Bill and Melinda Gates: Annual Letter

Every year Bill Gates and his wife Melinda write an annual letter raising awareness on important subjects. For 2017 they focused on the positive changes that have been made in the world – reminding us that optimism is a vital tool in the worldwide efforts. They narrate their letter as a response to Warren Buffett, a fellow philanthropist who made the largest donation to Gates’ foundation – illustrating the effect his donation had.

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The worldwide efforts explained in the letter includes: reducing childhood deaths and newborn mortality, making vaccines available, ending malnutrition, gender equality, ending poverty, and providing modern contraceptives enabling future planning. They close the letter with their ultimate goal:

We want to end our letter with the most magical number we know. It’s zero. This is the number we’re striving toward every day at the foundation. Zero malaria. Zero TB. Zero HIV. Zero malnutrition. Zero preventable deaths. Zero difference between the health of a poor kid and every other kid. Bill Gates, Annual Letter

I implore everyone to read the letter and share it: everyone should know about – and get involved with – the global efforts to better our world. And remember – smiles are contagious 😀

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Don’t Panic!

This week I’m recommending a book I first read years ago, but to this day it makes me laugh. Mixing hilarity, adventure and science fiction, Douglas Adams wrote the world-famous Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in 1979. It sold more than 250,000 copies in the first three months, and it’s been translated into more than 30 languages. If you are still doubting it’s popularity, check out International Towel Day on 25 May – a day where fans carry a towel with them as instructed in the book.

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“The story so far:
In the beginning the Universe was created.
This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.” This quote from The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (the second book in the Hitchhiker series), is why I fell in love with the books. The unexpected twists and absurd events are what makes this book a very amusing read. After the fifth book, people have described it as; A trilogy in five parts, The book that gives a whole new meaning to the word ‘trilogy’, and my favourite; The fifth book in the increasingly inaccurately named Hitchhiker’s Trilogy.

So, for your next read you should try The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; books filled to the brim with action, hilarity, improbabilities, space travel and adventure. And remember – smiles are contagious 😀

Dracula

The infamous Count Dracula from Transylvania emerged through Bram Stokers book in 1897, searching for his next victim in Stoker’s contemporary London. The epistolary novel tells the story through letters, diary and ship’s log entries and newspaper articles, with different narrators. The gothic classic takes you through a dark and dangerous world, and the age-old struggle between good and evil.

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I admit it is not the easiest read; written in late 19th century it reflects the language of the time. The reason it should be read is simple: it defined the modern vampire and it is a good example of horror and gothic fiction. I truly enjoyed reading Dracula – the suspense looms throughout the story, keeping you engaged until the very end.

So, if you’re up for some classical horror I recommend Dracula by Bram Stoker (just don’t ask every Romanian you meet about Dracula – they’re not that fond of the story). And always remember: smiles are contagious 🙂

The Martian Chronicles

For a taste of excellent science-fiction, I recommend Ray Bradburys “The Martian Chronicles”. Written in the early cold war, it reflects a time of technological advance, nuclear threat and the fate of humanity. Through a collection of loosely woven together short stories, Bradbury paints a dark post-apocalyptic future with a few beacons of hope shining through.

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The red line through the stories is human exploration and colonisation of Mars, leaving behind the Earth that has been devastated by nuclear weapons. Bradbury’s descriptions that flow through majestic landscapes and ancient martian cities long forgotten, leave mental images similar to dreams. Since the stories are only loosely connected, it is easier to read one whenever you have time. They become chapters of sorts, and less challenging in a way  – some are only a few pages long. Also, the topics are still very prominent today as they were some 60 years ago.

“The Martian Chronicles” is a very worthwhile read; exploring the consequences of war, destruction, corrupt humanity, and much more. I highly recommend it to everyone, and remember – smiles are contagious 🙂