21 Thought-Provoking Books Like Into The Wild

Into The Wild was a story that I’ll never forget. It was a story of bravery, courage, and one man’s quest to find his true purpose in this world.

It follows a young man at a pivotal point in his life. He had just finished university and came from a middle-class, wealthy family. He had so much going for him, yet he decided to give it all up and live in the wilderness in Alaska.

The story was so compelling, not just in how it was written, but in the thoughts, ideas, and emotions the reader was subjected to. It makes you think about your own life from a new perspective.

I came away thinking about how materialistic I was. It inspired wanderlust and a thirst for adventure. It made me think deeply about my spiritual connection to this world.

If you also found Into The Wild inspiring and thought-provoking, and you’re looking for similar books, then you’ve come to the right place.

These are 21 books like Into The Wild that will have you thinking about life in a new way and dreaming of adventure.

Summary of Into The Wild

Before we get into the best books like Into The Wild, let’s quickly recap what happened in the story so we can establish common themes in these further book recommendations.

The story follows a man named Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch), who was the son of a middle class family.

He graduates from Emory University as a top student, but instead of following a career path that could have made him a wealthy man, he chose to give up all his savings to charity, changed his name to Alexander Supertramp, and rid himself of all his possessions.

He then hitchhiked to the Alaskan wilderness where he lived in a Fairbanks Bus 142 in the wild for six months.

His body was found by hunters in the area, along with his diary. This is a true story, retold by Jon Krakauer.

Non-Fiction Books Like Into The Wild

Now you have a reminder of the story, it’s time to look at some books similar to Into The Wild. We’ll start with non-fiction books. Though Into The Wild was written by Jon Krakauer, it was based on a true story. These are some other brave memoirs and biographies and autobiographies of brave adventurers like Alexander Supertramp.

1. The Art of Happiness – Howard Cutler & Dalai Lama

One of the major themes in Into The Wild is about escaping the norms of day to day life, and finding a new approach and new perspective to look at it.

Who better to teach you new perspectives on life than the Dalai Lama?

In this book by Howard Cutler and the Dalai Lama, the reader learns about meditations and lessons on life from the Dalai Lama’s perspective.

Together, they delve into topics such as the purpose of life, the need for compassion and empathy, and even the usefulness of suffering in life.

This book serves not only as a self-help guide on self-improvement and enlightenment but also as an actionable handbook on achieving happiness.

Dalai Lama touches on aspects such as rejecting the idea of comparing your successes with others, and on how to focus instead on accepting self-worth and dignity, a core condition for happiness.

The Art of Happiness shines a light on individuality and self-determination, in an inspiring and patient way, reminding us that change does not happen overnight, but rather that it’s a conscious and deliberate choice we make every day.

2. The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World – Eric Weiner

Another book about changing your perspective on life, as well as about travel and self discovery, is The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World.

Both a travel memoir and humorous self-help book, this comical travel story of how happiness is not what life throws at you, but WHERE life takes you.

It follows the story of how Eric Wiener is inspired by how people from around the world find happiness in different ways. From his unique perspective,  Wiener unlocks the secret to finding what really makes people happy.

3. Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long & Happy Life – Hector Garcia, Francesc Miralles

In Into The Wild, Christopher decides he no longer wants to live a life as Christopher any more. He adopts the persona, Alexander Supertramp, and finds a new purpose to life, or a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

In Japan, they call this Ikigai – a reason to get out of bed in the morning. In Okinawa particularly, a place known for homing the world’s longest-living people, Ikigai is considered the key to a longer and more fulfilled life.

As well as inspiring you to travel, this book will give you a new breath of life. It offers you the tools to find your own ikigai, and how to nurture friendships and put your whole self into your passions.

4. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – Robert M. Pirsig

Said to be one of the greatest books on philosophy in the world, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is about one man and his son’s journey across America with his motorcycle, as he engages in conversations about philosophy and romantic viewpoints about life along the way.

