There's little time left, but because books make great last-minute gifts, I consulted a few retired friends for suggestions to add to my own.
There was a surprise. I didn't expect to find authors with Appalachian connections topping the list, even from a friend in Dallas.
A retired college professor, Jacque Lytle, wrote in an email, "I think I can make a recommendation for the older among us, especially women."
Jacque had just suggested this book at a meeting of her local American Association of University Women. Her choice was "Half Broke Horses" by Jeanette Walls. Walls' first book, of course, was the best-selling "The Glass Castle," about the sometimes shocking, factual recollections of her youth in the coalfields of West Virginia.
The second book, also a best-seller, focuses on her grandmother, an amazing woman who was helping her father break horses by the time she was 6. Born in 1901, she left home at 15 to teach, riding 500 miles on a pony to get a job. She became a pilot, a rancher, survived tornadoes, floods, the Great Depression and personal tragedies, all of which, Jacque wrote, "certainly make me feel a bit wimpy."
Nor was Jacque the only one to recommend books by Walls. Mason County resident Hilda Austin recommends books by Walls as well as by another author with Appalachian ties, Barbara Kingsolver.
"Kingsolver writes in such a diverse and intense way that you can't put the book down!" Hilda said in an email. "I have read all of Barbara Kingsolver's books and can't wait for her new one, too."
Wait no more. Kingsolver's new book, "Flight Behavior," is on the shelves now.
Honestly, I've never been a fan of Kingsolver's fiction until now. "Flight Behavior" changed that. I didn't want to put it down.
Her undereducated 28-year-old "hillbilly" in Tennessee manages to translate complicated scientific discussion of climate change into down-to-earth, meaningful English.
But back to friend Hilda, whose retirement part-time position is as executive director of the Mason County Area Chamber of Commerce. She had another surprise for me.