{the art of literature...}

fountainhead by ayn rand. 

though this novel deals with heavy political philosophies (most of which i don’t  fully embrace) – individualism and objectivism – there is a very great, compelling story worth reading. i was first introduced to this book when i moved to san francisco in my early twenties.  at this very impressionable age, the book left a lasting impression on me (i’ve actually read it a few times).  rand’s female characters hold strong convictions, are successful, and have bold personalities. single and living on my own in a new city, rand's female characters resonated with me. keeping in mind that rand authored her novels in the 1940’s makes her decision to create strong female characters even more remarkable.

of all the characters, the heroine, dominque francon, had the most profound impact.  “by the end of the novel, dominique no longer cares what anyone thinks or does. she lives her life for herself and no one else. finally, it is the act of creating, loving, and living in which she finds happiness, rather than the results of these successes, no matter how good or bad the recognition my be." when i was younger i remember thinking this was the best way to live your life. imagine how liberated you would feel.

now that i'm older and wiser [laugh out loud!], i've come to realize that a balance between marching to the beat of your own drum, while at the same time remaining open to what other’s opinions might have to offer, makes your life more enriching. the question begs to be asked, what about you…could you pursue a creative endeavor and receive no praise, validation, or feedback for your efforts, and be truly at peace with this outcome? could you live like dominque? 

which books have made a lasting impression on you?

in case you were curious, 10 books that made a lasting impression (in no particular order):

  • fountainhead, ayn rand (+ atlas shrugged)
  • joy luck club, amy tan
  • the stranger, albert camus
  • the kite runner, khaled hosseini
  • people's history of the united states, howard zinn
  • to kill a mockingbird, harper lee
  • catcher in the rye, j.d. salinger (+ franny & zooey)
  • fast food nation, eric schlosser
  • outliers, malcolm gladwell (or any of gladwell's books)
  • freedom, jonathan franzen (+ the corrections)  

source: quote from here

13 Send Me Your Thoughts:

  1. Of your list of 10, I love & would include "The Stranger", "To Kill a Mockingbird", and "Catcher in the Rye" on my list as well. I once got a chance to meet Amy Tan when she did a book signing at my local library when I was a kid and she signed my copy of "The Chinese Siamese Cat." A great kids book, I'd recommend it if your kids don't already have it! I haven't read any of her adult books, I'm ashamed to admit.

    I think the books that had the most impact on me are "The Great Gatsby" and "The Little Prince." And "The Phantom Tollbooth." And all the Harry Potter books. I can re-read any of those a million times (and I practically have) and never get bored. I find new things to love about each book each time I re-read them.

    I'd like to think I could be like that character Dominique, but I'm human and crave praise and validation for the work that I do. I wish I had that sort of "Eff em all" attitude to pursue whatever I wanted, but I think I'm too chicken. Great post to get us thinking, Theresa!

  2. The books that have really made an impression on me are A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry, Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson, Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, and The Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy. All riveting, full of heart, sadness, as well as being page turners! I also wish I could be like Dominique and not give a hoot about what others think...but I do care, it's in my blood to care. Great top 10 list! I cried at Kite Runner the book and the movie :) Thanks for sharing such a great topic T!

  3. Oh, T what a great post.
    Love your pic and photoshop skills.

    I've read all except people's history of the united states, and freedom.

    I don't know, there are so many books that influenced me that it's hard to say. Probably 'Sybil' by Flora Rheta Schreiber was one that affected me most. I read it when I was 15 and it captivated me and my quest to understand human behaviour and psychology.

    I remember feeling like you about 'fountainhead'. I love strong female protagonists and often identify with them.

    I think the idea of not caring is slightly misunderstood. For me, it's not that I don't care but rather that I'm quite clear about who I am and don't seek much approval from others. Having said that, I am an eternal student and always open to feedback but rather more discerning in where it comes from:)

    'The Reader' and 'Man's search for meaning' are also high up there. Oh, there are just too many.

    T, loved this x

  4. Love this thought provoking post, Theresa!
    One of my all-time favorites is Jane Eyre. I love the story this misfit of a woman, who was intelligent, strong-willed and although wrongfully treated most of her existence, capable of great discernment and incredible love. I admire how the novel explores how good and evil exist in the same person. The story of a "plain" orphaned, solemn girl who fights for her sense of independence and self worth in a time when a woman's looks, charms and relations were the keys to her livelihood. And also, the dark and twisted images woven throughout and the very atypical and all the more compelling romance between her and Mr. Rochester. I want to read it again right now!

