Summer Reading Challenge

UPDATE #3: Summer Reading “Challenge”

It can’t be August already, it just can’t.

I have just finished Candide, and am happy to say I will be reading it again. It’s a story surrounding the ideas of “the grass is always greener on the other side,” “someone else in the world is worse off than I am,” “perfection does not always mean ultimate happiness,” and “if I search long and hard enough for something I will [hopefully] attain it, because all happens and is for the best.” It’s also a story full of pillaging, war, gore, rape, pirates, death and other disheartening acts – so it’s not for the faint of heart. However, these trials and tribulations are important parts of the philosophical and emotional journey on which Candide embarks.

I will say I was a little disappointed in the abruptly decisive conclusions of the characters at the end; I was sort of expecting the story to end unhappily, and it almost did. But as I read the last chapter and the last exchange between the great philosopher Pangloss and Candide again, I suppose I can be somewhat satisfied with the conclusion:

“Pangloss sometimes said to Candide, ‘All events are interconnected in this best of all possible worlds, for if you hadn’t been driven from a beautiful castle with hard kicks in the behind because of your love for Lady Cunegonde, if you hadn’t been seized by the Inquisition, if you hadn’t wandered over America on foot, if you hadn’t thrust your sword through the baron, and if you hadn’t lost all your sheep from the land of Eldorado, you wouldn’t be here eating candied citrons and pistachio nuts.’
‘Well said,’ replied Candide, ‘but we must cultivate our garden.'”

Candide is finally not relying on the “all is for the best” philosophy of his mentor; he is moving forward and working to maintain that forward motion; not thinking about or waiting for things to happen and then just dealing with the consequences in hopes that all will be for the best.

I need to move on for now, but I will be revisiting Candide in the future. Yes, I’m still working on Anna Karenina – she’s feeling neglected, I know – but my next title will be East of Eden by John Steinbeck. August is going to be my powerhouse month – I wonder if I can finish Steinbeck by the end of this weekend? Here’s to making making, keeping, reaching and exceeding goals!

What are you reading this week? Let me know below in the comments, and happy reading!

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