Sunday, September 27, 2009

101 BOOKS ON THE CAMINO - Pilgrim stories, guides, cultural, childrens' books

(Most Photos from

NB:  I wont be adding any new books to this list.  In 2013 there were over 3000 Camino books listed on - mostly English - and thousands more on and

In 2009, when I started compiling this list of '101 books on the camino' I logged on to books and typed in “el Camino de Santiago”. OMG!! 1,258 results
For ‘Santiago de Compostela’ 6 919 : ‘el Camino’. 37,485 : ‘Santiago’. 66,466 : ‘Pilgrimage’. 148,188

In the largest book store in Spain, the Madrid store owner told me that over 400 new titles had been published (in Spanish) between June 2008 and July 2009 - the majority of those about the Camino Frances.

There are thousands of books on the Camino, some written by professional writers who walk the Camino with the specific purpose of writing a book.  IMHO these are often contrived and in the humourous books the Camino comes across as a hitching post for their gags and jokes. 
Others are written by academics or the clergy - priests, pastors, nuns etc.  Surprisingly, for a non-theist I have found some of these to be amongst my favourite books. 
Many books have been self-published by ordinary pilgrims whose journey moved them enough to make them put pen to paper. It seems that every man, woman and their blog is writing a book about their Camino experience.

I love reading about other pilgrims experiences and have reviewed dozens of books. Some are really good but many, especially those written about the Camino Frances, have started to read as though the writer has followed a ‘write-by-numbers’ template – clones of the same story.  I can hardly bring myself to read another Camino Frances pilgrimage book unless there is something new or unique, with a fresh angle or focus.

Please remember if you are planning to write a book about your walk on the Camino Frances. that although it is an extraordinary experience - for you, and for me (and for the hundreds of thousands of people walk the Camino Frances every year) - every pilgrim has similar experiences, passing through the same physical and spiritual landscape, and they all want to share their experience. Its like being offered 500 different productions of the same play - same dialogue, same sets, same story, but different actors.

My Creative Writing professor told us NOT to write our memoirs unless we were RICH or FAMOUS or, if we had done something so extraordinary that the world would want to read about it!

So, if you are thinking of writing a book about your walk on the Camino Frances, and you are not rich or famous, PLEASE find an original angle or focus otherwise it is going to read like a template story with a different protagonist.

And, please get the spelling of the places and people right - I have read 'Miseta' Mesita' 'Messeta' for the meseta in Spain: and 'hosteleria' 'hospitaler' and 'hostelero' for the guardians of the pilgrim hostels known as 'hospitaleros'. Find a good editor who knows the geography of the Camino so that you don't meet a friend at the Cruz de Ferro who you first met in Triacastela which is three days walk beyond the Cruz!

Here is my 10 point template for writing a book about your camino on the Camino Frances:

1)  Reasons:  I felt called/I read a book..../ I watched a movie/other  ....
2)  Blog:  I started a blog about this exciting event ...........(Give URL)
3) The start:  I started in ... (St Jean, Roncevalles, Pamplona, Seville, Sarria/other...)
4) Rooms:  I slept ....  (in crowded dorms/with snoring pilgrims/ private rooms/paradors/other ....)
5) Food:  I ate... (Bocadillos, patata tortiallas/ Menu del Peregrinos/other .....)
6) Walking:  Day after day I walked in the..... (rain/sun/wind/cold/heat/snow....other)
7) Problems:  I suffered .... (blisters/tendonitis/insomnia/diarrhea/other....)
8) Daily routing:  I walked, arrived, showered, ate, slept. Walked, arrived, showered, ate, slept ...
9) Thoughts:  I thought about ... (all the bad/good/happy/sad things that have happened in my life/other ...)
10)  Other pilgrims: I met ...(Canadians/Australians/Koreans/South Africans/other....)
I arrived in Santiago. Although I am not religious, it was such a spiritual experience that I am a changed person. Amen.
The Book:  And now I want the world to read about it. 

