biased but think it's good. Susan has woven her journal entries with essays that enrich the book with glimpses of contemporary culture, historical insights and legends from ancient times, and emails as we were shaken by the happenings of 9/11.

Sue Kenney My Camino This book on her Camino experience can be found on Amazon as well as her website. Sue's description is: "It's a true story about the spiritual journey of a woman confronting her deepest fear". I  finished reading it and would add that it's a fine adventure tale and a worthy addition to the modern pilgrim accounts of the Camino. Particularly for those of you who are thinking about pilgrimage in the off season months, this will give you a flavor for that different experience.

Sue Kenney Confessions Of A Pilgrim Sue Kenney's first camino was in the winter of 2001. Several years later, in the midst of writing her My Camino book, she felt drawn to walk the Camino again, on a different route. This book is a result of that walk. You will hear something about the creation of the first book, but mostly the intensely personal account of her journey, and the search for the recipient of the Eagle Feather.

Elyn Aviva Following the Milky Way - A Pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago - 2nd edition This is a combination of day by day trail journal and historical guide based on Elyn's 1982 pilgrimage - a more primitive and demanding experience than faced by current pilgrims. An introduction to the 2nd edition covers the elapsed 20 years and discusses some of the pre Christian Camino legends. Good reading and place by place historical information. For me, more of a read before or after rather than carry with you book.

Conrad Rudolph Pilgrimage To The End Of The World This has a disconcertingly accurate capture of the feelings and experiences of the long distance Camino walker. He started from Le Puy and walked 1000 miles to Santiago. This is a small book, 1st chapter on the early pilgrimage, 2nd his stories, impressions, feelings, 3rd b&w photos with lots of text. 4th is the how to part. Chapters 2 & 3 really brought back memories.

Lee Hoinacki El Camino - in 1993 at the age of 65, this author set out on the Camino with little preparation.  This is his story. A day by day account, a lot of detail and a lot of thoughts. His body may have been giving him pain, but didn't stop him from commenting freely on a variety of subjects. He initially trained to be a priest and this training shows through - a more faith based pilgrimage than other accounts.

Kerry Egan Fumbling: A Pilgrimage Tale of Love, Grief, and Spiritual Renewal on the Camino de Santiago The author has a way with words, a book you read for pleasure, or after your pilgrimage to relive the experiences. Thirty one episodes. Not a daily journal, a roughly sequential series of episodes and essays of the Camino experience.

Cees Nooteboom Roads To Santiago: A Modern-Day Pilgrimage Through Spain Only a few words about the Camino, but richly woven observations on the history of Spain, told by a modern traveler. If you love history, or love Spain, save quite a few evenings for leisurely reading of this classic. Translated from the Dutch.

Jack Hitt Off the Road This 1994 book of a writer's Camino walk came out in paperback in 2005, so I finally read it. The author is clearly a storyteller, and you get detailed glimpses of fellow travelers. Also includes enough history so that I found myself skimming through it to get to the personal parts.

Hape Kerkeling I'm Off Then: Losing and Finding Myself on the Camino de Santiago This German best seller pilgrim narrative was just recently translated into English. Hape Kerleling is a well known German humorist.

Jim and Eleanor Clem Buen Camino A enjoyable day to day account of their hike in 2003 - over 160 photos help the reader visualize the highlights of each day. This is one of the few Camino accounts where most of the nights are spent in small hotels. They have a small but good forward on preparation. I enjoyed their daily accounts but the highlight for me was the well composed photos. This is a new edition. I have just seen the original edition where the photo printing quality was not good.

Jim and Eleanor Clem El Camino de Santiago A Pictorial Pilgrimage This is a one of a kind book - more like a slide show, entirely of color photos of the trail with simple captions, 8 1/2 by 11 on matte paper, and the images have a watercolor quality - the colors are not true to life, but over bright and pleasing to the eye. Look at the cover and you will have a good idea of what the images in the book  are like.

Joyce Rupp Walk in a Relaxed Manner: Life Lessons from the Camino The reflections of this Catholic sister, as she walks the Camino with friend who was the semi retired priest of her parish. The journey of these two people of faith met with all the challenges the Camino can offer. Joyce started out as what I call an overachiever, and Tom as a steadying influence. I enjoyed this thoughtful book. A couple concepts stuck in my brain from chapters of this book. Enjoy existential friendships.  Return a positive for a negative. Negative things do happen, but Joyce would make a determined effort to see the positive - a concept I accept, but sometimes have difficulty applying.

Arthur Boers The Way Is Made by Walking: A Pilgrimage Along the Camino De Santiago I saw favorable comments on some blogs, and just recently read it. The author is a pastor and is among the fifty percent of pilgrims doing the walk for religious purposes. His faith comes through clearly, and I think that active Christians would particularly enjoy this search for spiritual renewal.

Tim Moore Travels with My Donkey : One Man and His Ass on a Pilgrimage to Santiago This irreverent British travel writer has a style a la Bill Bryson. A good story if you do not a little bit of poking fun. Some similarities to Jack Hitt's tale.

