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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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I first found out about objectivism when a friend started discussing it with me. Then, I found out there was an objectivist club at school, and I really liked going to those meetings enough to start actually reading Ayn Rand. I only found out about the philosophy last November, and now I've read 5 books on it. It's great.

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The trend does look as though it takes some time to digest, probably longer for some than for others. Took me a while, because I didn't really study until pushed.

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I first read Ms. Rand's work when I was sixteen and I knew I had found something that will be a part of my life forever. Eight years later and it still holds true!

I remember feeling something similar to what Rearden's reaction to Francisco's words were during the wedding anniversary party, I felt as though she was telling me what I hadn't been able to put into words.

Dinesh.

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I discovered Rand this summerwhen I worked at the family buisness as a secretary/receptionist. I was sitting around with nothing to do (there was literally nothing to do most of the time) and my boss goes, "Heres a book. You should read it." I really didn't want to read it because my boss was kinda crazy. I would read it only when he was in the office, and read a different book when he was gone. After the first hundred pages, I read it non-stop. I read it probably six or more hours a day. After I finished, I bought fountainhead, and just didn't stop reading her books.

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... my boss goes, "Heres a book. You should read it."
What book was it?

I was introduced to Rand by a friend who gave me "VoS" and said "You should read it". I didn't want to either, and I was aware that this guy read pretty much anything he got his hands on. Not sure why I read it, finally; but, I'm glad I did.

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in order:

Atlas (11 years ago, after my oldest was a couple months old)

For the New Intellectual (thus began path out of faith)

Fountainhead

Romantic Manifesto

Atlas

We the Living

OPAR (thus completed path out of faith 9 years later)

Fountainhead

VOS

PARC (I figure I might never doubt Dr. Peikoff) (though the whole liberal/conservative thing had me going for a while)

Anthem

I've also subscribed to TIA for several years and now I am looking at adding TOS and others to my subscriptions.

Edited by MoralForester

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I think I was six or seven years old when I first questioned the existence of God. In seventh or eighth grade I wanted to know why, if freedom of speech was in the Constitution, it was wrong to watch R-rated movies.

Later in junior high I got taken in by a certain cult which I shall leave unnamed. I studied its literature for a year, but was puzzled by the holes and contradictions, and I found it impracticable. Eventually I found out it was a fraud. Bitterly disappointed, I became a skeptical agnostic. (I still believed in the Constitution, though.) When The Fountainhead essay contest was running, I said, "It can't be that great of a book if they have to pay people to read it..."

I went on like that through college, and I didn't hear about Ayn Rand again during that time, but I didn't get a job right away after I graduated, so I ended up briefly unemployed. I decided to torture myself. I figured I'd either read something by James Joyce or Ayn Rand. (Well, I thought they were interchangeable at the time!) Ayn Rand was somewhat easier to find in the bookstore...

That was in the first half of 1998, when I was 22. The Fountainhead was a blast! After that I read Atlas Shrugged and OPAR. I knew immediately that Objectivism was for me -- it not only fit in with a lot of what I already believed (including my sense of life) but it filled in all the holes and answered all the questions! I devoured all the the Ayn Rand nonfiction I could find (The Virtue of Selfishness, Capitalism The Unknown Ideal, Philosophy Who Needs It, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, For The New Intellectual, and The Romantic Manifesto) and then I figured I got the point. (I think I read Return of the Primitive, The Ayn Rand Lexicon, The Ominous Parallels, and The Early Ayn Rand in the following year. I'm not sure what order I read the books in, or the dates.)

I bought The Art of Fiction and The Art of Nonfiction when they came out. I didn't read We The Living, Anthem, or Night of January 16th until much later. (I loved Night of January 16th, by the way.)

That's how it happened...

