Study Guide

The Fountainhead Tough-o-Meter

By Ayn Rand

Tough-o-Meter

(6) Tree Line

Yup, The Fountainhead is a big one. This is an overly long book about architecture, philosophy, and 1930s politics, with some rape (or is it kinky sex?) thrown in for good measure. Sometimes it can feel like you're walking in on the middle of a conversation while reading this thing… and in some respects you are—this book is largely a mental exercise where Rand articulates her philosophy with characters who act as mouthpieces for various philosophical ideas.

To really digest what is going on in this book you'll have to read pretty carefully, and take some time to stop and think about your own responses to what Rand is saying.

But, mental gymnastics aside, this is still a streamlined novel with interesting characters, riveting plot, and—bonus!—an individualist streak that lots of readers have found appealing (or repugnant) over the years.

This ain't James Joyce—you can totally choke this monster read down. Just don't expect to do it in an afternoon. Whether you end up hearting Rand or hating Rand, this big boy is going to take you a few sessions and, if you're anything like us, about twenty-five cups of coffee.