Some people have asked "What angle?" or  "What different focus?" 
You don't have to walk with a donkey (Tim Moore) or with your elderly parent, you don't have to visit your previous lives (Shirley Maclaine) or wrestle with your Master (Paulo Coehlo) but some new insight, something fresh, something that your readers haven't already read dozens times would be nice.
The last book I read incorporated interviews with dozens of women pilgrims.  Another, the legends of each area were woven into the story.  One woman walked in winter.  In the new year I will be reviewing a book written by a young man who walked 450km of the Camino Frances after undergoing a double lung transplant.  Interesting stuff! 

November 2010:  A new book from down under - with a different focus - A Food Lover’s Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela by Dee Nolan.  This book was given to me as a gift and it is a sumptious, rich, gorgeous coffee-table book.  From the tactile baize cover to the full page colour photographs this is a classy book. 

July 2010:  I recently reviewed a new camino book called "Camino Letters" written by a Canadian pilgrim who asked 26 friends to set her a task for each day that she would be walking.  She steadfastly carried out each task and wrote letters to her friends whilst walking.  These 26 letters make up the book.  It is not a travelogue about the camino Frances or a 'how to' book.  It is a fresh, original, funny, sad, heartfelt book about a woman walking with her teenaged daughter and I was delighted to read it and review it for her.

New books: 
Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life
By: Phileena Heuertz, Phyllis Tickle   You can read a review here:
Among the Pilgrims: Journeys to Santiago de Compostela  Mary Victoria Wallis’s Among the Pilgrims is the story of her two pilgrimages – one by bicycle in 1997 and one on foot in 1998

My favourite modern pilgrim's book?

Besides Joyce Rupp's 'warts 'n all' account of her camino, it has to be:

To the Field of Stars: A Pilgrim's Journey to Santiago de Compostela by Kevin A. Codd (a catholic priest).

"His writing reminds one of Ernest Hemingway’s powerful descriptions of the magnificent scenery of Spain" said one reviewer.
Father Kevin found a lot lacking in his regard for other people and pondered on the failure of the church to inspire young people who were obviously searching for something in their lives.

My Favourite cultural book is by far The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago - by David M Gitlitz & Linda K Davidson. It is the camino Bible that discusses the history, tradition, folk lore, saint's lives, art, architecture, geology and fauna and flora of the camino Frances from Somport and from Roncesvalles.
The couple walked to Santiago in 1974, 1979, 1987 and 1993 accompanying groups of students on academic, medieval study programs. In 1974 they did not meet even one other pilgrim on the road to Compostela. In 1979 the met an elderly Frenchman who was fulfilling a vow made in the Second World War. By 1985/86 numbers had swelled and 2491 pilgrims received the Compostela certificate. 
David's imagination had been fired by Walter Starkie's vivid accounts of his pilgrimage experiences from the 1930's to the 1950's. And this leads me to my favourite 'classic' camino book.

The Road to Santiago by Walter Starkie is part travel, part history, his knowledge of the road, the people and their history is profound.
I was lucky to find this first English edition (with dust jacket) in a charity shop for R10 (about $1)
My favourite guide books have to be those sold by the Confraternity of St James in the UK. Small, lightweight, no frills, no photographs or maps, annually up-dated they have a guide book for almost every route through France and Spain.
I couldn’t list all of the many thousands books available - especially the other languages - but here is a short list of English books - pilgrim stories, cultural books, fiction, guide books etc - to get you started on your reading. (They are listed in publishing date order.)

Camino Frances
17th C: A Journey to the West - Domenico Laffi: The Diary of a Seventeenth-Century Pilgrim from Bologna to Santiago De Compostela by Domenico Laffi and James A. Hall (1998)

The Pilgrimage: A Contemporary Quest for Ancient Wisdom: Paulo Coelho (1987)

Spanish Pilgrimage - A Canter to St James - Robin Hanbury-Tenison (He, his wife and 4 year old son travelled the route on horses (1991.)

Off the Road: A Modern-Day Walk down the Pilgrim’s Route into Spain. Hitt, Jack (1994)

Road of Stars to Santiago: Stanton, Edward (1994).

El Camino: Walking to Santiago de Compostela by Lee Hoinacki (1996)

Foot by Foot to Santiago de Compostela - Judy Foot. (1997).

