Books of 2016: Atlas Shrugged

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So Leah and I are slightly behind in our reading schedule, thanks to Atlas Shrugged which is a nearly 1300 page behemoth. Don't let the length scare you away though, because this book is fantastic and totally worth the time investment. It is now one of my all time favorite books!

At its most basic level this novel is a critique of communism, but as you'd expect in a book this length, it contains levels upon levels. Those levels intertwine to create an incredibly cohesive and consistent story, with characters that are well developed and extract polar feelings of love or hate from the reader.  This is a book which will make the reader, who can't help, but find parallels to their own life, reassess their opinions of sacrifice and selfishness.

I could go on and on about Atlas Shrugged as I enjoyed it so much, but I already had my in-depth discussions with Leah (the joys of reading with a friend!). Therefore I'll limit myself to two of my favorite parts of the novel and two things I disliked about it. 

Dagny was by far my favorite part of Atlas Shrugged. She is the female character I never knew was missing from my literary experience until I read this. She is everything I hope to be. Dagny navigated the male dominated business world with ease and grace, never letting her gender effect her work. In love she was passionate, but logical; when  she knew a relationship was over, she wasn't afraid to move on. Dagny never fell apart in a crisis, but found a way to solve almost every problem. She wasn't perfect, but nearly.

One of my favorite themes from the novel was that you only feel shamed by ideologies you buy into and that people and organizations use shame as a tool of control. That was a huge light bulb for me as I read and something that has seriously changed my perspective. It's a freeing feeling to let go of shame and it wasn't until I realized I am the only person who can make myself feel guilty and ashamed that I could let go.

What I really didn't like in the novel was that Rand used the same adjectives over and over. In a long book like Atlas Shrugged, the reader needs some variety. In addition, some of the monologues were brutally long and at times felt repetitive. Those were pages I found difficult not to skim. I had some other critiques of the novel, but after speaking with Leah, I feel there are counter arguments for all my critiques so I'll just leave it at that.  

Overall, it's a great book that I would recommend.

Warning: if you've never had romantic feelings for trains, you will after reading this (It only reinforced the love I developed for them as an exchange student in Switzerland).

Have you read Atlas Shrugged? What did you think?

What's the longest book you've ever read? 

What's one of your favorite books? (Or two if you're a book nerd) 

 Other books of 2016: Between the World and Me and The Goldfinch


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