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Marilyn Monroe’s personal library: an epic reading list


Marilyn Monroe was an avid reader. Books were a huge part of her life. In 1999, Christie’s staged an auction of her belongings, including her books. The list of the books from her shelves, published by the Booktryst blog several years ago, reveals the actress had an epic personal library, stretching across numerous genres.

Marilyn Monroe was an avid reader who was often seen with a book in hand

There are more than 400 titles on the list. Some are famous and still read today, some are now forgotten. The books appear to show a well-rounded person interested in fiction and non-fiction, and a deep appreciation of fine writing and books that challenge the reader to understand people and the world around them.

The list came to our attention after we heard about the Pinup Book Club, a community dedicated to reading the books from Monroe’s personal library, and also appreciating pinup culture.

Carly Maris, founder of the Pinup Book Club, and The Green Crow by Sean O’Casey

Each month, members read a different book from Marilyn’s library, which includes art, biographies, classical works, gardening and pets, literature, plays, religion, and much more.

Carly Maris is the founder of the Pinup Book Club, which operates mostly via Instagram. Carly joined us for an AbeBooks podcast interview to discuss the origins of the club, and the challenges and joys of reading a library from the 1950s. Obviously, Marilyn, who was photographed reading on numerous occasions, featured heavily in our discussion.

Monroe was just 36 when she died in 1962. For reference, here’s the list.

1) Let’s Make Love by Matthew Andrews
2) How To Travel Incognito by Ludwig Bemelmans
3) To The One I Love Best by Ludwig Bemelmans
4) Thurber Country by James Thurber
5) The Fall by Albert Camus
6) Marilyn Monroe by George Carpozi
7) Camille by Alexander Dumas
8) Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
9) The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book by Fannie Merritt-Farmer
10) The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
11) From Russia With Love by Ian Fleming
12) The Art Of Loving by Erich Fromm
13) The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
14) Ulysses by James Joyce
15) Stoned Like A Statue: A Complete Survey Of Drinking Cliches, Primitive, Classical & Modern by Howard Kandel & Don Safran
16) The Last Temptation Of Christ by Nikos Kazantzakis
17) On The Road by Jack Kerouac
18) Selected Poems by DH Lawrence
19 and 20) Sons And Lovers by DH Lawrence (2 editions)
21) The Portable by DH Lawrence
22) Etruscan Places by DH Lawrence
23) DH Lawrence: A Basic Study Of His Ideas by Mary Freeman
24) The Assistant by Bernard Malamud
25) The Magic Barrel by Bernard Malamud
26) Death In Venice & Seven Other Stories by Thomas Mann
27) Last Essays by Thomas Mann
28) The Thomas Mann Reader
29) Hawaii by James Michener
30) Red Roses For Me by Sean O’Casey
31) I Knock At The Door by Sean O’Casey
32) Selected Plays by Sean O’Casey
33) The Green Crow by Sean O’Casey
34) Golden Boy by Clifford Odets
35) Clash By Night by Clifford Odets
36) The Country Girl by Clifford Odets
37) 6 Plays Of Clifford Odets
38) The Cat With 2 Faces by Gordon Young
39) Long Day’s Journey Into Night by Eugene O’Neill
40) Part Of A Long Story: Eugene O’Neill As A Young Man In Love by Agnes Boulton
41) The Little Engine That Could by Piper Watty
42) The New Joy Of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer & Marion Rombauer-Becker
43) Selected Plays Of George Bernard Shaw
44) Ellen Terry And Bernard Shaw: A Correspondence
45) Bernard Shaw & Mrs Patrick Campbell: Their Correspondence
46) The Short Reign Of Pippin IV by John Steinbeck
47) Once There Was A War by John Steinbeck
48) Set This House On Fire by William Styron
49) Lie Down In Darkness by William Styron
50) The Roman Spring Of Mrs Stone by Tennessee Williams
51) Camino Real by Tennessee Williams
52) A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
53) The Flower In Drama And Glamour by Stark Young

