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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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My tale might be one of interest.

To begin, I was not well liked child. I was one of those strange smart, yet socially inept little kids all of the little darling children enjoyed torturing so much. I was pretty much despised by the vast majority of my peers. I grew up in a conservative yet secular household, by two parents who had some problems of their own. They both drank over job stress an basically psychologically tormented me when I didn't meet their standards. (Don't worry, things get better).

This kind of pattern grew until I got to about the tenth grade. At this time, I was something of a socialist (of course, my concepts of socialism were a little uniformed. I mean, what's so wrong about everyone being nice? (Not to mention my idea of what a socialist society would look like, in retrospect, bears more resemblance to a Smithian capitalist utopia than any Stalinist mojo)). I was balanced somewhere between an atheist and an agnostic. Sophomore year started, promising to be another miserable little benchmark in an existence that was not by any stretch of the imagination "happy."

Then the best thing to happen to me so far, occurred.

Hurricane Katrina came, destroyed my home and drove me out of a state I've come to hate.

Due to the problem of not having a home, I was sent to live with my aunt (who was a born again bible thumper, but this is unimportant). I got put in a small school near her home where I discovered this strange thing called socializing. With the help of a wacky Polish boy I refer to as Kaz and a band of misfits and freaks, I went from a total introvert to something of a freakish extrovert. I became not only well known (being something of a novelty attraction in a small town helps), but not universally hated on top of it. I became an open knowledge seeker. I learned to love rock and roll through the awesomeness that is Ozzy Osbourne. I blossomed.

Despite stress with my aunt and fears of returning to my parents, I was forced to come back down south. I was pleased to find my parents had sobered up and straightened out. I was enrolled in a middlingly large school. Since I was not something of an attraction, I had to work my way out of a shell again. There though, via Economics class, I was introduced to Why Capitalism Works So Darn Good. This, on top of my distaste over the actions communists had taken in the name of utopia, caused my to throw socialism to the wayside, and became an ardent capitalist pig dog. I was an atheist, an iconoclast, and a capitalist. I was closer than I think I realized at the time.

Then came the English III Honors research project. The project is to pick a book by an author, read it, write a paper on it, then do a thesis paper on the author. We were given a list of American authors. I picked names I heard before, one of them being Ayn Rand (where I heard the name, I cannot remember.) I brought my teacher the list to talk it over with her. I crossed out Hawthorne and Asimov since I had read them both. She suggested not doing Eliot or Cummings as they were poets. She then noticed that I had marked Ayn Rand off. She gave me a brief synopsis of Atlas Shrugged (Smart people rebelling against the idiots in power? Sounds like my kind of story!). She also commented that Galt's oath sounded like it would be something that I would say. I puzzled over this and told her that, well, maybe so.

I checked the book out the weekend before Christmas break ended and only six days or so before the paper was due. I figured I would read it over the New Years trip to my Grandmother's house. I had not quiet grasped the fact that the novel was twelve thousand pages in length.

As I was reading the first chapter in my father's truck, listening to Dagny speak inside my head and watching her feminine leg shift in her chair, a strange series of thoughts occurred to me.

These people act like I do.

Followed by;

No, silly, your just projecting yourself onto the characters in order to find some sort of kinship...

...No, wait, never mind, these guys act like I do.

I returned to school the next week having only just wrapped up Wyatt's Torch. I begged my teacher for more time, and she happily agreed. I finished Atlas Shrugged while simultaneously digging through hundreds of negative reviews on the book to support a thesis paper I was writing. Spoiled the story for me. Still loved it. (I remember one particular episode: I wandered into library for English class, walked up to my teacher and stated, rather calmly "They killed the Wet Nurse!" "That's what happens when you get in the way." "... I know, but I liked the Wet Nurse!"

Reading Atlas Shrugged not only spring boarded my interest in philosophy, but has also cemented my dreams of pursuing a career in writing and professional philosophy. It has, perhaps profoundly, perhaps not so profoundly, changed my out look on life. This fall, I start college. I try to think for myself, reach my own conclusions. I am a studier of all of human knowledge and I seek the truth.

Where has this personal quest for truth lead me?

Well, I am here now. :D

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Discovered Objectivism last November when my English teacher (voluntarily) assigned us the Fountainhead essay contest. I put the book off for about a month, then started reading. I finished it in 3 days. My essay is still being judged, and I expect to hear back from the contest any day now. Since then, I have aquired Atlas Shrugged, Capitalism-The Unknown Ideal, The Romantic Manifesto, The Virtue of Selfishness, and For the New Intellectual. I shall post my essay later.

