Sarah Dunsworth of Walnut Creek, California is something of a polymath away from her administrative day job. A talented storyteller, poet, singer, songwriter and painter, there doesn’t seem to be a creative outlet she can’t turn her attention to. I grabbed a few minutes with her to ask her about the books that mean the most to her.

What are you reading at the moment?

The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus. It poses, quite possibly, the most difficult question in the world for man to answer: “is life worth living when there is no proof of purposeful existence?” I’m still in the early parts of the book, but decided to read it when a friend of a friend said reading it saved his life.

Which author, dead or alive, would you most like to meet?

Harlan Coben, as he was someone who encouraged me in my writing as a teenager. After reading two of his books, I contacted him by e-mail to thank him for his work and also to request he read one of my poems and give a critique. He wrote back, to my shock, and said though poetry wasn’t his forte, he thought it was very good and told me to keep on writing. I’ll always be grateful for his time and kindness in responding so thoughtfully.

Can you describe your ideal reading set up?

At home on a quiet Sunday morning, on the couch with a blanket; a steaming mug of Earl Grey in hand, and two cats curled up at my feet.

Can you tell me about a book that scared you?

The Shining by Stephen King was terrifying. I was shaking at one point. Being able to create that level of horror with words is mastery. Seriously, the man wrote about topiary coming to life and had my palms sweating…HOW?

Which is your favourite book from the classical canon?

That’s nearly impossible to say! My initial thought was Nineteen Eighty-Four by by George Orwell, but could very well change tomorrow. Actually, I’d say Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. I read it fifteen years ago and it still brings tears to my eyes when I think on it.

Hardback, paperback, eBook or audiobook?

Is it strange to say hardback at home and paperback everywhere else?

Can you tell me about a book that made you laugh?

I’m just now realising I haven’t read many funny books. Shamefully, I’ll admit I laughed at I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell by (the painfully vile) Tucker Max. It’s so gross. Please don’t read it. If you have, I’m so, so sorry.

Can you tell me about a book that made you cry?

When I finished Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse, I held the book to my chest and wept.

Can you tell me about a book that taught you something, either about yourself or the world?

Every book I read teaches me something about the world by experiencing it through new eyes. I can’t think of a single book that hasn’t taught me something, even if that something is that some men are horrendous (I’m looking at you, Tucker Max). George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four taught me to never dismiss the possibility of fiction spilling off the page and into the real world. I wrote a report in school where I said Orwell’s dystopian creation could never exist. My bad.

Have you read any books translated from a foreign language and how did you find them?

I have and do often, actually. I don’t find it difficult to understand, but I think the text must lose a bit of its original sparkle in the process of translating.

The impossible question: what is your favourite book?

Don’t do this to me. I refuse to answer.

You can peek into Sarah’s personal life and read her poetry over on Instagram: @tinyquill.