Justin Li

Into the Wild and The Game


I finished two books recently, Into the Wild and The Game. I haven't read much since grad school started, so it's nice to pick up that habit again. I just want to say a few words about each book.

Into the Wild was an interesting read. The book was a little long for the story - I'm not sure the parts about the author climbing the Devil's Thumb was necessary - but it did bring out the interesting parts about Chris. My overall reaction is that I can understand why Chris left on this journey, although I wouldn't do it. I am persuaded by the author that he knew what he was doing, and had only died because of bad luck. I therefore have tremendous respect for the guy, for being able to survive by himself, both in the fringes of civilization and in the "wilderness", for so long.

The Game was also an interesting read. A lot of it was unnecessary drama, but perhaps that was not surprising. I have seen parts of The Pickup Artist (it wasn't my idea), and it was interesting to know more background about Mystery. As someone who doesn't believe in picking girls up, my eye was more guided to what eventually happened to Neil Strauss. The last paragraph of his acknowledges for Lisa was the most meaningful paragraph to me.

My library copy only had one sentence underlined in the entire book: "The secret to making someone think they're in love with you is to occupy their thoughts, and that's what Lisa had done with me." It wasn't even about picking people up.

My favorite quote from the book is "Never underestimate your capacity to care", which I think says a lot about humans.

I hadn't intended it, but after finishing both books I find their message is actually similar. Both Chris and Neil were unsatisfied with their life somehow, and made moves to change it. At the end though, after following other people's writings (whether they be Henry David Thoreau or Mystery), what they find is not that their old life was wrong, but that they never appreciated what they already had. Chris wanted to go back to civilization and find comfort in people, while Neil was in love with someone who likes his baldness and glasses.

I guess what I'm saying is being happy is both easier and harder than you think.