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To Build a Fire

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  16,014 ratings  ·  707 reviews
"To Build a Fire" is one of Jack London's most beloved short stories. A heartbreaking tale set in the vast wintry landscape of the North, it endures as one of the greatest adventures ever written.
Paperback, 32 pages
Published March 1st 2003 by Wolf Creek Books (first published May 29th 1902)
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annika The title is to build a fire because the story teaches you a bit about survival. Read more to find out :)

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Average rating 3.94  · 
Rating details
 ·  16,014 ratings  ·  707 reviews


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Sarah
Jan 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
The trouble with him was that he was without imagination. He was quick and alert in the things of life, but only in the things, and not in the significances. Fifty degrees below zero meant eighty-odd degrees of frost. Such fact impressed him as being cold and uncomfortable, and that was all. It did not lead him to meditate upon his frailty as a creature of temperature, and upon man's frailty in general, able only to live within certain narrow limits of heat and cold; and from there on it did ...more
Khush
Feb 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing




How can one not give this story full 5 stars? When I read it, I did not know who the writer was. I have never read such a compelling story before.

On the surface, it is the story of a man who fails to reach the camp and consequently freezes to death. Though he is strapping and able-bodied, he is not familiar with the power of cold and what it can do to the frail human body. Too much caution against snow and extremely low temperatures do not pose any real challenge to a masculine man like him.
...more
Candi
Aug 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, despite the oppressive heat and humidity in western New York yesterday, this little story by Jack London managed to give me the chills! London is a master at recreating the sights, sounds and feelings of the harsh elements of the north. I seriously got up and made a cup of hot coffee in the late afternoon while reading about a man's treacherous trek along the Yukon trail. With temperatures plummeting to seventy-five degrees below zero, the solitary man traipses along with just one dog as ...more
Mohsin Maqbool
Mar 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
description
A most imaginative cover of Jack London's book.

WHEN the going gets rough, the tough get going. Man can prove himself to be real tough when the odds are stacked against him. But can man really fight against nature, especially extreme weather?
I had read Jack London's "The Call of the Wild" last year and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Today I read his short story "To Build A Fire" and enjoyed myself as much.
In the story the protagonist is shown walking across the frozen Yukon towards the old camp at
...more
Lori
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
description

Wow! I haven't read this since I was in middle school. It was the next step from Jim Kjelgaard's dog stories. It's an overcast 79 degrees F outside, and I'm cold just reading the story.

https://americanenglish.state.gov/fil...
https://www.artofmanliness.com/2017/0...Jim Kjelgaard
Duane
It's easy to see how this is considered one of the great short stories in literature. London's ability to describe the setting and the conditions of the Great North is second to none. This story is so descriptive of what can happen to someone ill prepared to deal with severe conditions, like 75 degrees below zero, that it borders on horror, at least for me. Jack London at his best.
David Schaafsma
The trouble with him was that he was without imagination. He was quick and alert in the things of life, but only in the things, and not in the significances. Fifty degrees below zero meant eighty-odd degrees of frost. Such fact impressed him as being cold and uncomfortable, and that was all. It did not lead him to meditate upon his frailty as a creature of temperature, and upon man's frailty in general, able only to live within certain narrow limits of heat and cold; and from there on it did ...more
Elyse  Walters
Jul 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Duane.....
and the Stephanie....both inspired me with their reviews here on Goodreads.
I immediately paid my 99 cents, (Kindle treasure addiction)....and downloaded Jack London's short story about building a fire. I was in the mood to read a little John Steinbeck today...so this short story was perfect.

Paul and I are Survivor fans ( the TV show), and every season, there are players who can't start a fire. Paul and I always talk about how 'you'd think", after sooooo many seasons of the show, it's
...more
Brad
Mar 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To Build a Fire is one of the stories that made me want to be a writer.

I remember hearing a radio version of this when I was young, long before I ever read it. My Dad and I were on a camping trip in one of the provincial parks, and he'd brought along a little transistor radio. In the dark of our tent we picked up a radio station that played old radio shows, and that night the story was To Build a Fire. It was wonderful to listen to it in that setting. The old crackly radio hummed, the static
...more
Exina
Required reading for American literature seminar. Impressively shocking. 5 stars!

