The perfect time for a summer reading list

Sometimes the only way to deal with the chaos of the world is not to deal. It's mid-summer after all, and perhaps time to take a day away and get absorbed in a book. A few recommendations are below, to find more, visit the independent progressive website Books We Like.

For your inner teen, check out Francesca Lia Block's latest, Violet and Clare, the un-sticky un-sweet story of two high school girls. Although Block is often recommended for reluctant teen readers, she's one of the funniest punk poet fiction writers around. Her book on mothering, Guarding the Moon, is one of the few books on parenting that didn't make me gag.

To remind yourself that things could be worse, pick up Blindness by Jose Saramago. Saragmago, who has won the Nobel Prize in Literature, obviously isn't an unknown but his smart unbound prose and progressive politics are rare. This story, of an epidemic in which almost everyone goes blind, is his best.

To escape completely, read anything by Octavia Butler. Wild Seed is my favorite, a novel that spans hundreds of years, covers race, class, slavery, and technology while maintaining a core story about how two people deal with their relationship to each other and to their very alternative families.

Finally, check out Barbara Ehrenreich's new nonfiction book, Bait and Switch:The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream. Oh wait, it's not out until September. Good thing, too, because its funny and horrifying stories of the unemployed middle class might be enough to put a cramp in your day at the beach.

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