The Book Raft

“A Different Kind” of Book Club at Bookshop Bivar

The Book Raft is a group for people of all ages interested in discussing literary topics in the cozy atmosphere of Bookshop Bivar. You’re welcome to talk about your favorite poems, novels and plays from ALL CORNERS OF THE WORLD. The group wants to be an informal gathering for book lovers and is free to attend (donations are welcome).

Every person reads their contribution (maximum 5 min) about the topic of the event, followed by a short discussion.

The discussions are moderated by Timothy Basi, teacher of English and Italian and passionate lover of literature.

The events are informal and free to attend. Check here what is the theme of the next session.


Past Events

“Death & Literature” – 8 Dec 2017

Death and LiteratureThe theme for this event will be how death and dying are presented in lliterature. We will talk about death in the broadest sense of the term, considering concrete, physical deaths as well as symbolic deaths. In literature, is death always connected with sadness and melancholy? Or could we find also some doses of humour, irony and laughter associated with it?

We will have two guest writers Debra di Blasi and Sam Witt who will read some excerpts from some of their works.


“The truth about love” – 17 Nov 2017

This Book Club event will focus on the idea of Love (in the widest sense of the term).

Do you have a favorite poem about “love”? What is the most original description of “love” that you have found in a novel/poem/play/song? Please, bring to the meeting an excerpt that well describes for you the idea of “love”, and get ready for another memorable evening in the lovely Bookshop Bivar!


“I like my body when…” – 13 Oct 2017

Writers have tried, time and again, to put down on paper some of the mysteries of physical love.

In a narrative work, what makes a sexual description really interesting and memorable? What aspects of sex do you find most intriguing in a novel? In short, what is the most fascinating passage (or short quote) about sex that you have found in a novel – short story – play – poem – song.



“Reflektor” – 21 July 2017

Mirrors are incredibly common in literature, each work offers a totally different facet of the concept of the mirror.

Do they lie or do they tell the truth? Is their truth realistic or  do we interpret the images as we will? Are mirrors a portal to some other world?  Can they capture the soul of those who gaze into them? Are they whole or in shards?


“The Body Says: I’m a Fiesta” – 26 May 2017

“The representation of body in literature”

One of the greatest mysteries of our existence, the experience of being inside a human body is the fundamental thing we all share no matter from what part of the world we come from or what we believe in. There is hardly anything we can experience that is not in some way connected to our body.

The body and its enigmas has given endless food for thought to poets, novelists, painters, fashion designers, business people, religious leaders, doctors…

Healthy bodies, sick bodies, beautiful bodies, ugly bodies, young or old, normal functioning or disabled, tools for freedom or prisons of pain, sources of identity or the roots of inner conflict and shame…


“Is There Anybody Out There?” – 5 May 2017

lisbon-book-club 5 May 2017The theme for our next Lisbon Books Club event will be “Literature written in isolation”.

We will talk about novels / short stories / poems / songs written in a concealed room, in exile, in prison, in a concentration camp, in a ship, on an island, or in any kind of confined space…

In what ways can the power of imagination overcome the lack of rich external stimuli?



Book Swap Party – 1 April 2017

birthday book swap party 1 AprilOn April Fool’s Day we celebrate Bookshop Bivar’s 3rd Birthday together with Timothy’s Lisbon Book Club.

Each participant brings a book and swaps it for another during the event. (if you aren’t familiar with the idea, read more on Meetup). Wine & Nibbles provided.

The event will be moderated by Timothy and after the event, we can go for dinner together in a nearby restaurant.




“Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty” – 20 January 2017

Painting of a WomanNote: This session was recorded and it may be broadcast on a tv channel in a few months’ time.

The theme for this event will be the presence of beauty in novels, short stories, poems, plays or songs.

Where do we find beauty in literature? Have you ever found a literary passage (or a poem) whose beauty touched you deeply?





“Going Home” – 16 December 2016

Man Walking HomeA home can mean many different things: the place where one lives, the place where something is invented, founded or developed, a family, a community, a language (Pessoa famously said “My home is the Portuguese language”), the memory of a cherished place etc.