I will be honest, this book is a tough read. It’s fascinating and inspiring, and more about learning to have a more fulfilling life than to spark the ignition for adventure.

If you’re looking for a slow read, this insightful book is a great addition to any bookshelf. Standing on the bestseller list for over a decade and selling more than 5 million copies worldwide, it sure has earned its stripes.

5. Tracks – Robyn Davidson

Tracks is the incredible story of one woman’s solo walk across the Australian outback. Her 1700 mile journey took 9 months to complete, with only a dog and four camels for company.

Enduring blistering heat, battling with poisonous snakes and learing men, and looking after the animals that she kept as companions, all became challenges worthwhile as Davidson emerges victorious when she reached her ending point.

Driven only by her love of Australia’s landscape and a willingness to leave her former identity behind, Track is a thought-provoking odyssey of self discovery and transformation. 

6. Wild – Cheryl Strayed

Wild is an honest account of one woman’s quest across the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), at a nightmare point in her life.

Cheryl Strayed is not an experienced hiker, nor does she claim to be. She is a woman struck by grief and is trying to find a way to stop her life unravelling after the death of her mother from cancer.

Despite her best efforts, the remains of her family were falling apart, and her marriage was failing because of her promiscuity and heavy drug addiction. Her solution was to walk the challenging long-distance Pacific Crest Trail and find herself again.

7. Touching the Void – Joe Simpson

Joe Simpson’s memoir about his near-fatal climb of Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes became a bestseller and award-winning film.

In this book, he describes how he came to be alone and injured, far from help, and how he managed to get himself back to safety.

It tells the story of two mountaineers’ resilience, struggles, and death-defying decisions, creating one of the most incredible stories of survival of all time.

8. The Lost City of Z – David Grann

In 1925, British explorer Percy Fawcett ventured into the Amazon jungle in search of a lost civilization.

He never returned, and over the years, countless people have perished trying to find evidence of his party and the place he called “The Lost City of Z.”

David Grann’s masterful narrative nonfiction book tells the stories of Fawcett’s quest for “Z” and his own journey into the deadly jungle as he unravels the greatest exploration mystery of our time.

If you liked Into The Wild, then you’ll be sure to enjoy The Lost City of Z which has a similar adventure to the one of Alexander Supertramp.

9. In the Heart of the Sea – Nathaniel Philbrick

In the Heart of the Sea is an award-winning novel of the National Book Award, written by Nathaniel Philbrick. 

The book is a comprehensive and well-written saga of survival and adventure, with deep resonance in American literature and history.

In 1820, the Essex was rammed and sunk by an angry sperm whale. The crew of eighty-four men, women, and children were forced to drift for more than ninety days in three small boats.

Nathaniel Philbrick uses little-known documents and vivid details about Nantucket whaling tradition to reveal the chilling facts of this infamous maritime disaster.

10. Endurance – Alfred Lansing

In August 1914, explorer Ernest Shackleton boarded the Endurance and set sail for Antarctica. He planned to cross the last uncharted continent on foot.

After months of arduous sailing, the Endurance was blocked by an island of ice.

The perilous journey of Shackleton and his crew began on December 28, 1914, when their ship was crushed between two ice floes. For the next eight months they attempted a near-impossible 850 mile journey to the nearest outpost of civilization.

Nathaniel Philbrick has written an absolutely riveting account of Ernest Shackleton’s fateful trip. Alfred Lansing brilliantly narrates the gripping and miraculous voyage that has defined heroism for the modern age.

11. The Perfect Storm – Sebastian Junger

The Perfect Storm is a novel detailing the worst storm in history, or so it seemed from the wheelhouse of the Andrea Gail fishing trawler. 

The ‘perfect storm’ is a once-in-a-century combination of conditions that create strong winds and waves over an Atlantic island – Sable Island – and a powerful hurricane, Hurricane Grace.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, fishing boats were caught up in the storm and their crews were unable to return home. The rescue services worked tirelessly to save them.