Edited by Graffhyrum

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My dad and I have never really been that close, let alone seen eye to eye on most issues. As I was packing up for college, he handed me Fountainhead and told me I should read it. Books were actually one area where we shared similar tastes and I absolutely devoured it during my first few days Freshman year. That of course lead to Atlas Shrugged a while later and down the rabbit hole I tumbled.

We're still not really that close, but I "get" and respect the hell out of him now thanks to that initial book suggestion. Rand goes well with hindsight!

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Read Anthem as required reading for 9th grade, then I read Atlas Shrugged that winter, and it changed my life forever. I'm very supportive of ARI because I've seen what injecting their books into schools can do.

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My interest in politics came from my interest in computers. I was always interested in computers, and eventually I became interested in the Open Source movement, moreso the philosophy of the free software foundation. I was awed and amazed by Richard Stallman's philosophy that all software must be open source to be moral. I don't agree with that now and can't even remember what made me think its right. However Stallman was certainly my first encounter with philosophy and absence of other views probably helped his grow inside my mind. Stallman's philosophy made me consider myself a socialist for quite some time.

Last year I suffered a brain injury and had a spotted memory, and still do at times. I can't remember the cause of my old views now, and last year I started to get back into reading about philosophy, especially ethics, to come back to my old understanding. All I knew was that my views were not right, and I couldn't remember why I formed them in the first place because of the brain injury. There was an election in Australia last year and the biggest issue facing me was the nanny state (smoking bans to be exact). There is really only one party in Australia against the nanny state, The Libertarians, who called themselves the "Liberty and Democracy Party" at the election. I became a fan, and also was subscribed to various libertarian blogs.

One of these blogs posted an article about Ayn Rand calling her a "Capitialist Hero," at the time I was still apprehensive towards the idea of capitalism being heroic at all (I was still of that silly "money is the root of all evil" mindset) however despite being apprehensive, I was also more than willing to keep an open mind considering my mind had been banged into a garbled mess by my car accident. So I decided to read Atlas Shrugged, and did. After reading I have become convinced Objectivism is the philosophy for me.

It's interesting that Libertarians pointed me to Rand, because Rand has trashed any chance of me ever supporting libertarianism.

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Ayn Rand saved my soul. I had been searching for a philosophy my entire life, and never found anything I could actually agree with. By the time I was twenty-three, I had read the Bible, the Tao Te Ching (sp?), some of Plato's Dialogues, a few books about witchcraft, Aristotle's Metaphysics, the Qur'an, and quite a bit of Nietzche. I also read a lot of fantasy and science fiction, which, to me, was the most coherent and rational approach to philosophy I had yet encountered (SF more so than fantasy). Shortly after joining the Air Force, I discovered politics, and for several years considered myself a conservative with reservations. Socialism was, and still is, a lot scarier to me than religion. By the time I was thirty, I was somewhat frustrated with finding a philosophy, and was balanced between just becoming a christian (or at least claiming to be one), and trying to write my own comprehensive philosophy based entirely on reason and reality. I discovered Objectivism by reading in a forum about Terry Goodkind (I was looking for a list of the Wizard's Rules at the time) that he was an Objectivist. Since I felt I was too lazy to write my own philosophy, I decided to check this one out. I started with Wikipedia, and found not a single point I could disagree with, so I read her novels (in order of publication), then VoS, then OPAR, and I'm currently waiting for ITOE and The Art of Fiction to appear at my local bookstore. I'm currently re-reading the Sword of Truth series a bit more thoughtfully than I read it the first time.

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Strangely enough, I first learned about Objectivism via Wikipedia, as I was idly researching philosophical Egoism out of my own interest. It seemed to speak to my own personal philosophy and from there I moved on to reading about O'ism. I found I agreed with a lot of what I read, so I decided to order For the New Intellectual. After reading that book and supplementing my education with the information I've found online, I discovered a philosophy I agreed with inherently. It was like Rand spoke with clarity my own inner gleanings. I am just now finishing up Atlas Shrugged.

The internet is an awesome tool.

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Just couple weeks ago someone called me "rand worshipper" and I had no idea what was that about. I googled and found out who she was. Since then I have been trying to learn about objectivism. I have not read her books, so bear with me :(

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Just couple weeks ago someone called me "rand worshipper" and I had no idea what was that about. I googled and found out who she was. Since then I have been trying to learn about objectivism. I have not read her books, so bear with me :(

I'd be interested to know what you said or did that provoked them into calling you that.

