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21 Thought-Provoking Books Like Into The Wild

Last Updated on November 26, 2023 by Louisa

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

Affiliate Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through any of these links. 

Summary of Into The Wild

Before I 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.

I’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

The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World, by Eric Wiener, is an insightful and funny story about exploration, self-reflection, and discovering joy.

It provides a unique take on how people from various locations throughout the world express happiness, questioning whether it’s shaped by circumstance or a matter of perspective.

This humorous travel memoir and self-help book follows Wiener’s journey as he strives to unlock the secret to everlasting satisfaction – offering invaluable lessons along the way.

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, the concept of Ikigai, is also known as having “a reason to get up in the morning.” It’s particularly important to Okinawans who have the longest lifespans in the world.

This book is ideal for not only inspiring travel but also reviving your life from within.

Exploring how to find and nourish friendships and passions, it holds invaluable tips on how to identify your own Ikigai and lead a longer and more fulfilled life.

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

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is one of the greatest books on philosophy ever written.

Through his conversations with his son, the protagonist embarks on a journey across America, seeking to learn more about life and the world.

Although not necessarily a fast-paced read, it offers incredible insight into leading a more fulfilling life.

With more than five million copies sold worldwide and decades-long standing on the bestseller list, this book clearly has earned its stripes as an essential part of any bookshelf.

5. Tracks – Robyn Davidson

Tracks tells the gripping story of one woman’s incredible solo walk across the Australian outback.

Spanning over 1700 miles, it took her nine months to complete and she was joined only by her dog and four camels.

Despite enduring the blistering heat, battling with poisonous creatures, and looking after her animal companions, she perseveres and triumphs in the end.

Driven by a passion for Australia’s stunning scenery and a desire to leave behind her previous life, this journey is an insightful odyssey into self-discovery and transformation.

6. Wild – Cheryl Strayed

In Wild, Cheryl Strayed takes readers on an honest journey across the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), at a troublesome time in her life.

Despite being inexperienced in hiking and having to deal with grief from the death of her mother, she courageously sets out to find herself after her family falls apart, and her marriage deteriorates due to her promiscuity and drug addiction.

Her only solution is a long-distance adventure across the PCT, and as readers follow along on this challenging yet inspiring trek, they too might just find themselves.

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 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.

Related Reading: Books Like The Alchemist

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.

Life of Pi was not only made into a motion picture movie but also made it to Broadway.

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, the protagonist of The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, seemingly has it all: a seven-figure income, a mansion and of course, a Ferrari.

However, amidst this seeming success, he is far from happy due to overwork and stress.

It takes a heart attack for him to realize that material possessions do not equate to true bliss.

Consequently, he sells his belongings and embarks on a quest for enlightenment, one which readers are invited to embark on as well.

If you’re looking for novels like Into The Wild, then The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari is a must-read. Come along and discover meaningful insights into the purpose of life with Julian Mantle.

18. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel García Márquez

Gabriel García Márquez’s masterpiece One Hundred Years of Solitude is a lauded work of magic realism that provokes profound thought.

It follows the seven generations of the Buendia family and their home Macondo, a utopian town built in the middle of a swamp that gradually succumbs to industrialism and is often visited by gypsies and hucksters alike.

Follow along with this epic tale as it explores lives, fantasy, and an unflinching view of reality.

View it on:

19. Siddhartha – Hermann Hesse

After being enlightened by the Buddha, a former Brahmin abandons his life of wealth and pleasure in pursuit of true happiness.

His journey leads him to confront familial relationships, eschewing worldly possessions while on his quest.

If you are looking for books similar to Into The Wild, Siddhartha is one such title that imparts wisdom on enlightenment and self-enrichment through an allegorical tale.

Explore the depths of what ultimately constitutes true satisfaction with this captivating story.

20. On The Road – Jack Kerouac

On the Road is a classic novel of travel and self-discovery, originally inspired by Jack Kerouac’s journeys across America in 1957.

It follows the journey of Dean Moriarty, a young man learning about life and relationships, as he meets up with his friend Sal Paradise during their three-year road trip.

Through this tale, readers explore complex father-son dynamics, the test of endurance, loyalty to family, and most importantly, the preservation of human kindness even in adversity.

This timeless story is an inspiring read that keeps readers enthralled until the very last page!

21. The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway tells the story of Santiago, a Cuban fisherman down on his luck who hooks a giant Marlin.

This turns out to be more than just a catch that could erase Santiago’s bad luck — it marks the beginning of an epic struggle.

The Old Man and the Sea present readers with a simple narrative that masks profound musings on humanity, perseverance, and morality.

Delve into this slim novella and discover its timeless lessons.

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Final Word on Best 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 has 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 me know in the comments.

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About Louisa Smith

Editor/Founder - Epic Book Society

Louisa is the Founder, Editor, and Head Honcho of Epic Book Society. She was born and raised in the United Kingdom and graduated from the University for the Creative Arts with a degree in Journalism. Louisa began her writing career at the age of 7 when her poetry was published in an anthology of poems to celebrate the Queen's Jubilee. Upon graduating university, she spent several years working as a journalist writing about books before transitioning to become a Primary School Teacher. Louisa loves all genres of books, but her favorites are Sci-Fi, Romance, Fantasy, and Young Adult Fiction. Read more Louisa's story here.

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