My only experience
with Rand's work
is The Fountainhead
and Atlas Shrugged
. I can't admit to getting very much out of them since I read them when I was about 17.
I remember writing in my journal that I considered Rand's belief in self a stirring idea, but... well...
Soren Kierkegaard had an idea about the stages of Man's understanding of the world, First to grow through hedonism an understanding of self, then through Ethics & Morality to understand others, and his place in the world The third, and final, step was 'faith' in God-- what he termed 'The jump into the abyss'.
Where Rand 'jumps into the abyss' for me is her total discrediting of the concept of Altruism. That by doing well for yourself is doing well by others is just antithetical to my practical experience, and it doesn't seem very nice either.
Rand is a frequent topic with my colleagues. In any given room of software engineers, probably 30% or so are strict Randian Objectivists/Libertarians. I find that this is a pretty welcoming world view to folks that have had the fortune to funnel some cash into their pockets. I term it the "I got mine, now you get yours." theory of social politic.
...and it's just one of those things that really creep me out.
However, in her defense, I'd have to say that seeing the effects of Scientific Socialism, as she had, her point of view seems shockingly reasonable and level headed.