Into the Wild

By Jon Krakauer,

Book cover of Into the Wild

Book description

Krakauer’s page-turning bestseller explores a famed missing person mystery while unraveling the larger riddles it holds: the profound pull of the American wilderness on our imagination; the allure of high-risk activities to young men of a certain cast of mind; the complex, charged bond between fathers and sons.

"Terrifying... Eloquent...…

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Why read it?

16 authors picked Into the Wild as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This is a controversial choice by Alaska standards. Many of my fellow Alaskans can’t help but find fault with the main character, Christopher McCandless, for his seemingly reckless and cavalier attitude while venturing into the wilds of our state, or what they see as Krakauer’s idealizing of the young McCandless’ misadventures. But having come to Alaska as a young man myself, in search of something, some inner meaning, and truth, I can definitely relate to both McCandless’ plight as well as Krakauer’s, which the author describes in great detail. It’s a search for answers many young people face, that some…

Some people are already familiar with the true story of Christopher McCandless, a boy from Alexandria, Virginia who had a seemingly bright future and yet was unfulfilled living in modernity, he chose instead to escape and sought adventure in an unconventional way. 

By abandoning everything from his former life and creating a new persona—the culturally famous Alexander Supertramp.

Unfortunately for Alexander, his story ends tragically after two years when his emaciated corpse was discovered in an abandoned bus in the Alaskan wilderness by hunters.

But his story lives on as an international bestseller that has been translated into 30 languages…

Why do we make decisions that put our lives at risk? Why do we have such a deep connection with nature? To what lengths would we go to find peace, especially when recovering from a traumatic relationship? I love exploring questions such as these in what I read and in the stories I write, and this extraordinary mixed-genre non-fiction account of self-discovery abounds with philosophical and suspenseful debate, constantly driving us towards its ending in a lethal Alaskan wilderness. As well as the book’s sublime depictions of the unconquerable nature of snowy mountains, glaciers, and rivers, what I loved most…

This book follows the true story of Chris McCandless, a young hitchhiker who abandoned all societal ties to go on a journey across the country, eventually leading to his death in the Alaskan wilderness. Through interviews and McCandless’ journal, Krakauer pieces together the last few years of his life, sharing the revelations and hardships Chris experienced along the way. It is a beautifully well-written story, one that many of us itching for adventure might be tempted to romanticize. The lesson at the core of this story is that we should never take for granted the people that love us. It…

Krakauer’s ability to weave historical facts and research with first-person insight made me feel the complexity of the young Christopher McCandless, a person perhaps not so different from us. Was he merely a fool? Or did he live brightly in staying true to his values? Krakauer’s reflections on his own youthful, idealistic journeys draw us in, making us view McCandless with far more complexity than someone we should easily dismiss. This book helped me consider the fine lines and the twists of fate that sometimes separate the passionate from the tragically obsessed.

Alaskan stories often revolve around one or more strong characters and an unforgiving wilderness, and Into the Wild perfectly illustrates that trope. But it also delves into the obsessive psyche of the protagonist, who—similar to the main character in my novel—was hellbent on following a certain path and, at least initially, thought nothing of prioritizing selfish goals over family. Of course, lots of young adults are self-centered; the question is whether they can learn from, and grow out of, that stage as they journey through life. Chris McCandless never had that opportunity.

From G.'s list on for escaping to Alaska.

A tragic coming of age story. I like how the young man puts his beliefs on the line, how he pursues beauty and dares to live by his own values and within his unique conception of the world. I’ve always found McCandless’ final quote interesting, “Happiness is only real when shared.” I no longer believe that is true, not totally, but it’s thoughtworthy. Into the Wild and my first book have their parallels.

For anyone yearning to get completely away from it all this tragic story will make you think twice. In 1992 a young man left his affluent life behind and walked into the Alaskan wilderness. Four months later his emaciated body was found. I enjoy an adventure and found this absolutely compelling, although heartbreaking, and found myself wondering if this young man found fulfillment.

Most of us contemplate a deeper meaning of life at some point in our lives, particularly as we get older. I was no different, and neither was Chris McCandless, the focus of this incredible book. Leaving a comfortable, somewhat privileged life behind him, Chris abandoned his car and trekked off into the Alaskan wilderness, seeking adventure and self-discovery. Chris had the guts to do what I, and many others, wouldn’t, and as we share his new life in the wild we touch on life’s bigger questions – purpose, meaning, and philosophy among them – in ways that many other books…

The unraveling of what people long for in the wild, and what they’re willing to endure to find it, is as compelling as going to the places on these pages. I was afraid of the sadness defining this book, but McCandless and seekers like him, including the writer, push us to contemplate a deeper relationship with nature and ways of being more fully alive.  

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