Find Room for These Books on Your Bookshelf

List up to 5 books or films (or both) that have made a profound impact on you and explain why.

Holly Jahangiri
5 min readSep 29, 2022


Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

Starting from Scratch, by Rita Mae Brown

I am convinced that most books on writing or being a writer are written by writers who are going through a dry spell because they know they’ll never starve so long as they’re feeding the hunger that novice writers have for books on how to write. But this one’s a bit different; it’s a well-rounded manual for nurturing the well-rounded writer, body, and soul.

Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand

Oh, hear me out. I find a delicious irony in the fact that Paul Ryan used to idolize a novelist who was a pro-choice, atheist, rational woman who utterly despised Reagan and the neo-cons. I think we all read a different book — wouldn’t that be hilarious if there were ten different versions of the same novel out there, and people had been arguing over what they meant for decades?

It’s a novel. It is not the Bible. It’s not even the best novel out there, but it sets forth a novel and interesting philosophy: Objectivism. (Libertarians are sort of “Objectivist Lite.”) Ayn Rand herself wasn’t ideologically consistent. She was a cheating wife and an abusive friend. Her own characters probably wouldn’t have let her into Galt’s Gulch. So what. Atlas Shrugged was fiction.

But read her essay on the evils of “sacrifice.” This clarifies what she meant when she argued against altruism — she wasn’t saying, “Be a dick.”

“Sacrifice” does not mean the rejection of the worthless, but of the precious. “Sacrifice” does not mean the rejection of the evil for the sake of the good, but of the good for the sake of the evil. “Sacrifice” is the surrender of that which you value in favor of that which you don’t.

If a mother buys food for her hungry child rather than a hat for herself, it is not a sacrifice: she values the child higher than the hat; but it is a sacrifice to the kind of mother whose higher value is the hat, who would prefer her…