  5. I'm so glad I started this conversation because I now have a great list of new books to read. Thanks everyone!

    @ERIN - I was going to include The Great Gatsby! Top eleven seemed like an odd number though. ;b Can you believe I've never read The Little Prince? Need to add that and the Phantom Tollbooth.

    @LIZ - You've mentioned some books that I've never heard of before. I'll have to check them out on Amazon. I've got a cart started right now...So far I have 1Q84.
    The Kite Runner made me sob out loud, which a book has never done before. It is a heartbreaking story. I didn't see the movie because I was afraid it couldn't live up to the book. Perhaps I was wrong.

    @TINA - Another handful of great books I haven't heard of. I know you feel and think about things on a very deep level, and those are the types of books I like to sink my teeth into. I'll definitely check out your recommendations.

    @BRANDIS - Oh, B, really beautiful synopsis. I remember reading Wuthering Heights in high school and liking it. But, for whatever reason, I never came back to Bronte's writing after high school. I will have to give Jane Eyre a go.
    Last year, I made a new year's resolution to read one classic novel per month. I made it to March! :)

  6. I'm so with you on Malcom Gladwell anything. I never read Fountain Head, but I did read Atlas Shrugged - which I absolutely adored! Although, Ayn did get a bit preachy towards the end ... I was like, "Ok woman! Enough! I get the point". Does she do that in Fountain Head too? lol. Anyways, it made a lasting impression.

    Some of my other favourite books include:
    - Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
    - One Day by David Nicholls
    - High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
    - Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne

    Fun post here, Theresa! Xx.

  7. Love the photo, how did you do that clever girl?

    Hmmm tricky one, there are so many.

    The Sea The Sea by Iris Murdoch.
    Any non-science fiction by Margaret Atwood. She writes female friendships like no one else on earth.
    Bleak House.
    The Pursuit of Happiness. Cheesy but I love it.
    The Good Life by Jay McInerney. I still feel upset by that book and terribly sad about the ending.

  8. @HOLLY - I have also read Atlas Shrugged and it does get preachy at the end. I would say that Fountainhead can be preachy, but less so than Atlas. Rand does love to hammer her philosophy into you.
    I like your list, especially Winnie the Pooh - a book of philosophy hidden in a children's book. ;)

    @ANNIE - You're right, there are so many. I mean, look at the great list that has developed here. Thanks for including your favorites. Is it strange that once I read "terribly sad" I'm now really interested in reading The Good Life? Glutton for punishment.

  9. hello! books - awesome topic. i read and loved "the fountainhead" and "atlas shrugged". also love the independent, strong female character. for me, i need both - time alone and a creative outlet (thank you, blog!), and a community, friends. you do have to be careful about feedback. we all need it, but you must remember the source.

    books i love - "born to run", "lord of the rings", "harry potter", ALL the patrick o'brien aubrey/maturin books, the first one is "master and commander", martin seligman's books about positive psychology. "flow". and lastly, the children's book i started to read to the class today, "mrs. piggle-wiggle". so fun. happy reading!

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  11. I describe the Good Life as the 'book that punked me'. Although out the book I thought it was a bit pedestrian, a bit obvious and everything that happens is too convenient. But then literally the last page it all changed I was so upset and felt robbed. I still haven't forgiven him for that! It's a story about decency, love, duty and sacrifice and it left a huge impression on me. I want him to write a sequel so that I know what happens next! Read it, I'd love to know what you think. I'll swap you it for undecorate, which I'm reading as we speak :)

  12. PS I've noticed that the books that the stay with me are the ones about missed opportunities, or about realising what you want too late and not realising what's right in front of your face.

    I guess the things that affect us in books are the things that have affected us in real life, or the things we're most scared of?

  13. I absolutely could no pursue a creative endeavor and receive no praise, etc! I need my validation or I feel like a failure.

    I've read about 3 of those books on your list, but I love the Malcolm Gladwell books, so fascinating! I'm always thinking about Blink as it pertains to my life. Not that there's probably much I can do about it.


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