Book Reviews

We The Living by Ayn Rand – Why It Is My Favorite Book

posted by Anupriya 13 Comments
We The Living

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I have read We The Living atleast thrice and everytime I derive  different lessons from it. But the most significant learning for me has been how it brings to limelight  that different people have different types of coping mechanism. Firstly, the ones who fall in line with circumstances (or to be more specific, ‘the system’). They believe that in the larger scheme of things, following the rules is the right thing to do. Second are those who give up hope and find solace in surviving. They know that their soul doesn’t exist anymore yet they need to exist (by hook or by crook) because probably suicide is not an option. So they choose to live in denial.  And the last ones are those who refuse to bend no matter what. They hold on to the thinnest of string of hope and believe giving up is not an option. Their survival is dependent on their need to keep trying.

We The Living a novel by ace novelist Ayn Rand tells a story of three very strong characters who fall in each of the above mentioned categories.

I first read this novel around a decade and a half back, when every MBA aspirant  considered ‘Atlas Shrugged’ and ‘The Fountainhead’ as must read books (so that they could boast about it in their interview). Though I was no different, but I would like to believe that I really was impressed by Ayn Rand’s ‘Objectivist’ philosophy. Inertia and intrigue caused me to pick up the third book by the author. This third book was not as bulky as the first two sagas and that was encouraging for someone who was struggling to manage time between a demanding job, and time for self-study for an entrance exam. What I did not know at that point of time is that this third book would have a lasting impact on me.

Ofcourse the book makes for an extremely interesting drama read. It gives an excruciatingly detailed insight into life after Russian Revolution. But in the heart of the plot lie three characters who exhibit three different ideologies. The ones I mentioned in the beginning of this write up. Kira, the protagonist is someone who is willing to be submissive for the time being, but not give up on her dreams at any cost. Her free spirit and never-say-die attitude cost her, her life eventually. But then, the other two male protagonists in the plot also end up in the dungeons. Eventually.

Ironically, while Kira refuses to give up on her ideals, there is one thing that makes her compromise on her conscience. That one thing is love. I was most unsettled by how this brave young girl is willing to go any extent for another being who she loves. Probably, even the author who propagates the philosophy of Objectivism (that talks about putting self-interest over the society) through all her works couldn’t deny that ‘Love’ for a soul mate could be above all.

I initially loved We The Living because, one, it is set up in the realistic pages of history. Two, unlike the two most read works of Ayn Rand namely ‘Atlas Shrugged’ and ‘The Fountainhead’, this book makes for a concise yet an unsettling read. The kind you can’t put down until you have finished, without getting intimidated.

Why I like this book the most? Well, this book kind of grew on me. During the last fifteen years everytime I am faced with a circumstance that puts me on a crossroad, I remember the three central characters of We The Living and ask myself “Who Do I want to be?” A follower. A fighter. Or someone who chooses to live in denial. I am immediately absolved of all confusion and know what my future course of action will be.

Trivia: One may not always be on either this side of the line or that. Sometimes people strive to find a mid-way. Some people decide to follow one line of thought and way of livingand wait  for the right time to switch to the other. The objective of life is to be happy. One way or the other. Let no one make you believe otherwise.


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Rashmi chand September 1, 2018 at 4:19 pm

I have read Atlas shrugged and loved the characters! I must grab a copy of this one now..

Sonam September 1, 2018 at 4:23 pm

I’ve read “Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged” but not this one – will def pick this up 🙂

Srishti RajeevMenda September 1, 2018 at 10:47 pm

It sounds like an amazing book and a lot of self-introspection happening during the read.

Suchita Agarwal September 2, 2018 at 12:29 am

Read this post simply because it said Ayn Rand. The Fountainhead had a profound impact on me. Thank you for this recommendation. I will definitely add it to my TBR.

Pradnya September 2, 2018 at 1:06 am

Been an avid reader all my life but since Motherhood happened I haven’t been able to actually pick up any sort of book & read it. You are truly super mom managing 3 kids(2 boys & one blog) at a time

☆Novemberschild☆ (@romspeaks) September 3, 2018 at 7:06 pm

I’m a big fan of this theme – the whole “individual vs. the state” story. I think most of the books I’ve read in this vein were descended from “1984”, but this is without doubt different execution of the familiar thematic focus. We The Living is an illustration of the loneliness that seems the unavoidable consequence of any who possess an Objectivist viewpoint. Thank you Anupriya for a wonderful post and making it a part of my blog’s birthday celebration. Best wishes.

Pri September 4, 2018 at 12:24 pm

A wonderful review peppered with astute observations. Ayn Rand has always been a favorite.
I completely concur with the bit you mentioned in the trivia section though…

Deepti Menon September 4, 2018 at 2:39 pm

The Fountainhead remains one of my favourite read, but your review makes me want to read We The Living as well. Thank you for your incisive review.
#DeepTiesReads #MyFriendAlexa

Ramya DRozario September 4, 2018 at 3:12 pm

Absolutely wonderful. Read such a well written review. I will definitely add this to my TBR list.
[@samantha_rjsdr] from
Whimsical Compass

Keerthi Vydyula September 5, 2018 at 12:49 am

I have read Anthem and The Fountain Head written by Ayn Rand and by fas no book I ever crossed my liking for The Fountain Head. She is my favourite author and her work inspires me. I am yet to read ‘we the living’ though. Heard a lot about it from my friend too. Will read it soon.

Surbhi September 6, 2018 at 11:23 pm

I remember reading The Fountainhead as an MBA aspirant, and loving it. But it was a heavy read and stayed with me for a while and I never got on to reading the other ones.. this goes in my reading list now!

Poonam B (@beyondhorizon87) September 7, 2018 at 9:49 pm

Howard Roark has still gripped my heart even after years I first read The Fountainhead. I am looking forward to Kira now.

P.S. Your about me section is marvelous.

Pooja Tripathi September 9, 2018 at 12:36 pm

love this book


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