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When Did You First Read Ayn Rand?

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When did you first read Ayn Rand?  

402 members have voted

  1. 1. At what age did you read your first Ayn Rand book?

    • Middle school (or below?)
      33
    • High School
      139
    • College years (say upto 21)
      89
    • 22 - 25 years old
      52
    • 26 - 29 years old
      15
    • 30+
      40
    • Not yet read Ayn Rand
      1
  2. 2. At what age did you think that Objectivism might be the philosophy for you?

    • Middle school (or below?)
      20
    • High School
      117
    • College years (say upto 21)
      99
    • 22 - 25 years old
      65
    • 26 - 29 years old
      17
    • 30+
      44
    • I doubt Objectivism is the philosophy for me
      7


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After attending an ARI campus lecture, I wondered how many people actually changed philosophy after their college years. I broke the poll into two questions because some people might have read some Ayn Rand early on, as fiction, and left it at that. Then, later, they might have taken it more seriously.

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I had heard of Rand’s work for years but never really found the time to dive into it.

I was dating a girl in graduate school and we often would have very heated arguments over social issues.

We happened to wonder over to half price book store on a weekend and I glanced up and saw THE FOUNTAINHEAD. I grabbed it and the barrage of negative comments from her socialist ideologies came pouring in.

She told me I was too individualistic for a book like that.

Then a bookstore clerk came over and started in on the whole Fascism thing and down with capitalists boo hoo stuff.

I admit that I smiled and placed the book back, but knew from that moment on it was a book I wanted to read.

Needless to say the girl didn’t last long, but Rand and I have.

Vincent

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I was so sure that I could write a winning essay in ARI's essay contest for high school students that I picked up a copy of The Fountainhead.

After Roark got kicked out of the school he was attending, I knew that there was a principle behind it that was worth exploring.

Here I am. Ironically I never did write that essay because the actual study of the philosophy trumped everything else.

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After attending an ARI campus lecture, I wondered how many people actually changed philosophy after their college years. I broke the poll into two questions because some people might have read some Ayn Rand early on, as fiction, and left it at that. Then, later, they might have taken it more seriously.

That's an interesting question, I hope you receive enough responses from which to draw a meaningful conclusion.

I recall from a prior survey that the age distribution of members of OO.net was markedly skewed towards those between the ages of 18 to 25. You may want to consider "normalizing" the results of the current survey based on the data provided in the "age distribution" survey. This would help to answer the question: "Of those of a particular age group, what percent changed philosophy..." Just my two cents. Regards.

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Needless to say the girl didn't last long, but Rand and I have.

Sound a little kinky.....sorry I', in a weird mood. :worry:

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Listen to my sad tale of mystery, intrigue, and heartbreak!

... Okay anyway, I was introduced to Atlas Shrugged by my (at the time) best friend who told me that "this is the best book ever written!" I didn't think much of it, but promised him that I'd borrow the book from him and read it through and through when I had the time.

I read it all in the summer of 2004, when I was on an internship in Beijing. I remember staying up until 3:00AM finishing the book in its exciting conclusion and having to get up at 8:00AM for work the next morning. That was some night.

I was astounded mostly at how incredibly salient the story was to me: it had confirmed a lot of what I had always somehow "felt;" it seemed like it put my unspeakable emotions into words in a way that I would never have been able to personally.

The next semester back at university, I was to room with my best friend again. I looked forward to it like nothing else, I knew that by the time I came to love Atlas Shrugged, I'd honestly made a great best friend of him.

Second semester rolls by, and BAM, he flunks out of the university. He had said that he would come back after a year's detention, but he never returned, and he never directly told me of any of it.

From that moment on, I learned that I wouldn't trust anyone until I knew the true extent of their character and their resolution.

The great irony is that the man who deserted me and the rest of his friends was the same who gave me the reasons for coming to realize that I should hate him.

... Man, I feel like Dagny Taggart feeling for Francisco, but I'm not a woman, nor gay. >_>

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After attending an ARI campus lecture, I wondered how many people actually changed philosophy after their college years. I broke the poll into two questions because some people might have read some Ayn Rand early on, as fiction, and left it at that. Then, later, they might have taken it more seriously.

