Written by Voltaire, pseudonym for François-Marie Arouet, and first published in 1759, this one can definitely compete with anything written ever since! Voltaire uses entertaining satire and dark humor to question government, society, religion, education and optimism, by letting the main character Candide go on a long journey. The ending is one of the most famous of all books, and if you haven’t read it I’m not gonna spoil it for you here.
It’s a rather short read, around 140 pages in my paperback version, and is never boring or heavy for a second. The main lesson or conclusion is very powerful and typical of the enlightenment period, and in this modern day of entrepreneurs and self-development junkies, it’s as relevant today as when it was written.
Rumors say that Voltaire wrote this book in three days, but in reality there are signs of him working on it for up to a year. It is widely regarded as one of the most influential books ever written, and one of the most famous French books.