Comments: BOOKS

I tried to get my girlfriend to read Atlas Shrugged a few days ago. I, too, have a worn, tattered copy. She read the first few pages and decided that the writing was "boring," which I can admit that it is. But I do love that book. Even though the characters never change or have varying emotions, and even though the whole book is just one long essay. I like the message. To me, it's not right or left - not in today's world where everyone seems to care more about power than success.

Posted by Will at April 6, 2006 07:40 PM

Sarah,

I can't wait to read Atlas Shrugged. But don't buy me a copy, silly! I know how to work amazon.com just as well as you do! :)

Posted by Erin at April 7, 2006 05:58 AM

Sarah,

I'm sort of pleased to see that "Alas Babylon" is one of your favorite books, but I want to make sure it is the same one I know. The main character is a reserve military type who organizes security during a nuclear war in the Orlando FL area? Maybe, maybe not. But it was a great story anyway. I liked the book.

Subsunk

Posted by Subsunk at April 8, 2006 12:39 PM

"Even though the characters never change"

Atlas Shrugged is in part about the awakening of Hank Rearden and Dagny Taggart. They change, though John Galt does not.

Posted by Amritas at April 8, 2006 05:01 PM

Subsunk -- Yep, same book. Man, what a page turner.

Posted by Sarah at April 8, 2006 06:42 PM

IMHO, Dagny and Hank don't really change - they just hold out longer than anyone else. But their characters remain the same. It's not a bad thing, it's just not the most interesting thing to read. Especially after page 1000, when we've seen every version of the argument that Hank, his wife, Dagny, her brother, etc, etc, can have.

Posted by Will at April 8, 2006 08:35 PM

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance?
*Gags*
:)

Posted by Pericles at April 9, 2006 01:20 AM

The real cycle you're working on is a cycle called 'yourself.' Ahwww....

Posted by Will at April 9, 2006 01:57 AM

On what basis exactly are you two making fun of Zen and the Art? I'd like to understand.

Posted by Sarah at April 9, 2006 08:58 AM

I was just teasing. :) I haven't read it in a long time. I really didn't care for it when I read it, but some of my reasons may have been very personal rather than anything to do with the "Quality" of the book itself. I've mentioned on here before that I studied philosophy, and I wasn't thrilled with the way that the book reinforced the notion that philosophers tend toward mental illness... It may just be snobbery on my part, really. It is a hard thing to write books that get philosophical ideas across to a mainstream audience. It is no surprise that people who have read more of the classics will find popular books a little thin.

On a different subject, I'm curious why Atlas Shrugged gets so much more attention than The Fountainhead. I've always thought that the latter was the superior book. In some sense they're the same book, really, but not only is The Fountainhead a little shorter, the characters seem slightly more human. Although I never understood why Rand can never get a hero and heroine in bed together without its bordering on rape.

Posted by Pericles at April 9, 2006 02:23 PM

OK, thanks for clearing it up. I was trying to guess why you might gag at the book. That reason makes sense to me now.

Yeah, Ayn Rand's sex stuff weirds me out too. But beyond that, I like the books. And I liked The Fountainhead best for a long time because of Roark, but after reading Atlas Shrugged again recently, I appreciate Galt's Gulch so much more now than I did when I was in high school. Back then I just didn't really care about railroads...

Posted by Sarah at April 9, 2006 03:26 PM

It is a good question, by the way, about what books have been personally meaningful. Putting together a top 5 would be hard for me, without a lot of thought. Stranger in a Strange Land might be on my list, too. A lot of Heinlein is horrible, but that is pretty good. Maybe The Fountainhead could make my list. I'd have to include Crime and Punishment, and maybe The Brothers Karamazov, too. Perhaps Great Expectations, although maybe not. Dickens is probably my favorite author, on the whole, but are his stories really deep enough to be among the five most meaningful? To Kill a Mockingbird could make my list, even though I haven't read it since high school. Also maybe The Catcher in the Rye and Huck Finn.

Posted by Pericles at April 9, 2006 10:10 PM

You should give To Kill a Mockingbird another read. I think it's phenomenal; in fact, if we have a son, his middle name will be Atticus. I personally thought Catcher in the Rye was overrated, but I think I was expecting too much because of its banned status. Maybe if I read it again without all the hype, it might seem better. I thought Crime and Punishment was a very good book too.

Posted by Sarah at April 10, 2006 06:41 AM

A couple of books that caught my attention:

Alas Babylon. Great! For awhile in high school I could not turn down a book about the apocolyptic-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it. This is one of the books that was read several times in that period and a few times since.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I read this book when I was down with the flu in Dombas, Norway. It was a training trip, mostly skiing and I go the flu real bad. Left alone in the barracks to recover, this is the only book I could find in my teammates gear. Actually, it belonged to my team leader, a captain that was a little off center but a good guy. I struggled through the book, partly because of my illness, partly because of the psychological nature of the book. I've not seen nor heard of it until your list.

Atlas Shrugged. [rolling eyes] Great story. Too drawn out. The part that really killed me was Galt's (I think it was him) speech on the radio that lasted something like 65 pages. Guy, if you can't get your point across quicker than that... Anyway, I enjoyed the story, the moral, if you will, but it is a dull read.

I'm already thinking about which book I'll bring home tattered and care-worn. Any ideas?

Posted by JACK ARMY at April 17, 2006 09:21 PM