My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his nobles activity, and reason as his only absolute. -- Ayn rand.

I think I finally have the nomination for the title "the best book I have ever read". This statement means quite a lot to me, so I'd like to elaborate.

What are we looking for in a good book ? I mean, what "traits" or "characteristics" of a book do we find satisfying ? For me it would probably be: lively and interesting plot (check), high level of language and an appealing writing style (check), believeable characters (check), and most important - substance. It's hard to define substance exactly, but I guess it's when you are left with something after finishing the book. It's those Aha! moments while you read, those words that make you quiver sometimes. In this, check, emphatically check.

It's difficult to count how many times during reading I raised my head, glazed into the distance and thought - yes, it's right, that's it, that's the way !

The characters in Atlas Shrugged are diverse on one hand, and really aren't on the other. From one point of view, there are two obvious camps - Dagny and James. Ayn Rand masterfully presents other characters that show certain traits for both camps and emphasize different aspects. The character I liked the most is probably Rearden. Dagny is too stubborn, Fransisco is too adventurous and Galt is too perfect, in my opinion. Rearden represents how I'd like my attitude to the world to be.

The citation on the top of the review summarizes Rand's philosophy nicely. Don't let the word "heroic" surprise you - it is said in the sense of "fearless, daring" rathen than as "Spiderman". When I look at this citation now, I feel that it's the way I want to live my life - that it's the right way to live one's life. I guess I saw it before reading the book as well, just not as clearly and not in such focus. The book makes a very good job at grinding this philosophy into your head...

All in all, I'm deeply impressed. Atlas Shrugged has left a permanent stamp in my brain, and I think I'm a little different now than I was before reading it. I think that now I can see my purpose in life a little better. If a single book can do it for you, it's worth everything.