The story of the old battle between man and nature is a tale of two opposing forces: man versus Nature. Despite this stalemate, Nature has the power to shift the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, creating walls of water and gaping voids that can easily crush an oil tanker.

Against such an insurmountable force, eight people aboard Andrea Gail with their 72-foot swordfishing boat must fight tooth and nail to survive.

A hurricane is a large, powerful storm. It typically encompasses a million cubic miles of atmosphere and can contain energy equivalent to the electric power needs of the UK for 10 years.

If you’re looking for books like Into The Wild with a bit more action, this book will have you on the edge of your seat.

12. Desert Solitaire – Edward Abbey

Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire is one of his most critically acclaimed books, and it marks his first foray into the world of nonfiction writing. The book tells the story of Abbey’s solo journey across a section of the American Southwest known as the “Desert Solitaire.”

Abbey worked as a ranger at Arches National Park outside of Moab, UT. Desert Solitaire is a rare view of one man’s quest to experience nature in its purest form. The book chronicles Abbey’s journey across the American Southwest, from the red rocks of Arches National Park to the dry Colorado River Delta.

Through prose that is both passionate and poetic, Abbey reflects on the condition of our remaining wilderness and the future of a civilization that cannot reconcile itself to living in the natural world as well as his own internal struggle with morality. He argues that this is a problem not only for ourselves, but for our descendants who will inherit a world without wildness.

Abbey’s call for the preservation of natural beauty in the West remains as relevant today as when this book was written. 

13. The Last American Man – Elizabeth Gilbert

Eustace Conway, a 17-year-old from the suburbs, left his comfortable home to escape the disapproval of his father and live on his own in the mountains.

He found many ways to survive and obtain the necessities of life, including making clothes from deer he hunted and skinned, as well as undertaking daring challenges that pushed him to new limits.

He traveled down the Mississippi river in a handmade wooden canoe; he hiked the breadth of the 2,200 mile Appalachian Trail as well as all across the German Alps and cliffs in New Zealand.

One Christmas, he finished a family dinner and walked out the front door to ride his horse across America, with his little brother in tow. They dodged cars and ate road kill, and slept on the ground like cowboys.

Twenty years on and Eustace is still living in the mountains. 

His incredible story has been written by Elizabeth Gilbert. With wit and light, she brings this incredible story to life. 

Fiction Books Like Into The Wild

If these non-fiction books like Into The Wild didn’t float your boat, then perhaps these fiction tales might. These are some incredible stories of resilience and adventure.

14. The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho is one of the greatest travel writers of all time, in my honest opinion, and what makes his books to incredible is the underlying messages and thought-provoking topics he addresses.

It’s part adventure travel, part philosophy.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is probably one of the most enchanting novels by Coelho, as it not only inspires a love of travel, but shares wisdom on how we should follow our dreams and our passions.

It tells the story of an Andalusian shepherd boy, Santiago, who leaves his home in Spain to settle in the Egyptian desert to search for treasure buried near the Pyramids.

Along the way, he meets a variety of whimsical characters, all of whom help Santiago follow the right direction in his quest. What starts out as a journey to discover treasure amongst the pyramids, turns into a discovery of himself.

15. Life of Pi – Yann Martel

Life of Pi is one of my all-time favorite books. It’s a story of a young boy who grows up living in a zoo in India. One day, his family must relocate to Canada with all their animals, with intention of building a zoo there.

When the ship hits a huge storm, and the boat begins to sink, Yan must abandon the ship on a lifeboat, which he shares with a ferocious male Bengal tiger.

Lost at sea, on a small boat with a tiger, Yan must learn to survive, without losing his head. This incredible book set in Canada and India is a timeless classic and a must-read for any book lover.

16. The Beach – Alex Garland

This compelling novel by Alex Garland tells the story of a backpacker named Richard, who meets a Scottish traveler in a hostel in Thailand, who talks of tales of this idyllic beach, untouched by tourism that only a few people know about.

