Tag Archives: ayn rand

Hands Down, the Best Books I’ve Ever Read!

  1. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
    “I knew,” he continued, “you would do me good in some way, at some time: I saw it in your eyes when I first beheld you; their expression and smile did not strike delight to my inmost heart so for nothing.”
  2. White Fang, Jack London
    “As he piled wood on the fire he discovered an appreciation of his own body which he had never felt before…It fascinated him, and he grew suddenly fond of this subtle flesh of his that worked so beautifully and smoothly and delicately. Then he would cast a glance of fear at the wolf-circle drawn expectantly about him, and like a blow the realization would strike him…”
  3. The Call of the Wild, Jack London
    “It was his introduction to the reign of primitive law… The facts of life took on a fiercer aspect, and while he faced that aspect uncowed, he faced it with all the latent cunning of his nature aroused.”
  4. Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand
    “Rand’s fourth, longest, and last novel… she considered it her magnum opus in the realm of fiction writing.”
  5. The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand
    “If you were in love you’d want to be broken, trampled, ordered, dominated, because that’s the impossible, in the inconceivable for you in your relations with people. That would be the one gift, the great exception you’d want to offer the man you loved. But it wouldn’t be easy for you.”
  6. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
    “Feminine weaknesses and fainting spells are the direct result of our confining young girls to the house, bent over their needlework, and restrictive corsets.”
  7. Quo Vadis? Henryk Sienkiewicz
    “Riches, glory, power are mere smoke, vanity! The rich man will find a richer than himself; the greater glory of another will eclipse a man who is famous; a strong man will be conquered by a stronger. But can Cæsar himself, can any god even, experience greater delight or be happier than a simple mortal at the moment when at his breast there is breathing another dear breast, or when he kisses beloved lips? Hence love makes us equal to the gods.”
  8. Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen
    “They walked on, without knowing in what direction. There was too much to be thought, and felt, and said, for attention to any other objects.”
  9. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
    “‘And I pray one prayer–I repeat it till my tongue stiffens–Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living; you said I killed you–haunt me, then! The murdered do haunt their murderers, I believe. I know that ghosts have wandered on earth. Be with me always–take any form–drive me mad! Only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! it is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!'”
  10. Where the Red Fern Grows, Wilson Rawls
    “I told them I wasn’t giving up until my dogs did.”
  11. The Awakening, Kate Chopin
    “It sometimes entered Mr. Pontellier’s mind to wonder if his wife were not growing a little unbalanced mentally. He could see plainly that she was not herself. That is, he could not see that she was becoming herself and daily casting aside that fictitious self which we would assume like a garment with which to appear before the world.”
  12. East of Eden, John Steinbeck
    Steinbeck: “Everything I’ve ever written has been practice for this.”
  13. A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway
    “I kissed her and saw that her eyes were shut. I kissed both her shut eyes. I thought she was probably a little crazy. It was all right if she was. I did not care what I was getting into.”
  14. Sense & Sensibility, Jane Austen
    “It is not time or opportunity that is to determine intimacy;– it is disposition alone. Seven years would be insufficient to make some people acquainted with each other, and seven days are more than enough for others.”


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Can’t Get Enough of Excellence.

We thrive on excellence. We suck in the achievements of others. We live vicariously through their sexual conquests. It’s like drinking adrenaline through a straw. It’s like having success on tap. And I do not condone this. But it does make me consider how we measure excellence – and why our culture glorifies it so.

James Bond. Suave. Excellence.

James Bond. Suave. Excellence.

I like James Bond, because he’s suave and smooth and he’s the secret agent that everyone wants to be… or wants to kill. But either way, he has all of the answers. He always knows what to say (Um… is um, not a part of his suave vocabulary). He KNOWS what he’s doing with his life. He doesn’t get emotionally connected – he hooks up with whoever, whenever. And who cares? In the time it takes to pop in another James Bond movie, the screenwriters will have erased and rewritten all of his previous emotional attachments.

It’s also reminiscent of the characters in Ayn Rand books. I admire their excellence, impeccable morals, and untouchable values. I like that they do not apologize for anything, but rather, they have the courage and morals to stand up for what they KNOW that they are good at. They are damn good at what they do and they don’t care about what society dictates is acceptable.

Howard Roark. An Upstanding Gentlemen from the Fountainhead

Howard Roark exemplifies architectural excellence in the Fountainhead.

Why did I write an entire post on excellence and its place in our society and culture? To be honest, I had some free time. But more importantly, our ideals play a huge role in what we like. I rent James Bond movies and buy Ayn Rand books to reinforce ideals that have, but I will never become or achieve. The best in my field? Great thing to aspire towards, but I don’t even know what my future holds. I am not as clearly defined or as emotionally unattached as the characters of excellence I idealize. Our culture cultivates excellence so that we can be continually disappointed in ourselves. So that we can look at magazines and know that we will never be as perfectly airbrushed as the model so seductively posed on the cover. So that we will consume and desire more, and think about ourselves and reality less. It’s humanly impossible not to ever feel guilty. It’s impossible to avoid rejection. And who would want to? Now that I think about it, we would be nothing without the highs and lows that help to define us – the daily nuances that the characters of such “excellence” we so long for have never experienced, or probably would not appreciate.

What kind of excellence do you consume? Why?