(1936) This is the first of Ayn Rand's fictional novels. It is set in the place she was born and raised, Soviet Russia. Of all her novels, this is the closest to being autobiographical. Also, this is the only of her novels that I have not read as of yet. So I will quote Rand on it's theme: "the individual against the state, the supreme value of a human life and the evil of the totalitarian state that claims the right to sacrifice it".
From the Publisher "The time is the Russian Revolution. The place is a country burdened with fear - the midnight knock at the door, the bread hidden against famine, the haunted eyes of the fleeing, the grublike fat of the appeasers and oppressors. In a bitter struggle of the individual against the collective, three people stand forth with the mark of the unconquered in their bearing: Kira, who wants to be a builder, and the two men who love her - Leo, an aristocrat, and Andrei, a Communist. In their tensely dramatic story, Ayn Rand shows what the theories of Communism mean in practice. 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. It is a picture of what dictatorship - of any kind - does to human beings, what kind of men are able to survive, and which of them remain as the ultimate winners. What happens to the defiant ones? What happens to those who succumb? Who are the winners in this conflict? Against a vivid panorama of political revolution and personal revolt, Ayn Rand offers an answer that challenges the modern conscience."
(1938) Amazingly short in comparison to her other books, this is more of a novelette that can be read in one sitting. It's theme is the "meaning and glory of man's ego". Set far into the future, it is a world so extremely collectivized that the word I no longer exists. There is only we. Society has destroyed all modern advancements. When one individual learns the secret of the past, he discovers the true meaning and purpose of one man's life to be lived for himself, not the group. Truly beautiful. Easily read. This theme of individualism is what first attracted me to the philosophy.
(1943) This was the first Ayn Rand book I ever read, and the first I had ever heard of Objectivism. I just randomly picked it up one day. At first I thought I was reading a story about a couple architects in New York City, then eventually, I realized I was reading about so much more than that.
From the Publisher:
The story of an innovator- architect Howard Roark- and his battle against the tradition-worshipping establishment. Its theme: "individualism versus collectivism, not in politics but in man's soul; the psychological motivations and the basic premises that produce the character of an individualist or a collectivist". Ayn Rand presented here for the first time her projection of the ideal man. Roark's independance, self-esteem, and integrity have inspired millions of readers for more than half a century.
(1957) Atlas Shrugged most deeply and thoroughly illustrates what happens when people live the opposite of her philosophy. Although she might have been able to tell the actual story in far fewer pages, I think the extra pages are there because they help to fully not only explain her philosophy, but also illustrate it. It brings the philosophy to life, through application to real people.
From the Publisher:
Ayn Rand's masterpiece. It integrates the basic elements of an entire philsophy into a highly complex yet dramatically compelling plot- set in a near-future USA whose economy is collapsing as a result of the mysterious disappearance of leading innovators and industrialists. The theme is: "the role of the mind in man's existence- and, as corollary, the demonstration of a new moral philosophy: the morality of ration self-interest".
(1976) This is a collection of essays focused on the only political/ economical system Objectivism holds as being proper to man, capitalism. Capitalism means a totally free market without any government regulations. Read Atlas Shrugged for what happens when capitalism is destroyed by socialist laws, but read this book for the proof behind it.
Essays include: What is Capitalism, Let Us Alone!, Is Atlas Shrugging?, and The Obliteration of Capitalism, among many others.
(1982) In the title essay, Ayn Rand explains that everyone needs philosophy, and not only that, but it is inescapable. One can either use knowledge and reason to discover the truth or they can float around through accepting whatever contradictory, irritational bits and pieces of random philosophies he happens to hear. Other essays include, Selfishness Without a Self, Faith and Force: the Destroyers of the Modern World, and Dont Let it Go.
(1962) The title, due to the widely accepted definition of selfishness, seems contradictory in itself, however it makes rational sense when you understand the true meaning of selfishness. This is simply, concern for one's own interests. It does not mean sacrificing others to oneself, nor self to others. This book further explains this major part of her philosophy.