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World Book Day: Page-turners we just can't help returning to time and time again

To celebrate World Book Day today the Belfast Telegraph is giving away a free Enid Blyton book from the Famous Five range with every copy of the paper purchased at selected Tesco stores.

Lee Henry asks some Northern Ireland personalities about the tomes they've turned to again and again.

Rose Neill: Off The Map, A Journey Through the Amazonian Wild

UTV news presenter Rose Neill (57) lives near Strangford with her husband, Ivan. She has two grown-up sons, Roger (30) and Henry (28) She says:

One of the very best holidays that my husband, Ivan, and I have ever been on took us up the Amazon River in 2009. While we were there we met a charming couple named John and Heather Harrison and joined them for dinner on several occasions. They were terribly funny and really good craic, and as we grew to know them we found that both of them were amazingly well-informed about the area in which we were travelling.

It transpired that, as a young couple, they had canoed along some of the most remote tributaries of the Amazon, entirely on their own in one of the most remote parts of the world. They had absolutely no back-up at all, no means of contacting anyone. It was an overwhelmingly threatening environment full of insects, dangerous wildlife and diseases, but they made it sound so exciting.

On our return, I read John's book, Off The Map: A Journey Through The Amazonian Wild, and found it to be one of the best books I had ever read. It is not a regular expedition book by any stretch of the imagination. It's a great story about two lovely people and the emotional, harrowing and beautiful adventure they endured and enjoyed together."

Vi Dawson: The Bible

Vi Dawson (52), a regular contributor to Radio Ulster's Thought for the Day series, is a school teacher living in Ballymena. Her children, Sara (19) and Emma (23), live away from home. She says:

I must be honest, my favourite book is the Bible. I grew up in a home where it was always there and very much read in the family, but I suppose I started to read it personally after the age of 10, when I became a Christian.

The thing about the Bible is, even though it was written all those hundreds of years ago, there is always something that's relevant in it. You may have read a certain passage as a young person, but as your life circumstances change, you can go back to the same passages and get something different out of them. I usually read it in the evening, sometimes in the morning. I love the way that God records the characters warts and all. They're real people.

My husband, George, passed away about 10 years ago and because I'm now a widow I can read the stories about the widows in the Bible and understand them through completely different eyes."

Dr Leon Litvack: David Copperfield

Dr Leon Litvack (57), originally from Toronto, is a Reader in Victorian Studies at Queen's University, Belfast. He says:

Reading is so important for children and young people. Sometimes books can have effects that are life-changing and life-long. The book that has had an abiding, powerful effect on me is Charles Dickens's David Copperfield, which I first read when I was 12. I had an English teacher who recommended it to me, and I have always appreciated that suggestion.

Now, of course, I teach others about Dickens, and I always come back to this novel as the wellspring of some of his finest imaginative creations.

It's the story of a boy growing up, and is marked by comedy as well as tragedy. What is so impressive is the way Dickens communicates David's perspective, as he experiences love, friendship and loss. And because it's partly autobiographical, we learn how Dickens felt about the important posts in his own development.

It's no wonder that the author considered David Copperfield his 'favourite child'. Like him, I too am 'affected by it to a degree you would hardly believe'."

Malachi O’Doherty: The Left Hand of Darkness

Author and journalist Malachi O'Doherty (66) lives in Belfast with his teacher and poet wife, Maureen Boyle. He says:

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin, seemed to just expand my consciousness, make me embrace the idea that the universe might be full of inhabited planets that, even across vast distances, might have meaning for each other. Now, with the discovery of exoplanets that could support life, this idea seems a lot more plausible.

I dwell on these ideas a lot and contemplate the prospect that, given the age of the universe, 14 billion years, there could be civilisations out there that are a million years ahead of us. The thought, once that idea opens up, that we might be the best that there is becomes a worry.

The other idea in Le Guin's book that impresses me is that once you just know for sure that there is intelligence out there, your own culture changes, your sense of importance diminishes. So, yes, these ideas are played out in Star Trek and the like, but Le Guin handles them with deeper philosophical consideration and respect for their seriousness."

Jan Carson: Wuthering Heights

Jan Carson (37) is an author of two books, Malcolm Orange Disappears and Children's Children, and a community arts development officer. She lives in Belfast. She says:

More than any other novel or short story collection, Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte, is the book I've returned to most often and continue to revisit almost annually. It's not my favourite book, but it's such an essential part of my journey as a writer and a person.

