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5 Books like Into the Wild: Discover Your Soul

Kedar Prasana itcherJon Krakauer managed to touch the heartstrings of millions with this poignant yet all too real tale. There have been many great travelogues but this one stands out because of its tragic young hero. If you have read and loved it, you can add these few books similar to ‘Into the Wild’ to your ‘to-read’ list right away: ‘Walden’, ‘The Journals of Lewis and Clark’, ‘Kon-Tiki’, ‘The Enigma of Arrival’ and ‘On the Road’. ~ Kedar Prasana

Grim, Tragic, yet Inspirational

What if I were smiling and running into your arms? Would you see then what I see now?

Joseph Conrad, a master storyteller, once remarked that a good book shouldn’t make the reader want for more. It should rather make him feel sorry that whatever worth reading is past them.

‘Into the Wild’ by Jon Krakauer certainly passes this test. It’s a non-fiction book (further popularised by the eponymous movie directed by Sean Penn) compiled from notes and journals of a young adventurer from Virginia, Chris McCandless. If you often wonder what it is like to put one’s life at stake for greater joys, here are some books like ‘Into the Wild’ for your candle-burning sessions.


Books Similar to ‘Into the Wild’…

‘Walden’ (H.D. Thoreau, 1854)

Image Source: Multipli

I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time. To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome and dissipating. I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude…

While Chris McCandless went on a journey seeking solitude for self-discovery, H.D. Thoreau embraced the frosty forests of Massachusetts with an even bigger ambition: discovery of truth and humanity.

On another note, ‘Walden’ managed to influence a certain lanky Indian youth and an affable Southern King to preach disobedience and non-violence among their millions of followers.  

Similarity Match: 95%
‘Walden’ and ‘Into the Wild’ are separated by over a century but they have that ubiquitous undertone of youthful ambitions to change oneself to change the world at large.

‘The Journals of Lewis and Clark’ (Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, 1904)

Image Source: The Federalist Papers

Everything is to the West. Life is to the West, Ma…

The Journals of Lewis and Clark’ were recorded in the first and second decade of the nineteenth century. They were compiled and published to a great acclaim, in 1904.

Just like Chris McCandless grapples with personal problems and resorts to finding answers in nature, two families in ‘The Journals of Lewis and Clark’ make the fateful Westward journey, like thousands of other families of their time.

Similarity Match: 90%
‘The Journals of Lewis and Clark’ takes us on a more-or-less tragic trip that’s you can’t help but get sucked into – much like ‘Into the Wild’.

‘Kon-Tiki’ (Thor Heyerdahl, 1948)

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Progress can today be defined as man’s ability to complicate simple things…

Published as ‘The Kon-Tiki Expedition: By Raft across the South Seas’ is a masterpiece that’s full of sharp adrenaline highs and steep gloomy troughs.

Brought back into limelight by a recent, albeit underrated movie, ‘Kon-Tiki’ is an ambitious ode to everyone who has an indomitable traveller’s and adventurer’s spirit.

Even though it’s singularly about a dangerously long raft trip, it takes a metaphysical turn at times to leave you wondering why we do what we do.  

Similarity Match: 85%
‘Kon-Tiki’ was originally written in Norwegian. But it has many similar themes to the ‘Americanness’ of ‘Into the Wild’, especially realignments of moral and societal compasses.


If You Like ‘Into the Wild’, You Will Like…

The greatest strength that a book like ‘Into the Wild’ possesses is its ability to resonate across time, age, race, nationality or personal prejudices. In the same vein, here are two fiction books that – even though far more celebrated – resemble ‘Into the Wild’ in theme and thought.

‘The Enigma of Arrival’ (Sir V.S. Naipaul, 1987)

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Men need history; it helps them to have an idea of who they are. But history, like sanctity, can reside in the heart; it is enough that there is something there…

V.S. Naipaul is considered by many eminent writers and critics to be one of the best prose writers alive. ‘The Enigma of Arrival’, although meant to be fictional, describes the experiences of a Trinidadian youth in a quaint English village.

The book ponders with no haste over things like solitude, inner workings of human mind, history, geography and nature. Written in trademark Naipaul prose that’s never too far away from a controversy or two, this book would never bore ‘Into the Wild’ fans despite being a tome.   

‘The Enigma of Arrival’ is set in a society with nature as the backdrop. Apart from this lone difference, it runs parallel to ‘Into the Wild’ in more ways than one.

‘On the Road’ (Jack Kerouac, 1957)

Image Source: Penguin

You don’t die enough to cry…

Unlike the ‘serious men’ that have decorated this list so far, Jack Kerouac was a street-smart layman of a thinker.

‘On the Road’ brought the beat-generation to like novels and explore the vast expanse of ‘madness’ that Kerouac called America. ‘On the Road’ entices readers with simple, conversational tone that somehow winds up into high-literature for a brief time at the halfway mark.

While ‘Into the Wild’ decries hedonism, ‘On the Road’ celebrates it. At the heart of it, however, it is still about finding one’s own self.


All in Readiness for Some Soul-Searching?

If you like reading books that inspire, there are many other books similar to ‘Into the Wild’ that you should try out: ‘Blood River’, ‘K2’, ‘Wild’ and ‘Journey without Maps’ to begin with.

On a more intellectual level, you can go with ‘The Great Railway Bazaar’ and ‘Burmese Days’.

If you happen to know more books like ‘Into the Wild’, make sure you let us and all the other readers know in the comment box below.

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