Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

220px-into_the_wild_book_coverInformation: Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer was published 1996 by Anchor Books. ISBN:0385486804

Plot Summary: Into the Wild is the true story of Christopher McCandless. In 1991, after graduating from high school, Chris took off on a journey out West, where for forwent any belongings, including his car and any cash. His goal was to be like one of his favorite authors, Jack London, and forget material possessions to live simply in the moment. He reinvented himself as Alexander Supertramp so that he could experience the unfiltered life nature had to offer him. In 1992, Christopher/Alexander headed North to explore the Last Frontier, the wilderness of Alaska. Jon Krakauer traces McCandless’ trek across the wild path north, that Christopher left everything behind for.

Critical Evaluation: As Krakauer follows the path that took Christopher McCandless across the United States to the Last Frontier, Krakauer examines how and why Christopher was drawn to such a dangerous adventure. Subsequently, Krakauer views how other young people have tried to follow in McCandless’ footsteps, risking their lives to see the same unfiltered nature he had so many years ago. He poses the ultimate question of what does nature hold over so many that they would give up everything and make the dangerous trek to the Alaskan wilderness?

Reader’s Annotation: In 1992, Christopher McCandless gives up all possessions to reinvent himself and go on the ultimate journey of exploring the Alaskan wilderness. Jon Krakauer retraces Chris’ journey across America to discover what had really lured Christopher so far away from civilization.

Author’s Information: Born in 1954, Jon Krakauer grew up in Corvallis, Oregon, where his father introduced him to mountaineering as an eight-year-old. After graduating from Hampshire College in 1976, Krakauer divided his time between Colorado, Alaska, and the Pacific Northwest, supporting himself primarily as a carpenter and commercial salmon fisherman. For the next two decades, however, his life revolved around climbing mountains.

In 1996 Krakauer climbed Mt. Everest, but a storm took the lives of four of the five teammates who reached the summit with him. An analysis of the calamity he wrote for Outside magazine received a National Magazine Award. The unsparingly forthright book he subsequently wrote about Everest, Into Thin Air, became a #1 New York Times bestseller and was translated into more than twenty-five languages. It was also Time magazine’s Book of the Year, and was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize.

In 1998, as a tribute to his companions lost on Everest, Krakauer established the Everest ’96 Memorial Fund at the Boulder Community Foundation with earnings from Into Thin Air. As of 2012, the fund had donated more than $1.7 million to such charities as the American Himalayan Foundation, Educate the Children, Veterans Helping Veterans Now, the Access Fund, and the Boulder Valley Women’s Health Center.

Krakauer’s writing has been published by Outside, GQ, National Geographic, Rolling Stone, Architectural digest, Playboy, The New Yorker, The New York Times, and An article he wrote for Smithsonian about volcanology received the 1997 Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism. His 1996 book, Into the Wild, remained on the New York Times bestseller list for more than two years (Jon Krakauer).

Genre: Nonfiction, Adult Crossover, Biography, Adventure

Curriculum Ties: (Florida State Curriculum Standards): Understanding Key Literary Ideas

Book Talk Ideas:

  • Is anything so pure, like experiencing unfiltered nature, worth risking your life?
  • Are material possessions so consuming that we would need to get rid of them all, in order to truly see the world?

Reading Level/ Age Interest: Grades 10-12 and Ages 15-18

Challenge Issues: Language, Violence, Drinking

Challenge Defense File:

Selection Policy

The System will select and maintain a comprehensive collection of print, non-print, audio visual and electronically accessed materials to meet the informational, educational, and recreational needs of the citizens of Sarasota County. The System will strive to offer wide ranging collections that meet the various ages, interests, educational levels, and cultural backgrounds of all members of the community and will provide collections through which an individual may explore all points of view and issues of interest. In making selections, the library staff will do so based upon principle rather than personal opinion, reason rather than prejudice, and judgment rather than censorship. Furthermore, staff will be responsive to public demand for materials of contemporary significance and interest, while balancing this with the need to collect and preserve materials of permanent value. While library staff makes material selections based upon the tenet of one system, one collection, selectors recognize the distinct characteristics and needs of the populace that each library services. Community profiles are used to guide selectors in efforts to develop special collections and to meet the unique patron needs within each library.

The ultimate responsibility for selection materials rests with the General Manager of Libraries and the Management Team, who in turn delegates selection responsibilities to the Collection Development Librarians (Sarasota County Policy).  


Krakauer, J. (1996). Into the Wild. New York, New York: Anchor Books. Into the Wild offers readers an in depth look at the allure of giving up all material things to live out in nature. Krakauer examines what drives so many young people to risk their lives to achieve a material-less existence. Krakauer also explores the different relationships and connections Christopher McCandless made throughout his travels that propelled him forward into the Alaskan wilderness.  

Other recommendations like this book include: Adrift: Seventy-Six Days Lost at Sea by Steven Callahan, My First Summer in the Sierra by John Muir, and Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors by Piers Paul Read.

Active Listening Skills

  • Remain calm
  • Listen thoughtfully and carefully to any arguments for the collection
  • Engage in a discussion that considers every concern, even if you do not agree


  • Washington State Book Award (1997)

Reconsideration Form


Selection Tools:

Why I chose this book:

I chose this book because it explores the desires and needs of those who yearn for adventure, a material-less life, and the view of unfiltered nature. There are hard lessons to be learned in this novel, making it an essential read for anyone considering following the similar path of Christopher McCandless.


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