I think one of the most perfect gifts, either to give or to receive, is a book. There are books on every subject you can imagine, and even some you cannot, so you could probably take care of everyone on your holiday shopping list with just one trip to your local independent bookstore.
We've all heard the reasons why it's better to buy from local, independently-owned stores rather than from national chains. More of the money we spend stays in the local economy; less money is spent on packaging and transportation, which is better for the environment; and we end up with stores that cater to our local needs and interests. For those of us who love books, there's also just the sheer joy of wandering into our local bookstore and being able to browse through stacks of books, something we can't do if we shop online.
The local independent bookstore nearest to me, which I visit often, is the Avid Reader on Broadway, pictured below. There is also an Avid Reader in Davis.
For those of you who live up Highway 50, be sure to stop in at the fabulous new Face in a Book in El Dorado Hills, if you haven't already. It's usually off the beaten path for me, but that's my smiling face in the picture below, standing in front of Face in a Book during the book launch party a few months ago for The Dog with the Old Soul. It was exciting to hear that someone actually had the courage to open a new bookstore, given the conventional wisdom that online shopping and eBooks have rendered actual bookstores obsolete.
And if you don't know exactly what book someone on your holiday shopping list is going to want, buy a gift card! I can personally attest to the fact that few shopping experiences are more satisfying than browsing in a bookstore with a loaded gift card!