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Are there Book swaps on the Camino. What book would you take.

Bedspring

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
June 2024
The logical thing for me to do is bring a Kindle, but TBH I like books, and for me leaving electronic gubbins behind while I do the Camino, appeals.
I am thinking of taking one book on The Camino, once I have read this I was wondering if there are book swaps in maybe Alburgies.
So starter question for 10, are there book swaps.
Supplemental question for 5, what book did you take?
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
I didn't take a book, or really read or have time to read. I didn't notice any book-swap like places in any of the Albergues, but that could maybe be because I wasn't looking.

I think the obvious book to take is a guide book, one with all the history and historical/interesting/visit worthy places that teaches you about the land through which you are walking. I did have one such book on my kindle app on phone, but it was seldom read.
 
3rd Edition. More content, training & pack guides avoid common mistakes, bed bugs etc
The logical thing for me to do is bring a Kindle, but TBH I like books, and for me leaving electronic gubbins behind while I do the Camino, appeals.
I am thinking of taking one book on The Camino, once I have read this I was wondering if there are book swaps in maybe Alburgies.
So starter question for 10, are there book swaps.
Supplemental question for 5, what book did you take?
I only ran across one or two book swaps. I think the other post about weight and language is probably correct.

WiFi is almost universal, so easy to download more books from your library to your kindle.

Buen Camino!
 
Hi!
I know you want to read a real book; but as above they weigh something!
I am also aware the below is probs not at all relevant to you but:

I download audiobooks/novels to my phone at the moment i just checked i have a small library of 21 spread between Google play books and the kindle app; my phone weighs 209 grams!
From google 10 ounces (283 grams) for a paperback to around 1.5 pounds (0.68 kg) for a hardcover edition.
 
The logical thing for me to do is bring a Kindle, but TBH I like books, and for me leaving electronic gubbins behind while I do the Camino, appeals.
I am thinking of taking one book on The Camino, once I have read this I was wondering if there are book swaps in maybe Alburgies.
So starter question for 10, are there book swaps.
Supplemental question for 5, what book did you take?


There is something soothing in reading a paper book.
And there are certainly ( pocket) books available in some albergues to swap/ read.

I would not bother though, not for hygienic reasons ( after all we survive when we go to a library and there is such an invention as soap ;) to wash your hands ).

Language barrier is not an issue seeing I can comfortably read three languages.
There is indeed the issue of extra weight.

Plus personally I am too tired after walking for 25k.
Once I took this type minibook with me, but I hardly opened it.

Now when walking in Spain and I want to read something I go to a bar/ cafe and read one of the local newspapers. Hardly literature of course but a nice way of relaxation and keeping up with the Spanish language.
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
There is something soothing in reading a paper book.
And there are certainly ( pocket) books available in some albergues to swap/ read.

I would not bother though, not for hygienic reasons ( after all we survive when we go to a library and there is such an invention as soap ;) to wash your hands ).

Language barrier is not an issue seeing I can comfortably read three languages.
There is indeed the issue of extra weight.

Plus personally I am too tired after walking for 25k.
Once I took this type minibook with me, but I hardly opened it.

Now when walking in Spain and I want to read something I go to a bar/ cafe and read one of the local newspapers. Hardly literature of course but a nice way of relaxation and keeping up with the Spanish language.
Now then, that is interesting. I am hoping to improve my Spanish on the Camino, and I was advised to read comics in the language I wish to learn. Possibly trying to read Newspapers in Spanish will be a help.
 
Now then, that is interesting. I am hoping to improve my Spanish on the Camino, and I was advised to read comics in the language I wish to learn. Possibly trying to read Newspapers in Spanish will be a help.


Some examples.
A table where the albergueowner had a small library.

A bar in Molinaseca.

Hall.jpgMolinaseca.jpg
 
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“I had forgotten to pack a book, I picked one up in an albergue not far out of Pamplona but it was Bonfire of the Vanities and it didn’t suit the rhythm or aesthetic of northern the Camino at all so I left it half way”. This was the first post that turned up in a quick search of this forum.