American Literature
54) Tender Is The Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
55) The Story Of A Novel by Thomas Wolfe
56) Look Homeward Angel by Thomas Wolfe
57) A Stone, A Leaf, A Door by Thomas Wolfe
58) Thomas Wolfe’s Letters To His Mother edited by John Skally Terry
59) A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway
60) The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
61) Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson
62) Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser
63) Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck
64) The American Claimant & Other Stories & Sketches by Mark Twain
65) In Defense of Harriet Shelley & Other Essays by Mark Twain
66) The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
67) Roughing It by Mark Twain
68) The Magic Christian by Terry Southern
69) A Death In The Family by James Agee
70) The War Lover by John Hersey
71) Don’t Call Me By My Right Name & Other Stories by James Purdy
72) Malcolm by James Purdy

Anthologies
73) The Portable Irish Reader (pub. Viking)
74) The Portable Edgar Allan Poe
75) The Portable Walt Whitman
76) This Week’s Short Stories (New York, 1953)
77) Bedside Book Of Famous Short Stories
78) Short Novels Of Colette
79) Short Story Masterpieces (New York, 1960)
80) The Passionate Playgoer by George Oppenheimer
81) Fancies And Goodnights by John Collier
82) Evergreen Review, Vol 2, No. 6
83) The Medal & Other Stories by Luigi Pirandello

Art
84) Max Weber
85) Renoir by Albert Skira
86) Max by Giovannetti Pericle
87) The Family Of Man by Carl Sandburg
88-90) Horizon, A Magazine Of The Arts (Nov 1959, Jan 1960, Mar 1960.)
91) The Drawings of Jean Dubuffet by Daniel Cordier





Biography
92)
The Summing Up by W. Somerset Maugham
93) Close To Colette by Maurice Goudeket
94) This Demi-Paradise by Margaret Halsey
95) God Protect Me From My Friends by Gavin Maxwell
96) Minister Of Death: The Adolf Eichmann Story by Quentin Reynolds, Ephraim Katz and Zwy Aldouby
97) Dance To The Piper by Agnes DeMille
98) Goodness Had Nothing To Do With It by Mae West
99) Act One by Moss Hart

Christian Science
100) Science And Health With Key To The Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy
101) Poems, Including Christ And Christmas by Mary Baker Eddy

Classical Works
102) Peace And Lysistrata: Two Plays by Aristophanes
103) The Nature Of Things by Lucretius
104) The Philosophy Of Plato
105) Mythology by Edith Hamilton
106) Theory Of Poetry And Fine Art by Aristotle
107) Metaphysics by Aristotle
108-111) Plutarch’s Lives, Vols 3-6 only (of 6) by William and John Langhorne

Counter-Culture
112) Bound For Glory by Woody Guthrie
113) The Support Of The Mysteries by Paul Breslow
114) Paris Blues by Harold Flender
115) The Shook-Up Generation by Harrison E. Salisbury

Foreign-Language Texts And Translations
116) An Mands Ansigt by Arthur Miller
117) Independent People by Halldor Laxness
118) Mujer by Lina Rolan
119) The Havamal, ed. D.E. Martin Clarke
120) Yuan Mei: 18th Century Chinese Poet by Arthur Waley
121) Almanach: Das 73 Jahr by S. Fischer Verlag

French Literature
122) Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
123) The Works Of Rabelais
124) The Guermantes Way by Marcel Proust
125) Cities Of The Plain by Marcel Proust
126) Within A Budding Grove by Marcel Proust
127) The Sweet Cheat Gone by Marcel Proust
128) The Captive by Marcel Proust
129) Nana by Emile Zola
130) Plays by Moliere

Freud
131) The Life And Work of Sigmund Freud by Ernest Jones
132) Letters Of Sigmund Freud edited by Ernst L. Freud
133) Glory Reflected by Martin Freud
134) Moses And Monotheism by Sigmund Freud
135) Conditioned Reflex Therapy by Andrew Salter


Gardening and Pets

136-137) The Wise Garden Encyclopedia edited by E.L.D. Seymour (2 editions)
138) Landscaping Your Own Home by Alice Dustan
139) Outpost Nurseries – publicity brochure
140) The Forest And The Sea by Marston Bates
141) Pet Turtles by Julien Bronson
142) The Golden Throng: A Book About Bees by Edwin Way Teale
143) Codfish, Cats & Civilization by Gary Webster



