In this book, Rand discusses her philosophy of aesthetics and art, applying principles of Objectivism to those areas. In a nutshell, she says that the role of art is to show the artist's metaphysical value judgments and allow viewers to make to see their mind's concepts crystallized in a perceptual (physical) form for the purpose of self-reflection. She says that art is not a "nice to have" but required for man's survival and integration of the proper concepts into his own philosophy and values. She proposes that (Romantic) literature should show the heroism and greatness of man, not as he is but as he ought to be and could be. This is in contrast to the school of Naturalism, which focuses on everyday men and their foibles and problems, focusing on their limitations and lack of control.
It was neat to see something that appears so murky and subjective as art clearly defined and structured. I enjoyed her dissection of the different elements of a novel and the ways they are implemented in Romantic vs. Naturalistic styles. I enjoyed the author's application of the book's concepts in analyzing her own literature and other contemporary novels and films, including some James Bond films. Finally, I have a good argument for why James Bond films rock!
I have read a bit of the authors she recommends, like Hugo and Dostoevsky, but I definitely need to check these guys out again, looking at their work from the viewpoint of Rand's philosophy.