Sanjiva Wijesinha -writer and physician

Short stories, Travel and Health Information

Camino Books – Some Recommendations

Over the past month I have had the opportunity o f reading a couple of good books about the Camno. – the site where I would usually have reviewed these books – no longer allows me to post reviews. The reason, I am told, is that I have not purchased enough merchandise from Amazon this year to qualify to post reviews!

So I felt that I would use my own webpage to review these books – both engagingly written and well worth reading.

The first of these books that I want to recommend is Its Your Camino by Kenneth Strange which I very much enjoyed becaue I had myself walked the Camino de Santiago when I was sixty two years old (just like the author!),

Reading It’s Your Camino gave me the opportunity to vicariously share in Ken’s journey visiting once again the ancient villages, the historic towns and the magnificent cities along this 500 mile pilgrim trail in northern Spain.

I liked Ken’’s easy going style of writing – describing the not only the churches, castles and cathedrals but also the people that he and his wife Aurora met along their journey. I totally agree with his observation that ‘the landscapes were spectacular – but it was the people along the Way who made Our Camino’. One finds along the Camino so many folk with whom one has a lot in common – and that there is more in this world that unites us rather than divides us.

I liked too his description of the Camino as a being an opportunity to experience the joy and exhilaration of hiking and being one with Nature – and of detaching oneself from the mundane world. It is a place where your priorities change, where you can “reflect – and listen to your heart”.

The author emphasises the value of proper preparation before undertaking this journey – how he and his wife trained by hiking in the Santa Monica mountains near their home and how they found out practical information such as what to wear and how to pack before embarking on their Camino.

Ken Strange’s genuine love for foreign countries, languages and people is clearly manifest in his narrative.

I certainly enjoyed reading It’s Your Camino – and I am sure you will too.

The second book I enjoyed was Brad Generaux’s A Soldier to Santiago. In fact I was reading this for the second time, because a close friend of mine, an Australian veteran, will be walking the Camino with Brad’s next group of Veterans in the European Spring of 2023.

Like the author I too have served in the military and I have walked the Camino – so his story deeply touched me on many levels.

Brad talks about the three things a veteran loses when he or she leaves the military – a sense of Purpose, a supportive Community and a feeling of Self-worth. Serving in uniform, soldiers give their all for their country – yet once their service is over many find themselves inadequately supported and unable to settle back into civilian life.

A Soldier to Santiago is the honest story of a stiff, formal, no nonsense Senior Chief Petty Officer of the US Navy – someone who’d spent years building walls inside himself to compartmentalise the violence and tragedies that had been part of his 22 year military life. Once he left the service he found himself descending into a dark depressive hole without purpose, identity or mission in life. In his own words, he discovered “I fit in….nowhere”.

Brad’s pilgrimage along The Camino helped him change from being a totally military-minded,mission oriented person trying to fight his demons and forget the images of war that kept haunting him – into a much calmer human being. Step by step as he walked along this five hundred mile pilgrim trail, the walls of his negativity and his lack of faith in humanity began to crumble away and he discovered what many of us have done on this pilgrimage – it is impossible to walk this journey without journeying into yourself.

Having come through an internal storm Brad found himself at peace; he could forgive others and also himself. He began to make a purposeful effort to see the good and positive in the world rather than the dark cloud of negativity he’d been focusing on for so long.

A Soldier to Santiago is one man’s story of how he found peace along the pilgrimage to Santiago. I earnestly recommend this bookand hope that reading it will encourage others, especially Veterans and those who once were Warriors, to consider undertaking a journey along the Camino. As both Brad and I did, they will discover the Camino to be Life-changing.


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