Booking it through Windhoek, Namibia

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This article is a bit different from what you usually read on IO Books, but readers travel through space via their bookcases, and we’d like to show you a bit of Namibia, a popular, but lesser-known vacation destination with a rich cultural background, by giving you this article. Remember, if you’re planning a vacation to add Namibia to your bucket list – it’s a unique (and cheap) country to visit!

Namibia – a beautiful African country, situated near the bottom of this big continent is a country with an interesting history. This country is a hot place, and the Namibian booklovers often find themselves nestled in a comfy chair in their air-conditioned homes, reading their favourite books. When you hear Africa, you are probably hit with views of the Big Five, savannah grass, and hot winds. The capital city, Windhoek, however, is a metropolitan hub that is buzzing with activity, sometimes appearing frenzied in rush hour, but filled with a calmness of its own, totally different from any Western city.

Namibia is filled with book lovers and writers (with interesting viewpoints that are sure to challenge your ideas), and the book market has exploded during lockdown (what else were Namibians supposed to do?). Namibians are innovative, creative people and the best place to see this is in the bookstores and in their books. From big franchises to small independent bookstores to much loved fixtures in Windhoek, this list covers it all:

Exclusive Books

Even though Namibia has a wildness in it (cheetahs are often caught and shot when these predators hunt for sheep on farms), the malls are big and filled with a wide variety of international stores. In the Grove Mall, a new-ish mall in the capital, you’ll find Exclusive Books, a South African company that branched out to Namibia to deliver the wide range of books and excellent service that they are known for in their home country. The shelves are stocked with the latest releases, you get to join the rewards program and get vouchers every three months (if you spend enough money), and it’s just a fun place to be in. If buying from a big corporation is not your thing, don’t worry, you still have your indie and second-hand stores to support.

Uncle Spikes Book Exchange

Nestled in Windhoek, in a busy corner of the city, lies a second-hand bookstore. Uncle Spikes’ Book Exchange is a fixture in the city, and a place often visited by Namibians, tourists, and every booklover in Windhoek. Its narrow halls are filled to the roof with books, both old and new, making the scent in the air paper-heavy and a bit dusty (the good kind, though). You can spend literal hours here, getting lost in the same rows, each time discovering new titles that your eye just glanced over, but that now suddenly jump out at you. The old owner, a kind man whose knowledge of books is just amazing, has been training a family member to do what he did for years: make sure that visitors to this treasure trove leave with armfuls of books at great prices.

The Red Shelf

When you head out of Uncle Spikes, you’ll be greeted by the red-ish walls of the Namibia Craft Centre. In this spot, just around the corner, you’ll be greeted by another second-hand store, The Red Shelf. A truly unique (to Namibia) shop, The Red Shelf sells goods on consignment (hello, cheap designer jacket), and a wide range of books. Their range of cookbooks is particularly awe-inspiring, leaving Namibian home cooks with rumbling stomachs and a sudden urge to visit the German grocery stores. They started selling coffee recently, and thank goodness for that – now you can chill on a comfy chair and dig right into your new book and a delicious Flat White coffee from their new coffee bar. Browse the books, browse the clothes, and visit the Namibian Craft Centre right there, it’s filled with African curios to take home to your friends as mementos of your trip.

Windhoek Book Den

If you’re more into true independent book stores, Windhoek Book Den is the place to
be. They’ve experienced true growth and the owners and managers have an uncanny ability to know exactly what you need when you need it. Their yearly sale is one of the most popular places to be in Windhoek. Readings for new releases are regularly held, and the parties are ah-mazing! So much effort is put into every event that the love of books held by each member of the party positively shines from them.

So, if you’re ever in the mood for an African-German holiday where books are
abundant and readers treated like the royalty they are, Namibia should be top of your
list! This country has clear skies, warm weather, delicious food, and a wide variety of
bookstores, making it perfect for readers. Be sure to pick up some of the books
written by Namibian authors (Comrade Editor by Gwen Lister is a firm favourite) and
enjoy this African heaven.

We’d love to hear the stories of your bookish adventures: drop a comment and let us

Written by Illona Luther

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