Humor
144) How To Do It, Or, The Art Of Lively Entertaining by Elsa Maxwell
145) Wake Up, Stupid by Mark Harris
146) Merry Christmas, Happy New Year by Phyllis McGinley
147) The Hero Maker by Akbar Del Piombo & Norman Rubington
148) How To Talk At Gin by Ernie Kovacs
149) VIP Tosses A Party by Virgil Partch
150) Who Blowed Up The Church House & Other Ozark Folk Tales edited Randolph Vance
151) Snobs by Russell Lynes

Judaica
152) The Form of Daily Prayers
153) Sephath Emeth (Speech Of Truth): Order Of Prayers For The Wholes Year In Jewish and English
154) The Holy Scriptures According To The Masoretic Text

Literature
155) The Law by Roger Vailland
156) The Building by Peter Martin
157) The Mermaids by Boros
158) They Came To Cordura by Glendon Swarthout
159) The 7th Cross by Anna Seghers
160) A European Education by Romain Gary
161) Strike For A Kingdom by Menna Gallie
162) The Slide Area by Gavin Lambert
163) The Woman Who Was Poor by Leon Bloy
164) Green Mansions by W.H. Hudson
165) The Contenders by John Wain
166) The Best Of All Worlds, Or, What Voltaire Never Knew by Hans Jorgen Lembourn
167) The Story Of Esther Costello by Nicholas Montsarrat
168) Oh Careless Love by Maurice Zolotow
169) Add A Dash Of Pity by Peter Ustinov
170) An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
171) The Mark Of The Warrior by Paul Scott
172) The Dancing Bear by Edzard Schaper
173) Miracle In The Rain by Ben Hecht
174) The Guide by R.K. Narayan
175) Blow Up A Storm by Garson Kanin
176) Jonathan by Russell O’Neil
177) Fowlers End by Gerald Kersh
178) Hurricane Season by Ralph Winnett
179) The un-Americans by Alvah Bessie
180) The Devil’s Advocate by Morris L. West
181) On Such A Night by Anthony Quayle
182) Say You Never Saw Me by Arthur Nesbitt
183) All The Naked Heroes by Alan Kapelner
184) Jeremy Todd by Hamilton Maule
185) Miss America by Daniel Stern
186) Fever In The Blood by William Pearson
187) Spartacus by Howard Fast
188) Venetian Red by P.M. Pasinetti
189) A Cup Of Tea For Mr Thorgill by Storm Jameson
190) Six O’Clock Casual by Henry W. Cune
191) Mischief by Charlotte Armstrong
192) The Ginkgo Tree by Sheelagh Burns
193) The Mountain Road by Theodore H. White
194) Three Circles Of Light by Pietro Di Donato
195) The Day The Money Stopped by Brendan Gill
196) The Carpetbaggers by Harold Robbins
197-198) Justine by Lawrence Durrell (2 editions)
199) Balthazar by Larence Durrell
200) Brighton Rock by Graham Greene
201) The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad
202) The Unnamable by Samuel Beckett
203) Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Dog by Dylan Thomas
204) Hear Us O Lord From Heaven Thy Dwelling Place by Malcolm Lowry



Modern Library
205) The Sound And The Fury/As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
206) God’s Little Acre by Erskine Caldwell
207) Anna Christie/The Emperor Jones/The Hairy Ape by Eugene O’Neill
208) The Philosophy Of Schopenhauer by Irwin Edman
209) The Philosophy Of Spinoza by Joseph Ratner
210) The Dubliners by James Joyce
211) Selected Poems by Emily Dickinson
212) The Collected Short Stories by Dorothy Parker
213) Selected Works by Alexander Pope
214) The Red And The Black by Stendhal
215) The Life Of Michelangelo Buonarroti by John Addington
216) Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham
217) Three Famous French Romances
218) Napoleon by Emil Ludwig
219) Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (second copy)
220) The Poems And Fairy-Tales by Oscar Wilde
221) Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland/Through The Looking Glass/The Hunting Of The Snark by Lewis Carroll
222) A High Wind In Jamaica by Richard Hughes
223) An Anthology Of American Negro Literature edited by Sylvestre C. Watkins