I don’t think that there are any (or many) proper book swap stands but people do leave books in albergues and others pick them up. And of course many pilgrims, especially from continental Europe, may read a book even in another language than their main language ☺️.

I do the same as @SabsP, btw, and try to get hold of a Spanish newspaper, preferably regional or local. It helps with improving my Spanish language skills, I learn a bit about country and people and what interests them or is important to them, and the paper comes in handy to dry wet shoes overnight.
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
@Bedspring , I, too, am a booklover. I read constantly in whatever format I can lay my hands on. But I will always choose a book if one is available. As above I have seen a handful of times where books have been available. Unfortunately on Camino they are few and far between. A few of us do indeed carry books - but I suspect they are the slower readers amongst us. At the speed I read it simply wouldn't be worth my while. That, and I absolutely loathe damaging books.

As for what? I'm not just an avaricious reader, but also a very eclectic one. I love sci-fi/fantasy, crime, Adventure - both fiction and non, Action, everything by a few select authors -Terry Pratchett, Neville Shute - and more.
The problem is with nearly all of those options the vast majority are one or two evenings light reading at best.

If there can be only one.....
Tolkien.

I have the Lord of the Rings triology in one book. It's not coming though. One, it's too heavy. Like really, really heavy! Two, I've only read it 3? times and it's still in excellent condition - there's no way in hell that's ever going in my backpack!
 
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Lots of books get discarded on Camino (weight ) . I've only ever taken a guidebook and I have learnt more language by conversing with fellow pilgrims and the locals than by other means.
 
The logical thing for me to do is bring a Kindle, but TBH I like books, and for me leaving electronic gubbins behind while I do the Camino, appeals.
I am thinking of taking one book on The Camino, once I have read this I was wondering if there are book swaps in maybe Alburgies.
So starter question for 10, are there book swaps.
Supplemental question for 5, what book did you take?
Most pilgrims don't read on Camino, possibly for reasons given above. You are more likely to find books to take, exchange or borrow in non-pilgrim hostels. I never leave home without a book. For me, using a Kindle is not reading for pleasure. In addition to Brierley's guide, with the pages of spiritual advice ripped out, I brought an old paperback edition of Don Quixote on my first pilgrimage, which certainly made the journey shorter, but I wasn't tilting at windmills!
 
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Travels with my Donkey by Tim Moore is a very funny read.
Autobiographical book about the author deciding that the only 'authentic' way to walk the Camino Frances, is to do it in the company of a donkey ( this is despite having no clue how to look after said donkey)
I read it before my first Camino though, not whilst actually on it.
Reread it several times since though, which is unusual for me with most books.
Laugh out loud funny🤣👍
 
While i was not actively looking for them, i found quite a few locations where you can leave books and/or take a new one with you. I left some in Roncesvalles, Hornillos and San Bol for example. Guess there are plenty more i did not see or dont remember. Guess its usually guidebooks or camino related novels.

Since both times i walked i took quite the long train ride, i found that Paolo Coelho's Camino Novel (sry, dont know the english title) is a nice read to get me in the mood. Not that it has much to do with what one encounters on the camino, but still. Jack Hitt's "off the road" could also be something to consider.
 
When I walked with my teenaged son 20 years ago, he was a voracious reader (and this was pre-Kindle), so he brought a book with him and was able to find exchanges along the way. They weren't always the books he would have chosen, but he read unfamiliar authors and stories. One, about a young man who ended up in a prison in Myanmar, was so riveting, my son wrote his college application essay on it. Now if I could just remember the title!
 
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I was thinking just a couple weeks ago about how, in the age of kindle, I kind of miss the serendipity and joy of stumbling across a book in the wild. I was in Campiello on the Camino Primitivo, remembering how maybe a decade earlier someone had abandoned Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go at Casa Herminia. I picked it up, devoured it, and this year I'm teaching it.

There was also a funny stretch with a gigantic copy of Jonathan Franzen's Twenty-Seventy City. Weighed a ton. But I was desperate, read through the whole thing over a week on the Norte, then left it high on a shelf at the monks' albergue in Cóbreces. A couple years later, my guidebook co-author stayed in the same albergue, found the same book, and then carried it onward for another week.

