Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
As I write this review, I’m wondering what effect listening to a book (which I did for this one) has compared to reading it. Do I find books more enjoyable to listen to than I would if I’d read it? If my question is answered in the affirmative, I may be rating a book with four stars that I might otherwise rate with three. I just don’t know.
There were a few things I really like about the book.
One, the author had, prior to writing this, written an article that was widely read about Chris McCandless, from which many readers concluded that McCandless was a reckless, ignorant, and arrogant young man. In his research for this book, he found that he had reported many things in error that misrepresented McCandless. To that end, this book serves to correct those misconceptions and paint McCandless in the light he deserves. I applaud that effort.
Krakauer also tells the story of several others, including himself, who had gone “into the wild” like McCandless–some survived, some also lost their life–and these stories help to paint a picture in the reader’s (listener’s) mind that encourages understanding of McCandless (and maybe even similar drives in one’s self).
It’s no spoiler, as the book’s description tells you in advance what happened to McCandless, but the book is sad. McCandless strove so hard to find purpose and meaning for his life, purpose and meaning that he was leaving behind with every move. He so badly wanted to define his life by a struggle with the wild, when he was finding it (or could have been) in every relationship he had throughout his journey. It is so strange that a young man who so easily made friends and loved and was loved by people, could not see in those people the meaning he was desperately craving. For me, the book worked as an anti-Call of the Wild. And I appreciate the book for that.
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