What is the most striking description of a home (any kind of home) that you have found in a novel/ short story/ play/ poem /song?


“Axe for the frozen sea” – 25 November 2016

Bookcase seen through glasses“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for? […] we need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply […] A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is my belief.” – Franz Kafka

Have you ever read a text that shifted your perspective on life?


“Bright Flame before Winter’s Deadness” – 4 November 2016

Autumn leaves“Fall: bright flame before winter’s deadness; harvest; orange, gold, amber; cool nights and the smell of fire. Our tree-lined streets are set ablaze, our kitchens filled with the smells of nostalgia: apples bubbling into sauce, roasting squash, cinnamon, nutmeg, cider, warmth itself. Fall is begging for us to dance and sing and write with just the same drama and blaze.” – Shauna Niequist

What is your favourite Autumn story or poem?


“Knocking on Heaven’s Door”, Bob Dylan Night – 18 August 2016

Bob Dylan“A song is like a dream, and you try to make it come true. They’re like strange countries that you have to enter” Bob Dylan, Chronicles. Launched as a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1997, Bob Dylan is recognised worldwide for being one of the most complex and fascinating singer-songwriters of all times. Christopher Ricks argues that Dylan’s lyrics not only qualify as poetry, but that Dylan is among the finest poets of all time.


“Multitudinous­­ Heart” – Poetry Night with Richard Zenith – 28 May 2016

Richard ZenithA unique evening dedicated to poetry with writer, critic and literary translator Richard Zenith, who will be reading some of his translations from his book Multitudinous Heart, a bilingual anthology featuring a vast selection of poems of Carlos Drummond De Andrade, one of the greatest Brazilian poets of the 20th century.
In fact, not only are we going to discover some of the most beautiful and thought-provoking poems in contemporary literature, but we’re also going to have sparkling discussions about them exploring themes such as Childhood, Death, Love, Sexuality, What it means to be a human being, Mindfulness, Urban life, Religion, Social justice, etc….


“La vida es sueño” – 28 April 2016

man with umbrella standing on a ladderDreams are used throughout literature in many different genres, but why use dreams? What purpose do they serve?

Have you ever read a literary work sprouted partially or totally from a dream?

What is the most interesting dream (or nightmare) that you have found in a novel – short story – play – poem – song?

Please, bring to the meeting one of your favorite literary passages/quotes related to this theme that you would like to share with us…and get ready for a dreamy night at Bookshop Bivar!


Language – 14 April 2016

map with words“She liked the word ineffable because it meant a feeling so big or vast that it could not be expressed in words.
And yet, because it could not be expressed in words, people had invented a word to express it, and that made Liesl feel hopeful, somehow.” – Lauren Oliver.

Does language express emotion or mask it? Does it mold thought, enrich or limit it? Does it bring people closer or separate them?


Perceptions of Childhood – 24 March 2016

Graffitti with the image of a childWhat are, in your opinion, the most interesting representations of children in literature across different times, nations and cultures?

Are children represented in literature a faithful reflection of real children?

What are the main characteristics of these representations? In what ways are stories about children different from stories with adults?


Where the Wild Things Are – 10 March 2016

Painting of the MinotaurWhat were (or what are) your favourite children’s stories?

Are there novels, short stories, poems that meant a lot to you when you were a child? What are, in your opinion, the main features of children’s books?

Do you believe that children’s stories can speak to adults too?


“Tender is the Night” – 18 February 2016

City at NightWhat sorts of things happen at night in literary works? What mysteries? What dangers? What transgressions? What revelations?

Does the night hide more than it reveals? Or is it the other way around? What is the most fascinating nocturnal situation that you have encountered in a novel/short story/play/poem/song?


“Songs From A Room” – 22 January 2016

singer with guitarThere are countless songs we consider poetic or, at least, poetic sounding. However, some of these songs, when stripped of their instrumentals, may loose some or all of their “poetic charm”. What songs do you feel, on paper, could pass for poetry? Please, bring to the meeting the lyrics of one of your all-time favorite songs. You could briefly present it and then read/sing it to us 😉 The chosen songs could be, of course, in any language!