Feb 2, 2011

Book 1 of 12: Anthem

So, of my new year's resolutions, one of the most easily trackable is my goal to read one book a month of my choosing. School books don't count.

A few minutes before midnight January 31st I finished reading "Anthem," Ayn Rand's 106 page novella. Like many of my favorite books, it was recommended to me by Ammon. Unlike many of my favorite books, it isn't one of my favorites.

It was a good read and I might recommend it, but I have a few hang ups that I just can't get over.

Anthem is the story of Equality 7-2521, someone who dares to think differently in a post-apocalyptic society that has eradicated the concept of self. The words "I" and "me" have been replaced with collective pronouns "we" and "us." The future she tells of is frightening, it reads as extreme Communism if there is such a thing. The individual only exists to benefit the whole.

As expected, Equality 7-2521 leaves the oppressive society to found his own with his female companion/love interest Unity 5-3000. What left a bitter taste in my mouth (besides chewing on the pages) was, Equality was supposed to be extolling the virtues of individuality and escaping the values of society, right? So then why did he start his own? Shouldn't he have just lived alone in his own enlightened state, rather than preach to others his capitalist dogma?

I think it comes down to my belief that the opposite of Communism isn't Democracy, it's Anarchy. And I guess Ms. Rand wasn't saying to shun all things Communistic, but to embrace change and the contribution of the individual. But still, it came off to me as hypocritical, escaping the opressive society where no one is special to create your own where everyone is equal.

But, it was short, I read it and it helped me meet my goal of reading one book a month. Now I plan on reading books that I own but have never read.

Rather than making you readers feel cheated by making a whole new blog entry to say something I think I may have already said, here's a list of books I own yet haven't read and now plan to this year:

The Strangest Secret,
Conversations with the Dream King,
An Abundant Life: Memoirs of Hugh B. Brown,
Sex and Humor: Selections from the Kinsey institute,
On Writing,
Philosophy of Jokes,
six nonlectures,
Odd and the Frost Giants,
My Name is Asher Lev,
The Children of Hurin,

For you math whizzes out there, you may have noticed that there's only 10, plus the 1 of this month equals eleven. "But there are twelve months in the year, Austin," you say. "Yes, I know." I respond. The last one will either be A Catcher in the Rye which I've been meaning to read for ages, (the Cretaceous at least) or some Malcolm Gladwell book, whichever one my brother and/or father insist I read. Or that's the shortest. Or something someone else recommends to me. No Twilight or Hunger Games, thank you. I'll read them when I'm good and ready. (never)

For February, I'm thinking of either reading The Strangest Secret or Odd and the Frost Giants, as those are the shortest ones.

I'll keep you posted as I always do. In the meantime, thanks for reading and don't forget to tip your waiter/waitress 10% more than he/she deserves.


Mark said...

I liked the Hunger Games more than I liked Twilight, and I think you would enjoy it. I like all the Malcolm Gladwell books - they are thought-provoking. I suggest you start with Outliers. The next book I will be reading is Indispensable by Monday by Larry Myler. Enjoy.

Jacob I. McMillan said...

The opposite of Communism isn't Anarchy, it's Capitalism, which is what Ayn Rand is all about, so I hear. I've never read her. I like that she inspires extreme reactions in people, but it's not enough to get me really interested.

I like that you're including some nonfiction in your reading. Haven't heard of most of those books, which I also like.

Austin said...

Dad- It's either gonna be Outliers or Tipping Point I think, depending on which one is available at the library when I'm ready to read it.

Jake- I disagree, but I see your point. I think I see it (Rand's book) as a cry against society, when it's really not, it's just against that type of society.

And yeah, she does get strong reactions from her readers, but then, so does Stephanie Meyer.

Charlo said...

Ya, skip twilight. really nothing special. I loved my name is Asher Lev, as well as all other books by that author. I hope you enjoy it.

Ammon said...

If you're looking for something adventurous, try King Solomon's Mine by H. Rider Haggard. I just recently read it, but had been meaning to read it for years. I was not disappointed. It's a great read.

I loved Anthem. I agree with Jacob, anarchy is not the opposite of communism. However, this book isn't about capitalism. It's about the virtue of selfishness (in a libertarian sense).

Heather Mae the DIY Gal said...

So I gotta tell you I skipped this post as I was in a dumb stupor and went on to the more interesting Jan in review. Sounds like a typical life of a school attending parent and a baby. I do have one request: more pics of Morgan. Not just smiles, but doing different things! I must confess I am more interested in Agent Danger than I am in your school/work/tv stuff, lol! Other than that, it is great to hear how you and Tracie are doing and what you are up to. Good luck in school, and I liked the typeface logo of your initials. And I won't hail the Chinese biscuit because Chinese New Year was the day of the Deep Freeze Snap that passed over Tucson and I nearly died.