With Aye Write beginning this week, we asked the festival’s top authors which books defined them as a writer. From politics to murder and fantasy to romance, writers ranging from Irvine Welsh and Mark Cousins to Graeme Macrae Burnet and Jon McGregor reveal their secret passion

Name: Kaye Adams

Latest Book: Disaster Chef

The Book That Made Me: Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

I was always an avid reader as a child but Gone With the Wind was the first adult book which utterly entranced me. I distinctly recall being on a family 'holiday of a lifetime’ when I was 15 and we were in Mexico City. All I remember is the back of a taxi and my mum trying to get me to put the book down and look out of the window. I didn’t. I was completely in thrall to Scarlett and Rhett. Even now, I can summon up such vivid imagery and take myself back not to Mexico City but to the Deep South.

Name: Chris Bryant MP

Latest book: Entitled

Book That Made Me: Audacity to Believe by Sheila Cassidy

Every aspect of my upbringing should have turned me into a true blue Tory. A childhood in Franco’s Spain, boarding school in Stirling, public school and Oxford. But then I read this extraordinary book about a British doctor who had gone to Chile during the dictatorship of General Pinochet, had been arrested for treating a political opponent of the regime, was tortured and eventually freed. Sheila’s courage inspired me. I trained for ordination, I worked in a human rights organisation in Argentina, I visited Chile (and was asked to leave) and when I returned I joined the Labour Party.

Name: Richard Holloway

Latest book: Waiting for the Last Bus.

Book That Made Me: The Last of the Just by Andr? Schwarz-Bart

If a measure of a book’s importance to a writer is the number of times he quotes from it, then ‘The Last of the Just’ is the book that made me, because I have quoted from it many times, most recently in my new book. It is about what theologians call the problem of suffering; ‘the only problem’, according to Muriel Spark. ‘The Last of the Just’ is a holocaust novel. It does not solve the problem of suffering; but it expresses it to an unbearable degree. To read it is to enter not only the ancient travail of the Jews, but the cruelty of the so-called religion of love that caused it. Reading it made me angry. More importantly, it made me think.

Name: Lin Anderson

Latest book: Bloody Scotland

The Book That Made Me: Laidlaw by Willie McIlvanney

I still have my treasured original copy of Laidlaw, and also the more recently published edition. Laidlaw, as Willie said, is first and foremost a man, who just happens to be a policeman. My father was a detective, working on the front line, and we often saw the effect that had on him. So Laidlaw rang true to me, in its questioning, who is the true monster among us? In its voice and rhythm, which sounded undeniably Scottish, and most of all in its humanity.

Name: Mark Cousins

Latest book: The Story of Looking

The Book That Made Me: Halliwell's Filmgoer's Companion

I found it in the school library (we had no books at home) and it opened me up to the world of film. It's an A-Z of actors and directors, but I read it from beginning to end, like a novel. Then, I'm afraid to say, I nicked it from the library and still have it. It's faded now and looks like a stale cheese sandwich. I flicked through it recently. It contains almost no female filmmakers or black filmmakers - the subjects of a lot of my work in adult life. Have I been arguing against it, my gateway drug book, all these years?

Name: Irvine Welsh

Latest book: Dead Men’s Trousers

The Book That Made Me: 1982 Janine by Alasdair Gray

This was a big book for me. It tapped into the defeated psyche of the working-class Tory better than any other book I read. Resistance to change that benefits you has many psychological reasons, but fear and repression and lack of self-worth is high amongst them. It is instrumental to understanding the opposition to Scottish independence. Jock is the protagonist, a likeable wanker, who diverts his rich inner life into pornographic pursuits. He works as an electrician during the Edinburgh festival, and is, of course, far more gifted and creative than the luvvies who patronise him. His flaw is that he's ultimately a moral coward, and turns his back on love. It sounds a pessimistic tale, but it's one told with such exuberance and verve, you almost forget the darker message.

