About Me (Cody Jay)

My mission is to get Generation thinking. Simple as that. I want to cover topics that affect your lives and get a conversation started.

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7 Books That Will Make You Think

Nothing gets our brains turning like reading the works of some of the world’s pre-eminent leaders of thought. I’ve put together 7 of my favorites that I think every Gen Y’er could benefit from. Here are a few books that will make you think..

Mans Search for Meaning

by Vmans_search_for_meaningictor Frankl

What It’s About:

Victor Frankl was a German psychiatrist condemned to life in the depths of the Nazi death camps from 1942 to his eventual liberation in 1945. During that period his life was torn apart as his closest family, including his pregnant wife were sent to the gas chambers.

Frankl takes you with him on a journey through his own experiences and the revelations within his own mindset that came about as result. Through his own trials as well as those of others he has studied since, he makes the case that although we cannot avoid suffering, we can choose how it affects us. Perhaps the most inspiring book I’ve read on overcoming extreme adversity and controlling your own thoughts and purpose in life.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

How it May Get You Thinking:

Frankl argues that we are truly in charge of our own thoughts and our reactions to external stimuli. Although we can’t control what happens to us, we can control how we define these events and how we interpret them.

On a grander scale, it’s a look into how we create our own meaning in life. This Extends beyond a particular event such as Viktor was subjected to,  to life in general. The common question people ask ‘what is the meaning of life’ is completely subjective. It’s entirely up to you. There is no purpose except for that which we make for ourselves.

 

Crime & Punishment

by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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What It’s About:

This was the first of Dostoyevsky’s work that I read and it still holds the mantle as my favourite novel of all time. The story opens with the account of a murder committed by the main character, the student Raskolnikov. It follows the brilliant but afflicted Russian as he plans the atrocity and his life after he has committed the act. This book goes on to explore the inner turmoil that envelopes the young man after his crime had been committed and the concept of suffering through redemption.

“To go wrong in one’s own way is better than to go right in someone else’s.”

 

How it May Get You Thinking:

There’s a reason Dostoyevsky is one of the most influential novelists of the last few centuries. He offers unparalleled insight into the human soul and the torments it may be subjected to. Crime and Punishment is the shining example.

One of the key messages I gleaned from this book, was that true punishment arises from internal torment, not from external condemnation. In this case, it was Raskolnikov’s guilt at his crime which led to the most suffering. Once he was sentenced by law, it was almost a relief, as though a great burden had been lifted. I think it offers food for thought on the way we look and punishing offenders in modern society, particularly with the idea of reforming the convicted.

Look there is so much to be gained from this book on aspects of human psychology that any review I give will fall short of doing it adequate justice. I highly recommend you spend some time with Crime & Punishment.

 

Influence

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by Robert Cialdini

What It’s About:

I have read a number of marketing and sales related books over the years, this is perhaps the best. It all came about when the author, Robert Cialdini was fed up with being taken advantage of by smooth-talking salesmen. He was a bit of a patsy, in his own words. One day he decided to do something about it, this book was the result.

Influence explains the psychology of why people say yes and provides real world scenarios to do so. The book is now considered one of the more influential (practicing what he preaches) works in the field of psychology and persuasion.

Click wirr… (it will make sense when you read the book)

“A well-known principle of human behavior says that when we ask someone to do us a favor we will be more successful if we provide a reason. People simply like to have reasons for what they do.”

 

How it May Get You Thinking:

The book highlights several methods of influence that generally shape our behaviour. It’s a great tool if you wish to influence others but perhaps just as importantly, understand how others wish to influence you. Once you’ve read this, you’ll likely look back on a few occasions you simply couldn’t resist making that purchase, perhaps something you really didn’t need. Behind each you’ll find at least one of these methods..

Reciprocity: Give first and you are more likely to receive. A case study used in this book was the Hare Krishna movement and a sneaky little technique they used at train stations. The representative would hand out a flower or a pen to unsuspecting passers-by. After the ‘gift’ was gratefully received, a request for a donation was swiftly presented. The donations were far more likely to flow if it was in reciprocation to the initial gift.

Commitment/Consistency: We generally stay true to our beliefs in who we think we are or in some cases, who we wish to be.

Social Proof: People are more likely to take a specific course of action if others are doing it.  A few references to ‘buyers’ in a similar demographic are always part of a sales pitch.

Contrast: A store will often show you the more expensive products first, making the lesser-priced options appear that much more affordable. Similarly, if you say no to a donation of $50, you’re more likely to make a donation of $10, somewhat of a concession..

Scarcity: How many of us are willing to pay through the roof for an item or service that we perceive as being scarce. Well, scarcity can be artificially created, much to the same effect.

 

Superfreakonomics

by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubners4639868

What It’s About:

Economics is known as ‘The Social Science’.

That, I believe, is at the premise of what this book is trying to convey.