On Pilgrimage. - Lash, Jennifer (1998)

On Foot to the End of the World (Armchair Traveller) Hardcover by Rene Freund (1999)

The Camino : a journey of the spirit by Shirley MacLaine (2000)

On the Road to Santiago: Tuggle, Bob (2000)

One Million Footsteps Across Spain, Walking El Camino De Santiago: Jr. L. Carroll Yingling (2000)

Roads to Santiago: Nooteboom, Cees (2000)

Diary of a Pilgrim - Emma Poë. (2000).

Pilgrim's Road: A Journey to Santiago De Compostela by bike: Bettina Selby (2000)

Following the Milky Way: A Pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago. Aviva, Elyn (2001)

My Father, My Daughter: Pilgrims on the Road to Santiago: Schell, Donald, & Maria Schell (2001)

A Pilgrim's Journal: Walking El Camino de Santiago: Sophronia Camp and Thyra Heder (2002)

Peregrina: A Woman’s Journey on the Camino: Melville, Marilyn (2002)

Road to Santiago. National Geographic: Harrison, Kathryn (2003)

Buen Camino: Memories of the Road to Compostela: Norris, Patricia (2003)

Following the Milky Way: A Pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago: Elyn Aviva (2003)

Walking For Wildlife: El Camino To Santiago De Compostela: Jean Ann Buck (2004)

My Camino. Kenney, Sue (2004)

The Journey: A Guide For The Modern Pilgrim. Scaperlanda, Maria Ruiz and Michael (2004)

Pilgrimage to the End of the World: The Road to Santiago de Compostela: Rudolph, Conrad (2004)

Spanish steps: one man and his ass on the pilgrim way to Santiago: Tim Moore, (2004)

Santiago de Compostela: Journal of Our Camino by Roger Rhoades and Nancy Rhoades (2005)

Horseshoes and Holy Water: on the hoof from Canterbury to Santiago de Compostela:Mefo Phillips, (2005)

Walk in a Relaxed Manner - Life Lessons from the Camino: Joyce Rupp (2005)

Dreaming Santiago : Bas Boorsma (2005)

Reflections on Spain's St. James and His Way: Robert Hodum (2005)

My Camino: a personal pilgrimage: Michael G. Moon. (2005)

Pray for Me in Santiago: Theresa Burkhardt Felder (2005)

Walking Home on the Camino de Santiago: Linda, L. Lasswell (2005)

I'm Off Then: Losing and Finding Myself on the Camino de Santiago: Kerkeling, Hape (2006)

Fumbling: Egan, Kerry (2006).

Camino Chronicle: Walking to Santiago: Alcorn, Susan (2006)

Riding the Milky Way: Gallard, Babette (2006)

Among the Pilgrims: Journeys to Santiago de Compostela. Wallis, Mary Victoria (2006)

Among the Pilgrims: Journeys to Santiago de Compostela by Mary Victoria Wallis (2006)

The Way Is Made by Walking: A Pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago: Boers, Arthur Paul (2007)

The Way of A Thousand Arrows. Drane, Jonathan (2007)

Walking The Camino In An Age Of Anxiety: The Search For The Medieval Pilgrim by John H. Pratt ( 2007)

Camino Walk: Marie-Laure Valandro (2007)

Confessions of a Pilgrim. Kenney, Sue (2007)

Ultreia! Onward!: Progress of the Pilgrim by Robert L. France and Matthew Fox (2007)

All The Good Pilgrims: Tales Of The Camino De Santiago : Robert Ward (2007)

Walking The Camino in an Age of Anxiety: The Search for the Medieval Pilgrim. Pratt, John H. (2007)

To the Field of Stars: A Pilgrim's Journey to Santiago de Compostela: Codd, Kevin A. (2008)

Forever a Pilgrim: Ermanno Aiello (2008)  South African author

Once is Not Enough: Tales from the Camino De Santiago by Barbara Cameron (2008)

Walking in Grace : Atman (2008)

A Journey of Days: Relearning Life’s Lessons on the Camino de Santiago: Thatcher, Guy (2008)

Camino Footsteps: Reflections on a Journey to Santiago de Compostela: Malcolm Wells and Kim Wells (2008)

Walking Through Cancer: A Pilgrimage of Gratitude on the Way of St. James: Elyn Aviva and Kate López (2009)

Hiking the Camino: 500 Miles with Jesus by Dave Pivonka (Paperback - May 2009)

The Way of Stars and Stones: Thoughts on a Pilgrimage by Wilna Wilkinson (2009) South African author who walked in the dead of winter.  (This should be a goodie for those wanting to read about a winter pilgrimage!)

