The Rory Gilmore Book Club discussion

Other Book Discussions > Can you learn from books that you don't agree with?

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message 1: by Kristen (new)

Kristen Hill (kthomp38) | 15 comments One book that I really like but, I don't agree with is "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand and I read this because I got on this whole political kick recently and it was recommended to me. People say that this book and others such as "1984" are showing where the country is going and if you look you can see parallels. Rand's solution to the problem of overreaching government is for every person to be selfish and to fend for themselves and that the government should only defend personal rights such as property rights. I am a Christian so her assertion that selfishness is a virtue and her anger and misunderstanding of Christianity (at least in my eyes) makes me angry. But I feel like it almost made me want to do the opposite not in a political way but, in a personal way. It made me want to give more and to try to be unselfish. I don't know if what I just typed made any sense or not please clarity anything that you think that I got wrong. Also, is there a book that you have read that you didn't agree with but couldn't help being drawn into? Did it teach you anything or make you want to do anything different?

message 2: by Faye (new)

Faye Oh definitely. I'm a Christian, too, so a lot of the literature I read is full of subject matter or points of view that I don't agree with and/or find outright offensive. For me, I think it helps me to reaffirm my own beliefs while opening my mind to the way that other people think and believe. Every author is going to write from a place that seems honest and true to them, and everyone's honest-and-true place is different. I don't think it should matter to the reader whether they believe what the author believes or not - the whole idea of reading is to see the world from a million different points of view.

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Hear, hear! Well said, Faye! (I'm a Christian, too...coincidence? :P)

message 4: by Jenny (new)

Jenny Barnard | 7 comments I think Faye absolutely hit the nail on the head. Also by viewing our differences in this way we actually can learn about our many similarities across races, cultures, backgrounds and religions. On occasion I personally like a book that challenges me and makes me think more deeply about my views

message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

Exactly, Jenny. I agree completely! For what is the point of reading if we are not stretched and challenged? Are are own convictions thus not strengthened by reading of others'? And, aside from all that, different is interesting!

message 6: by Trixy (last edited Jun 26, 2012 11:19PM) (new)

Trixy (xcait) | 4 comments I think it would be rather unhealthy if someone couldn't learn from something they disagreed with. Understanding and broadening your awareness doesn't mean you agree with the subject.

message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

You've said it in one, Caitlin.
I think I should pick up Atlas Shrugged myself! :P

message 8: by Kristen (last edited Jun 27, 2012 01:40PM) (new)

Kristen Hill (kthomp38) | 15 comments Blake I think that you should pick up Atlas Shrugged even though I was downright offended at some ideas it really is a great story and it does make you think. It does take a long time because the author takes tons of breaks from the story to give you a speech on her ideas on life. Near the end there is even one that lasts about ninety pages.

message 9: by Trixy (new)

Trixy (xcait) | 4 comments Thanks Blake!
I believe I have a few Ayn Rand books on my
reading list, so I'll get through those first to see how I enjoy them.

message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

Haha, thanks Kristen and Caitlin!

message 11: by Sam (new)

Sam This is a great question and I totally agree with what has already been said. Not to be repetitious, but I'm a Christian too and have recently read Atlas Shrugged. Having a vague idea of what Rand was about before reading the book I was ready to disagree with the whole thing but I actually found points in the story where a character or thought struck a chord with my own beliefs. Ultimately, of course I think her ideology is deeply flawed but having gone straight to the source in reading her novel, it's given me a more complete understanding of where she's coming from and why I don't agree with her but also an awareness of where my views intersect with hers, which I wasn't expecting. Plus she's a great writer regardless - I've never been so absorbed by the workings of a transcontinental railway line.

message 12: by Kristen (new)

Kristen Hill (kthomp38) | 15 comments I totally agree Sam. I feel like I spent half of this book going "okay, okay, that makes sense" and then whoever was talking would get to the point and I would be like "okay, no." Also, you're right it is an interesting story I don't think that I would have believed anyone who said that I would enjoy a book about a transcontinental railroad.

message 13: by Mickey (last edited Jun 30, 2012 01:32AM) (new)

Mickey | 2 comments I think that it's absolutely important to be exposed to arguments and positions that are contrary to your own. In my experience, people who hold minority viewpoints (and I'd put Christians in this category) often get a lot of experience with having mixed feelings about books and developing a thoughtful and nuanced view about them (although I suppose there are many that do not read secular books). I've noticed as a public school teacher that many children who are only exposed to popular mainstream culture are rather flat when it comes to their own ideas, simply because they've never seen anything different. It's always interesting to read the book The Giver by Lois Lowry with students, because many times, there is such a strong reaction to the way that the society is set up compared to ours. Most kids' knee jerk reaction is to think of the way we live as natural, so it's really an eye opener to examine a different way.

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Books mentioned in this topic

Atlas Shrugged (other topics)
The Giver (other topics)

Authors mentioned in this topic

Lois Lowry (other topics)