Edited by necrovore

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I first read AR In the summer of 1996. I came on line in the fall of 1995. I talked to a lot of new people and it was the first time someone referenced Ayn Rand and how her book changed their life. (this person became my boyfriend 6 years later). I had never heard of her before then. After talking with a few more people, someone gave me the nickname Dagny and said I reminded him so much of this character from AS. He had JG athem in his fave quote and I immediately identified with it. People always called me selfish (in a bad way) and now finally someone was encouraging it. Since it was a big book, I Decided Atlas Shrugged would be my summer read, but I began reading the Lexicon. It's amazing how she slaps you in the face with the truth.

Her books gave me the voice for so many things I thought and felt but could not express. Not only that but those words affirmed me and gave me courage. I was hooked. I was right.

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I was very lucky in finding Ayn Rand. I picked Anthem off the shelf of a used bookstore at age 13. I was hooked right away and wanted to go immediately from that to Atlas Shrugged! However, I decided to read the rest of Ayn Rand's fiction in the order she wrote them for two reasons: (1) I would see her progression as a writer, and be able to enjoy each of her books more by not reading her best work first; and (2) I think I knew I would be able to appreciate Atlas more if I were just a little bit older!

I ended up reading Atlas at 14 or 15, declared myself an atheist to my parents that year (I was raised Catholic), and then met my first Objectivist in college a few years later. She became my girlfriend in college, although we broke up soon after I moved to New York. I read all of Ayn Rand's non-fiction by the time I got to college.

As I assume it was for just about everyone on this forum, Ayn Rand's books absolutely changed my life. One aspect, which Alessa36 mentions in her post, is that everyone used to call me selfish. I never understood it. Now I know they called me selfish just because I was passionate about what I liked.

Here's to Ayn Rand [glass raised high]!

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I got introduced to Rand's ideas second-hand through the Sword of Truth series in fifth grade (though I had no idea Goodkind had gotten much of his inspiration from Rand until late last year). Later, in a class discussion I mentioned something about people not having the "right" to other people's money for health care, and after class one of my classmates came up to me and asked me if I had read Rand. When I said no, he gave me AS. After devouring it, I started talking to the classmate more, thinking he was someone I could relate to, but it turns out he is of the "truth is a matter of arbitrary axiom" persuasion. I no longer talk to him, but I've still got Rand.

Hear, hear, GB.

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I first picked up TF when I was around 13. I read the first paragraph, put the book down, and walked away. It didn't appeal to me right then.

I picked it up again when I was 14. I read a little further and I didn't put it down this time until I was finished. It was a relief to read something so natural. I was already an atheist, so that part didn't really affect me. I tried to use reason most of the time anyway, so that, too, wasn't a surprise. It was the ethics that I especially liked. I was always told I was selfish, from my dad mostly. I kept being "selfish," though, because that was the only way I knew to be. After reading TF, I stopped thinking about it. I realized that it was right to be selfish.

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For me, it was the result of a long and tortuous path of investigation and thought.

I became and atheist about age 12 or so (an interesting story in itself), yet had questions about morality and the like which I spent the next several years thinking about now and then. These thoughts included politics, which from an early age I recognised were an outgrowth of moral theory. This continued through to university, where in 1992 I stumbled upon the then-young newsgroups system on the equally young internet. I hung out in alt.atheism, and then later in talk.politics.theory. It was in this latter newsgroup, in mid-late 1994, that Miss Rand's name was mentioned once and I decided to investigate. The uni library had old and tattered copies of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, which hadn't been touched since I was a toddler. I absolutely LOVED them, and became an Objectivist not long thereafter. I generally put the Official Date as mid February 1995 and my age for it as thus 22, but can't remember the exact day on which I said "Right, that's it, I'm in!"

I don't credit luck to the library having the copies of TF and AS. If they hadn't been there I would have ordered them from the bookstore, and instead of being an Objectivist for 12 years I would now have been an Objectivist for 11 and a half years, give or take.

JJM

Edited by John McVey

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Is there a reason this got bumped up?

