Here's a great introduction to Ayn Rand for those who are curious. Go on, confess. If you are curious, then this online interview is ideal: Australian internet radio host Prodos interviewing Alan Gotthelf on the occasion of his short book On Ayn Rand being published.
The interview itself acts as a great short introduction to who Rand was, what she was about, and why she is so damned important
What for example is this 'benevolent universe' she talked about? What's the connection between reason and emotion, and how does your self-esteem relate to them both. What does human survival require and why is it good to be selfish? Why do rational people enjoy a 'harmony of interests.' And just what is the meaning of life?
All these questions answered in this short interview, and more -- including the reason Rand was never perfectly satisfied with the title of her best-seller The Fountainhead.
If you want more, then by all accounts Gotthelf's book itself is an excellent introduction to Rand, as is Tibor Machan's own short introduction Ayn Rand. (Here's a comparison of the two.)If it's an overview you want, then these two are probably it. If it's Rand herself you're after, then I'd suggest the best fictional intro is either Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged; the best non-fiction depends on your own interests, but one of either The Virtue of Selfishness (if ethics is your bag), Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (if it's politics that spins your wheels), or Philosophy: Who Needs It (if thinking interests you at all) should do you. The title essay on its own is worth the price of admission.
Linked online interview: Alan Gotthelf talks about his book, On Ayn Rand.