Babette Gallard Riding the Milky Way, A Journey of Discovery to Santiago I guarantee you will not have a sense of déjà vu when reading this account. Very much a story of horses and riders, and secondarily a story of a Camino journey. The author has a sense of humor, and you will enjoy the way they overcome trials and tribulations. If you are thinking of taking  a four footed beast to Santiago, this is a must, otherwise it is good entertainment.

Edward Stanton Road of Stars to Santiago Fluent in Spanish, and a scholar of Spain, this professor of Spanish faces a time of when life's pressures demanded that he walk to Compostela. Written in first person present tense, he carries you along with his day to day adventures and encounters, and gives you a flavor of an earlier Camino, before the popularity of today. This book, published in 1994, doesn't give the year he walked, but it has the sound of those who walked in the late 80s or early 90s. This book has a cover endorsement by James Michener, who's book Iberia is a favorite of mine.

Ben Nimmo Pilgrim Snail: Busking to Santiago In nine months the author walked 2000 miles from Canterbury to Santiago in memory of a murdered woman. I thoroughly enjoyed this. Most of the book is about the period he is walking before St. Jean. He carries a trombone throughout the journey, playing for a couple of worthy causes. This apparently is called busking in the UK. He gets mostly 5 star reviews on Amazon.uk though I would paraphrase one as saying niceness to the point of excess.

Mary Wallis Among the Pilgrims: Journeys to Santiago de Compostela I haven't read this yet - overspent my book budget, but from what I can glean from Amazon's search the book, it should be interesting. The author has a PhD in English Literature, so I am expecting quality prose.

Robert Ward All The Good Pilgrims This is one of the best Camino books I have read in years. Stories from the author's fifth Camino journey. The author speaks French and Spanish fluently, so talks to everyone, and you follow a cast of characters across Spain, rather than just the author. Paperback not yet in Amazon US, but search for author and title, and you will find a couple of hardback copies. Amazon.ca will ship directly to the US. I think the shipping to the US is about $8.

Jane Christmas What the psychic Told The pilgrim An acerbic sense of humor and a somewhat irreverent attitude mark this midlife adventure. Approaching fifty, and an empty nest provoked a plan to walk te Camino. Word got out, and friends of friends asked to go, leading to a group of ten fifty-ish women meeting for the first time in St. Jean. Entertaining reading.

Dean Johnston Behind the Albergue Door: Inspiration Agony Adventure on the Camino de Santiago [Kindle Edition] This is definitely an irreverent, tongue in cheek book and will offend many, but I found myself laughing in spite of myself pretty much all the way through. It is a personal account but told through the guise of several different fictional pilgrims, each of who I readily recognize. Imbedded in the stories, you will find very good information on what is required to do the camino.

Kevin Todd To The Field of Stars. A Pilgrim's Journey to Santiago de Compostela Told by a Catholic priest, who takes advantage of a multiyear assignment in Belgium, to fulfill a long held dream.

Tony Kevin Walking The Camino a modern pilgrimage to Santiago This is a different route than most take - From Granada on the Via Mozarabe and the Via de la Plata to Santiago. As a former Australian diplomat, the author has an educated commentary on the political history of the country he walks through, as well as the pilgrim stories found on any of the routes.

Cheri Powell Seven Tips to Make the Most of the Camino de Santiago This book is a well thought out guide on how to prepare for walking the Camino and how to make the most of the experience. The 2nd edition came out in 2013 updated with photos and current links.

Peter Suter Der Plastik Pilger In German. In 1998 Peter Suter (Sand)  walked from Switzerland, where he lived, to Finisterre. From Spain he took a container vessel to the USA and traveled by car and by Harley Davidson across the country. His book shows on daily diagrams the locations, distances, altitudes. Starting from Einsiedeln in  Switzerland to Geneva - Le Puy - Roncesvalles - Leon - Santiago - Finisterre. Each day is described in a diary and in chronological order you find mixed in personal thoughts, little stories about encounters on the way and last but not least a lot of beautiful photographs. Parallel to the book he created a list of all villages, cities and towns on the way, with information about hotels and refugios. The book can be downloaded for personal use from http://www.petersand.us/walk.html or ordered from http://www.woaverlag.ch/6_bookpages/plapi.html

Hape Kerkeling ch bin dann mal weg: Meine Reise auf dem Jakobsweg (Gebundene Ausgabe) - I'M OFF THEN: My Travels Along the Camino De Santiago This is the German bestseller on the Camino - in German.

Roger and Nancy Rhoades Santiago de Compostella - - Journal of Our Camino This understated narrative is Roger's journal from their April 2004 Camino walk, supplemented with insets on the history along the way. Roger lays out the day by day facts of their not easy trip, and you get some glimpses of the tensions that come up. I'd like to have heard more from Nancy. Couples considering the Camino could get some pointers from this book.. This is available as an Ebook at http://www.ebookmall.com/ebook/191449-ebook.htm - it originally was paperback, so you may find a copy somewhere, but not in Amazon.

