Whether you are simply wanting to learn more about the Camino or you are preparing to tackle it, these thirty Camino de Santiago books will feed you with inspirational stories about life on the trail.
People go on pilgrimage for many reasons. They may be there talking to their God, processing grief, thinking about a life change or simply be up for a good long walk. The authors below represent that full range of reasons and you’ll definitely find a Camino book here that fits what you are looking for.
Camino de Santiago Books: 30 Great Reads
Search Amazon for “Camino de Santiago” and you’ll get over 1,500 responses. It can be an overwhelming task to try to find the best Camino de Santiago books. Never fear, I’ve got your back.
I’m an unrepentant book nerd and a recovering bookseller so you can trust me to give you recommendations for some great reads. I’ve also been on the Camino more than once. I’ve crowd sourced this list of Camino books from my own reading pile along with recommendations from other pilgrims.
(Most of the links that follow are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.)
Camino de Santiago Memiors
These memoirs are great if you are thinking of doing the Camino and would like some inspiration from the experiences of others. These books feature misadventure, impulsiveness and true friendship.
What the Psychic Told the Pilgrim: A Midlife Misadventure on Spain’s Camino de Santiago, Jane Christmas
Christmas is supposed to be leading a group of squabbling mid-life women on the Camino but after the group splinters, her real adventure begins. Her opinions are unvarnished and show the difficult side of doing the trail.
“A pilgrim life is largely an artificial one: you exist in a bubble of camaraderie, pain and poverty of shared purpose.”
I’ll Push You: A Journey of 500 Miles, Two Best Friends, and One Wheelchair, Patrick Gray and Justin Skeesuck
If you think doing 500 miles of trail with a backpack sounds hard, try doing it while pushing your friend in a wheelchair. This Camino de Santiago book is as much about their strong commitment and friendship as it is about the trail. You can also watch I’ll Push You as a documentary on Amazon Prime video.
“There’s no limit to what we can provide for others, or what others can provide for us.”
The Way of the Wild Goose: Three Pilgrimages Following Geese, Stars, and Hunches on the Camino de Santiago, Beebe Bahrami
Bahrami is also the author of the Camino Frances Moon Guide and she’s logged over 5,000 miles of Camino de Santiago routes. So it’s fair to say that she knows the trail.
But even then, it was a revelation to her when she realized how much pagan and Mother Earth symbolism was baked into the religious shrines, churches and culture along the Camino. She set out to explore why geese are frequently symbolized on the the Camino and special ley line energies. And even though she was an experienced pilgrim, the Camino still worked its magic on here with moments of grace, serendipity and personal awakening.
The book is great for people who have a spiritual and questing personality. It also provides a thoughtful back-look even if you have already been on The Way.
Buen Camino!, Natasha Murtagh and Peter Murtagh
This daddy-daughter duo tackled the Camino together and you get their story from both points of view. They talk about their shared experiences and also their encounters with fellow pilgrims.
“It’s about family and friendship and camaraderie.”
The Pilgrimage, Paul Coelho
This book won’t be for everyone. In fact, the reviews are very polarized. Coelho has written this book in the style of a parable, or moral tale. It’s part self-discovery, part adventure yarn and it reads like fiction.
“The book is a reminder that life is brilliant and that we are capable of so much more than we believe we are…”
I’m off Then, Hape Kerkeling
“Overweight, overworked, and physically unfit, Kerkeling was an unlikely candidate to make the arduous pilgrimage…”
Hmm, sounds like he was talking about me. But I managed it and so did Kerkeling. This book is great for readers who want an honest account of the pitfalls, sufferings and rewards to be found on the Camino.
Walking the Camino: A Modern Pilgrimage to Santiago, Tony Kevin
Kevin chose to take the longer and less popular Via de la Plata route to Santiago. It winds through some of the most interesting and historical cities in Spain, including Sevilla and Salamanca. Kevin’s memoir is unique in that it covers both his experiences as well as the cultural history of the regions that he walks through.
“The Way encompasses many places and reminders of Spain’s past, both dark and dazzlingly bright.”
