Book Review: The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand (1943)

I wanted a good reading copy of The Fountainhead, so I cruised eBay for one. I mean, I have the first edition, but I don’t want to spill beer and danish toppings on it. I also have my first paperback copy from college, but I’m a hardback snob. So I cruised eBay and found a nice International Collector’s Library edition ca 1968, complete with heavy paper, leatheresque binding, and attached ribbon for book marking. Oh, yeah. And for such a low price (shipping and handling extra)!

So once I bought it, I put it on my to read shelf. And now I have read it for the fifth time.

What can I say? I like the book. I read it first, a library copy, before my freshman year of college. I’d been challenged by the startlingly-literate machinist next door to elevate my reading habits if I wanted to be an English major. So I remembered flyers for the ARI’s The Fountainhead essay contest scholarship and figured it was Literature. So I consumed it at the most formative time, that summer when a young man leaves his boyhood home and tries to become a man.

The book seemed very long back then when I was used to 175 page crime thrillers, but now that I have graduated to 1000 page Stephen King books, it seems almost like a quick read. I’m surprised every time how approachable the book is; the book avoids the speechifying that sank Atlas Shrugged. Rand also had a better hero in this book, Howard Roark, with whom the reader struggles throughout the years that pass in their epic sweep.

Howard Roark, architect. He’s thrown out of architecture school for being a nonconformist and has to strive through a series of setbacks to be the man he is and to be an active architect without compromising his ideals. He won’t, of course, because he’s a Randian hero, but it continues to inspire me each time I read the book. So I’ve read it again for the first time in five years, and I’ll read it again in another five years, when I need a reminder of the freshness and vitality I felt and feel about my ideals when I read this book.

It’s not much of a book review, but let the fact that I paid eBay shipping and handling for a copy of this book so I could read it a fifth time speak for me.

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand (1943)

  1. Wow, wow, wow! Comments! Could trackbacks be far behind?

    Halfway through the Fountainhead I decided I really disliked all the characters. I can’t leave something half unread, so I finished it.

    It’s been a long time, but I think it was the sheer selfishness of all of them that turned me off.

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