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Candide by Voltaire
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François-Marie Arouet, aka Voltaire, was arguably the 18th century's greatest philosopher, and his most enduring work is his novella Candide; Or All for the Best. In it Voltaire parodies the philosophy of optimism championed by Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibnitz, which purports that since God created the world and God is perfect, then everything in the world is perfect.

Voltaire's answer to what he deemed ludicrous philosophy was Candide: a fantastic picaresque tale that follows the ultra naive title character around the world on a hilarious journey. He goes about with his teacher Pangloss, who's bent on proving the tenets of optimism. But through the course of worldly events, pessimism eventually seems to be a more accurate view. When Candide and his friends are killed, they are magically brought back to life. First they're rich, then they're poor... and finally they wind up on a farm in Turkey. This short book is a fast paced, funny, and delightful read.

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