A reader’s tour of Harare’s Treasure Trove

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A friend and I recently teamed up and went to a bookshop called Treasure Trove on a book hunt.

Located at the corner of George Silundika Avenue and Sam Nujoma Street, adjacent to Africa Unity Square in Harare, the trove welcomes you with a captivating scent of old books.

“The nostalgic smell of old books takes me back to high school and college,” my friend remarked.

“I go there to sniff old books then sit in the recreational park to think and disconnect from my everyday world.”

The Treasure Trove, however, is more than just a book world, but carries a whole lot more, including furniture items and utensils from way back.

But one can’t just resist being drawn towards shelves of well-catalogued old books, with prices from as little as $1.

It is like you are borrowing a book from a book club.

In between the transitions from one shelf or corner to another are intriguing portraits, artefacts or posters with hilarious quotations that give the place a life of its own, which though not classy, is rich and deep.

To find affordable books is good news not just to readers alone, but also to Zimbabwean writers, who, from the look of the current landscape, demonstrate a little appetite for reading, as enunciated by the poor quality of their offerings.

From wide reading will come a desire for diversity, diffusion, quality and depth.

Unlike in other bookshops, where the primary concern of the salesman is to close the deal, in here, you find only two, who are not afraid to lose the sale or to get their books stolen.

They just greet you with a bright smile and they let you roam the shop, as you seek to find which book can serenade you.

I found that fascinating. While some feel ignored if they are not given further attention, for the introverted type like me, being left to roam alone in my treasure land is what is ideal, for that way, I do not feel guilty or indebted if I walk out without making a buy.

It makes for an environment of a library built on trust.

The shelf and server monitoring are a product of lack of trust and are typical of high thievery zones.

However, a move towards more engagement with the people either through social media or through physical ways will do no big harm, if any.

The name Treasure Trove is not only catchy, but it gives an impression of what the shop stands for.

Treasure trove refers to “valuables of unknown ownership that are found hidden and declared the property of the crown.”

Following the abolishment of the concept in 1996, it now simply means, “a collection or store of valuable or delightful things”.

Indeed, Harare’s Treasure Trove caters for science fiction, romance, do it yourself, adventure, child literature, travel and motivational literature genres fanatics.

As such, dreadlocked, bald and punky readers slowly walk in and out of the shop to buy their Wilbur Smiths, Dan Browns, Danielle Steels, Robert Ludlums and so on.

Time travels as you are given a chance to view some old furniture, old binoculars and even kitchenware from before the turn of the millennium or from the colonial era.

Of note are typewriters that could be an archaeological treasure in this age of technology, where the sentimentality of writing has changed.

What can stand as the largest flaw of the bookstore is the absence of equally elaborate African literature in the catalogue.

That, however, can stand as a reflection of the African problem surrounding the issue of publishing.

Here is one place from which one can build their own personal libraries, or ensure that their children have access to affordable, wide-variety literature to promote the slowly dying reading culture.