A Furnace Full of God, Rebekah Scott
This book is not about Scott’s experience on her first Camino. But rather, it’s about what she and her husband chose to do after coming home from it. They sold up and moved to Spain, purchased a farm and offering lodging to pilgrims. In the book, she shares a year of that life, which occurred during one of the holy years, a popular time on the Frances.
“But at the base of me, in my heart, is a furnace full of God. That’s the way he made me, and I am beautiful just the way I am.”
The Walk of a Lifetime: 500 Miles on the Camino de Santiago, Russ Eanes
Eanes hit 60 with an empty nest and a two decade yearning to do the Camino. He realized that the time was now and so he took a year long sabbatical from his job and took the pilgrimage. His intention was to slow down and consider a change. If you are an impending retiree or someone who has been longing for change, this book would be a great read for you.
“For Eanes, the trip was never about the actual walking – although this is a man who clearly loves the outdoors. Gradually, his mind slows down, matching the rhythm of his walking and the Camino itself.”
In Movement There is Peace, Elaine Orabona Foster and Joseph W. Foster
She was a doctor suffering from an anxiety disorder and he was a restless wanderer. When Elaine resigned from her practice so that she could deal with her anxiety, Joseph suggested doing the Frances. After deliberating the wisdom of walking 500 miles with no planning or physical conditioning and little religious faith, they took their “no plan, plan” to Spain.
This book would be a great read for someone planning a Camino as a couple and it’s a great lesson on how the Camino persistently drip feed enlightenment all along The Way.
Hilarious Tales of Wacky Derring Do
If the following authors were able to successfully navigate the Camino (with donkeys, a cranky attitude and mishaps), so can you.
Spanish Steps: Travels with My Donkey, Tim Moore
Because of course you take a donkey on the Camino! Moore’s donkey Shinto, is like a Sancho Panza straight man, providing ballast to Moore’s hilarious questing.
“Quirky one minute. Cranky the next.”
The Year We Seized the Day: A True Story of Friendship and Renewal on the Camino, Elizabeth Best and Colin Bowles
This funny and brutally frank Camino de Santiago book shares the perspective of two authors; who were friends before they went. However, the Camino tested them as individuals as well as their friendship. They were both under-prepared and the Camino worked its magic on them the slow, hard way.
The book is “… more about what happens when you have the time and space to look within yourself.”
The Way, My Way, Bill Bennett
Bennett is a Bill Bryson doppelganger and his self-deprecating humor serves him well as he walks the Camino in his own way. His story is moving, insightful and is frank about how his pilgrimage had no small amount of suffering.
“…the Camino gives you what you need just when you need it. I think that Bennett discovered that, on his own terms.”
Dispatches Along the Way, Prioleau Alexander
Alexander packed a lot of humor into his Camino backpack. In this book, he lightheartedly explores his hairbrained Camino adventure. He brings both humor and humility while asking questions about what it means to “have it all” with insights into the truth in simple living.
Spiritual and Religious Memoirs
The Camino is, after all, a religious pilgrimage. Many people bring their Catholicism onto the trail but the Camino welcomes whatever you choose to bring to it.
To the Field of Stars: A Pilgrim’s Journey to Santiago de Compostela, Kevin A. Codd
This Camino de Santiago book is highly recommended in the Camino forums. Codd talks about his physical and spiritual experience walking the pilgrimage. He shares the stories of others and the challenges and changes that he experienced on the trail. He’s a Catholic priest but secular or skeptical readers can enjoy the book at well.
“Codd offers a delightfully honest and yet thoughtful memoir–one of the best I’ve read”
Walk in a Relaxed Manner: Life Lessons from the Camino, Joyce Rupp
Rupp is a nun and she traveled with a priest, but this book keeps the religion low key. This book doesn’t follow a linear narrative but rather, is focuses on the lessons that she learned during her pilgrimage.
“Struggles are the fertilizer for spiritual growth.”
The Camino: a Journey of the Spirit, Shirley MacLaine
MacLaine has been on an extended spiritual journey for eighty years and the Camino was an important pit stop on that road. The book covers her time on the Camino but also places her pilgrimage in the context of her larger life’s journey. MacLain’s woowoo brand of spiritualism isn’t for everyone, but this book can be a great read for seekers.
“Without the recognition of the soul’s journey within us, we are lost and only part of what we were intended to be.”
Walking Home: A Pilgrimage from Humbled to Healed, Sonia Choquette
Choquette embarked upon the Camino after a devastating series of life turns that included death, divorce and disappointment. She is a spiritual teacher and set out in the pilgrimage to regain her spiritual footing.
“…in the end, she found her way back to grace…”
Read More: Get inspiration from five women who tackled the Camino solo.
Books Examining the Nature of Pilgrimages
These books aren’t specific to the Camino. But they do talk about why we go, what compels people to take pilgrimage s and the life lessons that can be gained from it.
The Art of Pilgrimage: The Seeker’s Guide to Making Travel Sacred, Phil Cousineau
In this book, Cousineau is talking to the traveler who finds themselves at a crossroads in life and those who seek to make their travel more meaningful. The book has stories, myths, parables, and quotes from famous travelers of the past with advice on how the modern traveler can focus on purpose and meaning.
“If it weren’t for this book, I may not have completed the Camino. While I prepared myself physically (training/walking) and mentally (research), the pilgrimage is really about the inner journey.”
We Are Pilgrims: Journeys in Search of Ourselves, Victoria Preston
Preston covers all of the reasons why humans go on pilgrimage. She explores factors like kinship, survival, faith, wonder, solace and gratitude. She offers examples from many different locations and cultures and how these factors come into play.
The book is particularly useful if you are trying to examine just exactly why you are interested in the Camino…or perhaps why you find yourself compelled to return to it (as I have).
Read More: Figure out how to pack light for the Camino with this packing list.
FREE Camino Tools
Score a printable Camino packing list and an editable budgeting spreadsheet.
More Books on Quests & Epic Walks
The following books are not about the Camino, or at least not exclusively so. However, they do touch on themes that repeatedly appear on the Camino; embarking upon an epic quest, good long walks, traveling light and the kindness of strangers. I actually read Thoreau on the way over to Spain and it helped to put me in a walking frame of mind.
- Walking, Henry David Thoreau. A meditation on the value of walking in nature.
- A Time of Gifts, Patrick Leigh Fermor. Following the author’s quest to walk from Holland to Constantinople.
- A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson. A series of ill prepared misadventures on the Appalachian Trail.
- Wanderlust: a History of Walking, Rebecca Solnit. A portrait of the cultural possibilities experienced through the pleasures of walking with quotes and stories from great walkers and travel writers.
- Wild, Cheryl Strayed. Strayed found herself by forging a path along the Pacific Crest Trail (which includes a painful lesson on the value of breaking in your hiking boots ahead of time. Just sayin’, don’t be that pilgrim).
- The Salt Path, Raynor Winn. Winn and her terminally ill husband lose their farm and take to the Southwest Coast Path on a healing journey.
- The Longest Way Home, Andrew McCarthy. McCarthy goes on a series of quests (including the Camino) to discover and unblock what’s holding him back.
- Vagabonding, Rolf Potts. Potts’ travel philosophy on how to discover the world on your own terms– go slow and go light. Good advice for the Camino too.
- The Happiness of Pursuit, Chris Guillebeau. Learn about the value of questing and read profiles of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
- How to Walk, Thich Nhat Hanh. This is a small guide to the benefits of meditative walking.
Practical Camino de Santiago Guidebooks
You don’t need a Camino de Santiago guidebook to help you find your way because the trail is well marked. However, it is useful to have a guide that will give you the following: a complete list of albergues (with costs and services offered), a list of suggested stages (with distances and elevation profile), and some historical and cultural context for key sites along the trail.
There are also quite a few apps that will help you map your stages and find accommodation. Go to my resources for the best Camino apps and the best Camino guidebooks, to determine whether you need one at all and how to find one that is right for you.
Free Camino de Santiago Resources
The Camino Forum has several free resources which are worth downloading. You’ll need to set up a free membership to access the documents and the discussion forums.
- List of all albergues on the Frances trail (current as of Jul/21). This list offers distances between towns, lists all albergues and the services they offer.
- An edited list of “favorite” albergues. These hostels each offer something special like communal meals, a historic landmark, killer location and/or cool amenities.
