The Books That Inspire the People Who Govern Us; as Assembly Members Continue to Enjoy Their Long Summer Break, Senedd Correspondent David Williamson Asked Them about Their Favourite Holiday Reads - and Uncovered an Eclectic List Running from the Bible and James Joyce's Ulysses to Stephen King and Watership Down

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Byline: David Williamson

ESTSELLERS, the Bible and political treatises are among the works which have shaped the minds of the men and women elected to the National Assembly for Wales.

A survey of AMs by the Western Mail reveals that a novel's power to grip the imagination ca do as much to shape a person's political opinions as any polemic.

Conservative Assembly leader Nick Bourne is inspired by Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird The novel has fascinated millions of readers with its indictment of racial injustice, and in Atticus Finch features one of the most heroic portrayals of a lawyer in world literature.

Mr Bourne, who studied law at Aberystwyth and Cambridge, also recommended that AMs read Barack Obama's memoir Dreams from My Father. Written long before today's Democratic presidential candidate had entere politics, it is an astonishingly candid account of a young black ma coming to terms with his identit in modern America.

When asked which works had had the greatest impact on how she viewed the world, Labour Health Minister Edwina Hart said: "The poetry that came out of World War One affected me more than anything else I read when I was younger."

She encourages politicians wanting to relax in the weeks before the new Assembly term begins to do so by reading Jane Austen. Her favourite of her books is Emma.

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Mike German' life was change when he read On Liberty by John Stuart Mill. This 1859 wor powerfully calls for the freedom of individuals to lead lives unfettered by the power of the state.

He is also an admirer of Mr Obama's more recent book, The Audacity of Hope, in which he outlines his political vision The beliefs of Dafydd Elis-Thomas the Presiding Officer of the National Assembly were shaped by James Joyce's Ulysses and its "devastating critique of narrow nationalism".

He recommended that AMs read Sir Clough Williams-Ellis's Portmeirion: The Place & Its Meaning, describing it as "a marvellous account of a magical place, both ecologically serious and so light and pleasurable."

Labour Sustainability Minister Jane Davidson, a former Englis teacher, highlighted two books which changed her perception of life.

She said: "For feminism, it was probably The Golden Note booby Doris Lessing; for socialism Germinal by Emile Zola.

She is currently reading Resistance by Owen Sheers, whic portrays a Britain occupied b Nazis.

She said: "It's wonderful for the sheer poetry of the language as well as the evocative Welsh landscape. I would strongly recommend it."

The writings of Irish socialist James Connolly - a leader in the Easter Rising of 1916 - have had greater impact on Labour Social. Justice Minister Brian Gibbon than those of any other writer.

He believes Welsh politicians would do well to use the remaining weeks of recess to read The State We're In by Will Hut-ton.

"The book is not perfect in many respects but it has some good insights into the working of contemporary political economy," he said.

William Graham, Conservative AM for South Wales East, was influenced by Charles Dickens's David Copperfield - "A story of triumph in adversity".

His favoured swashbuckling summer reading is The Golden Ocean by Patrick O'Brian

Dai Lloy, a Plaid Cymru AM for South Wales West who is also a lay preacher, said the books which had influenced him most was "the Bible and anything b Gwynfor Evans".

The late nationalist leader also fascinates Conservative Sout Wales Central AM David Melding. He commends Rhys Evans's recent work, Gwynfor Evans: Portrait of a Patriot, for late recess reading.

Mr Melding said the book that made the most major impact o his life - alongside the Bible an the works of Shakespeare - was Michael Oakeshott's On Huma Conduct. The British philosopher wrestled with the concept of the state and is considered one of the most influential contributors to Conservative thought in the 20t century. …