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2006 in word and song...

By Jane Hardy

What was your favourite read and sound of the year? Here, Jane Hardy asks some well-known Ulster people for their pick of the pops

Gerry Adams MP, President of Sinn Fein

I've always found it very difficult to say which is my favourite book, as I read a lot. But my book of the year would be a little book for younger readers, D'e'irigh Me' Ar Midin, an adaptation of a biography of Bobby Sands by Denis O'Herrne and Laurence McKeogh. It's under £6 and a very well written book.

My favourite CD would be (We Shall Overcome) The Seeger Sessions by Bruce Springsteen or Modern Times by Bob Dylan. I saw Bruce Springsteen last month in Belfast - the concert was even better than the CD. It's a mighty piece of music. And yes, I danced along, I'm a real Showaddywaddier.

Alan Simpson, BBC presenter (Radio Ulster Mon-Fri, 3-5pm)

The obvious answer to what is my favourite CD is Snow Patrol, which is never out of the car. But I've another favourite, Begin To Hope, by a wonderful New York singer-songwriter called Regina Spektor. My favourite track on it is called On the Radio, and I played it on my first show on Monday, November 27. I thought to myself, "I like this job, I get to play the music I like and get paid for it".

My favourite book is Belfast Confidential by Colin Bateman, because it's so Belfast and captures the way we laugh at nothing more than ourselves.

Lawrie Sanchez, Northern Ireland football manager

My favourite of the books I've read this year is Freakanomics by Steven D Levitt. It's on the bestseller list and is a strange book - he's an economist looking at how economic theories have solved problems. No, I haven't really used it in my work.

The CD I've most enjoyed is James Blunt's last album, Back to Bedlam. And my favourite track? You're Beautiful. It's in the CD player in my car. I like it, although it's a bit emotional.

Martin Lynch, playwright

It's almost impossible to choose one favourite, but a book that surprised me this year was Edna O'Brien's The Country Girls, first published around 1960. I got to interview Edna as part of the Cathedral Quarter Festival, and found her vivacious, attractive and erudite, so I thought I must read one of her books. What surprised me about Country Girls was the lyricism - the writing is profound and very beautiful.

I never normally buy CDs, but I did buy one recently when out Christmas shopping, and I've been listening to it while cooking. It's U2's greatest hits. The songs that have emerged from this band over the past 10 to 15 years tell me these guys, or rather Bono who I think writes the music, are great songwriters.

Maria Cerezo-Greer, model with Style Academy and face on the Belfast City Council's TV campaign

A couple of books really appealed to me this year. The Da Vinci Code is one, the other is Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. To be honest, it has made me change my behaviour towards my partner, David. After reading that men say things and we interpret them in a different way (than intended), I've tried not to do that, but it is hard. My CD of the year has to be Loose by Nelly Furtado. It's really different from what she's done before and I liked it from beginning to end.

Peter Hain, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

My book of the year for 2006 was Nelson Mandela: The Authorised Portrait, published by Bloomsbury. It contains fantastic pictures and commentary about a man who's a genuine hero to me.

My CD choice is Snow Patrol's Eyes Open. It's great music to relax with.

Novelist Sharon Owens (author of The Tea House On Mulberry Street, Poolbeg)

My favourite book of 2006 was Tenderwire by Claire Kilroy. Not usually a major fan of literary thrillers, I bought this book because the author's aunt is a good friend of mine - but I found I simply couldn't put it down.

Beautifully written, it's the story of Irish violinist Eva Tyne. She collapses in New York after her solo debut and shortly after leaving hospital, embarks on a dangerous odyssey to buy a rare violin.

A flawless piece of writing, and I think this author deserves to be an international bestseller.

My favourite CD of 2006 was Morrissey's Ringleader Of The Tormentors. Yes, he's still miserable, but I have a soft spot for old Mozzer. And his voice just gets better and better.

What a refreshing change from Girls Aloud and all that sort of sugary nonsense - nobody can be happy all the time!

Cormac Neeson of Downpatrick rock band, The Answer

I'm a big fan of music biographies and Shakey by Jimmy McDonoaugh is probably the best I've read. It's an insider's account of the life of one of the most gifted songwriters and free thinkers of the 20th century: Neil Young. Whether Young's telling you about the first time he smoked a joint with Stephen Stills, or contemplating his role as the 'godfather of grunge', you're transported immediately to that time and place.

My favourite CD is Black Mountain. This summer we'd just completed our first ever gig in Amsterdam. We were shuffled out the fire escape into yet another smoke-filled music venue when we noticed a five-piece alternative rock band called Black Mountain. What followed was an onslaught of powerhouse, herb-fuelled, rock 'n' roll beauty.

Lady Sylvia Hermon, UU MP

Memoir, by the late John McGahern, was most definitely my favourite read of the year. His description of rural Leitrim is beautifully written and reminded me so much of growing up on a farm in Co Tyrone that I found the book particularly evocative of my childhood years.

Since my father, who is now 90 and hasn't been particularly well this year, is still on the home farm in Co Tyrone, I've spent a lot of time driving from Donaghadee to see him.

I play my CD of The Armed Man - A Mass for Peace by Karl Jenkins in the car and it gives me a real sense of tranquillity despite the traffic on the motorway.

Joanna Forest, Wendy in Peter Pan (at the Grand Opera House until Jan 20)

My favourite book is The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time by Mark Haddon. It's just a page-turner, and I thought writing it from the child's perspective was different and interesting.

My choice of CD has to be Wicked, the musical by composer Stephen Schwartz, with Idina Menzel's great voice in the role of Elphaba. It's really musical theatre at its best, in the Saigon, 'Les Mis' (Miserables) tradition.

Dr Ian Paisley MP, leader of the DUP

My choice of book of the year is If God Spare My Life by Brian Moynahan, a compelling book about William Tyndale, the English Bible and Sir Thomas More. It's a great story of martyrdom and betrayal.

My favourite CD would be by South Down DUP flute band, their 25th anniversary parade. It's stirring.

Michael Longley, poet

The Government should place in every public and school library a copy of my favourite book of the year, Patricia Craig's The Ulster Anthology (Blackstaff Press, £25). In this miraculous tapestry she weaves together poetry and prose from the writers who, often against the odds, have kept burning among us the light of imagination.

All who care for our wounded province should keep by them this brainy, bighearted collection.

I now have four grandsons. I can't sing very well, so it's magical to be able to play for them When I was Young, children's songs from Ireland sung by Len Graham and Padraigin Ni Uallachain.

This is my choice of CD, as both of these great singers are profound scholars as well as sparkling performers.

The next generation will have no excuse for not knowing all the verses of As I Roved Out and My Aunt Jane.

Belfast Telegraph


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