- Profile maps and stages for the Frances. This brief cheat sheet is a great resource for making informed decisions on how far to walk on a given day. I had a printed version of it and always consulted it as I planned my next few days of walking. The apps also have profile maps, but they can be very hard to read on a phone.
Get tons of free travel books (like Lonely Planet guides) and some Camino guides with Kindle Unlimited using an Amazon Prime account. If you don’t have an Amazon Prime account, you can get a 30-day free trial HERE.
More Resources for Planning a Camino Pilgrimage
- If you are a first-timer, check out our Camino planning tips.
- Budget your Camino with this article outlining costs for three different budget levels plus a FREE spreadsheet tool.
- Get the full FAQ on lodging and albergues on the Camino.
- Get inspiration and advice from other women who have done the Camino Solo.
- Figure out where to start your Camino pilgrimage.
- Get ready for your pilgrimage using our Camino training guide, which includes trail tested tips and a 12-week fitness planner.
- If you are thinking of doing the Frances, use my guide to figure out how to get to Saint Jean.
- Learn why, despite how hard it is, I’ve gone back for another round on the Camino.
- Check out my Camino packing list, which includes a free downloadable checklist.
- Then use our Camino backpack buying guide to find the right pack for you.
- If you are planning to spend some additional time in country, get one of these Spain guide books and also these books set in Spain.
- Camigas Facebook group – This is a very friendly and active group for female pilgrims. Their advice has informed both this book list and also my packing list.
- St James Way walkers Facebook group.
READ MORE BOOKS!
Start with this list of the very best travel books. It includes great reads about how travel is transformative, offering wacky tales of derring do, epic quests and stories of authentic travel.
You should also check out the following series of book lists for specific destinations:
Paris | Ireland | Iceland | Cuba | Scotland | Camino de Santiago | Sri Lanka | Australia | Jordan | Colombia | Spain | San Francisco
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Ms. Claude Tranchant
Sunday 7th of November 2021
My Camino was quite different than most as I started my pilgrimage from Vezelay, a small village, in the Burgundy region (France) alone, on my 64th birthday, and finished it 100 days later at Muxia. I am a lady and I was not a long-distance walker. It took me 8 weeks to cross France and arrive at Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, I climbed the Pyrenees and 5 weeks later I entered Santiago de Compostela. From there, I kept on walking to Finisterre, then Muxia, in the northwest of Galicia (Spain). I covered about 1553 miles and I was known along 'The Way' as 'Claude the Australian'. During, these 100 days, I learned a lot about myself. My meetings were not simply coincidences, but much more. Walking the Camino has been one of the best things I have done in my life. I am sharing with you in Boots to Bliss my journey of discovery. Boots to Bliss has reached number one, twice, and was Best Sellers from 2013 to 2019, in Brisbane (AUS). In 2021, at the age of 75, I was named: French of the Year in Australia - category: Sport and Culture. I hope you will enjoy the read of my first Camino. Website: claudetranchant.com
Wednesday 5th of August 2020
Have you read The Ribbon of Road Ahead? It’s a memoir of my journies on the Camino as well as bicycling adventures, all after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Signed copies are available from the author at ultreiablog.org
Thursday 14th of May 2020
Jack Hitt's book about his Camino, a heavy influencer on the script of The Way (film), is unmissable. Anyone with a sense of humour - and you must have one of you're considering walking 500 miles! - should put this in the downstairs loo for the cold winter months. Enjoy!
Friday 15th of May 2020
Thanks for the suggestion. I agree, a good sense of humor is an essential to pack for the Camino.
John H Clark
Wednesday 8th of April 2020
My Camino book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B015ROXT7Y
Maybe include it here? I'd sure appreciate it :)
Friday 10th of April 2020
Sure. Congrats on the book
Joy Thierry Llewellyn
Monday 3rd of February 2020
Hello: Thanks for your willingness to add my novel to your terrific Camino book selection. Below is the synopsis. I will send a jpeg of the title to your email.
"After getting caught breaking into her aunt’s store, Maggie’s punishment is an 800 km hike in Spain with her aunt, a youth counsellor, and three other young offenders. Who knows where bedbugs, betrayals, and blisters might lead her?"
Amazon link: https://amzn.to/2SmGrTW