Book Report: Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

into thin airSo recently I read this book upon recommendation from the author of and I absolutely loved it. My favorite genre of story is memoir/autobiography because I loved reading things that are real. Things that have actually happened, particularly people who have dealt with addictions or tragedies of some sort. This has been true about me since I was 13 or 14, when I began going through my own tough times with self harm, depression, and eating disorders. It helped to know that other people were dealing with tough things too, and they got through it.

But recently I have been growing more as a reader. I still love autobiographies and memoirs of primarily depressing content, but I have begun to realize that I use them to “trigger” me into my own unhealthy behaviors sometimes. My rationalization is that “well, if they did it that and turned out okay, then it’s okay for me to do it too…..” So I got rid of a lot of my old trigger books and went searching for some healthier content.

Into Thin Air is a really well written book about a disaster that struck the mountain in 1996 and killed 12 people. The author was on the mountain during that time and knew many of the people who lost their lives. This book makes it a little easier to understand why so many people would sacrifice themselves just for the sake of climbing a mountain. It’s also extremely inspiring to read too.

One of the reasons that I think that people pursue reckless, thrill seeking, physically  self punishing activities is that they need to remind themselves that they are alive. That feeling of truly living can get lost in the day to day world of people who wake up, go to work, and come home again, repeat, repeat. I believe Dean Karnazes, self-made ultramarathon man said something similar to that in one of his autobiographies when asked why he runs as much as he does. To remind himself that he’s still alive.

When I was reading this book, I found myself comparing these crazy people climbing Everest to the people who run ultramarathons (which one day I would like to be among that group, as it is my goal to run 100miles). On page 113, Krakauer began a new chapter with this excerpt from Walt Unsworth’s book Everest:

“But there are men for whom the unattainable has a special attraction. Usually they are not experts: their ambitions and fantasies are strong enough to brush aside the doubts which more cautious men might have. Determination and faith are their strongest weapons. At best, such men are regarded as eccentric; at worst mad….

         “Everest has attracted its share of men like these. Their mountaineering experience varied from none at all to very slight- certainly none of them had the kind of experience which would make an ascent of Everest a reasonable goal. Three things they all had in common: faith in themselves, great determination, and great endurance.”


I believe those last three things are what everyone should have in common with one another. By having faith in yourself, determination, and endurance, everyone can achieve their dreams whether they are small or large.


2 thoughts on “Book Report: Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

  1. It’s been many years since I’ve read this book (I think I read it shortly after it came out in 97). I’m sure that the book would bring a whole new meaning to me now that I’ve found endurance running and become someone “for whom the unattainable has a special attraction.”


    • Probably, I think it’s amazing the feeling that people can get from pushing themselves beyond what they initially think they are capable of, and it’s great that this book is about climbing a mountain but it’s messages can be applied to so many more things!


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