The book I am currently reading
Jean Rhys’s Good Morning, Midnight. I am reading everything she wrote.
The book that changed my life
The Autobiography of Malcolm X. I read it when I was 20 – around the time of Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing. I realised once I’d read it that a life can be made up of different chapters – and that I was not obliged to follow a particular path based on the first chapter of my life.
The book I wish I’d written
Interview With the Vampire by Anne Rice. I’d love to be able to write a vampire story. I’d love to be able to write a romantic, non-vanilla story. And I’d love to be able to reshape a myth so that it feels as though the myth has always been like that.
The book that influenced my writing
Something by Kathy Acker. I realised women were not writing “like that” about sex when I discovered that she was doing it. I wrote Baise-Moi a couple of months later.
The book that is most underrated
Paradoxia: A Predator’s Diary by Lydia Lunch. The writing is luxurious, Lunch is outrageously funny – and she has so many brilliant theories about how to survive.
The last book that made me cry
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. I cried from the first page to the last. Sometimes I think about reading it again – but I cried so much that I am not sure I want to.
The last book that made me laugh
When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris. But I laugh while reading any of his books. And I’ve read them all.
The book I couldn’t finish
I do it all the time. The writers are not sitting on my sofa, my lack of interest is not going to make them suffer. So if I can drop a book – I do.
The book I’m ashamed not to have read
Shame is a very familiar feeling to me, but not around books. I never read Joyce, for example. Zero shame. I will read him when the right time comes.
The book I’d most like to be remembered for
Any of them. As a matter of fact, I don’t care. At all.
My earliest reading memory
An adult book – Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter by Simone de Beauvoir. I was so young when I read it that I did not understand any of it – but I loved it.
My comfort read
Charles Bukowski. I first read him when I was 13, and I’ve never stopped since. His books are like friends. Sometimes I get fed up with all his macho bullshit, like an old friend who is like family and can become overwhelming. But in general he makes me feel good. And he makes me very sure of what I am doing as a writer. And of what I should never do. He really is comfort reading – if I feel depressed or lost or too ashamed to go on writing – I turn to Bukowski.
• Vernon Subutex 3 by Virginie Despentes is published by MacLehose (£18.99). To order a copy go to guardianbookshop.com. Delivery charges may apply.