Anyway, I came across Ayn Rand the woman in the Fall semester of my Junior year at a Baptist High School. I had just gotten into the Libertarian realm of politics and became very passionate about it all. I was still a Christian at the time, and took some of Rand's ideas in without ever reading her, just knowing the superficialities of the Philosophy. Then in March of 06 I decided I would finally read Rand. The only book my Library had was " The Fountainhead ". I loved it. It took me most of the rest of my Junior year to read but through reading it I was able finally renounce my belief in God and the Christian doctrine. For the rest of that year, I considered myself an Objectivist but was basically a Nietzschean Egoist. I read Atlas in the fall of 06 and finished around December. I think then I finally began to grasp the true meaning of Rand's work. It helped me tremendously with my depression and lack of confidence I had subjected myself to and also helped me express things I always knew but could never express.

So, I'd say a year ago I finally decided that Objectivism was the only proper and moral philosophy.

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I found Objectivism--first time around--via an unusual route. I was in high school, and aware via literature class that there were all these predominant philosophies (though they were defined vagely enough to be more "senses of life") expressed in the literature, e.g., Romanticism, Fatalism, etc., ad freaking nauseum. (Romanticism as used there was not really all that much like Rand's sense of the term.) There was something wrong with every one of these and I actually blamed philosophy as a discipline for the problem. This was only intensified by my admittedly very light exposure to a lot of stuff that passes as modern philosophy. I decided it was a mental masturbatory waste of time. I had just a couple of years earlier decided capitalism was it, politically, but on utilitarian grounds. I also believed in objective reality and reason being a sciencehead since I learned to read. So that's three out of five branches, alas I was altruist.

I read a letter to the editor in the Mensa magazine where the writer encapsulated Objectivism in four or five sentences. Not quite standing on one foot but close. This made me curious enough to go to the philosophy section of the bookstore, and pick up FTNI. Turned out AR was a novelist; I do not remember what her *second* book that I read was--was it CUI, VOS or Atlas Shrugged or Anthem? Anyhow, I bought and read and did not fully appreciate everything I could get my hands on.

This was probably about 1981 though it could have been 1980. I know for an absolute fact that it was during High School because my senior yearbook has a full page profile on myself and the class Commie (we did point-counterpoint in the HS newspaper but ended the year by collaborating on a column slamming creationism); we are both sitting near piles of our favorite books and there is AS in hardcover.

I was interested in Laissez Faire capitalism and extremely limited government primarily at that point; I melded my very incomplete knowlege of Objectivism into a much larger sea of libertarian works and went off to college. I still bought the thin trickle of new works as they came out. Checking the philosophy section every three or four years was sufficient, alas. I stumbled upon OPAR shortly after it came out in large paperback (I have a second printing), plowed through it but still did not regard myself as Objectivist. Drifted into the Republican party, then after their phoniness became too obvious to be denied in 1994-98, jumped into the Libertarian party. The nescent streak of anti-Americanism became dominant after 2003 though the first ugly indication came within days of 9-11 when the 2000 presidential candidate sent out a mass e-mail titled "when will we learn?" I wish now I had saved it.

So I jumped out of there. And discovered there is actually an Objectivist movement, devoted the time and thought to studying it that it actually *deserved* and I am *mostly* convinced now.

Only took 22 freaking years!

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I first read Anthem when I was in tenth grade English. I only slightly liked it and nothing more, and from there on I held a negative view of Ayn Rand's writing. Then one night during the second semester of my senior year I was talking books with one of my close friends, and somehow I brought Ayn Rand up, saying to avoid her books (I didn't and still don't like her style of writing fiction; I'm a Burgess man literature-wise), but my friend told me how much she loved her.

Her viewpoint stuck in my mind while I was browsing Barnes & Nobles, and I came across The Virtue of Selfishness, which I decided to purchase because it was cheap and thin, and also I wanted to see what my friend was talking about. Reading the essays that first night stirred a euphoric feeling in me. It took me more than a week or so to get through that book, because I got into that habit of reading a few sentences and then contemplating/digesting them for a few minutes because of their brilliance.

