It’s winter, it’s raining, and the world is a complicated, messy place. Sometimes the only solution is to turn it all off and curl up with a good book.
And when it comes to books about the Camino, your choices are plentiful. Amazon lists 60 memoirs with the key words Camino de Santiago, and that doesn’t begin to cover everything that’s out there.
Most of those books, though, cover the popular Camino Frances. What about the alternatives? What about the Via Podiensis, the route from Le Puy to Saint Jean Pied-de-Port? There are a lot of people on the American Pilgrims of the Camino Facebook Group talking about walking from Le Puy this year…what should they be reading?
Here are three of the best personal stories that most inspired me, both before and after my walk:
Pilgrimage to the End of the World by Conrad Rudolph
When I first heard about the Camino, I immediately went to my local library to find out more. Lucky for me, the first book that came up in my search was the thin volume by Rudolph, published way back in 2004. Why was it lucky? Because Rudolph walked from Le Puy to Santiago. Before I knew anything else about the Way, he rooted in my mind that this was a three-month, thousand mile journey. And I never looked back.
A Way: The Story of a Long Walk by Jenna Smith
I picked up this more contemporary perspective on both Via Podiensis (the Le Puy route) and the Camino Frances just a couple of weeks before I left for my own trip, and I was glad I did. Smith’s writing is both fun and informative, combining thoughtful insight with practical information I was dying to know (specifically: are there bathrooms?). Bonus: a recipe for aligot, the magical French dish of potatoes and cheese.
The Journey In Between by Keith Foskett
I didn’t find Foskett’s book until after I got home, which was too bad. His account of his journey is one of the most detailed I’ve found. He definitely walked his own Camino, with a lot more camping (and scoping the women) than I experienced, but reading his story was like re-visiting some of my favorite places, and would have been a valuable training tool.
Am I missing anything related to the Via Podiensis? I’m always looking for a new Camino story to read.
I’ll be back soon with a few of my favorite tales from the Camino Frances.
Disclaimer: The above links all go to Amazon.com, partly because some of these books aren’t widely available in bookstores, and partly because I have an associate account there. If you click the link and buy one of these resources, I will receive a few fractions of a cent. It’s a small way to pay the domain and hosting fees, and help make Camino Times Two self-sustaining. However, if you have a preferred local bookseller who can order these titles for you, you should absolutely do that.