It was time to talk on books about the Camino de Santiago. Not surprisingly, the Camino is one of the most important cultural routes in the world and, of course, there are a number of people talking and writing about it constantly. Today we want to make a stop to take a look at those books that look directly to the Camino. There are guides, novels, and even some works of personal growth. Because the Camino gives for a lot of ink and many pages. Let's go there.
1. Handbook of Pilgrims
Let's start with a beginner's guide. The Handbook of Pilgrimsby Alba Rodríguez and with illustrations by Vique Bretaña, is published by Proguías and can be downloaded free of charge in PDF format from here. It makes a general tour of 80 pages on the different routes, the basic preparation of the Camino, the documentation of the pilgrims (credentials, compostela and variants) and even a brief review of what the pilgrim can find on arrival in Santiago. The aim is to serve as a pleasant introduction to the Camino de Santiago.
2. The Pilgrimage
The Pilgrimage is, in its own right, a classic among classics. This book by the Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho has done more for the Camino de Santiago than dozens of advertising campaigns. It narrates the adventures of the author himself during his pilgrimage to Compostela in 1986, and transcends the mundane to go, as in his other works, in search of the extraordinary, the spiritual. The result is a book that can be read almost as an adventure novel, but also as a contemporary parable about the urgency of finding one's own path in life.
3. ¡Déjate de tonterías! Y haz el Camino de Santiago
This book (only available in Spanish) is a walk through the intrinsic values of the Camino de Santiago: self-improvement, self-knowledge, friendships, peace, etc. The premise of the author, Cristina Hortal, is that the Camino can serve as a parenthesis in our busy lives. Or, more than that: as a trigger to make profound changes in them. Do you want to change your life? Then... Cut the crap! And do the Camino de Santiago.
4. Guía mágica del Camino de Santiago
Francisco Contreras Gil is a journalist and a pilgrim, and in this book (only available in Spanish), which has accumulated editions and readers all over the world, he offers exactly what the subtitle promises: a journey in search of the magical and the sacred on the Camino de las Estrellas. It also includes basic information for embarking on the adventure, but it is its focus on the spiritual and human side of the Camino that has made it a landmark title. In addition, in the latest edition of 2021, it incorporates new sections. Here you can read an excerpt.
5. I'm off then
Ich bin dann mal wegby its original title, is a Jacobean best-seller in Germany, written by one of Germany's most famous comedians, Hape Kerkeling. Kerkeling, who did the Camino from Saint Jean Pied-de-Port, proposes "an untraditional and joy-filled journey" and he certainly succeeds. The result is a book full of humour and sensitivity to unusual details, locals and modern pilgrims, with their rituals and peculiarities. So much so that the book ended up being made into a film in 2016.
6. El año que viene en Santiago!
This book of the Camino de Santiago (Spanish version only) will take you through the paths of history and you will know the reasons why the Jacobean Route was known as the "Main Street of Europe". The pilgrims of today's history invite you to join them on the best Camino de Santiago you could ever hope for. It entertains. It intrigues. It instructs. It unsettles. A great novel by Aurora Palacios, with illustrations by Javier Castillejos. Interesting, entertaining, and masterfully written. You end up getting attached to the characters and have a good time.
7. Guía ilustrada del Camino de Santiago
Equipped with his pencils and watercolours, the illustrator Joaquín González Dorao travels the Camino with the challenge of drawing everything he lives and sees. The result is different illustrated books of the Camino de Santiago: the one we recommend here is the last of them. Little by little, page by page, the reader will be able to visualise the experience of the Camino through drawings and texts, share the day to day with other walkers, get to know the art of each place, experience nature as a constant, the moments of solitude, the stops for rest, the physical pain, the daily objective of leaving kilometres behind..., and so on until reaching the longed-for Compostela.
Year of the Lord 1324. The young Jonás de Born leads a dissolute life at the court of Barcelona. In an attempt to straighten him out, his father orders him to walk the Camino de Santiago as just another pilgrim. During his initiatory journey, Jonas will walk all the milestones of the Camino, reflecting on his life, and will perform all the rituals necessary to achieve the Great Forgiveness. This is the starting point of this brilliant work by Matilde Asensi, one of the most loved and respected authors of historical novels.
9. On the Primitive Way: Two Texan Brothers' Journey to Santiago de Compostela
On the Primitive Way is the story of two brothers from Texas who embark on a journey through the Primitive Way and the mountains of Asturias and Galicia. But this is not just a travel book. It is, above all, the story of how the Camino de Santiago works the miracle of reconciliation between these two brothers, who had been estranged for years because of the younger brother's drug addiction. Landon Roussel wrote this book after the death of his brother Cory, with whom he had walked the Camino.
10. Eso no estaba en mi libro del Camino de Santiago
To close our list of books on the Camino de Santiago we present this work by Carlos Taranilla (only Spanish version). A journey in search of what does not appear in other books. Discover some of the most illustrious pilgrims who walked the pilgrimage route, which are the most unprecedented iconographies and images as mysterious as the woman and the skull. What are the manuscripts that make up the Compostela travel literature and the numerous accounts of the pilgrimages from Europe that featured such important figures as Cosimo de' Medici. Grails, the salt shaker of Christ and even legendary birds are some of the singular themes that are dealt with in this book, without leaving aside the discovery of the tomb of the Apostle, the history of the beginning of the pilgrimages, the Jacobean year or the different Jacobean routes that, like footprints on the land and stelae in the sea, make up the Way of St. James.
11. In Itineræ Stellæ
One of the most recent books on the Camino de Santiago is this one by the pilgrim Fran Lucas Herrero, author also of the blog Escamino.es. In this text he has set out to divulge one of the least travelled routes of the Jacobean itineraries: the Aragonese Way. With a perfect blend of historical rigour and the reality of an experience on the Aragonese Way, Fran Lucas Herrero takes the reader through the lands of Aragon, to where the roads become one, in an introspective journey through beautiful and different landscapes, where each place shows its essence thanks to its emblematic places and diverse characters that you come across on the Camino, that place that was recorded centuries ago as Itineræ Stellæ. It speaks of signs, of being aware, of hope, of not giving up, of surrender, of experience and passion. Exactly what the Camino is about.
12. The Way of Saint James: twelve centuries of history
We end (almost) this list with a book that has just been published (2023) and that, unlike the previous ones, deals with the history of the xacobeo phenomenon itself. Written by Manuel Garrido, it dives into the twelve centuries of history of the Camino, from its origins between the mythical and the historical to its modern recovery by the hand of Elías Valiña and, later, by the public administrations. A highly recommended book for those who want to understand in depth the Camino and the changes it has undergone in different eras.
12+1. Tastes of the Camino
Well, we had talked about 10 books of the Camino de Santiago. But we cannot close the list without talking about gastronomy, undoubtedly one of the strong points of its cultural offer. So here is this bonus track. Tastes of the Caminoby American author Yosmar Monique Martínez is different from other recipe books in the sense that it is not organised by type of dish, but according to the journey itself. Thus, the first recipes are from the French Basque Country, then Navarre, followed by La Rioja, Castile and Leon, and finally Galicia. By structuring it in this way, readers travel with their palate along the French Way.