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Brand newby here. I'm 67. When I was 20, I was visiting my folks. I had been out with a friend one evening. Needed something to read for a few minutes before I went to sleep. Found an old book in the top of their guestroom closet. I remember thinking, "This will put me to sleep in no time." When my mother got up at 6:30 the next morning, I was still propped up in bed reading. The book was THE FOUNTAINHEAD. I was an avid student for the next 20 years. Obnoxiously intense at the start with the fervor of the newly converted, but less so as time went on. Have not studied much in the last 20-odd years, but recently started reviewing the philosophy that was my guidance all of my adult life. ES.

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At the age of 23 (3 years ago) I saw this picture in someone's signature on some forum on the web:

hero.png

I got curious and watched "A sense in life". From that moment I was hooked :read:

Earlier my interests evolved around computers, programming and evolution. I was disgusted of politics (well, rightly so!) and couldn't understand the source of the problems in the world. I blamed the US and capitalism, not even understanding what both terms mean. After learning more about the history of the US, after discovering libertarianism (and later Ayn Rand) I started questioning my political beliefs and 'switched sides' :lol:

I first read her non-fiction books and while I easily agreed on the foundations of Objectivism it took me a while to understand the political consequences.

I read Atlas Shrugged the first time last year, while traveling with an old train through Bulgaria, an interesting experience ;)

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I picked up The Fountainhead when i was at a thrift store browsing through the used book section, it was one of the best finds of my life. I spent the next week totally wrapped up in it and since then it has profoundly change my life in the most wonderful ways.

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Hey All,

I was an adult student in Toronto, still deluded that a high school diploma was worth anything, and we had this eccentric polymath teacher who used to run a cattle breeding farm, and who let the older students eat lunch in the storage area between the labs, letting us listen to Monty Python records (a beta version of CDs), while he did a 45 minute combat nap on a stool in the corner.

One day he was teaching the section of Biology 12 that addressed evolution and its relation to other belief systems, and at the end of the class he handed out a copy of the "I" chapter from Anthem. I sat there and read it, slowly realizing that this is what I had always thought, but just couldn't put into words. I then looked up at him and said, "Do they know you're doing this?" (thinking that he might get into trouble) And then I asked where I might find more like it. He told me about Atlas and Anthem, and I took them out of the library that day, and read Anthem that night. This was before the internet, but when I get obsessed about something, I want to know as much as is available. Toronto is a great city for bookstores and libraries, and it didn't take me long to find more fiction and non-fiction. It was like I didn't have to feel guilt for believing the evidence of my senses anymore, for finally trusting my own judgement, for believing in heroes again. This teacher's singular courage made it possible for me to learn how to think in a more systematic and life-affirming way, and I owe much to him for who I am now.

If you're out there, thanks.

I picked up The Fountainhead when i was at a thrift store browsing through the used book section, it was one of the best finds of my life. I spent the next week totally wrapped up in it and since then it has profoundly change my life in the most wonderful ways.

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I am a testament to the power of the internet in spreading this philosophy.

I first encountered Rand through browsing Wikipedia and reading about the concept of Egoism. After I did some searches elsewhere, I wanted to read more of the philosopher herself and so picked up For the New Intellectual and found the philosophy of my inner thoughts put to print, fully explored and integrated.

That was almost a year ago.

Edited by Lazariun

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That of course lead to Atlas Shrugged a while later and down the rabbit hole I tumbled.

Climbed out of the Rabbit hole I would think :lol:

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Actually word of mouth or personal example or the postal system works just as well.

I have been in the science fiction community for probably 20 years. Back in the stone age, before the internet, and when Russia and its satellite states were called the Soviet Union, our local scifi club was trading books with a sister club in the Ukraine. I had an extra copy of a set of scifi books and chose the one that was the same thickness as Atlas Shrugged. I carefully peeled off the cover and reglued it over Atlas. I shipped it to the Ukraine with the other books, and months later got a puzzled reply from the person on the other end, but a few years after that, the Berlin wall fell down. :P (this was the era when banned books were copied by hand or typewriter, then passed around from village to village)

I am a testament to the power of the internet in spreading this philosophy.

