Bikya’s book cafe has spawned a number of clones all over Cairo, (arguably including their own newer branch in Maadi), but all of them fail to provide the same intimate feel of the original Nasr City location overlooking the hidden but wonderful Fardous park. As a natural extension of their philosophy, Bikya also hosts a book club every now and then that discusses some of the biggest names in world literature.
The book club is designed to be open and encourage dialogue, it is a platform through which ideas on literature can be discussed. Bikya originally started out as a book cafe and has since expanded to nothing short of a community of regulars that have found a home in the welcoming premises.
This idea is exactly what is powering the book club, which was stopped for a while, and is only now resuming its activities. “We usually have about 15 regular members and we leave everything to be decided by the readers themselves. The books are decided upon by the readers at the end of every session, which usually starts at 6:30pm. The book selection process is mostly random, depending on the taste of the readers,” Bikya informed us.
Yesterday, for example, the book being discussed was Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground and the book club is scheduled to be held every “two weeks or a month,” according to Bikya. The period is also decided by the readers themselves, likely based on the length of the book itself.
“We do Arabic books and English ones, and if a book is read in both by different members, the discussion can be in either language, depending on the crowd,” said Bikya. It is clear that the idea behind the book club is to create an organic environment where everyone feels they can contribute and where every suggestion is taken into consideration. There are no informed or more valid opinions than yours or better book choices, only consensus by the members.
Becoming a member is as easy as showing up. “We do not have any criteria, you show up, you take part in the discussion and that is good enough for everyone,” said Bikya.
The book club is an important part of Bikya’s raison d’être. “We are a book store as well as a cafe and encouraging people to read is always a good thing, for us and them. We believe in reading as being vital to development and we want to nourish that and encourage it,” they said.
If you are looking for a community of people to discuss literature with in a relaxed environment that does not force a specific theme or too many guidelines, then the Bikya book club is for you, where the book choices can be as simple as a mere suggestion from a member of the club.