The beach is said to be the most incredible paradise on Earth, and if you find it, you can live in a small community there. When Richard finally finds the beach though, he discovers a small community of international backpackers who are residing there. This incredible story talks about how paradise may not always be what it was cracked up to be.

The Beach is a story that was bought to the world’s attention by Leonardo di Caprio in the film adaption of the novel. However, the film is only slightly true to the book, so if you enjoyed the movie you absolutely must read the book. If you haven’t seen the film, only read the book.

17. The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari – Robin S. Sharma

Julian Mantle is the protagonist of The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, a fable about a man who seemed to have everything – a seven-figure income, a mansion, and of course, a Ferrari.

Except, he was overworked, stressed, and ultimately unhappy.

It usually takes a big wake-up call to inspire change for someone like Julian, and in his case, it was a stress-induced heart attack.

After this, Mantle sold his mansion, his Ferrari, and the rest of his material possessions, before embarking on a journey of enlightenment.

Luckily for us, Mantle takes us on his journey with him, and as he discovers the meaning of life, we get to live it too.

If you’re looking for novels like Into The Wild, then The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari is a must-read.

18. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel García Márquez

Gabriel García Márquez’s tale is one of the most famous books in the world, and one of the best examples of magic realism.

With its blend of magic realism and sociopolitical allegory, and its power to provoke deep and intellectual thought, One Hundred Years of Solitude deserves all of the praise it gets.

One Hundred Years of Solitude chronicles the seven generations of the Buendia family, and Macondo, the town they founded.

Built in the middle of a swamp, Macondo was once a utopia, an isolated town that was often visited by gypsies and hucksters, but it doesn’t stay that way.

One Hundred Years of Solitude is an epic tale of many lives, the consequences of industrialism, and fantasy combined with harsh reality.

View it on:

19. Siddhartha – Hermann Hesse

After meeting with the Buddha, young Brahmin embarks on a quest in search of ultimate reality. He leaves a life of self-indulgence and wealth in favor of abstinence and gives up the false pleasures of his relationship with a courtesan, instead focusing on his struggles with familial relationships.

Siddhartha is about a man who gains all the material wealth of the world, only to leave it all behind in search of true happiness.

If you want books similar to The Alchemist, then Siddhartha is one for your reading list. Hesse imparts wisdom on enlightenment, self-enrichment, and happiness, in a simple, engaging allegorical tale.

20. On The Road – Jack Kerouac

On the Road is a novel about a road trip that was inspired by American writer, Jack Kerouac, published in 1957.

It is based on the travels of Kerouac and his friends as they journeyed across the United States.

It tells the story of a man named Dean Moriarty and a young writer named Sal Paradise, as they journey back and forth to see each other over three years of friendship, and all the crazy adventures they embark on along the way.

On The Road explores themes of father-son relationships, the challenges of survival, and the importance of family, as well as the survival of human generosity and kindness.

21. The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway

Known for his beautifully simple prose, Ernest Hemingway tells the tale of the Cuban fisherman, Santiago, who’s down on his luck.

When Santiago hooks a giant Marlin, he enters an epic fight with the fish and eventually succeeds in capturing it. The Marlin is big enough to erase all of the bad luck that Santiago has experienced of late, and all he has to do is take it back to shore. But this is where Santiago’s real struggle begins.

The Old Man and the Sea comes across as a simple tale, and yet it explores humanity, perseverance, and morality, all in one slim novella!

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Final Word on Books Like Into The Wild

So there you have it, 21 books similar to Into The Wild. As you can see, there are a lot of books to choose from and each of them have their own unique style of writing, themes and adventures.

Whether you’re looking for something with a deep, philosophical message or you just like the adventure story of Into The Wild, you’ll be bound to find something you like on this list.

Do you have any more books to add? Let us know in the comments.

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About Louisa

Editor/Founder - Epic Book Society

Louisa is the founder, editor, and head honcho of Epic Book Society. Once a published poet at the age of 7, she aspired to become a journalist, but that career hit a wall so here she is writing about books instead. When she's not writing about books, she's teaching English to primary school kids around the world.

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