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……………………..


The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie


Ros Green, Essex Book Festival Director

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