PROFILE: Confessions Of A BookHugger by Phil Ramage

Article published on January 28, 2016.

Phil has kindly agreed to lead the way for all BookHuggers – but there are certain conditions you need to comply with first!

Bookhuggers – We’re an odd lot. If you’ve found this post then you are probably as obsessed about books as I am and like all obsessives we have our little quirks and foibles when it comes to reading. Maybe we should see if anyone wants to commission a tv series about us – but then again, Obsessive Compulsive Readers doesn’t sound the most action-packed of shows. How we choose what we read and how we go about the process of reading fascinates me and I thought I’d reveal for the first time ever some of my reading guilty secrets…………..

I have loads of unread books – Obviously I use Nudge and newbooks as my main guide for choosing what I read but now there’s shelves full of them. I’ve taken over a spare room to store those that are waiting for their own shelf space. Last time I moved house I was embarrassed by the number of boxes that were labelled “Books” and now I have even more – are you with me so far?

Sometimes I use random methods to choose a book – I will quite regularly go to a shelf (I like to move round the bookshelves so I’m not always picking from the same shelf) – pull out six books that I would like to read but haven’t got round to and throw a dice.

I have a To Be Read Spreadsheet – Inspired by a fellow blogger who had devised a multi-coloured (and admittedly complex) spreadsheet for the books she wanted to read, I thought I’d have a go and list those that have been recommended to me, those by authors I’ve previously enjoyed , the next in a series I’ve been reading etc etc. When I got to 94 titles I thought I’d better stop. I’ve read eight books so far this year and not one has come from the To Be Read List – I wonder how many I will be able to cross off by the end of the year.

I can’t remember the last time I gave up on a book – If it’s a dud I’ll still read it.

I have a Kindle full of unread classics – A recent browse led me to discover Delphi Classic Editions where you can download the entire output of a classic author for just a few pence. Walter Scott ? Never read him, can’t go on without getting everything he’s ever written. John Galsworthy? E Nesbit? Arnold Bennett? Just get them all. How long do I think I’m going to live….!

I have a designated Reading Time every day – It doesn’t matter if I get disturbed by ringing phone or national emergency. I always set a timer and just click the pause button and get back to reading as soon as I can.

I do cull books – Obviously I keep a list of what I’ve read (since I was 17 but I lost all but the last twenty years). On New Year’s Day I choose my 10 favourite reads of the year and those that don’t make the list have to go – to charity shops, the local library, to friends. It breaks my heart but I’m thrilled by the (temporary) space on shelves!

If space gets too tight I have been known to decimate (in the true sense). Count ten books along the shelves and one of those has to go. Clears space but I do need a lie down in a darkened room afterwards.

Is this normal Bookhugging behaviour or do I need therapy? I’m feeling quite purged! Have you any reading peccadilloes that you’d like to get off your chest? Time to move some books around……………………..

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The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie

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Ros Green, Essex Book Festival Director

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