A while ago I read 3 classics: Candide by Voltaire, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck and Night by Elie Wiesel. I remember vaguely the stories of each of the three books, but not enough to be able to write a review on it, at least not a review that would do either of these books justice. So instead I decided to highlight these three books as options if you’re looking into starting to read classics, but don’t know which books to pick. They are all under 150 pages which makes them quick and easy reads. I have rated them all 4 stars and I enjoyed Night, a non-fiction read the most.
CANDIDE BY VOLTAIRE
A hilarious satire by Voltaire about optimism. With dark humor, Voltaire gives us the character Candide who falls in love, gets kicked out of the castle he lived and worked in. While travelling the world searching for his beloved he experiences bad luck after bad luck, yet remains optimistic against all odds.
“One of the finest satires ever written, Voltaire’s Candide savagely skewers this very “optimistic” approach to life as a shamefully inadequate response to human suffering. The swift and lively tale follows the absurdly melodramatic adventures of the youthful Candide, who is forced into the army, flogged, shipwrecked, betrayed, robbed, separated from his beloved Cunégonde, and tortured by the Inquisition. As Candide experiences and witnesses calamity upon calamity, he begins to discover that—contrary to the teachings of his tutor, Dr. Pangloss—all is not always for the best. After many trials, travails, and incredible reversals of fortune, Candide and his friends finally retire together to a small farm, where they discover that the secret of happiness is simply “to cultivate one’s garden,” a philosophy that rejects excessive optimism and metaphysical speculation in favor of the most basic pragmatism.
Filled with wit, intelligence, and an abundance of dark humor, Candide is relentless and unsparing in its attacks upon corruption and hypocrisy—in religion, government, philosophy, science, and even romance. Ultimately, this celebrated work teaches us that it is possible to challenge blind optimism without losing the will to live and pursue a happy life”
OF MICE AND MEN BY JOHN STEINBECK
Two gentlemen travelling together looking for work and dreaming of owning their own farm one day. A simple, yet powerful story.
“The tragic story of the complex bond between two migrant laborers in Central California. They are George Milton and Lennie Small, itinerant ranch hands who dream of one day owning a small farm. George acts as a father figure to Lennie, who is a very large, simple-minded man, calming him and helping to rein in his immense physical strength.”
NIGHT BY ELIE WIESEL
This is a non-fiction read and in it Elie Wiesel, a WWII Holocaust survivor, tells his story about his time in the concentration camps. His desolation, him questioning God and religion and the suffering that he had to endure was heartbreaking to read. It is a short novel and not easy to read and it definitely makes you want to know more. The edition I read was rather short and I believe there are various versions of this book, because even though this was a good read, I wish it was longer. If it was, I am sure it would have a more powerful impact on the reader.
“Night is a work by Elie Wiesel about his experience with his father in the Nazi German concentration camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald in 1944–1945, at the height of the Holocaust and toward the end of the Second World War. In just over 100 pages of sparse and fragmented narrative, Wiesel writes about the death of God and his own increasing disgust with humanity, reflected in the inversion of the father–child relationship as his father declines to a helpless state and Wiesel becomes his resentful teenage caregiver”
Penetrating and powerful, as personal as The Diary Of Anne Frank, Nightawakens the shocking memory of evil at its absolute and carries with it the unforgettable message that this horror must never be allowed to happen again