It's not a traditional biography, but Krakauer's account of Chris McCandless's grand and tragic adventure has become part of America's cultural mythology. In 1990, after graduating from college, the 22-year-old Virginian set out on a continental road trip, seeking to free himself from the influence of civilization. He renamed himself Alexander Supertramp, "an aesthetic voyager whose home is the road," and pushed into the Alaskan outback, determined to live as a modern-day Thoreau. He died trying, done in by toxic wild pea seeds. Krakauer's retracing of McCandless's life and death makes this list because it is a biography of every young man who's ever sought adventure, purity, freedom, and truth.