RONAN KEATING: The popstar takes us through the books that have marked his life; an eclectic, original mix of poetry and fiction

Pop star Ronan Keating never travels with fewer than two books, "because you never know which one you're going to be in the mood for, and between planes and recording studios, I have a lot of time to read." When he's not backstage with a book or performing, he lives in Dublin with wife Yvonne and children Jack, seven, Marie, five, and Ali, one - where his position as bedtime storyteller is in danger of being usurped by Jack and Marie.

Ronan's album Bring You Home is out now

The Gumdrop books (Ronan Keating's pick) by Val Biro

I loved these when I was a kid – my brother and I would borrow them from the library and run home to read them. Gumdrop is a talking car who has incredible adventures, and he's a little hero, like Lassie. The publisher sent me the complete collection and I sat down with my son to read them. He really got into them, but it might be a boy thing, or he's inherited my love of cars, because my little girl prefers books about princesses. Watching them learning to read has been amazing: now my son goes up to his room at bedtime and reads to himself

Collected Poems (Ronan Keating's pick) by Patrick Kavanagh

Going to school in Ireland you read a lot of Irish writers, and while I have to admit I struggled with Ulysses – it's such a huge book – the Irish poets really engaged me. I wasn't very academic, I hated school and avoided it whenever I could – not a very good example to set, I know – but I loved English, it was my getaway and the one time I felt part of what was going on. In other classes I was lost, daydreaming at the back of the class, but literature got my attention – I liked debating what the poet was trying to say. I used to sit in my room listening to songs and I always had my own idea of what the lyrics meant, and I had the same response to poetry. There's something about Kavanagh's poetry in particular that really speaks to me. One of my favourite poems is Stony Grey Soil, it evokes being lost and it's very bleak, but it reminds me of a great time in my life when I'd understood how powerful poetry could be and felt part of school.

Great Expectations (Ronan Keating's pick) by Charles Dickens

There's something magical about Dickens's language, and I love the way the plot twists and turns. What excites me about Dickens is that he's so good at setting the scene – he evokes it so well it's like you're watching a movie, like Pip's real sense of terror and fear at the start, and it's a proper old-fashioned mystery. I go back to it again and again in the same way I keep watching Citizen Kane, because it's so brilliant. It's a novel I want to pass on to my children.

Anam Cara (Ronan Keating's pick) by John O'Donohue

This is a lovely book – an Irish equivalent of The Alchemist. 'Anam Cara' is a Celtic phrase which loosely translates as 'soul friend'. O'Donohue is a poet and scholar who looks at life through Celtic philosophy and mythology. The writing has a lovely gently lilting feel and it's a very spiritual book. I read it at the time that I lost my mother, and it really helped me escape from that low and start making records again, so it's very important to me. I haven't read it for a while and I think it's time for me to go back to it again.

Tales Of The Otori trilogy (Ronan Keating's pick) by Lian Hearn

This trilogy, which includes Across The Nightingale Floor, is about a Japanese clan who live in a remote mountain. It reads like The Last Samurai meets Lord Of The Rings – it's stunning and magical, about loyalty and love. The descriptions of nature are so beautiful – the way water flows, the wind moving in the trees, the colour of the sky. I want to read books which make me feel like I'm there: when you're in a studio or dressing room with nothing on the walls, you need books to escape.

A Little Love Story (Ronan Keating's pick) by Roland Merullo

My wife and I share books: when we've read something we love, we pass it to the other. I like reading something she's loved when we're apart. This is a story about a man whose wife has died in the tragedy of September 11. He's going through the grieving process when he meets a girl who sweeps him off his feet, but she has cystic fibrosis and only a short amount of time to live – so they have the most wonderful year together. It sounds sad, but it's beautiful. Merullo is another writer who takes you there and really puts you in the scene.

(Easy Living Magazine

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