It was the first book to actually make me cry. It still can. It is beautifully written and full of well-drawn, memorable characters, but it is also a dark and disturbing read and stands in stark contrast to the needlepoint and carefully controlled love affairs laid out in Jane Austen's novels.

I first read Wuthering Heights aged 16 and it was so compelling, so gritty and passionate, that it shaped my reading tastes for years to come.

I fell in love with the other Brontes, with Thomas Hardy, with Tennessee Williams and later with Flannery O'Connor, and discovered that I had an almost insatiable appetite for raw, complex, brutally honest storytelling.

Later, when I came to write my own stories, Wuthering Heights inspired me to create characters that were flawed, intriguing and always ready to defy expectation. Every time I read Wuthering Heights it ruins me in a different way."

Jack McGarry: Start With Why

Jack McGarry (27), from Belfast, is managing partner at The Dead Rabbit in New York, which was voted the World's Best Bar last year. He says:

The book that inspires me the most would be Simon Sinek's Start With Why. I read it just a year after I was crowned International Bartender Of The Year in 2013. My whole mission statement until that point was to be recognised as the world's best bartender, and once I'd achieved that I became a bit lost. It was like a dog getting a bone and then not knowing what to do with it. I rediscovered my personal manifesto when reading this book.

It challenges us to ask what our personal mission statement is in life, what is our 'why', so that we can begin to articulate our personal constitution, which then enables us to align our behaviour according to our beliefs. With this we have direction and can hold ourselves accountable for veering off track.

My goal is to create unique guest experiences by challenging myself and my colleagues to be the best versions of themselves. So reading this book enables me to articulate and distil my intangible beliefs."

Anthony Toner: Where I’m Calling From

Belfast singer/songwriter Anthony Toner (57), who releases his new album, Miles & Weather, this month, lives in Belfast with his theatre director wife, Andrea Montgomery (51). He says:

I remember around 15 years ago, I had been struggling with my early songs and wondering how I could tell the stories I wanted to tell, when I picked up a second-hand copy of Where I'm Calling From, a selected short story collection by Raymond Carver. I'd heard Carver mentioned reverently so many times, but I'd never really paid attention.

The first time I read the stories, I had to go back and read them again. I thought I had missed the point, or hadn't paid attention properly.

And then it hit me with incredible force: that was the point. In these stories, very little seems to actually happen, and yet whole worlds are described, whole lives.

The pieces seemed soaked in empathy. And I recognised the characters immediately. The people and their situations seemed familiar to me. From that point on, I started to write music differently and think differently about how I told my stories. It also made me more observant, I think, in seeing other people's lives differently."

Chris McGowan: Le Répertoire de la Cuisin

Chris McGowan is head chef at Wine & Brine in Moira. He is married to Davina and they have twin girls Madeleine and Emily (11). He says:

II have a lot of cookery books in my collection, but going right back to when I was just starting out, one of the first influential books that really got me interested in food was Le Répertoire de la Cuisine by Louis Saulnier. It opened up a new life to me, a whole world of possibilities as a young chef.

It's a little encyclopaedia of food, ingredients and recipes collected from throughout the 1800 and 1900s. It's a very well-known book, pocket-sized, and would have been used a lot in the Sixties and Seventies to train up young chefs. They would have used a lot of bone marrow, a lot of fat, to enrich their sauces back then, and even though today I cook stuff that is a lot more contemporary, I like to retain some of that tradition."

Ulster-Scots storyteller and musician Willie Drennan (62) lives near Ballymena with his wife, Caroline (57). He says:

Willie Drennan: Oor Wullie/The Broons

My two favourite books of all time are The Broons Annual and the Oor Wullie Annual. Oor Wullie has been a great inspiration for me over the years. He is witty, clever and full of spirit. And the really amazing thing about him is that he never grows old.

The Broons are an amazing family. Typical in many ways of families I know and yet just that wee bit special. I started reading them when I was nine.

My mother, Agnes, who sadly passed away five years ago, used to get the Sunday Post three weeks after it came out from a lady who lived nearby. She bought it the week it came out, then lent it to a neighbour, who passed it on to another person, who then gave it to my mother who gave it to me.

I read The Broons and Oor Wullie immediately. I'd occasionally pick up a copy these days and still get a laugh of it.

Of course, I'm joking around a little, but I suppose there is a serious element to the annuals in a way. The annuals were always very cleverly written. They bring in a modern day sense of humour and a modern terminology. It features the same characters but they are reacting to 21st century life and politics."

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