journey…story

Spain Sept 9 024

Perhaps unusually for me. I didn’t set out to make our reading dovetail with our upcoming pilgrimage, but as I look back over what has come off the bookshelf this year, that is exactly what has happened.
Among our family read-alouds have been a number of “journey” stories:
Ten P’s in a Pod by Arnold Pent III (which brought new inspiration to memorising Scripture)
Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Janet Gray
Pilgrim’s Progress by Gary Schmidt (a wonderful accessible rewrite of Bunyan’s tale, accompanied by exquisite portaiture)
The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis
.
To accompany us on our own journey, we have the rest of the Narnia series in audio format, and a delightful rendition of Don Quixote’s adventures for kids, which I will thoroughly enjoy reading out loud as tired bodies stretch out in their bunks at the end of the day.

Before we went to Spain two years ago we enjoyed a small selection of children’s books; we still talk about them all.
Shadow of a Bull by Maia Wojciechowska (fantastic themes run through this story – great book to read aloud and discuss)
The Andalusian Guitar by Saint-Marcoux (translated into English, this reads part suspenseful-story, part travel-guide, part Spanish culture introduction…..we learnt a lot)
I, Juan de Pareja by Elizabeth Borton de Trevino (there’s nothing not to like about this story – probably our favourite)

While our reading wasn’t planned, our art appreciation studies were. We have dipped into the lives of El Greco, Velazquez, Goya, Picasso and Dali. We have read biographies and a variety of picture books, and then tried our hand at their techniques. The children’s art journals have both pictures they have copied directly from these masters and others simply done in the style of the artists – elongated bodies inspired by El Greco, self-portraits popped into bigger paintings like Velazquez and Goya did, abstract chopped up Picasso-like bodies, pictures of one colour, melting clocks, mountains in a goblet. The children are all eagerly anticipating finding the real paintings in the Prado.

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And this year I have been given a number of books for myself, which also turned out to be journey stories.

I Promise Not to Suffer by Gail Storey (it’s always interesting to hear someone’s actual real-life story – it’s just that this book convinced me I have no desire to do anything like what she did, hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Interesting insights, handy appendices, a book you’d want to read for yourself before you’d give it to your young teens due to her candid descriptions of her relationships)

Walking Home: travels with a troubadour on the Pennine Way by Simon Armitage (sometimes funny people use a story as a framework to hang their jokes from – not this one. He tells a story and takes us on a journey, and although it is frequently disturbing to him, it is most amusing to us, the readers)

In Search of Deep Faith by Jim Belcher (Having lived in Poland back in the early nineties and having returned there a couple of years ago, I could NOT identify with the author’s absolute fear of the place that opened this story. I almost didn’t read on, casting him aside as a narrow-minded American. However, I’m glad I allowed him to express *his* experience and decided not to judge him for it, as I ended up loving this story of a family’s pilgrimage through Europe and their faith. I am not a fan of how-to books for parents, but this is a story every parent should read. And youth workers, and children’s workers and teachers too. I’ll be reading it to my kids and taking some literary sidetrips inspired by the steps taken on this family’s pilgrimage)

Sinning Across Spain by Ailsa Piper (an Australian playwright’s engaging take on her solo modern journey by foot from Granada to Galicia, bearing the sins of friends and acquaintances as she searched for meaning and faith)

In the past I have read some Spanish/pilgrim-y literature:
Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes
Iberia
by James Michener
October Scars
by Stuart Morrison
I’m off then
by Hape Kerkeling
As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning
by Laurie Lee
Roads to Santiago
by Cees Nooteboom
The Road to Santiago
by Michael Jacobs
Travels with my Donkey
by Tim Moore
The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila
by herself
A Million Steps
by Kurt Koontz
The Camino: A Journey of the Spirit
by Shirley MacLaine
The Art of Pilgrimage
by Phil Cousineau

And some just pilgrim-ish, nothing Spanish about it:
Pilgrim’s Progress
by John Bunyan
Wanderlust
by Rebecca Solnit
Pilgrim Stories
by Nancy Frey
The Odyssey of Homer
translated by Richmond Lattimore
Epic of Gilgamesh
Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron
Travels with a Tangerine by Tim Mackintosh-Smith
The Man Who Walked Around the World by Jean Béliveau
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
From London to Land’s End
by Daniel Defoe
Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome
Three Men on the Bummel by Jerome K. Jerome
A Passage to India by E. M. Forster
Johnson’s Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland
A Walk Across America by Peter Jenkins

It’s really no wonder we ended up walking.

Still to read:
As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee
Ghosts of Spain by Giles Tremlett

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