Name: Nadia Sawalha

Latest book: Disaster Chef

The Book That Made Me: Apples for Jam by Tess Kiros

This is one of my favourite foodie books ever. It’s everything I dream of from a cookbook with stunning photos of ‘real’ dishes that look like someone might actually end up eating them. Kiros shares stories and photos of her gorgeous family and envy-inducing life in this gorgeously dense book. Having a Finnish mother and Greek Cypriot father, Kiros was brought up in South Africa before falling in love with her Italian husband and moving to Tuscany. Consequently she has put together a wonderfully eclectic mix of recipes that make me salivate every time I allow myself the treat of flicking through them.

Name: Paul Murton

Latest Book: The Hebrides

The Book That Made Me: Mountaineering in Scotland by WH Murray

Murray’s book became my bible. It absorbed me completely and I read it from cover to cover, over and over again, studying the black-and-white photographs of climbers wearing out-dated clothing and wielding old-fashioned equipment. Murray had written the book when he was a prisoner of war in Germany. In his imagination, he’d escaped to the mountains he loved, and climbed again the routes he and his friends had pioneered in the 1930’s. I actually met him once - my Mum knew I thought highly of Murray and dragged me over to him at a public meeting in Dunoon and said: “This is my son Paul. He climbs mountains and thinks you are a wonderful role model.” WH Murray shook my hand warmly and smiled. “Glad to meet a fellow mountaineer!” I was speechless.

Name: Robert Peston

Latest Book: WTF

The Book That Made Me: Bel Ami by Guy de Maupassant

I stumbled across Bel Ami by Guy de Maupassant serendipitously as a 16 year-old, on one of the wall-to-wall book shelves that insulated most of my childhood home. The eponymous hero intrigues, insider-trades and seduces his way from peasant to ruling class in nineteenth century France. In turns it is funny, shocking and sad. It tells you all you need to know about the sordid interconnections between journalism, finance and politics, and remains as relevant today as ever it did. I knew instantly why I wanted to become a chronicler of politics, business and the economy.

Name: Susie Orbach

Latest Book: In Therapy

The Book That Made Me: My Mother is the Most Beautiful Woman in the World by Rebecca Reyher

When I was a little girl I was charmed by a picture book (which entered our household in one of those bundles the Soviet Union gave to people vaguely sympathetic people on the left). It was called My Mother is the Most Beautiful Woman in the World. It tells the story of a little girl who loses her mother – she of the title. When they are reunited, we learn what beauty really means. I think of it from time to time. Second wave feminism rehabilitated and showed how crucial the labour and love of mothering is.

Name: Jo Swinson MP

Latest Book: Equal Power: And How You Can Make It Happen

The Book That Made Me: Why Good Girls Don’t Get Ahead… But Gutsy Girls Do by Kate White

Reading Why Good Girls as a teenager was a revelation. Although it was aimed at women in the workplace, its lessons struck a chord. Filled with interesting anecdotes from Kate White’s own career as a magazine editor, the book challenged the notion that success was achieved by keeping your head down and waiting for your talents to be recognised. I don’t recall reading the words ‘gender stereotyping’, but it powerfully demonstrated how society reinforces different behaviours in boys and girls. This book definitely encouraged me to adopt a ‘go for it’ attitude. Two decades later, I hope that Equal Power will have a similar impact on today’s young women.

Name: Sally Magnusson

Latest Book: The Sealwoman’s Gift

The Book That Made Me: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

My childhood was spent, courtesy of Enid Blyton and Christine Pullein-Thompson, in improbably idyllic boarding schools and whizzo fun gymkhanas. The first book I encountered that was completely different, that had me reading by torchlight under the covers so as not to wake my sister, that made my heart palpitate with terror and race with suspense was The Lord of the Rings. It was my first exposure to a master storyteller. Tolkien also intoxicated me with that joy in northern-ness and myth and saga that I found myself instinctively reaching for, all these years later, when I conceived my own debut novel, The Sealwoman’s Gift.

