The 4 Top Books of Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand is the Russian novelist most famous for her work Atlas Shrugged. She was born to the name of Alice Rosenbaum in Russia in 1905, but migrated to the United States as a young adult drawn by the lure of capitalism and a love of the free market. For many years she struggled to make ends meet as a writer, but finally achieved marginal success with her first novel, We the Living.

Ayn Rand’s Top Books
Atlas Shrugged
Selling over 6 million copies worldwide, this book still regularly tops bestsellers lists almost sixty years after it’s 1952 publication date. The entire concept of the book is based on a dire struggle between the most capable, successful members of the world and the weaker people who try to sponge off of their ability. Rand was captured by the thought of these capable, over achievers and the curiosity to see what would happen if all of the world’s capable went on strike. No longer able to sponge off of the capable, the world begins to fall into disarray within her novel. Part of the book that is especially famous, is the sixty pages towards the end that are devoted to a speech by her character John Galt. This speech encapsulates all of Rand’s beliefs and took her two years of editing to perfect.

Although many of Rand’s ideas have obviously not yet reached fruition in this novel, it is far more accessible to the reader than Atlas Shrugged is. While Atlas Shrugged often comes across as depicting a capitalist world devoid of empathy, Fountainhead still shows grey areas that make it more enjoyable for the reader who does not find themselves to be one of Rand’s “heroic men” It paints its evil doers in a more gentle light and is less ideological then Atlas Shrugged.

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We the Living
We the Living is perhaps the best book for the reader who is new to Rand although it’s workmanship is the worst. This is the first book Rand published in English and some of the phrasing she uses in it show her newness to the language. It’s story is based around the romance of it’s heroine Kira and her personal vendetta against communist Russia. The story is obviously written by an idealistic young Rand who is still searching for her philosophy and it’s romanticism is appealing. For detractors of Rand, We the Living provides them with a Rand that could have been: a more romantic, forgiving and less hard-line Rand. This is quite possibly my favorite work by Rand for this reason. The English is not always the best, and the story line is overly romantic, but this is Rand at her most human.

The Night of January Sixteenth
If We the Living is Rand’s first book, then the Night of January Sixteenth would be her first work of note. This is not a novel in the strictest sense, but a play. However, this play is enjoyable to read and should be included on any list of Rand’s best books. This play was created around the idea of a courtroom scene. The jury was too be picked from the audience and the verdict was to be decided by them. Rand carefully weighted the case so that the way the jury sided reflected not the guiltiness of the defendant, but the juries own sense of life. Did they believe that capable capitalists were the exploiters of the world? Or the capable that ought to be defended against the weak sycophants who feed off of them? Reading this play, the verdict is difficult to reach and ultimately reflects on the readers character.

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About the Composition of This List

For those dedicated Rand enthusiasts, you will note that I left all of her non-fiction works off of the list. This is for several reasons. Ayn Rand had wrote of her belief that philosophers should create novels around their philosophies. She believed the creation of it would not only show the readers more aptly what the philosophy entailed, but would also help the philosopher to learn exactly what the boundaries their philosophy held and if it were workable in a real world. If characters in a book could not believably act according to the philosophy, then it could stand no chance in reality. For this reason then, I have chosen Rand’s fiction works. They reflect in an easier to read style what her philosophy entails. They also have the added benefit of being less dogmatic than her later non-fiction works and -for those interested in the numbers- sold far more than her non-fiction works did.

Still interested? Try reading another article about Ayn Rand and her influence today, or email me with questions. Randian influence on conservatism is my focus in history and I am always glad to help another out in their studies.
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