Fiction

Elyn Aviva Dead End on the Camino Light reading while you walk the Camino - tear off pages you read each day, if you need to save weight.  This is a true mystery with dead bodies and beautiful women, but in addition you get detailed accurate information about the Camino history and legends, in a painless way.

Tracy Saunders Pilgrimage and Hersey: Don't Believe Everything They Tell You I haven't read this. The author walked the Camino in 1999, and was inspired to write this a la The Da Vinci Code style novel. Check Amazon for reviews by readers.

Somewhat Camino Related and/or other Pilgrimage routes

Robert Ward Virgin Trails Just finished this and enjoyed it.  It is sort of an esoteric subject, but I did find it interesting, and was disappointed to finish it. An agnostic searches out holy places depicting the Virgin Mary. Well received in religious circles.

Brandon Wilson Along the Templar Trail: Seven Million Steps for Peace Brandon has walked the Camino, but this book is about his walk for peace from France To Jerusalem. Enjoyable Reading.

Brandon Wilson Over the Top & Back Again Brandon and Cheryl hike the Via Alpina across the Alps. A good read, especially for anyone who had done any long distance walking.

Julie Burk & Neville Tencer An Italian Odyssey Adventurers in the vein of Brandon Wilson, Julie & Neville take on the Via Francigena, the medieval pilgrimage route from France to Rome. We enjoyed the book as we shared their difficulties.

Jon Vonhof Fixing Your Feet Jon treats feet at ultra marathons and is the last word in blister treatment and foot problems..

Peter Potterfield Classic Hikes of the World A gorgeous book full of tempting hikes if the Camino walk has infected you. Does not include the Camino.

Florence Chatzigianis Gorgeous Hikes on the Western Cote d'Azur If you are doing the Arles route in segments, you might spend some time in this area near the start. Florence has done a beautiful guidebook, with profiles, ease of use ratings, distance and time, and nice photos.

Music or DVD's

Sue Kenney Las Peregrinas, the Women Who Walk Susan and I watched it, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Sue Kenney Sue Kenney made a winter pilgrimage, and has written eloquently about it, as well as told her story on a well done CD Stone by Stone.  Listening to her cd is like sitting with another pilgrim and enjoying their tales to background music. Click the link to her Camino page with info on how to get the cd, as well as more of her story.  Be sure to click the article link on her page. You can also listen to bits and order copies on
http://www.cdbaby.com/suekenney/

Emilio Estevez The Way Feature length Camino movie with Martin Sheen. Good introduction to the Camino experience.

Oliver Schroer is a Canadian composer-violinist who walked the Camino in May/June 2004, playing and recording in churches when appropriate. I never realized how many different church bells there are on the Camino, until I listened to this CD. The blend of birds, bells and violin makes for a CD clearly unique to the Camino. Something to add to your Camino memories. You can buy it on his website www.oliverschroer.com .

Mark Shea The Way (not related to the movie) Mark Shea is a one man film crew, producing documentary DVDs of his travels. His most recent is The Way on his walk across Spain on the Camino de Santiago. I haven't seen it, but did look at the previews he has on his website, and he appears to have done a good job.

Authors, Publishers, if you have a new English language Camino book that you think is appropriate for this list, please send a review copy to us - address on the Contact Us page

Gear

Our detailed gear list is on the next page, but here are the highlights: Keep your total weight to under 20 pounds.  This is doable with a backpack 2 lbs or less (ULA OHM, Gossamer Gear G4 or Mariposa or Granite Gear Crown) and sleeping bag under 2 lbs - doesn't need to be a warm one (Western Mountaineering MityLite $325, REI Travel Down $139, Kelty Cosmic Down 40 $130-). Carry breathable first aid tape in case of hot spots on feet - helps avoid blisters. (google for hartmann omnifix to find 2 inch by 10 yd rolls), or available on Amazon from multiple sources. Kenesio Tex tape - 1 inch and 2 inch widths. We just learned about this stretchy breathable tape from John Vonhof's newsletter, and ordered some from Amazon. Ok, but doesn't work as well for us as Omnifix above. Shirt, shorts, pants, socks should be fast drying synthetic material. Plan on washing clothes every night. Use hiking sticks, lightweight boots or low top trail runners such as NB 806 if your ankles don't need the high top support. I prefer trail runners but did 150 miles in France in May - a lot of wet walking, and loved my Lowa Renegade gortex lined boots - feet stayed dry the entire time. I recommend getting boots at your local outdoor store to insure a good fit - get at least a half size larger than shoe size, as feet swell when hiking in hot weather or with a backpack.  If you have to mailorder and would like to help this site, click through to Amazon or REI from one of the links above or here to do your purchase.

Emma Gatewood first hiked the entire 2160 mile Appalachian Trail at the age of 67.  She last hiked it at the age of 76.

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