The Overberg – a Bibliophile’s Treasure Chest


My recent roadtrip through the Cape Overberg had a clear, almost strict gameplan – to relax, see as many places as possible, take pictures and more pictures, “feel” the pulse of the region and stick to my budget.  But as every bibliophile knows, where there is a seller of used books, there are books waiting to find a home.  And who can resist an orphan?

I found good second-hand books of all ages and genres in abundance without even trying, and before I knew it I was heading home with an assortment, despite the piles already waiting patiently at home for me to read.

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What was amazing about my travels through the Overberg was that the smallest country and coastal towns I visited were full of these treasures, often hidden in the most unusual places.

The most notable of these was the unlikely and incredibly unique Moerse Restaurant en Plaasstal in Napier.  Sheltered by trees on the main road as you enter the town, you can’t miss this eatery-cum-nursery-cum-farm stall with it’s bold signage offering uniquely South African “moerse” * eats and “warm sexy bread” straight from the oven.  It’s only when you get inside that you discover the small collection of books for sale.

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The country emporium is run by Manie Kriel and his bibliophile wife Laetitia, who decorates every free space in the shop with wisdom about books.  Even the cold drink fridges!

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Laetitia is a woman after my own heart and I was delighted to discover that I was also a librocubicularist and a bibliobibuli.

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I left with Martha Beck and Breyten Breytenbach, both in excellent condition for about the cost of a good hamburger with chips and salad.

The other hidden gem was in the small coastal haven of Pearly Beach outside Gansbaai.  In the local shopping centre, in a small haberdashers shop where the owner does sewing alterations and makes home décor, her husband runs a book rental service, with a section of books for sale.  Betancourt and Williams joined the others in my boot, before I headed off to De Kelders for a sundown Christmas Eve dinner.

In the larger town of Hermanus, you can spend an entire day getting lost in more than half a dozen bookshops.

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Of course Hemingway’s in Harbour Road (above)  is legendary, specialising in collectables, rare editions and out of print books, but I was more drawn to The Quirk & Leopard, a much smaller bookshop that carefully selects good used books, particularly those classified interesting, beautiful, strange.

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I love the owner Dee’s personal touch and because I’m always drawn to non-fiction set in Africa, I had to buy the Ryszard Kapuscinski, which was priced only slightly above average.

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If you are bargain hunting, do visit the Animal Welfare Charity shop in Mitchell Street.  I couldn’t believe my eyes when I found “We need to talk about Kevin” and “The Holford Diet” for R20 for both.  They were practically new.  The Hospice shop was closed during my stay, but I spied a decent collection of used books through the window there too.

Stanford has its’ fair share of bookshops and I found some lovely classics in Sir Robert Stanford’s original farmhouse, which sells craft and collectibles.

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Now I just need the time to read all the new additions to the family 🙂

*  South African slang meaning really big or numerous.

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7 thoughts on “The Overberg – a Bibliophile’s Treasure Chest

  1. Moerse is one in Napier but at the other end of the village (part of art gallery -a back room- and hardly or not advertised) is a true ‘antiquariaat’ known by ‘antique’ book collectors from all over. Unfortunately I forgot the name but it’s opposite the glass shop. Indeed Moerse is almost an ‘landmark’ … The New Junk Shop in Stanford also has a nice (hidden) collection of old (antique) books.
    Around the corner of Robert Stanford House is where I live …. 😀 😀 😀

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  2. Ah, second-hand bookshops – my weakness. I have to stop myself going inside as I will always buy something! I really like ones abroad (English speaking places) as you can usually find some geographic or historic gem. The Quirk and Leopard sounds right up my street 😀
    Jude xx (another librocubicularist and a bibliobibuli

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    • You’ll love the Quirk and Leopard. There’s a great variety, particularly interesting, beautiful and/or strange. As an aside, Dee the owner is fascinated by leopards and has a mascot which she’s going to hide on a different shelf every day in her new shop, mimicking their elusive nature. You’d also like Books@Aberdeen which is in the same premises as the Barefoot Cook where the food is fabulous, and also The Book Cottage.

      Next time you’re here in my part of the world I’ll have to show you my local favourites, especially The Book Shoppe in Tokai and the Tears Bookshops (The Emma Animal Rescue Society).

      Happy reading, xxx

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