Shelf Life
June 2, 2010 |  by Lew Diuguid

The Power to Prosper:  21 Days to Financial Freedom
by Michelle Singletary, Bus ’93 (MS) (Zondevervan)

Singletary’s 21 steps require a determination to “fast” from unessential spending for three weeks—tactically, by swearing off credit cards, and philosophically, by conforming one’s character to biblical teachings. Singletary is a personal finance columnist for The Washington Post (her column is “The Color of Money”) and a recent recipient of Johns Hopkins University’s Distinguished Alumnus Award. She developed the program while helping fellow congregants in need, and the importance of tithing figures large in the book. Day 16 is titled Financial Fornication; its message is that Corinthians’ approach to marriage makes cents, and its admonition is “Don’t play banker to your baby.”

The Last Leaf: Voices of History’s Last-Known
Survivors, by Stuart Lutz,  A&S ’92 (Prometheus)

Some of newspapers’ more engrossing stories result when obituary writers prepare ahead for the eventual deaths of their famous subjects. The premise of this book is akin, resulting in 39 interviews, mostly with those who outlived all other witnesses of an event. The first section is about three widows of Civil War veterans, all child brides who married aged warriors for their pensions.  All three died after their interviews, in their 90s.  And so it is with survivors of forgotten shipwrecks, a pitcher who fed Babe Ruth a grand slam in a record season, a colleague of FM radio’s inventor—all recently departed in their 10th decade. Lutz concludes that “a commonality to nearly all the Last Leaves is they remain active and have something to look forward to every day.”