The Camino: A Journey of the Spirit by Shirley MacLaine

Rating: 4 stars
ISBN-10: 0743400739
ISBN-13: 978-0743400732
Genre: Religion and Spirituality; Mysticism
Pages: 320

I first read The Camino: A Journey of the Spirit by Shirley MacLaine more than ten years ago; I could not understand why a sexagenarian, especially such a famous one, would want to walk 500 miles with belongings limited to a backpack. Though Ms. MacLaine tried to do the pilgrimage incognito, she was hounded by the press, and she recounts what she had to do to elude them. As renown as she is, the story has little to do with her acclaim and more to do with her spiritual journey. At the time, I loved the book, and it became the impetus for my walking the Camino.

Upon completing my Camino in  2011, I reread the book and marveled at Ms MacClaine’s physical strength, walking 20 miles each day and completing the 500 miles in 30 days–a feat most people half her age would find daunting. Since Ms MacLaine walked the Camino in 1994, the pilgrimage has gained popularity and  many difficulties that she encountered (cold showers and attacking dogs) have been resolved. Those who read the book now, should not be dissuaded from walking the Camino because of her stories.

I was surprised in the second reading by the mysticism in the book; I had forgotten her visions, her conversations with Charlemagne, and her recollections of past lives. I recall finding her spiritual journey intriguing the first time I read the book, but this time I found these stories difficult to read and  a little “out there.” I doubt that if I were to read the book now for the first time, that it would inspire me to undertake such an adventure.

I recommend this well-written book for those who enjoy mysticism, adventure, travel, and spiritual journeys.