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Books to Read Before going on a Pilgrimage

Books to Read Before going on a Pilgrimage

A pilgrimage is a life-changing experience. Some do it for religious or spiritual reasons. Some do it to lose weight, to find themselves, to give themselves a challenge. Whatever your reason for taking a pilgrimage, firstly, well done! secondly, these are the best books to read before doing a pilgrimage or even whilst doing the pilgrimage. If you plan to read these books whilst doing a pilgrimage, I recommend taking a Kindle along with you do that books are not heavy. You will no doubt have plenty of time to read all of these amazing books.

I would love to hear what books you would recommend, leave them in the comments.

Whilst the Camino is, of course, the most famous pilgrimage; It isn’t the only one. Did you know that countries like Italy, England, Tibet, India and Japan all have years old history and cultures with their very own pilgrimage? The list doesn’t stop there! These books are categorised into different countries and pilgrimage walks. We tried to cover as many different pilgrimages as possible.

Pilgrimage through Japan

Most people do not associate Japan with doing a pilgrimage but Japan is a spiritual and religious place, filled with amazing nature, scenery and temples so it does make sense. The two main pilgrimage walks in Japan are the  Shikoku Henro vs Kumano Kodo.Here are some great books to inspire both walks.

The Way of the 88 Temples: Journeys on the Shikoku Pilgrimage

Compelled to seek something more than what modern society has to offer, Robert Sibley turned to an ancient setting for help in recovering what has been lost. The Henro Michi is one of the oldest and most famous pilgrimage routes in Japan. It consists of a circuit of eighty-eight temples around the perimeter of Shikoku, the smallest of Japan’s four main islands. Every henro, or pilgrim, is said to follow in the footsteps of Kōbō Daishi, the ninth-century ascetic who founded the Shingon sect of Buddhism. Over the course of two months, the author walked this 1,400-kilometer route (roughly 870 miles), visiting the sacred sites and performing their prescribed rituals. Although himself a gaijin, or foreigner, Sibley saw no other pilgrim on the trail who was not Japanese. Some of the people he met became not only close companions but also ardent teachers of the language and culture. These fellow pilgrims’ own stories add to the author’s narrative in unexpected and powerful ways. Sibley’s descriptions of the natural surroundings, the customs and etiquette, the temples and guesthouses will inspire any reader who has longed to escape the confines of everyday life and to embrace the emotional, psychological, and spiritual dimensions of a pilgrimage.

Fighting Monks and Burning Mountains: Misadventures on a Buddhist Pilgrimage

Age twenty-eight and fed up with the office job he settled for, Paul Barach decided to travel to Japan to follow a vision he had in college: to walk the ancient 750-mile Shikoku pilgrimage trail.

Books to read before walking the Appalachian trail

Spain has the Camino, America has the Appalachian trail. Some may call this a trek but I feel like the “trek” would be a very spirtual and challenging journey.

Grandma Gatewood’s Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail

Emma Gatewood told her family she was going on a walk and left her small Ohio hometown with a change of clothes and less than two hundred dollars. The next anybody heard from her, this genteel, farm-reared, 67-year-old great-grandmother had walked 800 miles along the 2,050-mile Appalachian Trail. And in September 1955, having survived a rattlesnake strike, two hurricanes, and a run-in with gangsters from Harlem, she stood atop Maine’s Mount Katahdin. There she sang the first verse of “America, the Beautiful” and proclaimed, “I said I’ll do it, and I’ve done it.”

On Trails: An Exploration

In 2009, while thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, Robert Moor began to wonder about the paths that lie beneath our feet: How do they form? Why do some improve over time while others fade? What makes us follow or strike off on our own?

Books on reading about the Golden Horn Pilgrimage

These books talk about great walks and desire to get to the Golden Horn in Istanbul. Discover Europe like noone else can through these enchanting, magical and life-changing books.

