I saw the movie that was based on this book back when it came out and was intrigued by the story. I was too young (elementary school age) to remember when the actual news story came out about Chris McCandless and his ill-fated journey into the Alaskan wilderness, so the movie was my first I'd heard of it. The book has been on my to-read list ever since. It's a short read (200 pages), so I finally decided to pick it up.
Chris McCandless was a bright college graduate who decided to burn all of his money and trek into the Alaskan wilderness with nothing more than a bag of rice. Some think he was crazy or had a mental illness. Some think he was just heavily influenced (and misguided) by some of his favorite authors which included Thoreau and Jack London. No one's really for sure WHY Chris McCandless decided to give up what looked light a bright future to be alone and live in a bus in Alaska.
I've previously read Jon Krakauer's Morman biography, Under the Banner of Heaven. I'm not a huge non-fiction reader, but I enjoy how Krakauer presents the story. It feels more like a story than just facts on paper and in this case Krakauer even journeyed to Alaska to follow McCandless's trek through the wilderness. It gave the book a more personal feel than if he had just relied on interviews and newspaper facts.
The book is very sad. Most people probably know how it ends, whether from seeing the movie or remembering news reports, but it still packs an emotional punch. It's worth a read before you decide whether or not McCandless was an idiot or incredibly brave. He may not be as easy to label as you might think.