The good old days.
 
3rd Edition. More content, training & pack guides avoid common mistakes, bed bugs etc
The logical thing for me to do is bring a Kindle, but TBH I like books, and for me leaving electronic gubbins behind while I do the Camino, appeals.
I am thinking of taking one book on The Camino, once I have read this I was wondering if there are book swaps in maybe Alburgies.
So starter question for 10, are there book swaps.
Supplemental question for 5, what book did you take?
I go to a charity bookshop at home to pick up a couple of paperbacks to take with me, then leave the books wherever I happen to be when I finish them. I've had pretty good luck finding books along the Way, both in albergues and especially if I've decided to spoil myself and stay in a pension or modest hotel.
 
I took a book- set in Spain & thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Tired at the end of each day I probably only managed a chapter at a time. I left it in an Albergue when finished and purchased a new novel in Burgos, again in Leon (books in English -limited in number-can be found in University cities).

In the final 100Kms I did find a couple of book swap shelves in Albergues.

I also took the Cicerone Camino guide & map book. My total paperback weight was minimal but the morale effect high-more than compensated!

I recommend either a novel set in Spain - highbrow, middlebrow or otherwise according to taste -or "As I Walked out one Midsummer Morning" by Laurie Lee, which describes his journey around Spain on foot in the 1930s. Not the camino route, but an indispensable insight into Spain.
 
I carry Kindle books on my phone. Small pages but does the job as you are taking a phone with you anyway I presume.
Basically there is little time to read in any case unless you shut yourself off from other pilgrims or sit and read as opposed to sightsee on a rest day.
I barely had to time to read and absorb the guidebook to be honest and from that guidebook the author said exactly the same.
 
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I think I will take a book, worst that can happen is I leave it for someone else, but leave the Kindle, but what book?
Laurie Lee appeals, but I have read it.
Not The Bible, I am spiritual but not religious, I hope saying that does not offend as I do respect those of faith.
The Tim Moore sounds a possible, and I have a feeling Don Quiotexe is the second most popular book in the world after The Bible or something, so thats a possible.
I shall have fun selecting a book.
Thanks for all the input, most helpful.
 
I did not carry a book on my walk from Le Puy last year. I did have a tablet and read the online New York Times many days. This year, late September I'm going to walk from Nasbinals to Rocamadour (le Puy route), time and lodging permitting! It will be the height of the US election season. I might want to avoid US news. Maybe I'll toss in the Kindle.

Several of the Gites had books, a few in English, some needed to stay there, some were ok to trade. I wouldn't call it a standard feature.
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
The logical thing for me to do is bring a Kindle, but TBH I like books, and for me leaving electronic gubbins behind while I do the Camino, appeals.
I am thinking of taking one book on The Camino, once I have read this I was wondering if there are book swaps in maybe Alburgies.
So starter question for 10, are there book swaps.
Supplemental question for 5, what book did you take?
Lots of albergues have lots of random books in various languages in the common areas. Suggest you just do the swap, or if it makes you feel better, ask the host if its OK.
 
I am old fashion because I still prefer reading physical books to my old, barely used Kindle. I have often participated on a "take a book, leave a book" in hotel/guest house lobbys over the years, but have never noticed a specific spot on the Caminos, nor would I be inclined to take one because of the weight. Since I usually do a "Live on the Camino" thread after the end of my day, I would have no extra time to read anyway.
 
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I am old fashion because I still prefer reading physical books to my old, barely used Kindle. I have often participated on a "take a book, leave a book" in hotel/guest house lobbys over the years, but have never noticed a specific spot on the Caminos, nor would I be inclined to take one because of the weight. Since I usually do a "Live on the Camino" thread after the end of my day, I would have no extra time to read anyway.
100%. Including the LOC thread!
Oh, except I don't even own a kindle. Zero interest, I love the real thing far too much.

Somebody once asked me what I would do if I won the lottery. In addition to the usual items one of my top fives was 'have my own library'.
 
As others have said, I found lots of books at different albergues.

I didn't take a book with me nor did I carry a book between albergues because I like to travel light.

Often I am tired and not interested in reading, preferring conversation with others or my own thoughts but occasionally, especially if I am on my own, then I will choose a book from the available collection and read part of it
 
The 2024 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.
Somebody once asked me what I would do if I won the lottery. In addition to the usual items one of my top fives was 'have my own library'.
Nothing stopping you. Apply the lessons of the Camino. If you just keep putting one foot in front of the other, eventually you get there. Even if it is a trip of a thousand kilometers - or more.

It's amazing how many books you can acquire one book at a time. And how many bookcases you can fit in the average house. (In my case, many more than my wife is happy housing.)
 
Well, if you do want to take a book (I prefer paper books, also, but have gotten used to the kindle app on my iPhone):

I carried the Camino Frances village to village guide for a guidebook.

“The Girl with a dragon tattoo” has an interesting story and a great protagonist. Likewise “Enders Game”.

If you’re into detective novels…anything with harry Bosch or Jack Reacher is entertaining and generally well written.

If you lean into history: “Lost Moon” tells the story of Apollo 13 and how a teeny tiny bit of neglect can have huuuuuge consequences, and the outstanding effort in rescuing the mission. (Btw, shout-out for the cosmosphere museum in Kansas, which has the Apollo 13 capsule).

Or, histories of teddy Roosevelt, FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt, or Herbert Hoover. Did a couple of road-trips recently and visited their homes…the things they did are inspiring.

From what I know of Lee kuan yew, Mahatma Gandhi, indira Gandhi - one of their biographies should be interesting. (On my list)

Sports (my weak spot) - just read “Sooley” and it was captivating.

“Sarah’s key” is also memorable. The stories of Isaac Bashevis Singer” are fun…one of which was the basis for the movie Yentl.

Only saw a couple of places to swap books on the Camino, and didn’t do much reading other than the guidebook and emails, but eventually wanted a book and found a bookstore about a block from the Leon cathedral that had a good selection of books in English.

Buen Camino!

Oh, and July? Hydrate hydrate hydrate.
 
I think I will take a book, worst that can happen is I leave it for someone else, but leave the Kindle, but what book?
Laurie Lee appeals, but I have read it.
Not The Bible, I am spiritual but not religious, I hope saying that does not offend as I do respect those of faith.
The Tim Moore sounds a possible, and I have a feeling Don Quiotexe is the second most popular book in the world after The Bible or something, so thats a possible.
I shall have fun selecting a book.
Thanks for all the input, most helpful.
One hundred years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez, The Queen of the Desert, Georgina Howell or if you like Art, The Hare with Amber Eyes, Edmund De Waal. All three take time to digest. Enjoy choosing. :)
 
3rd Edition. More content, training & pack guides avoid common mistakes, bed bugs etc
Down bag (90/10 duvet) of 700 fills with 180 g (6.34 ounces) of filling. Mummy-shaped structure, ideal when you are looking for lightness with great heating performance.

€149,-
The logical thing for me to do is bring a Kindle, but TBH I like books, and for me leaving electronic gubbins behind while I do the Camino, appeals.
I am thinking of taking one book on The Camino, once I have read this I was wondering if there are book swaps in maybe Alburgies.
So starter question for 10, are there book swaps.
Supplemental question for 5, what book did you take?

Even though this thread is from last month, I decided to reply to you as you haven’t set out yet.

I’d recommend anything by Iris Murdoch. I read her books slowly as there is so much in the way of wonderful writing to enjoy as well as her gift for fiction.
Several are not too heavy carry 😉

I hate being without a ‘proper’ book.
I have a kindle but haven’t a clue where it is!
I can’t read a book on a screen for more than about five minutes, before my eyes start complaining.
The only ‘copy’ I read online is recipes and I still prefer to read a book, given the choice.

Buen Camino, @Bedspring
Hope you run into some great literature!
 

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