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Sarah Paulson names her five favourite books of all time

Actress Sarah Paulson began her career in the mid-1990s, appearing in the short-lived television series American Gothic. She eventually moved onto the big screen in the 2000s, when she appeared in What Women Want and Down With Love, both romantic comedies.

Just over a decade later, Paulson took on her most iconic acting job in the FX anthology series American Horror Story. She demonstrates her range and skills by plating multiple characters, sometimes in one season. Her work in this show has given her mass attention and acclaim, including five Primetime Emmy awards and two Critics Choice Television awards. Paulson also took up feature horror roles in the Netflix hit Birdbox, followed by the TV show Ratched, which was based on One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Next.

Paulson remains one of the most beloved and praised figures in today’s industry. Fans send her endless love on numerous social media sites due to both her talent and down to earth nature. Opening up communication, she gave her fans a chance to connect with her and her literature interests when she revealed to Radical Reads the books that shaped her.

Paulson begins the list with Rainer Maria Rilke’s effort Rilke on Love and Other Difficulties. The book is a collection of love poems, letters and writings on more of life’s challenging experiences. Paulson explains how there is a “passage that begins with the following lines is perhaps the most meaningful I’ve ever read”, one about having patience with one’s own love. She shares how Rilke’s writing has influenced her: “It’s a guide to how I want to be”.

Paulson follows this with The Liars Club, written by Mary Karr. The book is a memoir of Karr’s childhood in Texas, a stage of life Paulson shares her personal experience and connection with. “I moved around frequently as a child, and it was a revelation to learn that someone else had lived this kind of life and grew up and hadn’t just made peace with her own pain but saw it as a gift”. Check out the entire list below.

Sarah Paulson’s five favourite books:

  • Rilke on Love and Other Difficulties – Rainer Maria Rilke
  • The Liars Club – Mary Karr
  • Atonement – Ian McEwan
  • The Dead and the Living – Sharon Olds
  • Where You’ll Find Me and Other Stories – Ann Beattie

Most would be familiar with another addition to Paulson’s list due to its acclaimed film adaptation starring Keira Knightley and James McAvoy. Atonement was written by Ian McEwan in 2001, and was made for the big screen in 2007. A heartbreaking story of different types of love and lust in conflict, Paulson expresses how “it’s a story of forgiveness and absolution, and of how much our own hunger for love can color our morality.”

Paulson concludes her list with Ann Beattie’s Where You’ll Find Me and Other Stories. She gushes over the work, praising it for how “a good short story grabs you by the throat, and Beattie writes them like no other”. Paulson cannot contain her passion for the piece when she talks about it, stating “I’m tempted to write it all out so you can see the beauty and weight of it”.

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