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Ayn Rand Best Books: For Beginners

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Ayn Rand, born Alisa Zinovyevna Rozenbaum on February 2, 1905, in Saint Petersburg, in Russia, was the eldest of three daughters and was an American writer, screenwriter, philosopher, and playwright of Russian-Jewish origin. She became known for creating a philosophical system called Objectivism. 

If you are interested in knowing more about the writer, we will bring in this article a list with some of Ayn Rand best books to start reading.

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Rand described Objectivism as “the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity and reason as his only absolute.”

He believed individual growth is more important than the collective good. Furthermore, for Ayn Rand, the reason was the only way to acquire knowledge rejecting religion and faith.

She is also known for her two best-selling novels, Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, and for plays produced on Broadway.

The fact is that Ayn Rand was an important figure in her time. She was a person who possessed unique views on politics and society never seen before. Ayn’s favorite way to express her thoughts and opinions was by writing. The typical mark of her literary narratives is to have unapologetic protagonists with successful lives due to their uncompromising self-centered virtues. 

For Ayn Rand, art is essential to human life, the technology of the soul, as she put it. In her vision, art helps people focus on what is most important to them. Through art, we can contemplate our personal values expressed artistically. By reflecting on this vision, we are inspired to keep striving to realize our most desired goals.

For some people, Rand’s writing style is interpreted as rigid and insensitive, which has led to various criticisms. However, these criticisms, together with his unique style, have aroused the curiosity of many people who, for various reasons, have become interested in searching for his works. Although he has been gone for a long time, his popularity has not diminished.

List Of Ayn Rand Best Books

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1. Atlas Shrugged

This book shows a future in which the United States finds itself on the brink of economic collapse after years of collectivist misrule. As a result, creative and productive citizens such as scientists, artists, and industrial workers have been exploited to benefit others who have not cooperated through neglect and incompetence. 

The hero, John Galt, is a handsome and highly selfish physicist and inventor who leads a band of elite creators and producers in a “strike” designed to deprive the economy of its leadership and thus force the government to respect their economic freedom. It represents the author’s vision of reason, individualism, and capitalism.

This book is considered by many to be Ayn Rand’s “magnum opus,” her best work. It is a long book, with over a thousand pages, demonstrating Rand’s objectivist ideas that sought to display in her work what would be the ideal man. The book ended up being criticized for its perceived immorality and distancing from any religion. Despite this, it became an instant best-seller. It was well received by business leaders who identified with its views.

2. The Virtue of Selfishness

This book makes the reader think and reflect on selfishness. The main question the author aims to answer in his work is, “is selfishness a vice or a virtue?” The book also contains 19 essays, 14 by Ayn Rand and 5 by Nathaniel Branden.

3. The Fountainhead

This book tells the story of a young architect named Howard Roark who does not accept submitting his work to the conventions of his surroundings. The young man’s integrity was uncompromising, bending to no one. 

Because of his indomitable nature and innovative worldview, the architect aroused terrible feelings in the people around him. Even the woman he loves ends up acting in a way that limits the scope of his career.

The book presents us with the vision of a man who thinks for himself without submitting to standards imposed on him that he cannot understand. It is, for many, the most inspiring story written by Ayn Rand, demonstrating the audacious nature observed in creators like Beethoven and Steve Jobs, people with unique worldviews.

Ayn Rand’s work presents a provocative view of humanity by suggesting that man’s ego is the source of human progress. The Fountainhead is another work that demonstrates the ideas of Objectivism created by Rand. Suppose you are looking for an inspiring story about courage, daring, independence, and perseverance. In that case, this is the ideal Ayn Rand book for you.

4. Anthem

This fiction book takes place in a dystopian future where humanity is going through a dark age. In this age, technology is prevalent, and the sense of individuality is non-existent. 

Then, a young man rebels by doing secret scientific research and, later in the story, runs away with the girl he loves to the desert. They plan to create a new society where individuality is the primary basis.

It is the second work of fiction written by Ayn Rand, at just over one hundred pages. It is one of her statements against authoritarianism and a moving novel.

5. The Romantic Manifesto

This book deals with real issues. The author emphasizes that one can only create art by including personal ideology and value judgments in work. The work contains some of Ayn Rand’s most controversial views, which may be difficult for some readers to accept.

6. Philosophy: Who Needs It

This work contains a collection of essays by Ayn Rand, published posthumously in 1982. In the book, the author argues that humans must reflect on their assumptions to live a whole and meaningful life. Another book by Rand in which she emphasizes the critical role of philosophy in human activities.

7. We The Living

This book was Ayn Rand’s debut novel. Being the author’s first statement against communism, the story is set in post-revolution Russia. In the book, the impact of the Russian Revolution on three human beings is shown. 

The work deals with the passionate love of a young girl who stands firm against the corrupting evil of a totalitarian state. The book functions almost as an autobiography of the author, demonstrating her ideas against socialist ideology.

The novel has as its central idea the struggle of man against the state. It can be understood as a clear portrait of what it was like to live in inhuman conditions in communist Russia, with details taken from Ayn Rand’s personal experiences as a young girl. 

The author witnessed the country fall into poverty after the Soviets’ rise to power. At that time, finding anything beyond the most essential commodities (which was very difficult) was almost impossible or difficult for most of the population.

This work is as inspiring as others mentioned in this list. Despite all the difficulties faced, the character Kira remains adamant. Furthermore, the story shows the reader all the motives and horrors faced by the Russian population in that historical period. 

These same motives were the seed of Rand’s hatred for communism and collectivism, leading her to become one of the greatest defenders of human freedom. 

8. Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology

In this book, Ayn Rand addresses what caused the downfall of modern philosophy, the problem of universals, by presenting a new and original solution to this problem. 

The work clearly debates the author’s Objectivist ideas in a well-written and argued manner. The book seeks to demonstrate that humans can and need to live under the guidance of rational thought. 

In the book, it is also possible to find an essay by Leonard Peikoff, an essential reading to understand the idea presented.

9. Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal

This collection of essays by Ayn Rand, with a few more associates, focuses on the moral nature of capitalism and its historical basis. Here, Ayn Rand applies her philosophy of Objectivism to politics to discuss the complete separation of economy and state. For the author, most people do not know what capitalism is, which is why she calls it “the unknown ideal.” 

Ayn Rand understands that capitalism is the system that arises from a group of free individuals concerned only with their sustenance and evolution. Having a vision that humanity should be based on individualistic ideas, the author considered capitalism the only moral, social system to meet these interests.

Final Thoughts

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Ayn Rand was undeniably a visionary without equality, a courageous woman with strong opinions and misunderstood by some people. In her works, she invites the reader to self-reflect on the meaning of life, of the human being, and how we deal with our daily lives. 

An absolute defender of freedom and individualistic thinking, she wrote essential and profound works that demonstrated her worldview. Objectivism, the philosophy she created, rejects altruism and highlights selfishness as the primary source of human evolution. And for her, art is the direct way to externalize our ideas. It visualizes our fundamental values to inspire us to continue regardless of obstacles.

Therefore, if you want to know more about this important figure in literature and start reading her books, we recommend you choose one of the books mentioned above. Find one that appeals to you and connects with your values and interests, and start your journey.