I’m not generally into horror stories, but with Halloween just around the corner my latest read seemed especially fitting.

My scary selection? “The Big Short,” Michael Lewis’ fascinating account of the subprime mortgage meltdown.

I know you’re thinking a recounting of the collapse of the U.S. real estate market — and, by extension, a sizable chunk of the banking industry — doesn’t qualify as a horror story. But trust me, it does. If you think about the monumental impact of en masse defaults on subprime loans, it becomes easy to see just how horrific the situation truly was.

Like many things in life, the mortgage market implosion was a phenomenon that was difficult to appreciate as it was happening. But through the lens of time, guided by Lewis’ expertly crafted narrative, readers will begin to understand what happened. (I say ‘begin to understand,’ because let’s be real — most of us may never fully comprehend a credit default swap.) Overall, Lewis does an impressive job of making an incredibly convoluted system mostly accessible.

I’m willing to bet that most of us know someone — or at least know someone who knows someone — who got swept up in the hustle. Although maybe I shouldn’t say hustle, as one of the tenets of Lewis’ book is the contention that the vast majority of the players weren’t deliberately dishonest, but actually didn’t realize the mess they were creating. Intentions aside, though, the results of the lax lending (and subsequent sale and resale — and resale again and again — of mortgage-backed securities) had devastating effects that are still being felt today. Many homeowners who defaulted in 2007 or 2008 continue to experience the effects of a foreclosure or bankruptcy on their credit records. Others who managed to hang on to their houses are just now starting to see their homes attain the “value” they supposedly had when they first purchased them.

As someone who bought a home at the beginning of the madness but somehow managed to avoid the disastrous results realized by many (Thanks Mom & Dad, for drilling the importance of strong down payments and fixed-rate mortgages into my head!), I’m immensely grateful to have dodged that bullet. But as someone who’s also watched dear friends struggle to recover, I’m flabbergasted that something like this could’ve happened.

While I still don’t fully understand all of the mechanics, Lewis’ book was invaluable in making clear to me the basic premises which allowed the American Dream to morph into a national nightmare.

Bonus read: If you’re looking for a low-commitment spooky tale, check out Gillian Flynn’s “The Grownup.” It’s dark and a bit twisted like Flynn’s other works (“Gone Girl,” “Dark Places,” “Sharp Objects”), but in a quick and easy-to-read format. Just keep in mind that it’s also a little risque, so keep the kiddos away.

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