Atlas Shrugged was the 8th book in my summer book project. Wow! Wow! This book completely blew my mind. I hadn't expected that at all. When I picked up this brick of a book with 1084 pages, my first thought was that I was in for a mighty long haul. I hadn't read a book this large since Infinite Jest and I'm still scarred from that experience.
I was skeptical when I sat down and opened to page one, but after only a few sentences, I was hooked. Hooked like mad. I couldn't put this tome down. It consumed my whole life and my husband got very, very tired of me commenting on any and all subjects with "that is so very Atlas Shrugged".
Who is John Galt? This simple question drives the story. The story follows Dagny Taggart, the head of the biggest railroad company in the nation. Dagny, a tough, no nonsense industrialist, is on a quest to make her railroad even greater while all around the nation important industrialists start disappearing. The folks left in charge start promoting propaganda stating that the worst things you could do are think and make a profit. Quickly the nation and the world begin a downward spiral that it can't recover from.
This epic battle between the free thinking industrialists and the sheep of the nation (who are content to die because they can't bring themselves to do anything that would help keep them alive) was riveting. I saw so many parallels to things happening in this day and age. From the world political stage to the microcosm of my job, it was eerie how similar themes and ideas where to this story written in 1957. On a personal level, it's helped me re-evaluate my work philosophies and helped me realize why I always find myself extending myself more than I should. Caring more than I should. Do things that aren't my job because they need to be done and nobody else will do them. This book has helped me see how I'm enabling folks, so they don't have to do their jobs and they can remain indifferent. And while I still go above and beyond too often, I now have an inner peace about my actions. I'm conscious of my decisions and have a better handle on when to accept more. I'm also having an easier time say no. A word that has been so hard for me to utter in the past, now has a positive purpose to help keep me a bit more sane and not try to take on the world.
I'm glad I didn't read this book when I was younger. I had read The Fountainhead when I was 15. I loved the book, but now I'm thinking if I re-read it at 37 I'd get much more from it. Much would have been lost on me if I had read Atlas Shrugged as a teenager. Having been in the workforce for over 20 years, I have that experience to draw from to really understand the themes and philosophies of Atlas Shrugged. I re-read more passages in this book than any other. I also slowed way down when reading because I wanted to savor every word. It was really that great of a book. I'm definitely a different person after reading it and I have a much more positive outlook on life.
Physically this was a hard book to read. It was very ragged at the start, but it got more ragged as I read because of the very thin fragile pages. This was another book that I had to read with two hands.
I've deduced that this book is actually my husband's and not mine. Since we've lived together for 17 years, our books have co-mingled for ages. He thinks an ex-girlfriend made him read this book. She is a very smart woman!
I know it's a big time investment, but I really hope everyone reads this book. The great thing is: it's a total page turner. It has a who-dun-it quality to it that makes it hard to put down. The story is great; it's even better because of its moral.