Music
224) Beethoven: His Spiritual Development by J.W.N. Sullivan
225) Music For The Millions by David Ewen
226) Schubert by Ralph Bates
227) Men Of Music by Wallace Brockway and Herbert Weinstock

Plays
228) The Potting Shed by Graham Greene
229) Politics In The American Drama by Caspar Nannes
230) Sons Of Men by Herschel Steinhardt
231) Born Yesterday by Garson Kanin
232) Untitled & Other Radio Dramas by Norman Corwin
233) Thirteen By Corwin by Norman Corwin
234) More By Corwin by Norman Corwin
235) Long Day’s Journey Into Night by Eugene O’Neill (second copy)
236) Best American Plays: Third Series 1945-1951
237) Theatre ’52 by John Chapman
238) 16 Famous European Plays by Bennett Cerf and Van H. Cartmell
239) The Complete Plays Of Henry James
240) 20 Best Plays Of The Modern American Theatre by John Gassner
241) Elizabethan Plays by Hazelton Spencer
242) Critics’ Choice by Jack Gaver
243) Modern American Dramas by Harlan Hatcher
244) The Album Of The Cambridge Garrick Club

European Poetry
245) A Shropshire Lad by A.E. Houseman
246) The Poetry & Prose Of Heinrich Heine by Frederich Ewen
247) The Poetical Works Of John Milton by H.C. Beeching
248) The Poetical Works Of Robert Browning
249) Wordsworth by Richard Wilbur
250) The Poetical Works Of Shelley
251) The Portable Blake by William Blake
252) William Shakespeare: Sonnets edited by Mary Jane Gorton
253) Poems Of Robert Burns edited by Henry Meikle & William Beattie
254) The Penguin Book Of English Verse edited by John Hayward
255) Aragon: Poet Of The French Resistance by Hannah Josephson & Malcolm Cowley
256) Star Crossed by MarjorieTilden

American Poetry
257 and 258) Collected Sonnets by Edna St Vincent Millay (2 editions)
259) Robert Frost’s Poems by Louis Untermeyer
260) Poe: Complete Poems
261) The Life And Times Of Archy And Mehitabel by Don Marquis
262) Pocket Book Of Modern Verse by Oscar Williams
263) Poems by John Tagliabue
264) Selected Poems by Rafael Alberti
265) Selected Poetry by Robinson Jeffers
266) The American Puritans: Their Prose & Poetry by Perry Miller
267) Selected Poems by Rainer Maria Rilke
268) Poet In New York by Federico Garcia Lorca
269) The Vapor Trail by Ivan Lawrence Becker
270) Love Poems & Love Letters For All The Year
271) 100 Modern Poems edited by Selden Rodman
272) The Sweeniad by Myra Buttle
273) Poetry: A Magazine Of Verse, Vol.70, no. 6



Politics
274) The Wall Between by Anne Braden
275) The Roots Of American Communism by Theodore Draper
276) A View Of The Nation – An Anthology: 1955-1959 edited by Henry Christaman
277) A Socialist’s Faith by Norman Thomas
278-279) Rededication To Freedom by Benjamin Ginzburg (2 copies)
280) The Ignorant Armies by E.M. Halliday
281) Commonwealth Vs Sacco & Vanzetti by Robert P. Weeks
282) Journey To The Beginning by Edgar Snow
283) Das Kapital by Karl Marx
284) Lidice by Eleanor Wheeler
285) The Study Of History by Arnold Toynbee
286) America The Vincible by Emmet John Hughes
287) The Unfinished Country by Max Lerner
288) Red Mirage by John O’Kearney
289) Background & Foreground – The New York Times Magazine: An Anthology edited by Lester Markel
290) The Failure Of Success by Esther Milner
291) A Piece Of My Mind by Edmund Wilson
292) The Truth About The Munich Crisis by Viscount Maugham
293) The Alienation Of Modern Man by Fritz Pappenheim
294) A Train Of Powder by Rebecca West
295) Report From Palermo by Danilo Dolci
296) The Devil In Massachusetts by Marion Starkey
297) American Rights: The Constitution In Action by Walter Gellhorn
298) Night by Francis Pollini
299) The Right Of The People by William Douglas
300) The Jury Is Still Out by Irwin Davidson and Richard Gehman
301) First Degree by William Kunstler
302) Democracy In America by Alexis De Tocqueville
303) World Underworld by Andrew Varna

