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I'm Off Then: Losing and Finding Myself on the Camino de Santiago Paperback – June 16, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The 500-mile route along the Camino Frances, from the base of the Pyrenees to the shrine of St. James at Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain, has afforded a sacred pilgrimage to Christians for centuries, and German comedian Kerkeling, somewhat whimsically, resolved to hike it. At 36, a self-described pudgy couch potato who suffered some health problems, Kerkeling, wanting to know who God is, set out along the route in the summer of 2001 with an overheavy knapsack only to nearly give up at the first pass. There are nearly 40 stops along the way (helpfully laid out on a map insert), and chapter by chapter, Kerkeling chronicles nearly every one. Pilgrims must get their credencial del peregrino (passport) stamped at official hostels, usually dreary bunk-packed dorms, as they go, but Kerkeling, a fastidious German craving privacy and hot baths, mostly chooses to stay in hotels. As well, he jumped into cars and trains whenever his feet were smarting. Encounters with other pilgrims enliven this travel account, especially the two English-speaking ladies who accompanied him toward the end; as they approached Santiago, they all felt emotionally uplifted. While the author is better known in Germany and his antics somewhat lost in translation, his emotionally probing narrative develops depth and a touching sincerity. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Hape Kerkeling is a comedian and writer living in Berlin. This is his first book.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; Original edition (June 16, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416553878
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416553878
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (152 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,778 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By S. Brown on June 23, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I LOVED this book. As a Santiago pilgrim myself (2008, from St Jean), I've been awaiting the English translation of this famous German's camino book. Nearly every German I met on the Camino had read the book. For some, it was the reason they were walking the 800 km journey. I'd heard from some that they'd read it and were unimpressed, too.

So I was very pleasantly surprised when I couldn't put it down. It's a page turner - mostly due to the humble, self-effacing style of Hape Kerkeling, but also due to his unfailing ability to describe with truth and pathos what his eyes see.

A refreshing aspect of the book is that Kerkeling does include details about the camino itself. He clearly walked most of it (unlike our dear Paulo C) and endured the hardships (though he skipped all but a few albergues). His Camino starts in solitude, but as he walks he opens himself to the scenery and the people and you can feel his soul expand.

I've recommended the book to all my Camino friends and would recommend it to anyone who's considering walking the Way of St. James. A thanks to the translator (though I'm still not sure what she means by a "Spanish biscuit." Hopefully she's not referring to the omnipresent Spanish tortilla - hardly a biscuit).

For good measure I'm off to read this great book a second time. Thank you, Hape, and buen camino.
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Format: Paperback
I just returned from a most memorable 500+ mile long journey across the French Alps to Camino de Santiago and I never left my chair except to refill my wine glass. German comedian and author Hape Kerkeling took me along on his pilgrimage through the pages of I'm Off Then: Losing and Finding Myself on the Camino de Santiago. Right from the start Kerkeling confesses to being an unlikely pilgrim...more of a couch potato than an adventurer. I too must admit that when I began this literary trek with Hape, I had serious doubts about whether or not I would stick to the journey. For me, a walk means circling the mall three times or a sunset stroll on the beach. I do not relish the thoughts of "roughing it." I was not at all certain that this was "my kind of travel book."

I was wrong. As we traveled the pages across the snowcapped Pyrenees, through Basque country, Navarra, Rioja and all the way to Galicia, I discovered that this journey was really about self-reflection and self-discovery. The more I read, the more it reinforced my strong belief that when we travel with an open mind and an open heart, we quickly learn that different cultures, beliefs and traditions are not wrong...simply different...and we embrace the differences. We also discover that as human beings we are much more like our fellow pilgrims than we are different. And, as Hape point out: "Sometimes even the most annoying people mean well."

I particularly enjoyed Hape's self-deprecating humor, his keen perceptions about the people he met and traveled with along the way and his pithy insights (some profound, some playful) the end of each chapter. My personal favorite; "Open your heart and canoodle with the day.
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Format: Paperback
The bestseller, "I Am Off Then" describes the impressive and entertaining journey of Hape Kerkelling on the Road to Santiago. At the beginning of his travels, the simple question “who am I?” could unbalance him. But the more miles he walks, the more he finds the way to himself. As we know the comedian from TV, the book impressed me with his easy and fun writing style combined with profound contents.

In that context, I also recommend the book from Ariel and Shya Kane: "Working on Yourself Doesn’t Work." They describe how to access the Here and Now, by being and not doing. The ability to approach your life and actions like an anthropologist, thru observation and without judgment help to access wellbeing and to live in the moment! The Kanes way of writing is entertaining and humerous. Both books are great reads for all people who would like to discover who they really are.
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I first read about this book a few months ago in Out Magazine [they named it, along with Terry Galloway's "Mean Little deaf Queer", as a book to look forward to] and promptly forgot about it until my friend Austin brought a copy to book group thinking I'd enjoy it. What can I say? Austin knows me pretty well; I loved it!

Each year tens of thousands of people make the pilgrimage from St Jean Pied de Port to the Santiago de Compestela (or The Way of St James) in Northern Spain; this is one mans story. Never preachy or sanctimonious, "I'm off Then" is immediately engaging and compelling throughout. Hape Kerkeling is an internationally known German comedian, and he relates the experiences of his spiritual trek in a brisk and congenial manner. The whole is nothing more than a series of vignettes, each relating the day's events, the places and people encountered along the road. The author communicates no great epiphany, and yet the reader is moved to accept that the journey did have a profound and lasting effect on him.

I suppose the highest praise I could give this volume is to say I enjoyed travelling along vicariously with Hape and his friends; I felt a part of, and would have been more than content to continue along with them a while longer.
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