Author: Andrew

Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged: A Story of a Writer

Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged: A Story of a Writer

Listen on the go: Four Days investigation, narrated by Kevin Donovan

Four Days investigation, narrated by Kevin Donovan

“If I was going to talk to my therapist about what’s going on in my life, I’d tell her everything,” says Alex, 30, from a back room at the Tattered Cover Bookstore.

Inside a small bookshop in the heart of Oakland’s downtown, a customer orders a new copy of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and leans into the conversation. “And Alex,” he says, “is talking about some of the things that happened in his own life.” The bookstore is crowded with the book’s fans, but it’s a special evening: Ayn Rand’s best-selling dystopian novel is on display to celebrate the publication of the film version, The Fountainhead. Alex, it turns out, is also a fan.

Alex is one of a handful of writers who spend part of their time in public libraries, the places where, it is often said, good ideas go to die. He started his career with book publishers, but is now a full-time community organizer at Alameda County Libraries, using the power of library access to empower writers, educate the public and build power from the community to change the world.

Alex’s first book, The Life Changing Miracle of the Fourth Day, was written as a young man in his 20s and was made into a movie a few years back. (Alex’s father, Tom Ritenour, a successful author who was a finalist for a MacArthur “genius” grant, has written a book about his experiences in the library that explores his father’s early life.) At 23, Alex moved to San Francisco and got his first job as an assistant at an art gallery. “After a month, I got hooked on libraries,” says Alex, who graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with a B.A. in public policy and a PhD in library and information science — all skills that helped him get a book contract with Amazon.

His next two books, which are similar in style and purpose, were made into movies: The Fountainhead came from a screenplay written by Alex’s friend, actor Jeff Bridges, and The Long Tail was turned into a film partially written and directed by Alex and written by John Ridley

Leave a Comment