Footpath to the End of the Earth –  Abie Martin: Walking the Camino Frances…(2009)

"El Camino - a modern day pilgrimage"  (2009)
Impresssions from an ancient trail in Northern Spain / 99 images / 40 pages:  The author captures the spirit of the Camino in 99 images, from beautiful landscapes to intense portraits of locals and pilgrims alike.
By Thomas Hartmann

October 2012
Encounters on the Camino de Santiago - Natural, Human, and Divine
By William Beahen A retired Canadian policeman walks the Camino Frances.

Aragones Route/Finisterre/Camino Ingles

Pilgrimage Trails - a series:  Three Short Hikes on el Camino  - Sylvia Nilsen


A Pilgrim's Journal II: Walking la Vía de la Plata. Camp, Sophronia (2008)

A Walk from Gibraltar to la Coruña - Christabel Watson, 2005,
Illustrated account of walk across Spain, including the Via de la Plata from Seville to Santiago de Compostela

Walking the Camino: A Modern Pilgrimage to Santiago by Tony Kevin (2009)

Via Turonensis (from Paris)

Walking to Santiago - Mary E Wilkie Paris to Santiago in 1998.
La Via Turonensis from Paris to Spain - Sylvia Nilsen (2012)

Via Vezelay

Pilgrim Snail - Ben Nimmo (Canterbury - Santiago with his trombone!)

Le Puy

A Painting Pilgrim: a journey to Santiago de Compostela - Mark Hoare. 2003. Diary of a walk from le Puy to Santiago, generously illustrated with the author's own watercolours

The Road to Santiago: a Journey to Santiago de Compostela - Knud Helge Robberstad. 1996. A beautifully illustrated account of a walk from le Puy to Santiago, made in 1995 by two photographer pilgrims, one Norwegian, the other English


North to Santiago de Compostela via Fatima: Lagos to Santiago: John Merrill (2004)


This is my Bible of the camino! The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago - A cultural handbook that discusses the history, tradition, folk lore, art, architecture, fauna and flora of the camino Frances. David M Gitlitz & Linda K Davidson

The Archaeology of Pilgrimage on the Camino De Santiago De Compostela: A Landscape Perspective (British Archaeological Reports International Series) by Julie Candy (2009)

Plantas Y Remedios Naturales. Camino Santiago (Spanish Edition) by Txumari Alfaro (2008)

The Pilgrimage to Compostela in the Middle Ages: A Book of Essays by Linda Davidson (2000)

The Camino de Santiago de Compostela Ultimate Handbook. by Jack de Groot, Ph.D., and Stephanie K. Winter, and MD. (2009)

Santiago De Compostela in the Age of Great Pilgrimages (The Centers of civilization series) by Marilyn Stokstad (1979)

Saint James's Catapult: The Life and Times of Diego Gelmirez of Santiago De Compostela by R. A. Fletcher (1984)

The Road to Santiago: pilgrims of St James Walter Starkie: (1957)

The pilgrimage to Santiago - Edwin Mullins.(1974)

The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago – David M Gitlitz & Linda Davidson (2000)

Pilgrim Stories: on and off the road to Santiago : Nancy Louise Frey (1998).

The Pilgrim Guide to Santiago de Compostela - Annie Shaver-Crandell and Paula Gerson (English translation from the original Latin of the 12th C "Pilgrim Guide" & 730 entries listing all important towns, monuments and buildings (even those now lost) encountered by the 12th C pilgrim.)

Jacobean Pilgrims from England to St James of Compostela - Constance Mary Storrs (1964 thesis on English pilgrims to Santiago 12thC to late 15th C.)
The Pilgrimage to Santiago - Edwin Mullins (An analysis of the art, architecture, legends and history of the route from Paris to Santiago.)

