Sabrina Greenberg manages a London office in her day-to-day life, but has a much more colourful existence once out of the 9-to-5 rat race. She juggles her time between being incredibly sedate – reading, watching Netflix and cuddling her beautiful white cat – and being more active than I could ever imagine. A keen hiker, she also enjoys bouldering, trampolining and weight lifting.

She is also a huge advocate for mental health awareness, and now runs a blog about how she has used exercise to help combat the worst of her anxiety. Sabrina has spoken freely and openly on her blog, on podcasts, and with national newspapers about how she handles her own mental health, and she’s not one to mince words. A staunch feminist, Sabrina has no time for diets, articles that emphasise the importance of weight loss, or people who believe women should look a certain way, believing that all of these things belittle women and create a toxic culture.

I caught up with her to ask a few questions about her favourite books.

What are you reading at the moment?

Brave by Rose McGowan. [It’s the memoirs of a woman who knows what it’s like to live and work in the cult of Hollywood, and how she rebelled against the system instead of keeping quiet and towing the line.]

Hardback, paperback, eBook or audiobook?

I love holding real books. I have tried e-readers and audiobooks but the experience is just not the same to me. It feels more impersonal somehow. If my budget would allow, it would always be hardback books.

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

To say that A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara broke my heart might be an understatement.  There was points when reading it that I had to stop as my reaction was so much stronger than I could have anticipated that it actually shocked me.  It is a beautiful novel, but I wouldn’t advise unless you were feeling particularly robust!

What book do you think you’ve read more than any other?

I think it would be Wild Swans by Jung Chang. This was a book I picked up off my grandpa’s shelf when I was about 17 and just feel madly in love with the true life story of three generations of women battling the institutionalised brutality of China from warlords, through Communism until the opening of their boarders. It is such a powerful book and an excellent historical account.

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

Margaret Atwood.  She is one of the most prolific and uncompromising writers.  Alias Grace was perhaps the first book that etched itself onto my subconscious. I come back to it every couple of years as a result. I also read somewhere that she can read two books everyday, which is astounding! 

Which is your favourite book from the classical canon?

100% Jane Eyre. I always felt an empathy for Bertha Mason. She is described as violently mad, a strange wild animal and at one point, simply ‘it’ – an inhumane thing. I never saw that. I saw a mentally unwell woman who was rejected and punished as severely as one can be. She loses her home, her husband and is vilified for desperately trying to retain some of the brief elements of normality that she understands.

Can you tell me some of the books currently on your “to-read” list? 

I am going through quite a big non-fiction phase at the moment.  I am writing on the blog a lot about how modern fitness and diet culture can negatively impact your mental health, so my book shelf is a reflection of this: The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf and Eat Up by Ruby Tandoh are next on my list.  I have also just pre-ordered Bryony Gordon’s new book: Eat, Drink, Run: How I got Fit Without Going Too Mad, which I am very, very excited for.

Can you tell me about a book that scared you?

The Shining! I decided to read it last year whilst going through a severe period of insomnia – definitely not my smartest move! I was a huge fan of the film, but was aware that Kubrick and King had disagreed on the final outcome and was interested to see what was missing from the story. My fiancé eventually only let me read it during the day as it was only exacerbating the situation.

What were your favourite books growing up?

The Nancy Drew Mysteries! I was enthralled by her red hair and general sass. I think I must have read them all at least twice.

The impossible question: what is your favourite book?

My favourite book is Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It may not be considered to be a work of literary prowess by some, but to me it’s like reading water. It flows so elegantly and continually draws me back to its story of love in the winding cobbled streets of Barcelona.

You can learn more about Sabrina at her amazing blog Anxiously Active, or follow her on Twitter: @anxiouslyactive.