Turku Book Café is a non-profit, volunteer and worker-run co-operative vegan café and DIY community space hosting a variety of cultural and societal events ranging from reading circles to band nights in the old centre of Turku. Always free entry, mostly all-ages as well.
In November 1981, inspired by the political book café movement in Berlin, Copenhagen and a few cities in the neighbouring Sweden, a group of young left-wing and anarchist squatters and student radicals opened their own book café in Turku, Finland. Their desire was to import interesting pamphlets and critical academic literature to Finland, and to create an anti-capitalist grassroots meeting place and a scene for dialogue in Turku. Fed up with the party political climate of the 1970s student and other organisations, they wanted to break free from all factions, including the ones they had previously adhered to themselves.
The location of the café has changed a couple of times, as well as the people running the place, but what has stayed the same is the desire to provide a critical alternative or a counterforce to the normative capitalist culture. Currently it encompasses, for instance, distributing zines and books from small publishers, stirring up conversation and hosting reading circles and debates on interesting and important topics, organising solidarity events ranging from brunches to queer parties to gather funds for groups and campaigns in need, importing coffee directly from Zapatista co-operatives in Chiapas, and being an important safer space for minorities. Thus, the core remains the same; coffee, books, and discussion. Another original idea still strongly at work here is the desire to be uncommercial; no fee is required for a glass of water or the use of toilets (mentioning this feels silly, but sadly most cafés in Finland would charge you for both), and all our events are free of charge.
After three decades of varying activities and a few generation changes, the Book Café – or Kirjakahvila in Finnish – remains a volunteer and worker-run co-operative. Today it resides in the historical centre of the Old Turku, at Brinkkala courtyard, but the everyday programme is as diverse as the people who currently run the place. Within the walls of the Book Café you can participate in reading circles and book club meetings, listen to interesting lectures and (mostly local) bands, party in uncommercial queer clubs, watch documentaries and other films, enjoy monthly exhibitions by aspiring artists – and, of course, organize all these things and so much more yourself!
The Book Café is open on weekdays from 12-18.
- book shop/info shop/library