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Nonfiction Book Club reads Krakauer

The following blog was written by Ryan Carey (aka library man), co-leader of the Narrative Nonfiction Book Club.

In September of 1992, a group of hunters and hikers in the Alaskan wilderness found the deceased body of Christopher Johnson McCandless. It was a tragic end to a journey for McCandless that began in May 0f 1990, the last time his family would ever see or hear from Christopher again. McCandless’s life ended there, his story however, did not.  In early 1993, Jon Krakauer wrote an article for an issue of the magazine, Outside titled: “"Death of an Innocent” based on Christopher’s death. Krakauer would later go on to the write a more in depth exploration of McCandless in a book titled: Into the Wild, which was Falmouth Public Library’s non-fiction book club pick for January.

Our group had mixed reactions to Into the Wild, one member even commented that they did not even like the book. Which is great when some members like a selection while other members do not, it makes for interesting conversation, and an interesting conversation it was!  Jon Krakauer never actually met Chris McCandless in person; instead he had to rely on second hand accounts of those who knew him, including family members Chris has known all his life, to those he briefly encountered on his way to his final days into the Alaskan wilderness. This makes McCandless even more of a mystery to Krakauer as well as readers of Into the Wild.  The mystery of not only who Christopher McCandless was and what motivated the man to make his journey were the main topics in our group’s discussion.

Our discussion was not just limited to McCandlesse’s psychological make up, but the psychology of young men in general. Specifically, what make certain young males engage in extreme activities and risky behavior? Krakauer himself is a mountain climber and an outdoors man. Therefore, we also talked about the author as well. The discussion was focused mainly on Christopher’s life and at one point we talked about what might have come of Chris had he lived.

Overall the book is an interesting read that certainly generated plenty of discussion amongst the members of the non-fiction book club. However the book might leave its readers with more questions than answers about Christopher Johnson McCandless. This is not necessarily bad since questions lead to discussion. 

Remember, our club meets at the Falmouth Public Library the first Friday of every month and all are welcome to join.


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