I was raised a fundamentalist Christian. During my initial years at college I was still a Christian but less of a fundamentalist. In my upperclassmen years I turned into a deist as I took more science courses. A couple of years ago I would have described myself as an agnostic (living life as an atheist), but now I find it pointless to believe in God. My transformation came about before reading Ayn Rand, and very closely parallels Charles Darwin's own changing beliefs as summarized by his words (my emphasis added):

"...During these two years (March 1837 - January 1839) I was led to think much about religion. Whilst on board the Beagle I was quite orthodox, and I remember being heartily laughed at by several officers (though themselves orthodox) for quoting the Bible as an unanswerable authority on some point of morality. I suppose it was the novelty of the argument that amused them. But I had gradually come by this time (i.e. 1836 to 1839) to see the Old Testament, from its manifestly false history of the world, with the Tower of Babel, the rain-bow as a sign, &c., &c., and from its attributing to God the feelings of a revengeful tyrant, was no more to be trusted than the sacred books of the Hindoos, or the beliefs of any barbarian....Thus disbelief crept over me at a very slow rate, but was at last complete. The rate was so slow that I felt no distress, and have never since doubted for a single second that my conclusion was correct. I can indeed hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true; for if so, the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my Father, Brother, and almost all my best friends, will be everlastingly punished. And this is a damnable doctrine...."

During those years between college and now (I am 31) I fell in with the subjectivist liberal crowd, because they seemed honest and sincere, something Christians did not. I read Atlas Shrugged just last year, which was a year after I was introduced to Objectivist philosophy. I was very intrigued about Objectivism before I even read Atlas Shrugged. After I read that, I moved on to some of her non-fiction. Once I finish my dissertation I want to read OPAR and ITOE.

I think it's easy to change your philosophy as an older person. Objectivism is for everyone as long as you are a rational, non-evading person. I just shared three of Ayn Rand's non-fiction books with a retired faculty member and friend at my university after he remarked that he had read Atlas Shrugged and Fountainhead way back when he was in college. He never knew Ayn Rand has written any nonfiction!

Anyway, his words were, after reading the books: "I could just hug her. What a genius." It is very pleasing to find other people I can share ideas with, and I hope I can encourage more people to read her works. Many, many people have never heard of her r do not know the full extent of her writings.

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My 8th grade english class read Anthem, but I forgot about it until after Atlas Shrugged the summer after highschool.

I wish I had your teacher. I had the great pleasure of reading the story of Rosa Parks about 15 times throughout my high school years. And never once do I remember reading a story about the founding fathers.

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Most of the teachers at my school were quite good, and she was one of the better ones. My girlfriend went through the same sort of thing you did.

She studied the holocaust every year from like 6th to 9th grade. Not that it doesn't warrant study, but that is a bit much, especially when they didn't ever study any of the causes of the holocaust, or how it could have been prevented.

My early education about it was similar, it was just presented as contextless and incomprehensible suffering that could never ever happen again so we didn't need to worry about what caused it.

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Okay, compared to most of you, I guess I am a bit stunted, since I didn't stumble on to Rand until later in life.

High school: heard of The Fountainhead, but that was only read in Honors, and well, that wasn't where I was.

I did see The Fountainhead mentioned in the movie Dirty Dancing in a negative light. Made mental note to check it out (this was when I was 16) and kept saying that to myself every time I saw the movie after that

Saw Atlas Shrugged on the shelf at local bookstore when I was in my late 20s and thought “Wow, that must be a really good book. It is so damn thick, but I heard it is so well read. I should read it some day.”

When I was 34 I see someone refer to an Ayn Rand meetup on a Humanism discussion board…have no idea what Objectivism is or that Rand created a philosophy.

I go to the group, chat with the people I know; go again a second time, and chat with the hostess for a bit, and she explains some interesting things. She looks at me and can see I am confused. She says “You need to read Anthem. That is the place to start.” So I go to the library, and do just that.

Then I get We the Living. Then I read The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged (still working on that one) and am currently attending an OPAR study group.

It has only been, hmmm….about 6 or 7 months since I even discovered that such a thing as Objectivism existed.

I don’t have a full understanding yet to claim to be an Objectivist, but my husband is farther ahead of me, and is ready to embrace it, and can defend the philosophy against detractors pretty well.

Discovering Objectivism is probably one of the best things that has happened to either one of us. I wish Rand's works was required reading in every high school. I am doing everything I can to encourage my teenage son to start reading her works, without being forceful. I have a teenage sister that has expressed and interest, so hopefully she will take the time to explore and apply this wonderful philosophy as well.

You know, this probably sounds melodramatic, but I believe Objectivism can truly save lives in some cases. Anyhoo...that's my story so far.

=)

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I read Anthem in the 7th grade. My dad's an Ayn Rand fan so I was eager to grab an Ayn Rand book as soon as I could to see what it was all about. I think I bought my copy of Atlas Shrugged around the same time, but I admit my 7th grade self had a little trouble getting into it. So I read Anthem and We the Living first.