Name: Graeme Macrae Burnet

Latest Book: The Accident on the A35

The Book That Made Me: The Little Man from Archangel by Georges Simenon

I've learned more about the craft of writing from Simenon than any other author and I could have chosen any number of his novels, but The Little Man from Archangel is miniature masterpiece. It’s an astute and subtle character study of an outsider, a small time philatelist, Jonas Milk who commits the cardinal sin of lying about his wife’s whereabouts. The pacing and evocation of provincial French life are flawless, the denouement inevitable and moving. Seek it out!

Name: Shaun Bythell

Latest Book: Diary of a Bookseller

The Book That Made Me: Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell

I read Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four when I was 13. His clear, uncluttered writing style was - and remains - extremely compelling, and his vision of a monstrous authoritarian state caused me to question power in all its forms. Much of this novel has proved prescient, although today it’s not the state installing surveillance devices in our houses, it is us inviting them in to keep an eye on us. With Alexa and Home someone is watching you but it’s not Big Brother, it’s Amazon and Google, and we’re paying to have them in our kitchens and sitting rooms.

Name: Lindsey Davis

Latest Book: Pandora’s Boy

The Book That Made Me: Dick and Dora

For me it’s ‘Dick and Dora’, the 1950’s school reading book. Only older folk will know them in their jumpers and sandals, their very polite parents and Nip their dog. I suspect educational pundits now would be opposed to the system and the content. But that was how I learned to read, and because we used the book to practise our letters, that is how I learned to write – aged five. Without reading I would not have discovered other books. Without writing I would not be where I am today, with a wonderful life behind me and hopefully much still to come.

Name: Shami Chakrabarti

Latest Book: Of Women: In the 21st Century

The Book That Made Me: To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee

When I was 15 years old I had the enormous good fortune of being taught “O Level” English (the GCSEs of the Jurassic Age) by a gifted young teacher called Mary Bousted. She went on to lead one of our leading teaching unions but that’s another story. The book that so inspired me on that syllabus was Harper Lee’s classic “To Kill A Mockingbird” which has been the “making” of so many lawyers. But it wasn’t just the courtroom drama and the heroic advocate Atticus Finch. Class, race, sex and wider social injustice - It was all there in Lee’s masterpiece.

Name: Gail Honeyman

Latest Book: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

The Book That Made Me: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

It’s so difficult to choose just one book! As a child, the local library gave me access to countless undiscovered and unknown worlds, and afforded me hours of reading pleasure every week. I’ve returned to Jane Eyre many times since, but the very first time I read it, I fell in love with it. It was a book that took me back to the past, to strange and unfamiliar places - Lowood School, Thornfield – and the strange and unfamiliar characters who lived there. It was one of the first novels I read that really allowed me to experience the power of story. That was, and remains, a magical thing.

Name: Jon McGregor

Latest Book: Reservoir 13

The Book That Made Me: That They May Face the Rising Sun by John McGahern

The first I knew of John McGahern was hearing him read from this – his last novel – on Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime, while working in a restaurant kitchen. This was 2002, not long before my first novel was published. McGahern’s voice was terse and short, and his writing apparently plain, but the lives he detailed were so vivid and rich that no pots were washed for the duration. I couldn’t understand how McGahern achieved his rich lyricism without embellishment, until it finally hit me that the restraint was in fact where the lyricism lay. I’d been doing everything wrong. I started my own writing all over again.

Name: Peggy Seeger

Latest Book: First Time Ever

The Book That Made Me: The Reds of the Midi by Felix Grasse

It’s the first book that politicised me. It dealt with the run-up to the French Revolution and was full of the details of class warfare and the suffering of masses of French peasants and urban poor. It is not ‘great writing’ like Balzac but to a 12-year-old North American girl it was an eye-opener