A consumer shopper's retail report released today declared that more than a quarter of all holiday shoppers haven't yet started their holiday shopping. That may sound like a lot of procrastinators, but this number is in-line with past years, too.

Are you one of the one-in-four who hasn't yet shopped? Well don't fret. Staying away from the malls may have proven a good move, because today -- hold your applause, hold the drumroll, control your excitement -- we have our annual gift idea column.

Still not thrilled? Consider this: As with past years, our gift ideas are helpful books. Books, I tells ya!

Books, books, and more books
You can never own too many books. Most important, though, is what a book conveys. The books we're talking about today are meant to change people's lives. They're meant to literally improve lives, grant new opportunity, and ultimately lead to financial independence.

The Motley Fool has always worked to help people take control of their finances, and it is our hope that by helping one person, that person will go on to help several others, until eventually the help would spread all around the world. This holiday season, you have an opportunity to help others help themselves by giving financial books that help.

Some of our ideas:

The Motley Fool Money Guide, authored by friend and long-time Fool writer Selena Maranjian. Selena has written the most comprehensive question and answer book related to money that I've ever seen. This 420 page fait accompli answers 500 questions about money, with topics ranging as far afield as life insurance to the risk of stocks, from home mortgages to car loans. And the book is funny, too. Check out the reviews on Amazon -- the first review calls the book "a perfect gift" -- and consider this book for friends, family, children, and maybe a debt-happy spouse. If you buy more than 10 copies, perhaps we can get Selena to personally visit your home on December 25th.

The Motley Fool Investment Guide, the original book that got this train rolling, was recently revised, updated, and expanded to include Tom and David Gardner's investing strategies, Rule Maker and Rule Breaker, among several other additions. The book is excellent for aspiring investors who need to learn about the power of index funds, and the book may be the nudge that your fee-laden, underperforming mutual-fund-buying uncle needs. Overall, it is the most start-to-finish investing book the Fool offers, good for all levels.

You Have More Than You Think, also by David and Tom Gardner, is the Fool's first personal finance book. It addresses credit card debt, car and home buying, and how to get your personal finances in order before you consider buying anything on the stock market. Next, the book introduces the reader (your happy gift recipient) to the stock market, index funds and choosing individual stocks. It's good for those who need to put their personal finance house in order before moving to stocks.

Investing Without a Silver Spoon is our direct investing (Drip) book. It's best for starting investors or any investor who will have something to invest every month ($50 to infinity) and who will want to put that money into company stock directly, without a broker and commission free. The book explains the benefits of direct investing, and shows you how to start and maintain such investing plans. Check out the reviews on Amazon. This may make for another great gift, especially for students about to graduate and start working, or for those just on their way.

Industry Focus 2002 is our gift idea for seasoned investors who are already buying individual stocks. Published every December, this is one of the Fool's most popular research products (the other is the monthly Motley Fool Select). This year, Industry Focus 2002 offers analysis of 18 industries and 18 stock ideas, offering our favorite stock in each industry. Industries covered include defense, apparel retailers, food and beverage companies and small-cap biotechs. If these stock picks do well, you might be the hero at next year's holiday gathering. If they don't do so well, just make the most of being a goat.

Other non-Fool books
To view all Fool books, and some packaged deals, visit FoolMart. FoolMart also offers dozens of non-Fool investing and personal finance book suggestions. Order anything now for it to make it by the holidays.

Finally, if books just don't do it for you, go with a sock monkey kit. You can never go wrong with a sock monkey.

Next week, Drip Port plans to have a buy and sell announcement -- its first sell in history. Have a good week.

Jeff Fischer owns a sock monkey, a gift from last year. He also owns maybe 500 books. To see the stocks he owns, view his profile. The Fool has a full disclosure policy.