Since I grew up in an Objectivist friendly house, I never really saw anything that strange about the books. My reaction was pretty much: "Cool, that makes sense." So, I never really asked the question: Is this the philosophy for me? Of course it is. :confused:

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I first read Anthem in the ninth grade (I am now in the eleventh grade). Upon finishing it, I knew that objectivism was "right for me." I still think that Anthem is Rand's best writing. Later that year, I read Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. After that, I started working on the non-fiction, and I started reading articles and watching lectures on the ARI website. I'm reading ITOE and The Capitalist Manifesto by Andrew Berstein at the moment. Not making much progress though, because I'm getting a hefty amount of schoolwork. It kills me to have to read Howard Zinn instead.

I read Anthem for a school assignment and found Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, as well as all of the non-fiction, on our bookshelf at home. It turns out that my dad is quite the Ayn Rand fan.

Seventh Grade might be a little bit early, softwareNerd. As a seventh grader, I would have claimed to have understood it, but in retrospect, I probably wouldn't have. Reading Anthem for the first time is a special thing. Don't waste it.

Edited by Klarinettus

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I read Anthem in seventh grade and it was great. (Though it did require a re-reading). I had wanted to read Atlas Shrugged since I could remember. It was my mom's favorite book (still is), and it was so big! I regarded it like a treasure chest- but one that I couldn't open. My mom refused to let me read until the summer between ninth and tenth grade. It was actually better that way. It build up the anticipation and I was so excited that the first 100 pages or so that so many people think are boring were awesome. And it made me read extra carefully so I made sure I understand it as much as possible. I didn't want to let her down by not understanding it. I took it on a backpacking trip with my dad- she gave it to me as I was literally walking out the door. I finished it by the end of the weeklong trip. I thought of nothing else the entire time. I would hike faster just to read while my dad and brother caught up! When I couldn't read, I thought about it. The relationship between Dagny and Rearden was a special point of interest because I didn't quite understand it. The violently (for lack of a better word) passionate nature of their relationship was quite confusing at first. So I literally though about it for days.

I think I learned more in that week than I did the entire school year.

Since then I've read all of Ayn Rand's fiction and non-fiction (except the Ayn Rand lexicon), OPAR, and The Ominous Parallels. I still need to read The Capitalist Manifesto, but that'll have to wait until summer.

So SNerd, you definitely should make you son wait for Atlas until high school, but build up the anticipation. Let him know that it's you favorite book, but he'll have to wait until he can understand it. It makes it even better!

Zak

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Interestingly enough, I only started reading the fiction last night. I've always had a tendancy to do things not quite the way others do, so I began with Objectivism by attending an Objectivist society group with my wife who was learning about it at the time. I went more to get out of the house and see what the conversations would be like, having no real idea of who Rand was or what Objectivism was. What I found quite literally shocked me, a majority of what I over heard backed up and enforced my own ideas I had been harboring for most of my adult life.

So I started trolling forums and reading occasional snippets out of the OPAR book trying to relate the philosophy to ideas and values I already hold. Normally (for me at least) I find it easier to pick up the opposing side of something I believe in and argue that with someone who holds the same ideas to see if it can hold up, it's hard to debate a topic with someone who believes what you do. I also can't simply pick up a book and be told that this holds the foundations of a philosophy that is true, especially works of fiction, I'd reject it as dogma, kind of like someone saying, here's the bible, read it and all it's supporting text and know that this is the way things should be.

In the end, I've found too much of it to ring true that I can no longer reject it, but now embrace it and figure out how to apply it to my life. I think my wife finds it hard to believe that I've picked up and understood the philosophy so quickly and without reading much of it, when really I've believed it all along, it wasn't a great leap for me to get there. Now, I can read her books and appreciate them for what they really are I think. But that's just the way I do things.

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You really should read the fiction when you can. It's excellent. Also, be cautious. The problem with seeing that you have reached the same conclusions as Objectivism and not studying it in depth is that you may have reached the conclusions for different reasons. I held many Objectivist views before I knew what Objectivism was, but now that I have studied the philosophy some, I have a much more consistent and integrated understanding of it.

Edited by Klarinettus

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You really should read the fiction when you can. It's excellent. Also, be cautious. The problem with seeing that you have reached the same conclusions as Objectivism and not studying it in depth is that you may have reached the conclusions for different reasons. I held many Objectivist views before I knew what Objectivism was, but now that I have studied the philosophy some, I have a much more consistent and integrated understanding of it.

This is good advice. Lathanar isn't one to jump the gun, though. He's reading her fiction now.

It is funny, because his brain and my brain is wired so differently. I go to an OPAR study group fairly regularly, and have read a lot more of Rand's fiction, but I think he has read as many as Rand's actually non fiction as I have. And he has "gotten it" a lot quicker than me.

I have to say, though, that it is nice to see him change his mind on some issues that we had been arguing about for a few years. Do you know how hard it is to say SEE! I WAS RIGHT! I WAS RIGHT!!

Because, well, I really can't say that, because it wasn't me that changed his mind...and it wasn't really me that was right. It just was right...and that is fine with me.

