Camino Book Review: Inspired Journeys

Bouldrey-Inspired-Journeys-cInspired Journeys: Travel Writers in Search of the Muse

Brian Bouldrey, Editor

Book Review by Stacey Wittig

Inspired Journeys is a diverse collection of essays by real travelers who move the reader through both time and place. Much of travel writing is simply about place or what to do once you arrive. But as we pilgrims know, often the real stories lie within the journey rather than the destination. Editor Brian Bouldrey, a Santiago pilgrim himself, understands this well and has compiled seventeen stories of pilgrimage to places as divergent as Varanasi, India; Ross Island, Antarctica; El Centro, California, and Santiago, Spain. These tales are told by American writers and mirror both their inward and outward journeys, a theme that the editor describes as “telling the way within.”

The name Brian Bouldrey may be familiar to many American Pilgrims on Camino (APOC) members as he was the lauded keynote speaker at the APOC 2016 conference. The 2016 annual gathering was themed “Telling the Way Within,” and included a pre-conference travel writing workshop presented by the editor/writer who teaches creative writing at Northwestern University.

Bouldrey admits that he casts a wide net around his definition of pilgrimage by including stories of both spiritual and secular pilgrimages. While introducing us to the stories he explains that each author addresses what pilgrimage is and that he orders the anthology to give the definitions “encouragement, space and incrementally growing meaning.”

While some writers share journeys to religious shrines as in Sharman Apt Russell’s “Buen Camino” and Russell Scott Valentino’s “An Accidental Pilgrimage,” others move along Laura Ingalls Wilder’s prairie (Kimberly Meyer) or the Grimms’ fairy-tale road (Raphael Kadushin.) Though some stories read like raw, black-and-white documentary film footage of the writer’s experiences, others like my favorite essay “The Terriblest Poet” (Brian Bouldrey), and Kadushin’s “Driving the Fairy Tale Road” feel like they were shot for the big screen in panoramic Technicolor.

After reading these essays that are not just about place, but also about the inward journey and outward movement of getting to that place, you’re sure to find several that will move you as well. The engaging, 280-page book is available on Amazon at www.amazon.com .

Brian Bouldrey has written eight books, including Honorable Bandit: A Walk Across Corsica, and edited six anthologies, including Traveling Souls: Contemporary Pilgrimage Stories.

Stacey Wittig is author of three books including Spiritual and Walking Guide: Lourdes to San Jean Pied de Port, a guide for both the inward and outward journey.

This review originally appeared in La Concha, the quarterly publication of American Pilgrims on the Camino.

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Special Chicago Screening: ‘Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago’

Camino-film-announcementChicago-area friends,
Don’t miss this opportunity to view the film “Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago” on Wed Sept 2, 2015 7-9pm. Meet documentary “star” and co-producer Annie O’Neil. This is one of my fave Camino films. Learn about her next film project and share Camino stories over wine after the show… wish I could be there!

Au Coeur du Chemin adds Spiritual and Walking Guide to prestigious Camino book list

Coeur-du-CheminAu Coeur du Chemin recently added Spiritual and Walking Guide: Leon to Santiago on El Camino to their prestigious Camino Book List. Au Coeur du Chemin is a French association which aims to welcome pilgrims, mark the ways of St. James and provide information about Les Chemins de St Jacque (Caminos de Santiago) that pass through the Pyrenees in southwestern France or “the heart of the Camino.”

The high-traffic website that can be found at www.compostelle.fr or www.aucoeurduchemin.org delivers:

  • Advice for hiking or the crossing the Pyrenees,
  • Route following descriptions and maps for each étape/stage,
  • Forum where pilgrims ask questions,
  • List of Pilgrim Reception Centers (Centres d’Accueil) that are part of LA VIE DE NOTRE association, and a
  • Bibliography of important Camino books.

Writer Stacey Wittig’s name is listed with other favorite Camino authors including John Brierley,  A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago: St. Jean • Roncesvalles • Santiago (Camino Guides) (Paperback) – Common and Gerald Kelly, Camino de Santiago – Practical Preparation and Background on the Camino association’s list of English guidebooks for Camino Frances. The Camino reading list may be viewed at www.aucoeurduchemin.org/spip/spip.php?rubrique458

Coeur-authors-listWittig used the French website extensively to research for her recent pilgrimage from Lourdes to Santiago. “The detailed maps were excellent,” said the travel journalist. “The association has given me permission to use those same maps in my upcoming book Spiritual and Walking Guide: Lourdes to St Jean Pied de Port. She is currently working on that book from her home near the Grand Canyon.

Click to order on Amazon:
Brierley, JohnA Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago: St. Jean • Roncesvalles • Santiago (Camino Guides) (Paperback) – Common

Kelly, GeraldCamino de Santiago – Practical Preparation and Background

Wittig, StaceySpiritual and Walking Guide: Leon to Santiago on El Camino (Spiritual and Walking Guides) (Volume 1)