Delving into the deeper meanings and explanations behind monkey prostitution, why it’s safer to drive drunk than walk & the pay discrepancies before and after having a sex change, this amusing work demonstrates that the facts we usually take as a given, are not always as they first appear.

Economics is usually considered and incredibly stale and boring subject, particularly when dealing with the macro-economy; how interest rates affect inflation, how a tax cut on the lowest income bracket could cause a spike in Economic growth.. Trust me, I know, I studied it.

In SuperFreakonomics,  Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner try and prove that Economics deals with much more than simply the large, slow moving parts we hear about on the news and feel like we have little bearing on. On a Micro-economic level, it deals with decisions we make every day and how all of these decisions have consequences, both on our immediate lives and on those surrounding us (Economic lingo: in the form of externalities).

“Knowing what happens on average is a good place to start. By so doing, we insulate ourselves from the tendency to build our thinking – our daily decisions, our laws, our governance – on exceptions and anomalies rather than on reality”

 

How it May Get You Thinking:

I think the key takeaway from this book is to avoid always taking situations at face value, particularly those presented as an irrefutable truth. Superfreakonomics provides multiple examples of real-world scenarios where pre-drawn conclusions about particular events have turned out to be false.

It is essential to look at the reasoning and explanations that lead to the final conclusion being drawn. The law of cause vs effect if you will. Whether there are ulterior motives behind the presentation/data/story, whatever it may be. Simply put, don’t take everything you see and hear as a given.

 

1984

by George Orwell1984-by-opallynn-d4lnuoh

What It’s About:

The protagonist of the story, Winston Smith, lives in the ultimate dystopian society, perhaps one of the most unpleasant places one could imagine. He is under constant surveillance from societies elite, a gestapo-like regime bent of complete control of body, mind and soul. Citizens are forced to conform to whatever deprivations are imposed on them. All under the thumb of the ultimate dictator, big brother (yes, this is where that ridiculous t.v show gets it’s name).

Written in 1949, Orwell’s most influential work has proved more and more prophetic over the years. A truly disturbing read if you consider the situation presented to us in the current day.

“He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”

 

How it May Get You Thinking:

Reading this will have you truly questioning how our modern society is structured and whether a comparable 1984-based world is possible in future. Are we average citizens really like the prolls? The blank-minded, simplistic masses of the novel. Are the wars of the modern day fought purely in a similar vein? I.e purely for economic gain.

There are so many questions raised by this novel and the answers are a little frightening. It’s almost a case of red-pill vs blue-pill. Face up to reality or live in a state of blissful ignorance. This brief novel could be the difference between the two.

 

Metamorphosis

by Franz Kafka

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What It’s About:

Our protaganist, Gregor, awakes one morning to find himself trapped inside the body of a giant insect. The remainder of this brief novel takes place solely inside Gregor’s bedroom, as Kafka takes us on a journey inside the mind of someone who is mentally ill. His interactions, firstly with his family, then a doctor and even his boss, take place here, often through a closed door. A strange tale but one that has had tremendous influence on the genre over the years.

“I cannot make you understand. I cannot make anyone understand what is happening inside me. I cannot even explain it to myself.”

 

How it May Get You Thinking:

Kafka gives an interesting take on how we view the mentally ill in our society. How the protagonist was treated by the outside world, including his family, was despicable. Yet this is, I suppose, quite often the case. It can be difficult for family members to find someone they love stricken in such a way, unable to comprehend exactly what is occurring inside the diseased mind.

Metamorphosis also comments on the crushing burden placed on the bread-winners of our society, as Gregor was. He lived for his job, supporting his family in the process. When he was no longer able to do so, his world fell apart and in a way, his identity was lost.

 

An Evil Cradling

by Brian Keenan901570

What It’s About:

In 1985, Brian Keenan was working as a lecturer in a Beirut university when he was targeted and captured by fundamentalist Hezbollah militiamen. He was subsequently held as a captive throughout the suburbs of Beirut for the next 4 and a half years. Brian was completely isolated from the outside world, his sole interaction occurring with his captors and fellow captives, particularly an American man named John McCarthy. It goes into near unbearable detail as to the conditions of his captivity and the tremendous toll it took on his physical and mental state.

“Consolation is about sharing loneliness and making it bearable.”

How it May Get You Thinking:

Keenan provides deep insight into the minds of his captors, the  men (pawns) who serve these terrorist organisations. The simplicity of their worldviews, their obsession with sex. It’s essential to develop and understanding of the individuals who are willing to lay their lives on the line for a terrorist organisation and this book gives as good a psychological profile as any.

He also examines the bond that is formed between men who suffer together through the depths of hardship. His realtionship with his fellow captive John McCarthy was a fundamental part of his journey as portrayed on these pages. The book is as much about human interaction as political discussion.

 

 

 

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