> The Things You Can Read: Classic Club Question for July 2013

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Monday, July 1, 2013

Classic Club Question for July 2013


The Classics Club:  Question of the Month

July 2013-What classic book has changed your view on life, social mores, political views, or religion?

In my classics reading journey the two classics that have changed my views on life, social mores, and political views are Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead both by Ayn Rand .  Well, let me say, you either love or hate Ayn Rand's body of work.  So, the first thing you must do is separate your personal feelings with regard to Ayn Rand and/or her philosophy, and simply look at these novels separate and apart from the person or Objectivism, her philosophical beliefs.

The concept of uniqueness is one that has always intrigued me. The Fountainhead addresses this theme in a big way. In movies, we see memorable characters that are unique and different, and we love them. However, movies are not reality, and even though these unique characters are placed on a pedestal and admired for their unconventional, unexpected, and unorthodox qualities-think the French film, Amelie-this is not the way of the real world. I guess the question I keep asking myself is, does the majority of society really value this type of person?  My answer: NO!  We tell children that everyone is unique and that this is something to be valued, but yet "sameness" and "conformity" is often what is expected, and ultimately more valued, especially at school. I don't want to explore why this is true, but rather state that it is and The Fountainhead made me crystalize this point in my mind, and it showed me, the reader, the damage such views can cause.

Atlas Shrugged
Let me also say, I loved The Fountainhead, but I loved  Atlas Shrugged even more.  Why? Published in 1957, the novel is prophetic.  What is so surprising is it took reading  Atlas Shrugged to open my eyes to really see and understand the consequences of what is happening in our world-REAL TIME.  We are living in Dagny Taggart's world.  The question is...what will become of us?  My biggest takeaway from reading  Atlas Shrugged was that "Dystopian Societies"-Utopias with  fatal flaws-don't have to be fictional.

In a nutshell, both books made me question where our society is headed, and if the common beliefs held by the masses are what I really believe.  I can state unequivocally, I am a different person for having read these two classics by Ayn Rand.

Interesting Note: The renowned economist, Martin Armstrong, stated in a recent blog post:

They [the government] are destroying the productive class just as in Atlas Shrugged and where this leads is not a very pretty place.

Quotes by Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand
“Who is John Galt?” 

“She did not know the nature of her loneliness. The only words that named it were: This is not the world I expected.” 

“Do not let the hero in your soul parish, in lonely frustration, for the life you deserved but never have been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won. It exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours.” Ayn RandAtlas Shrugged

“But you see," said Roark quietly, "I have, let’s say, sixty years to live. Most of that time will be spent working. I’ve chosen the work I want to do. If I find no joy in it, then I’m only condemning myself to sixty years of torture. And I can find the joy only if I do my work in the best way possible to me. But the best is a matter of standards—and I set my own standards. I inherit nothing. I stand at the end of no tradition. I may, perhaps, stand at the beginning of one.”

“There’s nothing as significant as a human face. Nor as eloquent. We can never really know another person, except by our first glance at him. Because, in that glance, we know everything. Even though we’re not always wise enough to unravel the knowledge.”
Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead    

“Listen to what is being preached today. Look at everyone around us. You've wondered why they suffer, why they seek happiness and never find it. If any man stopped and asked himself whether he's ever held a truly personal desire, he'd find the answer. He'd see that all his wishes, his efforts, his dreams, his ambitions are motivated by other men. He's not really struggling even for material wealth, but for the second-hander's delusion - prestige. A stamp of approval, not his own. He can find no joy in the struggle and no joy when he has succeeded. He can't say about a single thing: 'This is what I wanted because I wanted it, not because it made my neighbors gape at me'. Then he wonders why he's unhappy.”
“To sell your soul is the easiest thing in the world. That's what everybody does every hour of his life. If I asked you to keep your soul - would you understand why that's much harder?”

How would you answer this question?  Let us know here at The Things You Can Read!

Happy Reading!
The Things You Can Read
Believe In Truth, Beauty, Freedom, Love, and the Power of Books!



  1. Now, you see , this is exactly what I had in mind when I said I'd be kicking myself later - well thought out and reasoned reviews. This is great. I admit I haven't read this author but you make some great points and can I just say I love this cover. That girl could be me. Stood, on books. Holding books. Carrying a book under her arm. And, in fact, surrounded by books. Awesome!
    Lynn :D

  2. I read The Fountainhead in college for my architecture class b/c our professor was trying to teach us the problems with conformity in building and designing. After studying The Fountainhead, I have never able to look at buildings the same again. The arguments Rand makes in her novels certainly leave a lasting impression.

  3. It's been a few years since I read Atlas Shrugged, but you're right there are some serious similarities between Dagny's world and ours!

  4. I've never read either of these books! Which is kind of a shame, I know. I probably should. I have read Anthem by Ayn Rand and loved that, so hopefully I'd enjoy these books too - whether they manage to change any of my thoughts of viewpoints is another matter.


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