Is Mark Cuban Right About the Student Debt Bubble?

Mark Cuban is probably right about the student debt burden being comparable to the housing bubble. And I’m no fan of Shark Tank–I have this gut-level cringe response at that ‘walk of shame’ scene done to eliminated contestants that probably stems … Continue reading

Cut The Cord: Cheap(er) TV, Movies, and Books

Curious about cord-cutting? I’ve been reading a lot about things I can do to cut my expenses and cord-cutting is a popular topic. Some of these are things I’m already doing—and you probably are too–but a discussion about cord-cutting on … Continue reading

Somebody Explain Why Degrees Costs So D#mn Much, Please?

I don’t think a degree should cost as much as a mortgage, but I do know people whose student loan payments are equivalent to their rent. Over at attn:, Aron Macarow explains why Paying For College Is Now Harder Than Paying Off A Home:

“Student loans made up the smallest portion of household debt until 2009. Now, U.S. educational borrowing amounts to $1.16 trillion. This amount has been ballooning for years, surpassing total credit card debt almost five years ago – and jumping $77 billion in the last year alone. Nearly 1-in-5 households are impacted by student loans. That’s almost a quarter of the United States.”

Seriously, why the dramatic increase since 2009? Is it the recession creating more degree-seekers? Has it increased tuition and fees? Both? Here’s one take on where all that money goes.

I think I need to go look at some pretty paintings now.

The Life Changing Magic of Getting Your Sh%t Together

I won’t lie: I’m trying to get my stuff together. Let’s talk about it a little bit. There are two things that happen to you when you get graduate degrees in creative writing and library science. First, your weakness for … Continue reading

My Life of Crime….Reading

I’m beginning a life of crime…reading. Don’t be alarmed, no blog readers will be harmed in the course of this experiment!

The truth is that I love blogs and non-fiction books about real people embarking on neat and thought-provoking projects. I liked reading Gretchen Rubin’s tips for increased happiness or laughing at AJ Jacobs’ slogging through the Encyclopedia Britannica. I even read Living Oprah. But rather than read about other folks’ projects, I thought it would be fun to dive in and have one of my own. So, I’m undertaking a project tailored to my fascination with mysteries and classic whodunits. For the rest of 2015, I’m going to read my way through 100 mystery and crime novels and blog about them here.

HRF Keating’s 1987 book, Crime and Mystery: The 100 Best Books will be my guide. If you haven’t heard of Keating (1926-2011), he was the award-winning author of the Inspector Ghote novels and president of the Detection Club. The Guardian described him as a scholar with “an awesome reputation as an expert on the genre.” My hope is that this project–like the best literature surveys and themed courses–will help me understand how mysteries grew and developed as a genre. You can find a list of all 100 books in chronological order here. Plus, Keating had an amazing beard.

The great thing about Keating’s list is that it begins with many nineteenth-century books that are widely available, starting with Edgar Allan Poe and Wilkie Collins. I’m already looking forward to reading Frances Iles and Patricia Highsmith (whose books became Alfred Hitchcock’s Suspicion and Strangers on a Train, respectively) for the first time. And Mary Roberts Rinehart!

My plan is to begin with The Moonstone, since I have an unread personal copy, while I track down Poe. If you’d like to join me, Collins’ book is available at Project Gutenberg.


The Devil and Mrs. Bradley

I started Gladys Mitchell’s The Devil at Saxon Wall today. The opening chapters, about a timid young woman who marries a strange man on impulse and then begins to suspect that her new husband is using witchcraft on her, are really creepy and effective. I hit the end of my e-reader sample chapters and was all, “I CAN’T. I have to find out what will happen to this poor girl.”

Mitchell was a contemporary of Golden Age mystery writers like Sayers and Christie, but if you know her protagonist Mrs. Bradley today, it’s probably from the British television adaptation starring a very glam Diana Riggs as Bradley. The novels are much darker than the series and Mrs. Bradley is usually described as “reptilian,” rather than elegant. That’s one of the things I enjoy about period novels–characters are sometimes less likable than contemporary mystery protagonists and you read them in frustration and amusement rather than identification (this is a very fancy way of saying I find Nero Wolfe obnoxiously endearing!).  It looks like the Mrs. Bradley ebooks have been recently re-issued, since all I could find were used copies when I looked for them after watching one episode of the series on Netflix sometime last year.