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Group Reads/Readalongs > Anthem by Ayn Rand - December 13 Group Read

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Holly (hollycoulson) This is the thread for discussing the group read for Anthem by Ayn Rand. I'm personally really excited about it, because I'm a lover of the dystopian genre, and I really want to see what her writing is like!

I hope you're happy with the pick, and even if it wasn't what you voted for, please join in!

Amber (amberterminatorofgoodreads) I will. Got it on my tablet already. ^_^

message 3: by Connie (last edited Nov 23, 2013 03:53PM) (new) - added it

Connie Cote I wasn't all that keen to try this one but decided to give it a shot. I didn't realize it was so short. I downloaded both the audio version and the book. Actually ended up listening while I followed along in the book. "Read" the whole thing this afternoon and found it very interesting. I will probably end up reading it more than once.

message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm excited to read it again. It's been a while.

Holly (hollycoulson) I think it is going to be interesting reading a dystopian novel that is so short... I'd like to see how Rand develops her society enough!

Hopefully planning to get this read in the next few days... Trying to get some of my December reading done before December as I know it's going to be busy!

message 6: by Zoe (new)

Zoe | 1 comments I read this a few years ago and have been meaning to move on to some of her other novels. This is a thought-provoking story and it stays with you for a while, as presumably dark visions of humanity's future are meant to do. It would be interesting to read again along with the group.

Holly (hollycoulson) I'm actually really looking forward to this. I need to read more Dystopian short-fiction, and this just fits the bill.

And the fact it's written by Ayn Rand is a big bonus. I've always wanted to read Atlas Shrugged but I want to check out the writing style before I go for it!

Amber (amberterminatorofgoodreads) I will get to this one and Christmas carol in December. Got to finish The Child Thief and City of Bones first. Can't wait! ^_^

Kate I just bought the book today. I'll be racing to finish the one I'm reading now but will hopefully catch up with you all soon. :-)

Amber (amberterminatorofgoodreads) how long is this one though? Just curious. I was thinking of reading either this one or Christmas carol first to start the tattered tales book club reads. not sure which one to start.

message 11: by Kate (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kate Amber wrote: "how long is this one though? Just curious. I was thinking of reading either this one or Christmas carol first to start the tattered tales book club reads. not sure which one to start."

Anthem is around 100 pages. :-)

Jennifer (The Nightly Book Owl) (misscupoftea) | 7 comments I read this one a while back, and I'm really looking forward to discussing it with you guys! It really is very quite thought provoking :)

Amber (amberterminatorofgoodreads) Thanks Kate.

message 14: by Kate (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kate Jennifer wrote: "I read this one a while back, and I'm really looking forward to discussing it with you guys! It really is very quite thought provoking :)"

Hi Jennifer

I just started reading it today and reckon I'll have it finished in the next 24 hours, time permitting. LOL! I'm hooked. :)

message 15: by Kate (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kate Also, if anyone is interested in utopian literature, News from Nowhere is a very good read. I have Erewhon and Utopia at home too, which I'll one day attempt. Has anyone read any of these?

Amber (amberterminatorofgoodreads) I just read and finished it. My ebook was only 52 pages. I liked it. :-)

message 17: by Bionic Jean (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) Kate - I read "News From Nowhere" which I remember as a novella in a volume along with a few of William Morris' short stories. Yes, by far the best of them I think. The book had a few woodcuts as illustrations I think, so they were probably by him too.

I was more interested in his Art and political/sociological views at the time, so it was a pleasant surprise to find he could also write so inventively!

"Erewhon" has been on my mental TBR list for years...

message 18: by Chatterjak (new)

Chatterjak | 33 comments I've written a review of Anthem, it still needs rather a lot of polishing, but it's a starting point, I don't know how to post a link to it, so I've copied & pasted it below.

Where to start? Phew, well here goes. Despite the 3 star rating I did enjoy the book simply from the point of view that it's certainly a thought & debate provoking polemic. It is interesting. Despite being widely described as a dystopian novel (which I suppose it is at surface level), it's clearly a 'party political broadcast' by the author on behalf of herself & her views.

I'm torn in two - on one hand it's great to read an opinionated & self-assured piece by someone who really has something to say. Whether or not you agree with the authour does not detract from the impact or importance of the piece. It's one of those works that either has you nodding in agreement or screaming at the page in protest. I alternated between the two. Look, I'm no political philosophe,r & I'm not going to pretend to be, I'll happily admit I probably don't have enough knowledge of the subject to give forth on the collectivism/individualism/objectivism - or many other 'isms' debate. Frankly, I'm not interested enough in any of it to give it sufficient time and attention. Like the majority of people who pick it up, I'm just an average Jo(-Ann) who enjoys reading widely, & a bit of a debate, without wanting to give over years of my life studying every issue in detail, ok, I'm a bit lazy academically. The intellectual stimulation is welcome, it's good to grease the wheels of an underused mind & have a good old think. Did I agree with the authors point of view - well, yes and no. Is this the point of it? I don't think so.

As far as the philosophy goes, I'm unable to subscribe to any single school of thought. I fail to understand the super smart intellectuals who passionately and devotedly adhere to just one point of view. I admire their passion, I almost envy it, to be so totally assured you understand the world must be great. It's just seems blindingly obvious, and logical to me, that no single point of view can have all the answers. We're far too complex for that, life isn't simple and straightforward, it's full of complexity and contradictions. We are all individuals, but we are also part of something greater, a community, a collective existance, we do not exist in isolation, an extreme view of either is never going to hold all the answers for me. All just my inadequately educated opinion, but there it is.

Would I recommend it to you? Yes, if you like thought provoking reading material, you'll probably enjoy it, as I did.