Amber
Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was a pretty good heart-wrenching tragic short story by Jack London about a man trying to survive the harsh Alaskan wilderness in the Yukon during a dangerous cold snap. If you like these adventure type stories, definitely look for this short story to read online and wherever books are sold.
Connie G
Oct 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
"The trouble with him was that he was not able to imagine."

In "To Build a Fire" a man is traveling with a wolf dog through the frozen Yukon on an extremely cold day. It was his first winter in the Yukon, and he had ignored the advice of the experienced old-timer to travel with a companion when the temperature falls colder than 50 below. The descriptions are ominous and chilling.

The wolf dog has a thick fur coat and uses its instinct to survive in bad conditions. The man had not given enough
...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
To Build a Fire, Jack London
To Build a Fire is a short story by American author Jack London. There are two versions of this story, one published in 1902 and the other in 1908. The 1908 version is about an unnamed protagonist who ventures out in the sub-zero tundra of the Yukon Territory, accompanied by his dog, to visit his friends. Though he was warned by an older man about the dangers of hiking alone, the protagonist ignores him. The man underestimates the harsh conditions and slowly begins
...more
Mimi
Jan 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An unnamed man leaves the Yukon Trail and sets out to meet up with friends, but the weather is no good for traveling on foot. He has a husky with him, and the dog knows he shouldn't go out in such weather, but he does anyway. If you ever wondered what it's like to be ill prepared and lost in the middle of winter out in the great Yukon wilderness, this story can give you an idea. (If you also ever wondered what it would be like to have hypothermia while a dog gives you the "told you so" look, ...more
Sara
Aug 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Oh my goodness, I have not felt the cold like this since I watched Dr. Zhivago and wanted to help get the ice out of Omar Shariff's beard. Fantastic descriptions that make you shiver with cold and fear.
Kenchiin
May 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is somehow a short version of The Call of the Wild, but it was really enjoyable.
Willow
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This short story packs a punch. And I say that because when I read it, I had no idea what it was going to be about. It starts off almost boring (at least it was to me) about a man trekking over the snow in very cold weather. Then things start to go very wrong. I think what sticks out for me is it's very visceral. London makes you see and feel the dangers of 70 below weather. And while I was bored in the beginning, that quickly changed to where I was quite concerned. Then there's the sucker punch ...more
Farith
Jan 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
2 stars.

"The trouble with him was that he was without imagination. He was quick and alert in the things of life, but only in the things, and not in the significances."

I wanted to like this book. I almost DNFed it, but didn't because it was just a short story.
The story is good, and I liked a bit the writing. My problem with the book is that I felt it too dense, too complex. To Build a Fire is a classic and classics and I don't really get along anymore. I used to like them but stopped reading them
...more
Elaine
We read a lot of short classics in 7th grade and this was one of them. I still remember my teacher making us memorize the 3 types of conflict: man v man, man v nature, and man v himself. Obviously we didn't study Fantasy or SF, hence the omissions of man v monster and man v alien.

I remember not liking this book as a 12-year-old, but it's a story that has certainly stuck with me. I associate feelings of desperation with it, which of course is exactly the point. I've said it before: Jack London
...more
Tweety
What?!

Tell me he didn't just stop the story like that. I really can't take books about idiots, I really can't. I do not like it when people think they know better than people who already have experienced what they are going through. If you are planning a trip north in the winter I wouldn't read this first, it's enough to make anyone paranoid.

We have a very foolish man who thinks he knows all about the cold, and he is so sure of his own capabilities that he doesn't take a partner with him on a
...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
In "The Trial" Franz Kafka says men die like dogs.

Here, Jack London shows how a man can die worse than a dog.

