Recently, I was asked what I think of Ayn Rand, the author. Then the same subject came up on IHRO. Here is my response.
I have always considered Ayn Rand to be an interesting character, a period piece from the Stalin era. She could write. Man, could she ever write! She could tell a story that could grip the reader from the first page to hundreds of pages later (skipping through the speeches, of course). "Plot," she used to say, "plot, plot, plot and plot." The woman could write.
Her most entertaining book, imo, was The Fountainhead, one heck of a good read. And it is FICTION. The most popular passage is where Howard the Hero rapes Dominique the Diva. If you don't believe me, visit any library and open its copy - any copy - of The Fountainhead and see where it opens. Case made.
This is pure fantasy. She is an extremely imaginative fantasy writer who has created a fantasy world that some people mistake for our physical universe. She herself was a megalomaniacal person who first created this world and then attempted to live in it. She was the god there and she managed to find others who worshiped her. Some, including one of my dearest friends, still do today. Quite an accomplishment for an atheist. She reminds me of my high school friend who asserted that the perfect government system was a theocracy with himself as god. She beat him to it.
My suggestion is to go ahead and read Ms. Rand's books - it is OK to skip over the speeches unless you want to study the structure of her Utopia of Ubermenschen - and enjoy them; just remember that they are the fictional ravings of a deluded madwoman. Her world is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there!
And remember, it is all fiction. Even her nonfiction, such as The Virtue of Selfishness, is fiction.
And she romanticised smoking.
Top picture adapted from the cover of the book, Ayn Rand and the World She Made by Anne C. Heller: