Inga Sempé

Product/Industrial Designer; Lighting Designer / France / Inga Sempé

Inga Sempé’s Book List

I am mainly interested in books for their text. I never buy or read “design” books. Books have always been important to me (although I'm finding less time to read at present).

Almost 95 percent of the books I have read were given to me by my mother. Usually books that have been suggested by others have turned out to be disappointing and heavy. Now I hardly trust people when they say they liked a book. I am becoming more interested in reading autobiographies—to hear the voice of a person talking about his or her life.

2 books
Vladimir Nabokov

One cries, one laughs, one is surprised. Nothing is caricature in this book. It is not a societal portrait—it is a portrait of characters who are not meant to show an example or give a message. This is what I want from books: to be taken away, transported. (I’m afraid that if Nabokov were to publish this book today he would be accused of being a pedophile and sent to jail.)

Georges Simenon

In these thrillers, written by a Belgian, the protagonist, Commissaire (“Inspector”) Maigret, displays a typically French character. Very calm, he doesn’t smile a lot. The guilty party is almost always a man who has killed because his wife, sister, mother, or lover—a mean woman—has driven him to become a murderer. Putting aside this caricatural point, I love the description of a France and a Paris that I haven’t really known, the France of my parents. It gives a very precise portrait of France during the 1940s, ’50, and ’60s, that includes rich and poor, Parisian and provincial people, and the smells of heavy cooking smells or bodies in tiny, badly ventilated rooms. Written in a very simple but wonderful way, I can read the Maigret books again and again, even if I remember who the murderer is!

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