Walking the Woods and the Water: In Patrick Leigh Fermor’s Footsteps from the Hook of Holland to the Golden Horn

In December 1933, an eighteen-year-old Patrick Leigh Fermor set out in a pair of hobnailed boots to chance and charm his way across Europe, ‘like a tramp, a pilgrim or a wandering scholar,’ on foot from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople. The books he later wrote about this walk, A Time of Gifts (1977), Between the Woods and the Water (1986) and the posthumous The Broken Road (2013), are a half-remembered, half-reimagined journey through cultures now extinct, landscapes irrevocably altered by the traumas of the twentieth century. The brilliant bubble of his writing captures a prelapsarian world of moccasin-shod peasants and castle-dwelling aristocrats, preserved in perfect clarity. But war, political terror and brutal social change lay on the horizon. That bubble was about to burst, and the raw light of the modern world soon to come flooding in. On 9th December 2011, Nick Hunt caught the ferry to the Hook of Holland to follow in his footsteps. Using Fermor’s books as his only travel guide he spent seven months walking his route through Holland, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey, to discover for himself what remained of hospitality, kindness to strangers, freedom, wildness, adventure, the mysterious, the unknown, the deeper currents of myth and story that still flow beneath Europe’s surface. I’d been walking for two hundred and twenty days. With the twists and turns the road had taken it was impossible to say how far; two and a half thousand miles was my rough guess. I’d passed through eight countries and three seasons, followed two major rivers and dozens of minor ones, and crossed three mountain ranges, one of them twice. I’d picked up fragments of seven languages, and met more people than I could remember. I’d walked through three books: two real, one imagined. I’d worn one pair of boots. (less)

On Foot to the Golden Horn: A Walk to Istanbul

On Foot to the Golden Horn recounts Jason Goodwin’s breathtaking journey with two companions through Eastern Europe from the dikes and marshes of Poland’s Baltic coast across to the Golden Horn in Istanbul. Along the way, they sleep in haystacks, drink with Gypsies, and play with Ceaucescu’s orphans, meeting with blatant hostility and overwhelming hospitality as an older Europe tries to settle with itself, and a new one struggles to be born. It is the story of three friends’ walk through some of the world’s most beautiful and tragic places, and of their encounters with a varied and vivid cast of characters.

Walk your weight in Pasta in Italy

If there was one country that I would do a pilgrimage, it’s Italy… if only so that I could eat as much as I wanted. Discover some of Italys best in these books. Why not also read these books whilst travelling Italy

Return To Glow: A Pilgrimage of Transformation in Italy

I enjoyed this book so much that I just had to reach out to Chandi myself to ask her more about her adventure. You can read part one and part two of the interview here.

Return to Glow chronicles this journey that is both profoundly spiritual and ruggedly adventuresome. As Chandi traverses this ancient pilgrim’s route, she rediscovers awe in the splendor of the Italian countryside and finds sustenance and comfort from surprising sources. Drawing on her profession as a college history instructor, she gracefully weaves in relevant anecdotes, melding past and present in this odyssey toward her soul.

To read before or during the Camino

The most famous Pilgrimage of all. For a quick but great read check out the article on Walking Camino De Santiago Alone. If you are still curious, check out some of these inspirational books

Walk in a Relaxed Manner: Life Lessons from the Camino

At age 60 Joyce Rupp didn’t know what she was getting into when she began a 47-day pilgrimge along the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Joined by a friend, Joyce learned lessons that can help all of us travel on life’s up-and-down journey with more grace and lightness. She shares them in this enjoyable recounting of her journey across mountains and valleys, cities and farms.

Great books to remind you why you are doing your Pilgrimage

When the journey gets tough, when people knock you down and feed your negative energy, these books will be a great reminder to why you are under taking this challenge.

The Mission Walker: I was given three months to live…

When Edie Sundby was diagnosed with metastatic cancer and given only three months to live, she vowed to fight. She sought out the best care that the medical community could offer, and she relied on the faith she had inherited from her cotton-farmer parents. But Edie also found healing through movement. Edie knew that if she was still walking, she was still alive.

The Worrier’s Guide to the End of the World: Love, Loss, and Other Catastrophes–through Italy, India, and Beyond

Torre DeRoche is at rock bottom following a breakup and her father’s death when she crosses paths with the goofy and spirited Masha, who is pusuing her dream of walking the world. When Masha invites Torre to join her pilgrimage through Tuscany–drinking wine, foraging wild berries, and twirling on hillsides–Torre straps on a pair of flimsy street shoes and gets rambling.

But the magical hills of Italy are nothing like the dusty and merciless roads of India where the pair wind up, improvising a pilgrimage in the footsteps of Gandhi along his march to the seaside. Hoping to catch the nobleman’s fearlessness by osmosis and end the journey as wise, svelte, and kick-ass warriors, they are instead unravelled by worry that this might be one adventure too far. Coming face-to-face with their worst fears, they discover the power of friendship to save us from our darkest moments.

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Books to Read Before going on a Pilgrimage

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