I'm conflicted about this one. On the one hand, I think its a tremendously important book for everybody to read. Both because it reminds us of the hor...moreI'm conflicted about this one. On the one hand, I think its a tremendously important book for everybody to read. Both because it reminds us of the horrors of Nazi Germany, and because it is inspiring that despite it all, Anne never gives up hope or her faith in mankind. On the other hand, I feel guilty reading her diary. Revealed are her innermost thoughts and dreams, and she surely did not intend for the world to know her most private thoughts when she wrote them down.
Its not the sort of book you'll enjoy reading, but it may very well be worth reading anyway.(less)
When a person who doesn't read a lot of sci-fi asks me for a book rec, this is one of the ones I suggest. It is an absolutely brilliant book. I loved...moreWhen a person who doesn't read a lot of sci-fi asks me for a book rec, this is one of the ones I suggest. It is an absolutely brilliant book. I loved it when I was a kid, and loved it again for different reasons when I grew up. (less)
Tolkein's masterpiece is notable primarily for its historical significance. He basically invented the fantasy genre, and because of that all fantasy r...moreTolkein's masterpiece is notable primarily for its historical significance. He basically invented the fantasy genre, and because of that all fantasy readers owe him a debt of gratitude. Many things in his books will seem somewhat cliche nowadays, but that's because they have been used so often since he wrote this book - almost all of them were original when this book was written.
That said, Tolkein is not a terribly good writer. He tends to go on in excruciating detail about trivial concepts. Parts of the book, such as Ent poetry, are downright painful to read. And his leaf by leaf descriptions of forests can get fairly trivial. Since he wrote this series, several other fantasy writers have basically stolen the story and rewritten it with higher quality prose. Terry Brooks Shannara series, for example, is more or less identical in plot and characters, but Brooks is a notably better writer. So depending on whether you prefer the authentic text, or the better written text, you should choose accordingly.
The notion of heroism in Tolkein is particularly worth noting. It is, so far as I can tell, the first set of novels that defines heroism entirely by internal features. The protagonist has no ability to fight, or to use magic, or basically do anything except to doing his best to do the right thing. This conception of heroism, which is what is what most people think of nowadays, is quite different than it was historically conceived (where heroism was synonymous with strength or ability, sometimes in conjunction with morality, but sometimes not). So, in this way, like so many others, Tolkein has had tremendous effect on popular culture.(less)
In theory, this is a story of a brilliant architect who refuses to conform to societal norms. In practice this is where Rand really lays out the princ...moreIn theory, this is a story of a brilliant architect who refuses to conform to societal norms. In practice this is where Rand really lays out the principles of her objectivist philosophy with a not-terribly-compelling example of how an objectivist should live.
Her basic notion is that a person is not part of a community, and should be primarily concerned with his or her own needs, wants, and goals without consideration of others. To this end, her hero-protagonist ignores the law, breaks contracts, engages in rape, and is celebrated for all of the above. I personally find the objectivist point of view a combination of ludicrous and appalling (One might say I object to objectivism...).
However, this book, and the philosophy contained therein, have had tremendous impact on political thought and objectivism has a surprisingly large number of followers. Further, objectivism is a fairly common topic of discussion in some literary and intellectual circles so it's probably worth reading so as to be able to discuss it intelligently. Don't expect to like it.(less)