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Explore this week.

Booklovers around the world (and in Cape Town) are known for their love of bookshops like Exclusive Books or Readers Warehouse. Admit it, the feeling of opening a new novel for the first time and smelling that new book smell… that’s absolute heaven

But let’s be honest, sometimes we don’t have the money for those shops (being a reader can really break the bank). Other times, we’re on more of a “local is lekker” train of thought and would like to show some love to our independent bookstores. And sometimes we just enjoy the history that comes with holding a pre-loved book. Either way, all of us can appreciate the charm of a sweet second-hand or independent bookstore. That’s why I’m here, to show you some of my favorite independent and/or second-hand bookstores in and around Cape Town!

The Book Lounge

Imagine Exclusive books but with more personality and less of a “big corporation” vibe to it. Located in town on 71 Roeland street in Town, The Book Lounge is filled with brand new books of all kinds, you can spend an hour browsing and trying not to buy seven books in one trip (and it’s difficult, very difficult). And let’s not brush past their beautiful shop, with large windows and gorgeous decor (including comfy couches). They don’t only have books – they also have puzzles, notebooks, and more.  They also often host book launches and creative events which can be great to check out if you’re into the Cape Town creative scene (oh, and did I mention you can grab a coffee in their downstairs area whilst you shop?)

Obz Books

Ah…Observatory, a place filled with so many vintage shops and cute restaurants- of course, there has to be a legendary bookshop! And there is, Obz Books! The people who work there are kind and have some serious knowledge with regards to their books and their collections.  You can also find a variety of quirky trinkets and posters in and around the shop. It’s full of that Obz charm we all know and love. Oh, and if you have a moment, treat yourself to a cup of coffee or tea in the cafe behind the bookstore! Sit down with a warm drink, open up a beautiful second-hand book and enjoy the space teeming with that Obz magic.

Kalk Bay Books

Known for its stunning collections, Kalk Bay Books is truly one for the books (hah, see what I did there?). The location and the quality of the products sold make it a worthwhile experience. If you visit this shop, you’ll see the best and most beautiful editions of novels you’ve ever come across in any bookshop. To walk out of their shop without one of their extraordinary new novels will take an immense amount of discipline (so I wish you luck.)  Even if you don’t buy anything, ensure that you visit this iconic bookstore in the heart of Kalk Bay. It has to be on the list for any book lover.

Clarke's Bookshop

One word…wow. One of Cape Town’s oldest bookshops, Clarke’s Bookshop was founded in 1957 and remains a beauty in 2023. The owners are wonderful and very friendly – always open to a conversation about the store and willing to help with any queries possible. Located in the middle of town, this place is special. Their African and South African collections are mind-blowing – you won’t find such a local selection anywhere else. Their downstairs is filled with new Africana books. However, if you have a  hankering for some second-hand books at good prices, just head to their upstairs area where their second-hand and non-Africama collection lies. Trust me on this, you will not regret stepping into this store.

Help The Rural Child - Mowbray

I couldn’t make this list without including a charity shop! Help the Rural Child has been running for many years, with most of its funds going to improve the lives of rural children through the Goedgedacht Trust in support of their programs that help to strengthen and support rural children who are living in distressed and impoverished conditions. There’s one in Mowbray and another in Kirstenhof. Whichever one you go to, you will be greatly rewarded. All the books are second-hand and very cheap. I personally prefer the one in Mowbray as you can walk up the stairs of printed books and enter this little gem of a bookshop that has an old feel to it. Do some good and read some books, my friends.

That's it folks!

And so we’ve come to the end of our listicle. And yes, I know there are tons of other secondhand and/or independent bookshops that we haven’t included but don’t worry! This isn’t going to be the only list of our favorite stores, we have tons waiting for part two! Until then, explore the five bookshops we’ve suggested so far and get reading!