What is your favourite book?It's hard to choose just one - and it depends on my state of mind at the time of asking - but it may be a choice between Toni Morrison's Paradise, a book which digs deep into the human condition, and Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks. Forced to choose, I might settle on Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy - a powerful and touching book which, at the heart, teaches us all that we must never be too judgemental of others.

What is your favourite holiday book?I'm savouring the prospect of Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel for the next holiday. I am a big fan of political biographies - I packed both of the Clinton autobiographies into a suitcase recently. However, one of my most enjoyable holiday reads was Case Histories by Kate Atkinson - at times very funny, with plenty of murders and villains to go round!

What is your favourite political book/biography?The recent biography of Barbara Castle, Red Queen, was a gripping insight into the highs and lows of Labour politics. However, I have just fi nished Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin, which is a superb account of political psychology and leadership.

What was your favourite book as a child?I read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen when I was 15, so I hope that counts. I didn't know until then that reading could be so compelling and pleasurable - it is up there with Anna Karenina.

Name a significant book that was published in the last 10 years.It has to be Harry Potter. I queued at midnight for a copy of the second book for one of my sons, who would usually be far more fi xated on football. A real achievement by JK Rowling - she did for my son, and for many other children, what Jane Austen did for me.

What is your least favourite book?I rarely fi nish a book that I really dislike, but I certainly wasn't too enamoured with The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser when I had to study it at university. Which literary character would you most like to be? Elizabeth Bennet, of course! (Wouldn't most women?)

What was the most inspiring book you've ever read?Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter by Simone de Beauvoir, which I read in my late teens. It took me by such force - a great early awakening which linked personal experiences with political activity, and which certainly played an important role in my decision to work in politics.

Margaret Curran is Labour MP for Glasgow East

This article was first published in Total Politics magazine