Black Week x Book Depository: Ayn Rand books for everyone on your list

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November is here, the clocks are turned back, and the holiday season is just around the corner. One of my favourite parts about Christmas is giving and receiving presents because both of these gestures not only reveal how well you and your loved one(s) know each other, but also reflect the depth of your relationship. Supposing that your relationship is one of mutual admiration, you would want to give him something that nourishes one or many trait(s) that you admire in him and inspire him to develop that trait still further, hence increasing your admiration and enhancing your mutual relationship. In giving someone a thoughtful present, you are declaring his value to you. In accepting it, he strives to be worthy of being the recipient of both it and you.

Therefore, this first gift guide is also addressed to you, my dear readers, especially if you are new to the works and ideas of Ayn Rand. I hope that her writings will enrich your life by guiding you to think with clarity and act with passion more than you ever have known, as she continues to do for me in all of my endeavours. For ease, I have included fiction / non-fiction picks for each career track, but feel free to mix and match as you like 😉

1. For the activist

We The Living

First published in 1936, We the Living portrays the impact of the Russian Revolution on three human beings who demand the right to live their own lives and pursue their own happiness. It tells of a young woman’s passionate love, held like a fortress against the corrupting evil of a totalitarian state.

We the Living is not a story of politics, but of the men and women who have to struggle for existence behind the Red banners and slogans.

Against a vivid panorama of political revolution and personal revolt, Ayn Rand shows what the theory of socialism means in practice.

Philosophy: Who Needs It

This collection of essays was the last work planned by Ayn Rand before her death in 1982. In it, she summarizes her view of philosophy and deals with a broad spectrum of topics. According to Ayn Rand, the choice we make is not whether to have a philosophy, but which one to have: rational, conscious, and therefore practical; or contradictory, unidentified, and ultimately lethal. Written with all the clarity and eloquence that have placed Ayn Rand’s Objectivist philosophy in the mainstream of American thought, these essays range over such basic issues as education, morality, censorship, and inflation to prove that philosophy is the fundamental force in all our lives.

2. For the artist

Ideal

Originally conceived as a novel but then transformed into a play by Ayn Rand, Ideal is the story of beautiful but tormented actress Kay Gonda. Accused of murder, she is on the run, and she turns for help to six fans who have written letters to her, each telling her that she represents their ideal—a respectable family man, a far-left activist, a cynical artist, an evangelist, a playboy, and a lost soul. Each reacts to her plight in his own way, their reactions a glimpse into their secret selves and their true values. In the end, their responses to her pleas give Kay the answers she has been seeking.

The Romantic Manifesto

In this beautifully written and brilliantly reasoned book, Ayn Rand throws a new light on the nature of art and its purpose in human life.

3. For the entrepreneur

Atlas Shrugged

Peopled by larger-than-life heroes and villains, charged with towering questions of good and evil, Atlas Shrugged is Ayn Rand’s magnum opus: a philosophical revolution told in the form of an action thriller.

Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal

In this series of essays, Ayn Rand presents her stand on the persecution of big business, the causes of war, the default of conservatism, and the evils of altruism.

4. For the lawyer

Night of January 16th

To the world, he was a startlingly successful international tycoon, head of a vast financial empire. To his beautiful secretary-mistress, he was a god-like hero to be served with her mind, soul and body. To his aristocratic young wife, he was an elemental force of nature to be tamed. To his millionaire father-in-law, he was a giant whose single error could be used to destroy him.

What kind of man was Bjorn Faulkner? Only you, the reader, can decide.

On one level, Night of January 16th is a totally gripping drama about the rise and destruction of a brilliant and ruthless man. On a deeper level, it is a superb dramatic objectification of Ayn Rand’s vision of human strength and weakness.

For the New Intellectual

This is Ayn Rand’s challenge to the prevalent philosophical doctrines of our time and the “atmosphere of guilt, of panic, of despair, of boredom, and of all-pervasive evasion” that they create.

One of the most controversial figures on the intellectual scene, Ayn Rand was the proponent of a moral philosophy—and ethic of rational self-interest—that stands in sharp opposition to the ethics of altruism and self-sacrifice. The fundamentals of this morality—”a philosophy for living on Earth”—are here vibrantly set forth by the spokesman for a new class, For the New Intellectual.

Photo © Verbovski

5. For the journalist

The Fountainhead

This modern classic is the story of intransigent young architect Howard Roark, whose integrity was as unyielding as granite…of Dominique Francon, the exquisitely beautiful woman who loved Roark passionately, but married his worst enemy…and of the fanatic denunciation unleashed by an enraged society against a great creator. As fresh today as it was then, Rand’s provocative novel presents one of the most challenging ideas in all of fiction—that man’s ego is the fountainhead of human progress.

Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology

Today man’s mind is under attack by all the leading schools of philosophy. We are told that we cannot trust our senses, that logic is arbitrary, that concepts have no basis in reality. Ayn Rand opposes that torrent of nihilism, and she provides the alternative in this eloquent presentation of the essential nature–and power–of man’s conceptual faculty. She offers a startlingly original solution to the problem that brought about the collapse of modern philosophy: the problem of universals. This brilliantly argued, superbly written work, together with an essay by philosophy professor Leonard Peikoff, is vital reading for all those who seek to discover that human beings can and should live by the guidance of reason.

6. For the scientist

Anthem

They existed only to serve the state. They were conceived in controlled Palaces of Mating. They died in the Home of the Useless. From cradle to grave, the crowd was one—the great WE.

In all that was left of humanity, there was only one man who dared to think, seek, and love. He lived in the dark ages of the future. In a loveless world, he dared to love the woman of his choice. In an age that had lost all trace of science and civilization, he had the courage to seek and find knowledge. But these were not the crimes for which he would be hunted. He was marked for death because he had committed the unpardonable sin: He had stood forth from the mindless human herd. He was a man alone. He had rediscovered the lost and holy word—I.

The Voice of Reason

Between 1961, when she gave her first talk at the Ford Hall Forum in Boston, and 1981, when she gave the last talk of her life in New Orleans, Ayn Rand spoke and wrote about topics as varied as education, medicine, Vietnam, and the death of Marilyn Monroe. In The Voice of Reason, these pieces […] are gathered in book form for the first time. With them are five essays by Leonard Peikoff, Rand’s longtime associate and literary executor. The work concludes with Peikoff’s epilogue, “My Thirty Years With Ayn Rand: An Intellectual Memoir,” which answers the question “What was Ayn Rand really like?” Important reading for all thinking individuals, Rand’s later writings reflect a life lived on principle, a probing mind, and a passionate intensity. This collection communicates not only Rand’s singular worldview, but also the penetrating cultural and political analysis to which it gives rise.

7. For the student

Three Plays

Between 1934 and 1939, Ayn Rand wrote the three original stage plays collected in this volume.

  • Night of January 16th is a gripping courtroom drama about the rise and destruction of a brilliant and ruthless man.
  • Ideal grew out of a conversation with a movie fan who gushed that she would give her life to meet a certain famous actress. Dubious, Rand conceived of a story in which the integrity of those who profess to embrace ideals would be tested. What if their idol suddenly appears in their lives, seemingly desperately in need of help, so that their ideals now demand real action?
  • Think Twice is a murder mystery with a twist. As might be expected, various suspects all have a motive to kill — but not a relatively superficial motive like financial gain or petty jealousy. Rand moves at deeper levels — and the play’s title is meant to be a reminder of this fact.

The Virtue of Selfishness

In this series of essays, Rand asks why man needs morality in the first place, and arrives at an answer that redefines a new code of ethics based on the virtue of selfishness.

Buy these and more at the Book Depository, which offers free shipping worldwide, and check out their Black Week discounts on bestsellers. Tune in next time for more gift-giving inspiration! 🙂

XOXO HONG PHUC

Highlights from #LesMisOslo

Photo © Scenekvelder

It is quite unbelievable that the premiere of Scenekvelder‘s production of Les Misérables was just two months ago – with over 10,000 tickets already sold and more dates announced every week, I have never thought that my life in Norway would begin like this. It has been thrilling and magical to perform to a full theatre of people, each night ending with the audience rising to their feet for a standing ovation. Working for this production has been a dream come true!

 

What Les Misérables the musical lacks in detail compared to Victor Hugo’s magnum opus, it makes up for in its epic soundtrack and brings to life the bold, daring characters in a way that really pulls your heartstrings. See for yourself…

 

Under director Per-Olav Sørensen, the Norwegian production emphatically highlights the conflict between Valjean and Javert in a way that even the anniversary concerts could not. The talented cast is comprised of well-known names in the Norwegian show business, but a name that even some Americans will recognise is Marion Ravn, a former member of the pop duo M2M. In this production, she plays Éponine and performs a sensational rendition of “On My Own (For Meg Selv)” in Norwegian.

Marion Ravn as Éponine, singing “On My Own”

Still not convinced? Scenekvelder is currently hosting a competition for the grand prize of 2 show tickets for 17 November and an overnight stay at the Clarion Collection Hotel, right across from the theatre entrance. Talk about a night to remember!

XOXO HONG PHUC