Gabriella Gricius (advocate0802) | 26 comments Wow I just finished it so quickly O.o but I really enjoyed it! Chatterjak, I'm completely in agreement! I really loved reading about the differences between collectivism and individualism, especially from a fiction and hypothetical perspective (because there's never a better way :P).

From a particular reading perspective, I simply enjoyed that it wasn't one of those philosophical books that people can barely understand and it takes days, weeks, even months to plow through. Anthem was nice, in that regard.

On the other hand, I'm torn when it comes to the different schools of thought. I do believe that both collectivism and individualism are necessary for a balanced culture, but that perhaps too much of each is bad. The book very strongly goes for individualism, but I wish we had seen another culture of super strong individualists, though I'm not sure what that would look like, or how it would have been incorporated.

But in all, I really enjoyed the book - and gave it a 4 star rating :D

message 20: by Kate (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kate Jean wrote: "Kate - I read "News From Nowhere" which I remember as a novella in a volume along with a few of William Morris' short stories. Yes, by far the best of them I think. The book had a few woodcuts as i..."

Jean - I read News such a long time ago, I think I might have to read it again at some point. I remember being pleasantly surprised too. :)

message 21: by Kate (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kate I enjoyed it too, like Gabriella and Chatterjak. It was an easy read, so good for anyone to pick up and take at face value. However, it is a great mode for debate for those interested in philosophy. I'm very interested in sociology and like philosophy too, so was one of those who read more into it. But I'm in agreement with you guys. There is no black and white. There has to be a balance between collectivism and individualism, at so many levels.

But here's a question. Did I interpret it right? I seem to detect a contradiction (from a sociological perspective, at least). Equality 7-2521 are a collective, however, when they escape into the forest, they all become 'I', collectively. They assumed their own individual identities, however, still live as a community. So my question is, can we ever completely separate the collective from the community?

Gabriella Gricius (advocate0802) | 26 comments I like the way you think about it, Kate. I'm not sure. I wouldn't have thought about that - they really are sort of a collectivist form of 'I'. Maybe we can't even separate the collective from the community? And we'll always be faced with the challenge between falling into the collectivist individual death or becoming so individual that we no longer can cooperate.

message 23: by Lynn (new) - rated it 1 star

Lynn Bonelli (lynnbonelli) I've only just started (about 25% finished) and so far, find it quite depressing. However, I was struck by 2 things which seemed contradictory and, for me, has taken away from the story (so far). The first being that the men are allowed to vote. When Equality 7-2521 describes the varying jobs one is Leader. These leaders are taught to be politicians who can then 'run for office' and the general population of men vote. Yet Equality 7-2521 talks endlessly about men not allowed to have a "preference" when he/they describe everything else in their society. The second instance was when International 4-8818 is asked if they will report Equality 7-2521 and they reply that they would rather die. That just kind of threw me for a loop since their response seems so far removed from the collective mindset. They aren't exactly WITH Equality since they aren't going into the hole but they aren't against them either. And like Kate, I'm wondering about the contradiction of Equality being a collective acting as one (or am I reading it wrong and individuals are simply referred to as "they" to keep them from thinking of themselves as "I")?

message 24: by Kate (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kate Lynn wrote: "I've only just started (about 25% finished) and so far, find it quite depressing. However, I was struck by 2 things which seemed contradictory and, for me, has taken away from the story (so far). T..."

Hi Lynn

I've realised Equality 7-2521 is an individual, but it's so confusing with the "we". What also threw me off was early on in the text where it repeats "the room with 100 beds". Anyway, having figured that out, it still has me asking more questions than finding answers.

I wonder what the Rand's opinion would be now? Clearly, we have become are more individualised societies over the last several decades, but at the end of the day, we all need to interact within a society because we need to rely on others to some degree and on many different levels. Globalisation has also led to collectivism, in a way. They're are pros and cons with all theories. All I can say to Equality 7-2521 and his lady is "good luck!" LOL!

Liân | 59 comments I actually finished this a couple of weeks ago, but it's taken until now for me to be able to write anything coherent about it! I've posted a rather lengthy review, which I've linked to since it felt like it was too long to do a copy/paste! (if you're interested in knowing my thoughts on We aswell, then you might want to go to my blog instead, as I talk about both there).

I think I seem to feel more critical of it than most of you so far! I feel like I must be missing something important, because I liked it far less than I thought I would.

message 26: by Lynn (new) - rated it 1 star

Lynn Bonelli (lynnbonelli) I read your review and agree with your observations. One thing I liked about this book was that it's short enough to give a little insight to Rand's intentions as a writer so reading it has saved me from bothering with any of her longer works. I was actually quite shocked with the end..."Prometheus" assuming a "God" role. He states he owes nothing to his brothers yet says he will 'free' those he likes, his friends and only his friends, to enjoy the freedoms that not man nor God can take away. He states every man must earn his respect and love yet endows his own unborn children with the 'godlike' qualities he now sees in himself...even though they have not proven themselves to him.

Ugh, perhaps this story is too short for me to have "gotten it" as anything more than Rand pushing her political philosophies. It left me feeling sad for humanity...such extremism on both sides yet the later seemed to be glorifying the EGO at all costs.

Just not my cup of tea. However, it is thought provoking and provides good discussion fodder.

message 27: by Kate (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kate R.I.P Mandela - how could he have achieved what he did for the individual, without the collective?

Holly (hollycoulson) I read this a few days ago, and I must admit, it surprised me. It wasn't what I was expecting. It was communism at it's most extreme, and it presented many interesting concepts.

The move from 'We' to 'I' was wonderful, although I did struggle adapting it to 'I' in my head. Half of the book, I felt like it was being narrated by Gollum from LOTR!

Definitely a thought-provoking book, and one that brings up many questions!

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