It's all good.

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I discovered Ayn Rand's writings through a bodybuilder/writer by the name of Mike Mentzer when I was 25. His writing style was so different to the mainstream, using logic and critical thinking in ways that had NEVER been applied to the gym.

In each article, he paid his respects and expressed his gratitude to AR for the development of his mind. I was curious as to who this person was. Being from Ireland, I had no exposure to her or her ideas at that time. I was hooked on learining more about her and her ideas. My brother bought me the Fountainhead as a gift and set this cause in motion. Roark's expulsion scene had a profound effect on me and I was so eager to discover the reasoning behind his taking such a stance.

Much as I had enjoyed the Fountainhead, nothing could have prepared me for the impact Atlas has had on my life. I'm very grateful to have found this philosophy and my life flourishes as a direct result.

Who knew a bodybuilding magazine could have such a far-reaching and lasting impact. Thank you Mike Mentzer (sadly passed away 2002)

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Since grade 9 Pierre Trudeau was a sort of idol for me. It was his rebelliousness that I admired. And then my English teacher in grade 12 caught on to this and suggested that I read THE FOUNTAINHEAD for an independent study on Individualism. I read it and it was hard to read but very enjoyable and addictive, kind of like not being used to the taste of some beverage.

I'm ashamed to admit that I made some grave errors prior to accepting it as my life guide.

But I knew that I had discovered one of life's secrets and I was surprised not my family nor friends nor anyone I knew had discovered this same secret.

Then I met John Ridpath. He taught me for two years at York University. I will always love that man just for being a teacher when I needed one most and for the first time in my life.

His courses were really all about showing the student the importance of epistemology.

And I had a friend who always challenged me: so how do I know for sure?

After reading ITOE, I knew for sure.

But really I was a second-hander until some years after I heard Peikoff's lectures on Induction. Then I knew that the work ahead of me was a motherload but at the same time I could learn this method.

Now ... that's my goal. To come up with truth ... to understand ... what I need to know.

That is really all Ayn Rand offers anyone: the right method. However, in the deepest sense her fiction provides one with the need to learn what this strange "first hander" really is ... it's a life long struggle ... but we can comfort ourselves with the confidence and certainty that knowledge is a spiral.

And now I'm turning twenty-seven ... but I've learned how to write thanks to Ayn Rand and Tore Boeckmann, et. al. Much of the journey was torture--I kid you not. Maybe I was a weakling but god it hurt in many many ways.

Sincerely,

Jose Gainza.

Edited by AMERICONORMAN

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You really should read the fiction when you can. It's excellent. Also, be cautious. The problem with seeing that you have reached the same conclusions as Objectivism and not studying it in depth is that you may have reached the conclusions for different reasons. I held many Objectivist views before I knew what Objectivism was, but now that I have studied the philosophy some, I have a much more consistent and integrated understanding of it.

Unfortunately I'm one of those that starts at the end and works his way to the beginning. It makes life interesting.

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A friend of mine (Shoshona Milgram's daughter, if you know who she is) gave me Anthem to read during a long car ride to a volleyball tournament because I'd finished the book I brought. (I think this was in 9th grade, when I was 13 or 14.) She was always carting one of Ayn Rand's works (or possibly Victor Hugo) around school with her and occasionally she'd nudge me in the direction of reading them, but I thought some kind of weird voodoo curse would descend on me if I tried to read anything deeper than Myth Adventures and I wouldn't be able to keep my eyes open, so I demurred.

Well, I finished Anthem in the car (and read it again on the way back) and so my friend started pawning her other books off on me . . . she had several copies and was only too happy to see me reading them. I really, really liked the books, but I didn't really "get" them, I think . . . I didn't have enough experience for the ideas to be anything other than floating abstractions, so I didn't really see how they applied to my actual life. (I still have problems with this, on occasion.) By the time I was in college, I considered myself to be an Objectivist but my grasp remained pretty shaky.

Then I made friends with a serious Catholic online, one who'd never encountered Objectivism, and he wanted me to explain it to him. I was surprised to discover that I couldn't! I just didn't know enough! So I went out and bought OPAR and several other books I didn't own yet, read them, studied them, joined this forum, annoyed the crap ouf of a bunch of people with my determined yet somewhat bizarre opinions, and learned a lot. I think now I can actually say that I'm an Objectivist.

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My first Ayn Rand book was Atlas Shrugged, I found it this last summer when searching a local Borders for a decent book to read. (8th-9th grade transition) It took me around two weeks to read. The theory immediatly appealed to me because I have been brought up thus far in a very politically active family. Immediatly after reading Atlast Shrugged I began reading The Fountainhead and after that Anthem. I now consider myself a full objectivist although I know that one is never done learning.

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