It's already started.
The press releases have been rolling in about holiday gift guides and the wheels in my head are spinning about what to get friends and family for Christmas.
While many agree that it's far too early to start busting out the wreaths and holly (I'm looking at you, every retail establishment in the country), it's practically never too early to start shopping for gifts.
Some very well organized people do it all year round -- I'm not one of those people.
So it's around this time every year that I start making my list and casually trying to get my husband to drop hints about what new tool or piece of fishing/hunting equipment he might desire.
But the people I have the most fun shopping for are the kids in my family.
For some reason, I feel it's my aunt-ly duty to make sure these kids are well-read. So often the gifts they get from me are books and my oldest nephew is just getting to the age -- 12 -- where I feel I can start him on some classic pieces of literature. And perhaps zombie movies, but that's another column.
So I've been doing some research on age-appropriate literature for the tween set and have come up with this list of potential gifts that will not only (hopefully) give him an edge scholastically, but also increase his love of reading.
"Something Wicked This Way Comes" by Ray Bradbury: I was in high school when I read this fantasy/horror classic, but I think it is accessible to the older tween set as well. It's also a great introduction to allegory.
"To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee: This is required reading in most high schools, so an early introduction could give a kid a leg up in the classroom. It's a timeless tale and also happens to be one of my all-time favorite books. This Southern classic is always a great gift.
"Animal Farm" by George Orwell: I read this in junior high and while I didn't fully grasp it at the time, it has stayed with me through the years. As one learns more about history, it's fun to see the parallels presented in Orwell's political satire.
"The Princess Bride" by William Goldman: Fantastic movie and an even better book. I recommend it to readers of all ages and have gifted it multiple times. If you haven't read it, you must. Like the film, it's a tale of action, adventure, love, fantasy and magic.
Anything by Edgar Allan Poe: Sure, he's macabre, but, again, nothing that a middle schooler can't handle. Plus, his detective stories are among the best out there.
"Gone With the Wind" by Margaret Mitchell: I shamefully admit that I've not even read this Southern classic, but it's up there on my to-do list, especially after living in the South. It's my understanding that it's suitable for the tween age group, though perhaps a little lengthy.
Katie McCarthy, features writer, firstname.lastname@example.org or 706-571-8515. Visit ledger-enquirer.com/junkfood for more commentary.