25 August 2011 by Dianne Tipping-Woods

The Trompsburg Boekerij

Trompsburg is easy to miss. It’s a small town in the Free State, between Springfontein and Bloemfontein, I think. But, as with many of South Africa’s small towns, it’s got a story to tell. And more than one, as I discovered when I met Emmie Van der Berg.

Emmie has a thing for stories. She runs a bed and breakfast in Trompsburg that doubles as a second hand book store; the Slampamper Guest House and Boekerij.

The 1930’s house is full of books. There are shelves and shelves of them in every room, well ordered and arranged. “Books are an integral part of my life, have always been and, I am at my happiest among them. Even just handling and rearranging them gives me pleasure,” Emmie, a former librarian and teacher, explains.

The books cover just about any topic you can think of;  a collection large and varied enough to satisfy the most fastidious bibliophile. There is lots of fiction, both modern and classic, a reasonable number of biographical works over a wide spectrum, quite a few historical works, lots on medicine that the town’s retired doctor donated… She has also found some real treasures, like a very rare first edition Afrikaans translation of one of the books in the bible. “I also help guests to find a desired book, sometimes one they have read very long ago and cannot find elsewhere,” says Emmie.

Emmie had always wanted to open a second hand book store in Trompsburg,  but with its small population, she wasn’t sure it would succeed.  Incorporating into her guesthouse seemed like the perfect solution. The house is full of comfortable beds and couches, there is a large reading room, with an old fashioned record player and a large collection of records to listen to, a wide stoep and quiet garden. Her books sell from just a few rand to just a few more; great value for her guests.

While many of Emmie’s guest are passing through (like me),  she also hosts people for several weeks at a time. “What could be better than spending your days reading in quiet surroundings while all your needs are being attended to ?” she asks. Next time I’ll stay for longer, and read and read and read.

Category: Arts & Entertainment

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