I have bought and read more of her nonfiction (I should at taken the suggestion to read them in order, because I just read what sounds interesting at the moment due to the limits of my wallet), and I have subscribed to the articles of the ARI, but I still have much more of the nonfiction books to read and understand. Right now I'm mainly reading the epistemology book, which may require a rereading, and also Philosophy: Who Needs It.

I am not certain though if I will dive back into her fiction or not.

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The very first time that I actually read Rand, other than in passing of certain passages that were relevant to a given situation at a particular time, was when a certain someone here* (names have been omitted to protect the guilty) loaned me their paperback copy of Atlas Shrugged one day when they ran into me while I was at a local garage/tuner's shop that I use to hang out at (and still sometimes frequent on the rare occasion), and asked me to read it in order to give them my impression/thoughts/perspective on the ideals conveyed.

I would later read other issues of Rand's publishings (as I've mentioned elsewhere on this forum) on my own accord in order to glean a deeper understanding of the ideology that she was attempting to convey/garner additional insight/seek further clarification by way of validating my then pre-conceived, now solidified, perceptions of her philosophy.

*hint-hint

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Read Atlas Shrugged in my mid-thirties - done because I had decided to expand my literary library, and AS had a reputation as being a difficult read for most, which was all I needed to know to get me to try. Took about three weeks, as I locked into it, and went back to reread passages so often that I probably read it three times the first time I went through it.

As far as knowing when objectivism was the philosophy for me, that would be going back as far as I can remember. AS hit me square between the eyes because it represented the philosophy I always had. It was nice to find that there was someone else that understood it, and could put it into words, something that I never could.

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I answered 30+ for both but I think if I'd been aware of Objectivism, and the fact that selfishness isn't the evil that people have been telling me it is, ever since I was old enough to understand the words then I would have been hooked from the get-go.

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I spent about a year between finishing my undergraduate degree in 2004 (at age 22) and starting Law School. During that year I was introduced to Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series. After I had read all those books I went on to his website to see if he had written anything else. From his website I learned that he was an Objectivist, so I decided to read Atlas Shrugged. I finished it just a day before starting Law School and have since read nearly everything Miss Rand has published.

I had previously considered myself a "Classical Liberal" so it wasn't much of a stretch for me to go from admiring Locke and the Founder's political philosophy and embracing Objectivism. I wish I had been introduced to her ideas much sooner, though. I could have used them back in High School and College.

Edited by Regis

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I never heard of Ayn Rand until I was ~23. Then I saw a nice picture online with the motto of Objectivism, watched a few videos on google, bought the AR library and was hooked from that point on.

Too bad capitalism is not taught in Germany, I would have loved to learn about it 5-10 years earlier. For me that means that there is a market for a German book about capitalism/Objectivism, which I'll write during the next few years :)

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In 1999, I was working in a large local book store as a department head. I would spend most of my time in the back, but would often have to work on the floor to cover people for lunch breaks. Atlas Shrugged always stood out to me for some reason, partly because I didn't get what the title meant. I was curious, but never bothered to actually pick it up. I left that job because I was being hamstrung in the performance of MY duties by having to do the duties of others, and went through a series of other jobs.

I hit some hard times where I considered throwing in the towel and asking for help from the government. Something deep within me wouldn't let me. I was capable of work, so I needed to just get off my butt and find a job. I did. Then, my son was born, and I understood that, while my wife could be capable of supporting herself, my son wasn't. I had responsibilities to live up to and haven't been without work more than a week or two since.

I used to be someone who thought the rich should take care of the poor, that society demanded it. I finished Atlas Shrugged just a couple of days ago. I can never go back to that way of thinking. The book intrigued me in a way no other work ever has. The idea of showing capitalism in such an unashamed manner was new to me, and frankly it got me thinking. I now have a good job with benefits. It took hard work, but it was far from impossible to replicate. Atlas got me to think about why the wealthy should support the poor when many of the poor are that way by choice. I became more understading of Laissez-Faire capitalism and how it's better for overall economic growth. While reading AS, I looked up information on Ayn Rand and became intrigued about Objectivism. I'm still far from truly comprehending it all, but I do want to learn more about it and try to impliment it into my life.

