For the last couple of years, it seems as though everywhere you look you come across Marilyn Monroe. Not that our fascination with her ever really went away, but it seems to be back with a vengeance these days. Even Mississauga has its Marilyn towers. Most of the impressions are expected: Marilyn the bombshell, the actress, the sex symbol. Blonde, bubbly, sassy, flirty. Marilyn the legend, the myth, the icon. But how about Marilyn the book nerd? Maybe I’ve been missing this information all these years, but I just discovered that she was a voracious reader and even an occasional writer. Apparently the many photographs of her reading were (for the most part) not staged. So what was on Marilyn’s bookshelf?
Via Huffington Post Books and LibraryThing, I found both the highlights and a complete catalogue of what was on her shelves when she died. (Guess which website published which list?) She tended to read American authors – think Hemingway, Steinbeck, Kerouac, Fitzgerald – but the list includes poetry (Burns, Dickinson, Frost, Lawrence, Milton, Shelley), philosophy (Russell, Freud, Camus), plays (she seemed to be a fan of Tennessee Williams), essays, short stories, English, Russian, French. It’s a diverse and interesting list that’s long on substance and short on fluff. When Marilyn said she liked to read, she wasn’t kidding around. The next time you’re trying to decide what book to read, you could certainly do worse than to ask yourself, what would Marilyn read?