Once again this month we were hosting the monthly bookworms gathering, the 2 ½  Portland Street Bookclub. The theme for this month was “Memories of The Books”. The theme was chosen because we wanted to explore something different. Since its first conception as a clay tablet, a book is always used as the medium to record the writer’s mind, dream or idea in pictorial, symbolic or alphabet form. A book is the literal translation of the author’s memory. However, in this session, we wanted to explore more on the other side of the story, the memory of the book itself. We wanted to explore more about the journey about a book or two in our possession.

The session was started with us sharing our stories with books, what’s the book that bears a significant importance in our life and why? What’s the reason why we kept a certain book for so long? Some of the discussions are very enlightening and some also very personal. It is very incredible how a book, which is basically just a set of alphabets which are arranged in a certain way, can have such a life-changing effect for some people.

In line with our theme, we were very lucky to have Dr. Sydney J. Shep and Dr. Marry Hammond, the world-renowned historians, as our special guests. They shared their stories about all of the old books they found during their research and they also brought some of the old books too. Some of the books are even more than 100 years old. There was a very exciting moment when our historians revealed that the books they brought finally found their way home to Mr. Gilbert shop.

Why this is fascinating for us? Because Mr. Gilbert bookshop was a five-generation bookshop that had been running for 143 years before finally it was closed in 2002. The last location of Mr. Gilbert Bookshop was the 2 ½ Portland Street, where Mutrend Lab is located now. Well, Mr. Gilbert Bookshop was not in Portland Street when it started selling books for the first time. In fact, the business was set up for the first time in Bernard Street. After that, they moved to High Street and then to Above Bar Street, when finally they moved to Portland Street before it finally closed for business in 2002. During their time, Gilbert Bookshop was selling new and secondhand books and they also traded as a stationer, printer, and bookbinder*.

We can’t wait to see the other bookworms again and in another session of 2 ½ Portland Street Bookclub. We are looking forward to seeing you there and having an enjoyable discussion.

*source: http://sotonopedia.wikidot.com/page-browse:gilbert-s-booksellers.