What did you read while walking the Camino de Santiago?

Camino de Santiago Books

The question was:

I am interested in what people were reading while they we walking. Reading books about the Camino is important before and after, but the books are heavy and once absorbed, provide a context for an experience.

I have walked twice – once ten years ago on the Camino Frances and most recently, this fall on the Le Puy route.

For my first walk, I brought along the Lliad – and didn’t read a bit of it. I was thinking about a classic “journey” book but I realized I was being way too earnest and it simply did not resonate.

In the fall, I brought another book, which I cannot even remember and I think I shipped it home with my initial round of weight shedding.

During the walk, I picked up an Islandic dectective novel translated into french and read that. It was in fact the first book I have read “en francais” for pleasure and has been transformative, in a way since I am now much more likely to read other books in french – but nothing too earnest.

During my walk, I thought more about what would be a good book to read while walking the Camino. My proposal then and now is “Shamrock Tea” written by Irish author Ciarran Carson. The book is an imaginary journey that touches on colours, paintings, saints, Whittgenstein, Irish folklore and other fantastic references. It defies categorization – part memoire, part novel, part folktale and part sorcery. This swill of images fits since we are all engaging in an experience that is outside our comfort zone; hence it complements the reflection and transitions that occur during the walk.

While I was walking, I heard that an Irish pilgrim was talking about this book to others but, he was generally a a couple of days ahead of me. In fact, we met briefly at Conques but did not have much time to have an extended conversation.

What were you reading (or intend to read) on your Camino and why?

Read the good discussion on what book to bring with you on the Camino de Santiago here.

  • Eintven

    While on the Camino Frances had no real time for reading
    as being to involved with Camino life such as cooking, Going out seeing the sights with other Pilgrims etc. Did come home with a long list of titles we discussed and read most of them last winter.

  • I was reading “Los enamoramientos” de Javier Marías.
    I read this book during my way just because I started it two days before the beggining, and I started to read “El Alquimista” de Paolo Coelho with a friend.
    Sometimes she read to me, sometimes I read to her. I was really nice to do this;)

  • Clara

    I read parts of “Way of a Pilgrim” which is about praying constantly, not about the Camino. Perfect choice of reading, as it is very meditational and can be read in small chunks and applied immediately (if you pray while you walk)

    • Jaime

      I LOVE that book; it may be in Russia and not Spain, but it IS about the spirit of pilgrimage…

  • Cathy

    I “read” several audiobooks when walking in the afternoons and really enjoyed Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom The Bell Tolls and The Sun Also Rises.

  • I read the first book of the “Game of Thrones” series… I needed an “escape” book! I read it on a kindle app on my smart phone. I kept my USA phone on “airplane” mode and only used it to send updates and check emails when I found free wifi. It was lighter than an actual book and more useful… and I had several books to chose from, it just happens I stuck with the “Game of Thrones” book.

  • Birdstep

    The Spanish magazine; !Hola!

  • I read the zombie apocalypse novel, ‘Zone One’ for a part of the walk. Then I got to thinking… a bunch of people wandering across the countryside, going from town to town looking for their next meal as if in a daze… Is the camino a prelude to the zombie apocalypse? 😉

  • stefan

    i had with me Orwell’s ‘1984’ but I also enjoyed reading casual books left by other pilgrims during the year and that are at your disposal in most of the albergues. .Different languages, different topics , it can be fun even if you read 3-4 pages/day

  • During my first Camino, I carried with me a book on meditation. I had great ideals that the Camino would, from the start, be a great boost to my inner spirit and that I would find time, during the day or at the end of it, to find a quite place where I could seriously start meditating. Something that I had tried at time, but never really got to it.

    I was so wrong! My inner spirit was indeed boosted, but in such a subtle way that I was not even aware of it! At the beginning, the experience was for me almost exclusively physical. The book remained untouched in my backpack (no, I did not ship it home ot through it away although heavy). When, almost at the end, I realized how changed I was inside.. the book was somehow not needed.

    So, during my second and third Camino I left home all books. Including the Guide to Santiago (unnecessary) and the block-notes (keeping a diary is not for me).

    Buen Camino as your life goes on!

    Yara

  • Emily

    I am planning on bringing “Blue LIke Jazz” by Donald Miller. Its a Christian-esk book about the difference between religion and spirituality. I’ve already read it and it is amazing, and I believe it will further my experience and understanding of why i am doing El Camino.

  • Gordon

    I read the labels on beer bottles, Menu del dia, Wine bottles.