The Way of Saint James, Vol. I by Georgiana Goddard King978-0-9790909-2-9 pp. 484 $34.95
The Way of Saint James, Vol. II by Georgiana Goddard King978-0-9790909-3-6 pp. 532 $38.95
The Way of Saint James, Vol. III by Georgiana Goddard King978-0-9790909-4-3 pp. 700+ $45.95

The Cockleshell Pilgrim: a medieval journey to Compostela - Katherine Lack. SPCK, London, 2003.

Roads to Santiago: a Spiritual Companion - 25 short reflections and poems, readings and prayers on the nature of pilgrimage, by 25 members of the Confraternity of Saint James.

Ultreia! Onward! - Progress of the Pilgrim: a book of daily readings for the pilgrim, ed by Robert France. Foreward by Matthew Fox.

Pilgrimage to Heresy: Don't Believe Everything They Tell You by Tracy Saunders (Paperback - Dec 11, 2007)

What the Psychic Told the Pilgrim: A Midlife Misadventure on Spain's Camino de Santiago de Compostela [Jane Christmas (2007)
Knight of the Temple: Stuart J. Dimmock (2006)

Death of a Pilgrim by David Dickinson (Hardcover - Feb 1, 2009)

There are excellent guide books in languages other than English, such as the Maim Miam Dodo guides to France and the Camino Frances, but I am only listing the English Guides here. - Bookshop for guides to the routes in France and Spain.

Cicerone Press guides by Alison Raju who is the author of four pilgrim guides for walkers published by Cicerone Press:
Way of St James: Le Puy to the Pyrenees (2nd edition 2003),
Way of St. James: Pyrenees-Santiago-Finisterre (3rd edition 2003),
Vía de la Plata: Seville/Granada-Santiago (2nd edition 2005)
Pilgrim Road to Nidaros (Oslo-Trondheim, 2001).

A Practical Guide for Pilgrims - Millán Bravo Lozano:

Walking in Spain - Lonely Planet Guide.

The Roads to Santiago: the medieval pilgrim routes through France and Spain to Santiago de Compostela - Frances Lincoln Ltd, (2008)

A Traveler's Highway to Heaven: Exploring the History and Culture of Northern Spain on El Camino de Santiago (History on the Hoof): William J. Bonville (2007) John Brierley’s Guides - Camino Frances, Portugues and Finisterre

The Village to Village Guide to The Camino Santiago (The Pilgrimage of St James)
by Jaffa Raza

Pila Pala Press: Bethan Davis and Ben Cole guides - Camino Frances, Via de la Plata Rother guides Camino de Santiago (Includes Aragones Route)

e-book:  Guide on the Camino Frances

Camino by Car:   Los Caminos de Santiago en coche/ The Way to Santiago in Car

Books for children

I couldn't find much in English. Perhaps this is your chance to publish a book on the camino - for children!

El Camino de Santiago: Rites of Passage. Trafford Publishing. ISBN-13: 978-1412056380. Chimenti, Wayne (2006) The Chimenti family's travels on a 500-mile walking pilgrimage. It started as Nahja, their 12-year old daughter's "rite of passage". It turned out to be a test for everyone.

Santiago de CompostelaISBN/EAN - 9788424105839 (English)9788424105594(Spanish)Author - Alonso, Juan RamónAge- 2-5 years
Pepe Mouse and his friends in Santiago de Compostela.ISBN/EAN - 9788424105952 (English)9788424105716(Spanish)Author - Alonso, Juan RamónDescription: Activitiy Book with Stickers
Childrens Books

Go to Enter this in the search box: PEPERRATON Y SUS AMIGOS EN SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELAIf you want to see the entire series, just enter PEPERRATON Y SUS AMIGOSPeperraton in every town in Spain, as well as both English and Spanish will appear.

Over 12 Year-olds

The Ramsay Scallop Shell by Frances Temple set in 1299 (was a set book in schools)


  1. Thomas Hartmann8:26 pm


    El Camino - a modern day pilgrimage

    A coffee table book with 99 images on 40 pages.

  2. Thank you Thomas. I've added your book under Camino Frances.