In a snow-covered wilderness such a man trudges alone with his dog, hoping to reach a safe place with the boys somewhere. Quick and alert, they both are, but Mr. London is careful to point out that this man can only repeat to himself that "it is certainly cold" and no further. He has no awareness of his frailty, nor is he capable of leading himself "to the conjectural field of immortality
...more
Katie Gallagher
Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Check out other cool bookish stuff on my blog!

This week I took a detour from the usual weird short fiction and went back to a classic. I think the last time I read To Build a Fire was in middle school EnglishI have distinct memories of some of the kids in class thinking the expression like a chicken with its head cut off was just hilarious. You can read the short story for free here

I really enjoyed this short story! If youve never read it, the premise is that a man and his dog are traveling
...more
Kathleen Valentine
Mar 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
One of the scariest stories I have ever read. I read it on a cold night before I went to sleep and I was searching for matches all night long. This is a flawless story--excellent descriptions and yet no wasted words. Just brilliant.
Sanjay Gautam
Jan 12, 2015 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bettie
Aug 22, 2014 marked it as to-read
Recommended to Bettie by: Laura


Read online here

Openin: DAY HAD BROKEN cold and gray, exceedingly cold and gray, when the man turned aside from the main Yukon trail and climbed the high earth-bank, where a dim and little-travelled trail led eastward through the fat spruce timberland. It was a steep bank, and he paused for breath at the top, excusing the act to himself by looking at his watch. It was nine o'clock. There was no sun nor hint of sun, though there was not a cloud in the sky. It was a clear day, and yet there seemed
...more
Katherine
Jul 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent short-story. Lots of thematic substance about naturalism, the fate of man, etc. Oh, and man vs. nature. Definitely. I loved the juxtaposition of the dog's instinct vs. the man's ignorance/inexperience when dealing with the harsh elements. Some may infer an existential/agnostic view of God from this story (we are just subject to the fates/weather). But I don't. I am not familiar with Jack London's beliefs on that stuff, but I really don't know that's the point.

Take away
...more
Michaela
Feb 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Sad ending, but very good description of man, dog and nature.
Bob
Intensely detailed short story, so compact l found it difficult to believe so much could be packed into such a few pages. Jack London was a master story teller and To Build a Fire is a perfect example.

Reread-4.5 Stars
An error in judgment, a mistake, and a bad luck accident, triggers a desperate life and death struggle for survival. As I stated in my first reading, intense!
Inyourpants
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best
Jesus Christ this was the scariest story I ever read!
Nothing supernatural, no violence, no aliens. Just nature.

It probably didn't help I was reading this while staying at Tromso, Norway.
Charles Kato
Jul 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Jack Londons To Build a Fire is a haunting story about the divide between some mens intelligence and their sometimes buried instincts, otherwise known as common sense. The story opens with the man hiking through the absurdly cold Klondike in the dead of winter with little experience, few supplies and only his dog as a companion. He has been warned about travelling alone in such harsh conditions but feels he is intelligent enough to overcome any problem that nature may sling his way. Problems ...more
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Carlson 2341.06 F...: This topic has been closed to new comments. Man Vs Beast 47 27 Sep 16, 2015 10:55AM  
You'll never getaway from that fact live with it 1 8 Nov 01, 2014 03:31AM  
These as well her standby and as you lose 1 3 Oct 30, 2014 12:31AM  
I need you guys 3 55 Mar 11, 2013 10:18PM  

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4,930 followers
Jack London was an American novelist, journalist, social-activist and short-story writer whose works deal romantically with elemental struggles for survival. At his peak, he was the highest paid and the most popular of all living writers. Because of early financial difficulties, he was largely self educated past grammar school.

London drew heavily on his life experiences in his writing. He spent
...more

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“The trouble with him was that he was without imagination. He was quick and alert in the things of life, but only in the things, and not in the significances. Fifty degrees below zero meant eighty-odd degrees of frost. Such fact impressed him as being cold and uncomfortable, and that was all. It did not lead him to meditate upon his frailty as a creature of temperature, and upon man's frailty in general, able only to live within certain narrow limits of heat and cold; and from there on it did not lead him to the conjectural field of immortality and man's place in the universe.” 25 likes
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