Oxfordshire is a good county to live in if you like books, with a variety of independent book stores to choose from. I've spent many happy hours in various Blackwell's shops since I was a child, but my choice for #IndieAdvent is the wonderful Mostly Books in Abingdon.
I can't remember when I first went into Mostly Books, but I remember the first exceptional thing they did for me, which was to get a picture book signed for my eldest daughter's first birthday after I commented on just missing a signing event. She's now almost eight, and likes to help out behind the till if she's allowed!
Mostly Books is somewhere you can just go in for a chat; somewhere that puts books aside when I've given myself a temporary spending ban; somewhere that can order books in for next day, including getting several versions for you to choose between if wanted; somewhere that can recommend books on almost any interest; somewhere that would rather find that one perfect book to suit what you're looking for than try to sell everything for the sake of it; somewhere that always finds time for every person who comes through the door.
The shop is not huge, but it's an Aladdin's cave waiting to be explored and I always find something new and gorgeous on the shelves, even if I go in every week. Which I often do... I especially love the children's room with colouring pages and toys to keep young ones amused (plus a toilet!) and the lovely courtyard outside for events on sunny days.
Mostly Books runs book groups, author events, school events, library events, has a fabulous loyalty card scheme, knows many customers by name, does lots more that I'm unaware of, and is run by the loveliest people. I cannot praise them highly enough.
As for which book I'd buy there for Christmas, does it have to be just one?! Today I had a splurge, with a little help from their Christmas newsletter voucher, and got The Imaginary (A F Harrold & Emily Gravett); Pocket Fairy Tales: Little Red Riding Hood (Paul Hess); Baby Aliens Got My Teacher (Pamela Bouchart & Thomas Flintham); and The Matchbox Mysteries (Sally Gardner & David Roberts). There are also some lovely signed editions in stock that would make great gifts.
Anne-Marie has been bloggering and twittering about picture books, parenting, and anything else she feels like for three years under the guise of Child-Led Chaos. Next year, she's launching Chaos Castle, an illustrated books blog. Hopefully.