Kendall Moore
Kendall Moore asked:

In terms of Ayn Rand's fiction, does it make more sense to start with Anthem or The Fountainhead?

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Leo Walsh "Anthem" is at least half-way decent pulp science fiction novel. It is derivative of many distopias, notably "We" by Zamyatin, but it's not terrible. Say about three-stars.

"Atlas Shrugged," on the other hand, is rapidly becoming a one-star read as I plod though it. The "heroes" don't act heroically. Instead, imagine Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark abandoning regular people, and holing up in a gated community. Then exhuming Marie Antoinette, where they can scoff at the common people, and chant "Let them eat cake."

And it strains my ability to suspend my disbelief. I often find myself laughing, saying "People don't act that way." Example. One of the "good guys" [according to Rand's intentions, not my assessment] disrupts a wedding, preaches for like twenty pages (maybe fifteen or twenty minutes straight), insulting the groom and his guests and doesn't get slugged.... You get the point.
Peter Hernandez Anthem. I started with Anthem, then The Fountainhead then Atlas (I'm embarrassed to say I still haven't cracked open We The Living) then dove into her non-fiction. Anthem can be read in less than an hour. Though I love the theme and idea of the story it's certainly nowhere near the other two epics. It's kind of like a master filmmaker's promising student film.
Alex Read Anthem, because it's very short. All Ayn Rand's books are about the same thing, so you might as well find out how dumb that thing is before slogging through like 800 pages of it.
Richard Mayne I read Atlas Shrugged and then Fountainhead.... in hindsight I may have done it in reverse but never mind. I love both books.
Azeem The Fountainhead is a better place to start. Then, if you feel like it, read Anthem too.
Elizabeth Dixon I see this thread is 4 years old, but for anyone who currently has this same question, I would recommend reading We The Living before either The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged.
Debra Idso I started with Atlas Shrugged. LOVED it and then discovered her other books. Anthem was like art. Fountainhead was good.
John Kendall I read Anthem first. The Fountainhead was made into a film in 1949, and is an excellent substitute for reading the book, if you can find a copy. Atlas Shrugged is available on CD which is what I recommend. I read all 800 plus pages in the mid-1970's and lost track of time while I was reading. It's easier now to listen to CD's as I drive, although that technology is now being outdated. I think the three Atlas Shrugged movies missed some of the essential points of the book, so I would recommend the book first. Don't let anyone discourage you from finding out for yourself. One of the keys of Ayn Rand's philosophy is that you must trust your own judgement above all others.
Paul It makes absolutely the most sense to skip her preachy, heavy-handed, tedious, self-righteous, soap operas altogether.
Allie Zornes I tried to read "Atlas Shrugged," but I couldn't even make it past the first hundred pages. The protagonist (I forgot her name) made me angry and the massive exposition dumps bored me to tears. I rather liked "Anthem," though. It's definitely an interesting world to read about and I didn't want to bash the main character's head into a wall. It lays on the politics a little too heavy for my taste, but it's still an interesting and thought-provoking read.
Evan Skinner To give more of an unbiased response than the others, I think that Anthem is a good place to start with, as it gives you a good sense of Rand's philosophy before diving into a book as challenging as Atlas Shrugged
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