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I first read Ayn Rand two years ago, I was 35. I had begun to frequent several right-wing political discussion groups with an emphasis on Canadian politics. I had always known that leftist political ideologies were repellent to me, and found that I was most comfortable on conservative discussion boards. I agreed with some conservatives on issues such as free markets, individual rights, limited government. I refused to call myself a conservative, though, because I eschewed religion (I was very religiously agnostic, on the cusp of considering myself an atheist) and definitely did not share conservative views on abortion, gay marriage, and worship of tradition. I was trying to articulate, to define, to understand my philosophy and my moral code. I followed a link that someone posted to the Political Compass site, and it pronounced me a "libertarian." I noted some of the famous names that were clustered on the chart near me, and Ayn Rand was one of them. I had no idea who she was. Another poster on one of the boards said that my strong sense of justice and my previously stated admiration of reason indicated that I didn't really sound like a libertarian, and that I sounded like I might be a capitalist. He suggested that he thought I might enjoy the works of Ayn Rand. So I did a bit of research and concluded that Ayn Rand was a fascinating woman with even more fascinating ideas.

I set out to read her works, and decided to jump in with both feet. I began with Atlas Shrugged. I think of my reading John Galt's speech as my "Of course!" moment.

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I set out to read her works, and decided to jump in with both feet. I began with Atlas Shrugged. I think of my reading John Galt's speech as my "Of course!" moment.

Unless you are one HELL of a speedreader, it was more like your "Of course!" evening. <_<

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I read excerpts from Ayn Rand Lexicon while in high school (I think that's when it was, its been a long time), and seeing a friend reading The Fountainhead in class. I respected his opinion so I started to read her non-fiction which frankly was difficult for me. Being in late teen years and deciding to read Objectivist Epistemology was intimidating, but fun. I actually read some quotes of Rand's in a body building book (no joke, Mike Mentzer's Heavy Duty II). So, I purchased Atlas Shrugged at 18 or 19 years old.

Long story short.... I procrastinated and waited 10 years later to read Fountainhead and Atlas, and now regret waiting. They were life altering and I have made a friend at my work as he has fallen in for Rand's philosophy and literature. My wife as well has read the two novels and LISTEN TO THIS... as a suburban public school English teacher has replaced one of her books with Anthem. Yes, my wife got approval teaches Anthem in her eighth grade class (as well as propaganda and informal logical fallacies).

I cannot begin to describe the change Ayn Rand has had on me, and those I value.

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I read The Fountainhead when I was 15, after my Mom off-handedly recommended it to me. It was really perfect timing for me, as I was having a hard time coping with school. I had stopped hanging out with all my old friends, as I felt they were immature and I did not enjoy spending time with them anymore. I didn't feel bad about this, but everyone else looked down on me for it.

I was commonly criticized for thinking I was better than everyone else. While I did indeed feel this way, I was not sure if it was right or not. I was never rude to anyone, I just didn't play games and I never pretended to like someone just to be nice. I liked being confident and it was weird that everyone one else saw it as a negative.

Reading The Fountainhead just made me feel great. I knew I was right and now I could put it into words. I really wish I could relive that first read...

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I first read "Atlas Shrugged" during the summer of 1999, mostly on the beach. I was 35 years old. I had never heard of Ayn Rand or "Atlas." I only picked up the book because I saw The Modern Library's "100 Best Novels" list published in the Philadelphia Inquirer, and I was surprised that I had never heard of the book that Readers had ranked #1.

Prior to reading it, I had no idea that the book had anything to do with philosophy. I was raised as a Christian, but that never "took" with me, and I spent most of my time in high school and college reading about various religions. (Although I had given up any belief in God by the time I was fourteen, I remained fascinated by religious thought, and hoped that I might find some religion that would "make sense"). Unfortunately, I was never exposed to the subject of philosophy in school or by my parents, so beyond religion I had only read parts of Plato's Republic and a little bit of Aristotle. It honestly never occurred to me that the questions I was wondering about had been addressed by many philosophers--but I was committed to music from a very young age, and studied very little else. I think I've always been a kind of rational egoist, implicitly, so when I read "Atlas" it immediately connected with me. When I finished reading "Atlas" my first thought was, "finally someone who sees the world as I do!" I was quite naive and ignorant. Ayn Rand enabled me to finally understand the person I had always been.

I've spent the 9 years since then studying philosophy in general and Objectivism in particular.

I am an Objectivist.

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I only picked up the book because I saw The Modern Library's "100 Best Novels" list published in the Philadelphia Inquirer, and I was surprised that I had never heard of the book that Readers had ranked #1.
You can thank the enthusiastic Objectivists who voted as often as the web-site would allow!! :) Edited by softwareNerd

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