Novelist Maria Flook is the author of the 2003 best-seller Invisible Eden: A Story of Love and Murder on Cape Cod. Her next novel, Lux, will be published this fall.

The Red Hour Glass Lives of the Predators by Gordon Grice (Delta, $19). A self-taught naturalist, Gordon Grice writes with the authority of a man who likes to face off with spiders, wild dogs, rattlesnakes, and the other killer critters who surround us in day-to-day life. This is a delicious book to cuddle up with. Just bring your can of Raid.

The Bottom of the Harbor by Joseph Mitchell (out of print). A beautiful, dreamy journey into the underworld of New York City’s waterfront communities in the mid-20th-century. Mitchell, always humanistic, is at his most lyric in this book. It is a love poem to a time and place few of us can reach back to.

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Stick and Rudder: An Explanation of the Art of Flying by Wolfgang Langewiesche (McGraw Hill, $25). I discovered this wonderful book about flying by reading another book on the subject by the writer’s son, contemporary nonfiction writer William Langewiesche. Pilots call Stick and Rudder “the bible of aerial navigation.” Written mostly in laymen’s vernacular, it’s a technical manual for first-time pilots that combines practical mechanics, anecdotes, wrist-slapping facts, and warnings. I’ll never get behind a “stick,” but reading this book I was airborne, and loving every minute.

Who Do You Love by Jean Thompson (Simon & Schuster, $13). Jean Thompson is an urban Flannery O’Connor. The stories in this volume are charged with sharp insight and refined by a generous empathy for the disenfranchised, dismissed, disappointed Americans she evokes. Yet these characters are familiar to us; both their problems and their sunny days mirror our own.

Brighton Rock by Graham Greene (Penguin Books, $14). This novel about a kid con man on the lam was a primer for me on psychological realism and the delights of noir. The story evolves in the chilly seaside decay of Brighton, England, and you never feel safe and warm reading it.


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