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Atlas Shrugged

Author: Ayn Rand
Year: 1957
Pages: 1074. This takes quite awhile. Definitely a challenge the first time.
Rating: 89/100. Really challenges the reader to think about life.
Amazon: Atlas Shrugged

Ayn Rand's masterpiece, Atlas Shrugged, has a unique and special aura that can very easily captivate a reader. The story is about a society that has lost its spirit and faith in man and the select few people who strive to overcome the imminent doom of this loss of morality. But the plot, although impressive and timeless even after 50 years, is merely a vehicle for Rand to share her themes and philosophies on life and society.

The book's main purpose is to promote a way of life and to celebrate the mind. It cherishes the idea that life is a precious gift and those who truly appreciate it must strive to accomplish their goals. Virtue is created by fulfilling one's own selfish desires and true satisfaction can only be derived from within. Rand most admired characters in the novel are martyrs who hold utopian ideals. These characters are admired for their desire, determination and self-understanding. Their influence over the reader is tremendous as the reader admires their unattainable morality.

This book isn't for everybody and may be hard for many to understand and relate too. For those who have yet to read or do not enjoy Ayn Rand they might wonder what all the fuss is about. Atlas Shrugged is quite idealistic and has had profound effects on many people though. It can achieve this because it sets forth a romantic ideal of life and makes it seem attainable to the reader. Those who choose to believe in the message can be greatly influence by the novel.

Litty's Take

I have mixed feeling about Ayn Rand and her books. I first read the Fountainhead (another Rand novel) in high school and then proceeded to read all five of her novels (including Atlas Shrugged). At the time, I was instantly drawn to the characters and was open and impressionably by the ideals and themes in the books. It seemed to me like Rand was providing a means to unlock greater meaning out of life and these characters were able to achieve this enlightenment.

I realized that I had let Ayn Rand ideas and philosophies have way to big of an influence on my thoughts and ideas. I had unconsciously allowed many of her ideas to seep into my head and had too easily accepted them as truth without critically analyzing each one. Some of these ideas I liked and wanted to incorporate into my own understanding of the world but other ideas I believed, with some hindsight, too be both unobtainable and unhealthy. In some aspects of my thinking I had become selfish, elitist and frustrated - and this was a direct result of reading these novels. Furthermore I had not realized the books had had such a great influence on my character until after I had unknowingly changed many of my beliefs. Then I did some research on Rand and basically found her to be a philosophical quack that is looked upon more as a cult leader than a true teacher. I was angry that I let myself be so influenced.

After my experience the first time around I had vowed never to read another Ayn Rand book. I didn't want to be "brain-washed" any more and was afraid of letting my mental guard down. I guess I picked up the book out of curiosity - to see if it would have the same effect on me the second time around. I'm glad to say it hasn't. I felt much more detached as I read it again. I was able to find parts of Rand's philosophy that I admire and other ideas that I vehemently object to as well. There are still times I will be reading a newspaper article or be in a conversation and have a new and different reaction than I usually would. I quickly realize that this might be because I've just finished reading Atlas Shrugged and I'm able to quickly put my new reaction it into a better perspective instead of automatically trusting this new feeling. I'm glad I've read it again though as it has helped me come to terms with many of these ideas and feelings.

Note: I didn't spend really write about the specific ideas and theories of Atlas Shrugged because I believe they are pretty personal and that the story creates different emotions and ideas in each reader. I thought it would be better to discuss how the book affected me and how I chose to deal with my own issues and ideas as I was again exposed to it.


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    Littybooks can help you find your way along the cathartic path of leisurely reading. Benefits may include peace of mind, unimpeded circulation of your inner chi, and an overall satisfaction with your life. So pick up a book and look at the words inside.
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