There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.Interestingly, The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged were the first two hardcover books that I special-ordered from a bookstore. I have pretty much outgrown my interest in Atlas Shrugged...I have not, for example, bothered to watch the movie. On the other hand, my interest in The Lord of the Rings remains high.
On the third hand, if there is one, Ayn Rand deserves respect as one of a small number of authors who have made a living and a reputation by writing in the English language, although it was not their first language. I call them "ESL Authors," and they are an oddly assorted lot. Ayn Rand, of course, but also Joseph Conrad, Kahlil Gibran, and even Helen Keller. I may do a post on them some day.