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Books on the Camino Frances

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
Wanna-be pilgrims often ask, 'Which books should I read about the Camino Frances?"
I have read a lot of books on the Camino (I’ve bought 17 of them) and I would always recommend my top Five.

1) Walk in a Relaxed Manner – Life Lessons from the Camino by Joyce Rupp.
This is a wonderfully inspirational book that tells it like it is – warts and all – dirty showers, cramped refuges, stony paths, loud pilgrims, suspicious shop owners, breathtaking sunsets, kindly strangers, sympathetic hospitaleros. If anyone hopes that the camino will teach them something about themselves this is the book to read. The lessons are hard earned and sometimes cathartic even for an old agnostic like me. The writing is neither esoteric nor preachy - even though the author is a Catholic Sister and counsellor and her companion a retired priest. (To compare the writing of Joyce Rupp with Shirley Maclaine is like comparing Jane Austen with Jackie Collins!)

2) A Practical Guide for Pilgrims on the Road to Santiago by Millan Bravo Lozana.
If you want a book with accurate historical facts, photographs of the monuments along the way and up-to-date route maps with separate daily itineraries, you can’t beat this book. It took over 5 years of research by historians at the Centre for Studies into the Pilgrim’s Route to Santiago. It also includes an outline for cyclists with relief maps of the topography along the route. Too heavy to carry with you but comes with a handy plastic case to carry daily strip maps.

3) The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago – The Complete Cultural Handbook by Linda Kay Davidson and David M. Gitlitz.
Not a day by day guide book but a rich resource for anyone interested in the art, architecture, geology, history, folklore, saint’s lives, flora and fauna of the camino Frances.

4) Pilgrim Stories – on and off the Road to Santiago by Nancy Frey.
A thought provoking book based on thousands of interviews with pilgrims whilst on the camino and months after they returned home. This book is based on the anthropological fieldwork for her thesis. The book delves into why people walk the camino, what they get out of it, how it impacts on their lives. Anyone who has walked the camino will recognize himself or herself in this book and might find answers to some of the questions they still have unanswered. (Nancy lives in Galicia and writes the Camino chapter for the Lonely Planet Guide to Walking in Spain. She leads small groups on the different routes to Santiago).

5) The Road to Santiago – Pilgrims of St James by Walter Starkie.
A camino classic - first published in 1957 - this brilliantly written book is part travel, part history and part autobiography. Starkie was the Director of the British Council Institute in Madrid for 15 years and shares his expansive knowledge of Spain and Spanish history while he walked the camino 30 years before its reanimation.

“The Pilgrim’s Guide to Santiago de Compostela.” A Gazetteer with 580 illustrations - by Annie Shaver-Crandell and Paula Gerson.
This book would be of great interest to historians/architects. The guide took many years of research during which the authors travelled thousands of kilometres over many roads through France and Spain. It is based on travel literature, pilgrimage literature, texts – including medieval texts - that describe the monuments on the four routes through France and the Camino Frances. The gazetteer includes photographs and descriptions of the monuments and also lists those such as bridges, churches, monasteries, hospices, castles etc that have been described in literature but are no longer there. EG: Estella: Chapel of St Martin – In the pioneering period of the 11th c the French quarter formed around this chapel. Its site is now occupied by the 17c law court building. Ponferrada: Convent of the Trinity – Founded in the 10th c this convent is mentioned as being poor in the 14th c.

Most of these books are available from: http://www.csj.org.uk or from http://www.amazon.com
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Santiago, St Jean to Santuago, 2015
Camino Portuguese, 2018
Spanish Pilgrimage: A Canter to St. James by Robin Hanbury-Tenison is the story of following the Camino on horseback, published in 1988 by Arrow Books. They had a friend going along by car who found lodging and accommodation for the horses. Description of their experience with a liberal mix of history and some photos. My copy is a used paperback given to me by my niece-do not know where she found it. I’m enjoying it; nearing the end so slowing a bit to have it last longer. Yes I know, I can pick it up again any time .....
 

scruffy1

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Holy Year from Pamplona 2010, SJPP 2011, Lisbon 2012, Le Puy 2013, Vezelay (partial watch this space!) 2014; 2015 Toulouse-Puenta la Reina (Arles)
"Travels with my Donkey" Tim Moore for a laugh. "Mercado de Abastos" Santiago de Compostela by Henrique Neira Pereira Miguel Seoane García Carmen E. Vázquez Fernández Zósimo López Pena Galego- Español-English
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)

Paladina

old woman of the roads
Camino(s) past & future
CF, primitivo & del norte (2017); VdlP/Sanabres, ingles etc (2018), Mozarabe etc (2019), tbc (2020)
Thanks @Theatregal for reminding me of Edith Wharton's book, which I had quite forgotten I'd read, and from which I'd made a few notes. Here's a sample of her response to Astorga, which she judged 'indescribably squalid, dusty, degenerate with streets unpaved or miserably cobble-stoned, filth everywhere —& rising from all this misery, a glorious rosy-red cathedral, tinged with gold like a pomegranate tree growing in a dung-hill. I have never seen anything more typically Spanish than that contrast!' Bear in mind Wharton's Italian background and cultural bias, her inability to speak Spanish, and her preference for travel by motor car. That said, her observations are always worth reading.
 

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