This book was recommended to me by a friend who described it as a life-altering work and the best book he had ever read. I greeted this with the cynicism that such emotive comments often deserve. Nevertheless, I bought the book and have bought it for many more friends since. No book (or other art form, for that matter) has influenced me, encouraged me, excited me and criticised me as much as Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead".
I find it impossible to describe precisely what I took away from the book other than an overwhelming desire to meet the protagonist, Howard Roark. I compared myself (somewhat unfavourably) to his inspirational character; a man of complete integrity (in the sense of being whole and unimpaired) and, above all, a man who remains incorruptibly faithful to himself (odd though that sounds - read the book!). I fell short in almost every respect because he is, of course, a work of fiction living in a stylised world. However, I have since found that in some small measure we can attempt to lead our lives in a manner which more closely resembles Roark's philosophy (or, rather, his way of being). I agree with another reviewer that this is not The Answer, but I believe it is some small part, without which the remainder may be unobtainable.
This book will not be universally liked. It polarises opinion because its message is not to everyone's taste. Nor is it the most beautifully crafted prose (it was the author's second language, after all). And, Ayn Rand sometimes verges on being self-consciously clever. However, if the measure of a book is how often you refer back to it, how heavily you rely on its message and how vociferously you recommend it to others, it is clearly the best book I have ever read (and the only book I have felt obliged to review online).
Just my thoughts - I hope you enjoy it.