I can't look at the world the same. I don't want to look at it the same. Yes, it feels like Atlas Shrugged has changed my life. I hope to never slide back into that looter/moocher world.

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Answer to Q1: 38

Answer to Q2: Circa College Years

Like Cheryl Taggart, I have believed much of what Objectivism teaches without being consciously aware of the definition (Cheryl's reconciliation with Dagny). Like Hank Reardon, I struggled for many years to accept what I was being told, and that my inability to accept it was wrong.

I remember very clearly when I was 19, and going through Boot Camp & A-School (2ndary training) up in old Great Mistakes, one weekend I went on an outing to play football, that turned out to be organized by a Christian organization. Simple plan - go to the base, pick up a bunch of dumb kids, host them for the weekend, play football on Sat, hold a prayer meeting, and take em to Church on Sunday, to "save them", and I remember on that field, WANTING to be able to believe in Jesus the way they talked about him, wanting that kind of surety that they had, but absolutely unable to accept on a fundamental level the contradictions inherent in Christianity. And I knew what they were better than most - my father is a Lutheran Minister. I was raised in the church.

I struggled again for years during a deep immersion in Amway (the Britt line - INTENSELY Christian Capitalism). Every time I went to a "function", I was largely right on board with what they taught - when it came to business, capitalism, ethics, morality, etc. -- until the inevitable praise to God, glory to Jesus, we couldn't do it without the Lord. Some times I tried to believe, again, other times I just sat and suffered through it.

In my late 20's and early 30's I finally gave up trying to be someone I'm not, and accepted my inability to believe, and became a devoted Agnostic (and I remain one, but that's a different topic). Today, like Cheryl, I finally know the name for how I see the world. Fortunately, my wife is NOT a nihilist, so jumping off a bridge is definitely not in my immediate future. :)

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In my last year of high school I was digging through all the scholarship offers on the internet. There are so many oddball scholarship offers it's mind blowing. Most of them require being a minority of some kind or special interest group, or writing about the sacrifice of the war veterans, or how great it is to be tolerant of all cultures, blahblahblah. The usual liberal tree hugger bull crap. I made some attempt at writing essays for some of them, but I really just couldn't, because I honestly couldn't commit to it. So eventually there were a few interesting offers left, one of which was the Fountainhead scholarship essay contest. So, I thought, hey all right I can read a book simple enough. Plus as vaguely as I could tell it was a fictionalized account of Frank Lloyd Wrights life (so people had said), and that was cool too, I really liked his work.

So not long after starting to read it, I was just startled by how personally it resonated. There are portions where she describes Roarks social attitude and it felt like someone had been observing my life and writing it down. I tore through the book pretty fast. Once I was done, the first thing I did was to go check out the author. I thought it was much too good to be true, how the hell would someone with so much integrity live up to her words. I had already been an Atheist for years, and it was refreshing enough the main character had no religion. So I fully expected to read about Ayn Rand and find out she was some kind of doting old christian in reality, but at least the fiction would still be great even if the author's a shmuck hypocrite. Of course when I actually found out how untrue that was, my jaw just about hit the floor. It was almost inconceivable, I'd never heard of someone with so much creativity and integrity.

I quickly moved on to AS after that. I read it at every free moment during school. My english lit. teacher actually had to tell me to stop reading it and pay attention. By this time I was both enthralled and confused. This author seemed amazing to me, so why had I never heard of her before? Why the hell wasn't this being introduced to us in English class? The stark contrast between putting down the Fountainhead, and beginning my high school english class reading an ancient native american mythology was insulting. It wasn't until recently I'm starting to see precisely why she gets so little respect she deserves.

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