Into the Wild – Jon Krakauer

Posted 24 August, 2011 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 22 Comments

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Title: Into the Wild
Author: Jon Krakauer
Audio Narrator: Philip Franklin
Audio Duriation: 7 hours, 6 minutes
Published: 1996; Pages: 224
Genre: Non-Fiction/Biography
Rating: 4.5/5

Why I read it: I’d seen Into the Wild several times on the list of downloadable audiobooks at the library, but it never screamed out to me. But when my brother was assigned the book for his high school summer reading, I jumped on the opportunity to listen alongside him. I wrote about our experience briefly in my Sunday Salon post, but in short it was a great experience.

In Short: Into the Wild tells the story of Chris McCandless, a 24 year old who in 1992 trekked into the Alaskan wilderness to live off the land for a few months but tragically perished. McCandless seems to be an incredibly misunderstood individual with many theories about his Alaskan experience, but Krakauer attempts to shed light on McCandless’s unique personality and the circumstances of his great misfortune.

Thoughts in General: OK, enough of the blah blah blah formalities. I loved this book. At first I simply could not understand what would drive someone to head to Alaska, in so many ways ill-prepared, to try to become one with nature and to live off the land. But as the story unravelled and Krakauer really delved into the mindset of McCandless as well as his background and upbringing I found myself completely fascinated by his story.

Chris McCandless was such a complicated young man–he didn’t get along with his parents at all and seemed to abhor their life decisions. In many instances he appeared to be combative towards them–at least in an emotional sense–but on the other hand he touched the lives of so many that he met along his journey. I can’t pretend to understand what it was exactly that drove McCandless to live the life of a vagabond and Krakauer does show Chris’s arrogance and naivte throughout the book, but in many ways I also admire him for following a life that he so deeply and passionately believed in.

I won’t go on and on because a lot of the charm of this book is the peeling back of layers to get to the heart of Chris McCandless’s epic journey, but this book really spoke to me. It is no secret that Chris dies in Alaska–I think his story is a fairly famous one–but I couldn’t help but be devasated by the end of the book. For all the idiodic things that he did and for all the criticism that he has received, you can’t help but feel for him.

Bottom Line: I’d definitely recommend this book, especially as an audiobook experience. I thought the narration was wonderful and really pulled me into the story. I think criticism for this book might come in not understanding or agreeing with Chris McCandless’s decisions, but there is a lot in the book about human nature that I found to be particularly interesting. I did watch the movie and found it a little boring but it was a good companion to the book.

Nick gave me Into Thin Air for my birthday and I’m going to make it a point to read it sooner rather than later. I’m looking forward to it!

Have you read Into the Wild? What did you think?

22 Responses to “Into the Wild – Jon Krakauer”

  1. I’m glad you enjoyed this book. You do realize that we come to your posts to see your lovely little person, so where are the pictures today?

  2. I’ve seen the movie…it was pretty awesome in a thoroughly depressing way. And I’ve read his Into Thin Air. And I’m currently listening to Under the Banner of Heaven. Krakauer rocks.

  3. I bought this for someone as a Christmas gift a few years ago and I sort of read it before I gave it to him… lol It was pretty good! The movie was nothing amazing.

  4. LOVE this book. :)

    Into Thin Air is also excellent-it does have a lot of factual information on climbing, so bear that in mind as you read.

  5. I read this a long while back and thought it was an awesome book too. My husband recommended it and I was curious because having lived in Alaska for years – we kind of hate dumbasses like that. BUT I have to hand it to Krakauer for writing such a sympathetic and moving story.

    PS One of the teams we played basketball against was not far from there. Unbelievable that he starved when there was a town right there.

  6. Also! If you liked this one – my husband also recommended and I LOVED was The Places In Between by Rory Stewart. Awesome..

  7. I love this book too. Krakauer’s writing style can get a little weird sometimes though … like the part when he’s talking about his own experience in Alaska and then randomly describes some women he met and something about a flower and discovering her sex… weird.

  8. Meg

    I remember seeing clips of the film version of “Into the Wild” years ago and being interested in the story, but never got around to picking it up. So glad you enjoyed it and could share it with your brother!

  9. Haven’t read the book but I thought the movie was fabulous.
    Based on another Krakauer book I read [Under The Banner of Heaven] I can only imagine that Into The Wild would be amazing.
    This other one, about some extremely crazy moments in Mormon history — wow, I could NOT put the book down.
    — Cheers!
    Happy motoring to you, and welcome to the 30’s. Let’s be thankful it is not the 1930’s!

  10. I’m really interested in reading this book and have had it on my wishlist for awhile now. I’m glad to hear that you had such a great reading experience with this book!

  11. I’m in the minority here… I HATED this book. I thought the story was interesting, so I actually really enjoyed the movie, but I just really couldn’t get behind Krakauer and his narrative voice. He said quite a few things that raised my eyebrows and a few more things that made me just plain mad.

    It’s been a few years, but it’s rare that I have a reaction like that to a book, especially one with such an interesting story.

  12. Haven’t read this one or seen the movie…yet. Have to admit that I’d probably be a little colored by my opinion that this was a kid with no common sense but it sounds like this one might at least make me understand him.

  13. I don’t know where I’ve been, but I didn’t realize that it was a true story. I haven’t seen the movie either. I’m glad you had such a great experience reading it. I just added it to goodreads.