Prayer
304) Catechism For Young Children
305) Prayer Changes Things
306) The Prophet by Kahlil Bibran (a second copy)
307) The Magic Word by Robert Collier
308) The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran (a third copy)
309) His Brother’s Keeper by Milton Gross (3-page extract from Readers’ Digest, Dec 1961)
310) Christliches Vergissmeinnicht by K. Ehmann
311) And It Was Told Of A Certain Potter by Walter C. Lanyon
312) Bahai Prayers

Psychology
313) Man Against Himself by Karl A. Menninger
314) The Tower And The Abyss by Erich Kahler
315) Something To Live By by Dorothea S. Kopplin
316) Man’s Supreme Inheritance by Alexander F. Matthias
317) The Miracles Of Your Mind by Joseph Murphy
318) The Wisdom Of The Sands by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
319) A Prison, A Paradise by Loran Hurnscot
320) The Magic Of Believing by Claude M. Bristol
321) Peace Of Mind by Joshua Loth Liebman
322) The Use Of The Self by Alexander F. Matthias
323) The Power Within You by Claude M. Bristol
324) The Call Girl by Harold Greenwald
325) Troubled Women by Lucy Freeman
326) Relax And Live by Joseph A. Kennedy
327) Forever Young, Forever Healthy by Indra Devi
328) The Open Self by Charles Morris
329) Hypnotism Today by Leslie Lecron & Jean Bordeaux
330) The Masks Of God: Primitive Mythology by Joseph Campbell
331) Some Characteristics Of To-day by Rudolph Steiner

Reference
332) Baby & Child Care by Dr Benjamin Spock
333) Flower Arranging For Fun by Hazel Peckinpaugh Dunlop
334) Hugo’s Pocket Dictionary: French-English And English-French
335) Spoken French For Travellers And Tourists by Charles Kany & Mathurin Dondo
336) Roget’s Pocket Thesaurus by C.O. Mawson & K.A. Whiting

Religion
337) What Is A Jew? by Morris Kertzer
338) A Partisan Guide To The Jewish Problem by Milton Steinberg
339) The Tales Of Rabbi Nachman by Martin Buber
340) The Saviors Of God: Spiritual Exercises by Nikos Kazantzakis
341) The Prophet by Kahlil Gilbran (4th copy)
342) The Dead Sea Scrolls by Millar Burrows
343) The Secret Books Of The Egyptian Gnostics by Jean Doresse
344) Jesus by Kahlil Gilbran
345) Memories Of A Catholic Girlhood by Mary McCarthy
346) Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell

Russian Literature
347) Redemption & Two Other Plays by Leo Tolstoy
348) The Portable Chekhov
349) The House Of The Dead by Fyodor Dostoevsky
350) Crime And Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
351) Best Russian Stories: An Anthology edited by Thomas Seltzer
352) The Plays Of Anton Chekhov
353) Smoke by Ivan Turgenev
354) The Poems, Prose & Plays Of Alexander Pushkin
355) The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky



Science
356) Our Knowledge Of The External World by Bertrand Russell
357) Common Sense And Nuclear Warfare by Bertrand Russell
358) Out Of My Later Years by Albert Einstein
359) Men And Atoms by William Laurence
360) Man Alive: You’re Half Dead by Daniel Colin Munro
361) Doctor Pygmalion by Maxwell Maltz
362) Panorama: A New Review edited by R.F. Tannenbaum
363) Everyman’s Search by Rebecca Beard
364) Of Stars And Men by Harlow Shapley
365) From Hiroshima To The Moon by Daniel Lang
366) The Open Mind by J. Robert Oppenheimer
367) Sexual Impotence In The Male by Leonard Paul Wershub

Scripts And Readings
368) Medea by Robinson Jeffers
369) Antigone by Jean Anouilh
370) Bell, Book And Candle by John Van Druten
371) The Women by Clare Boothe
372) Joan Of Lorraine by Maxwell Anderson

Travel
373) The Sawbwa And His Secretary by C.Y. Lee
374) The Twain Shall Meet by Christopher Rand
375) Kingdom Of The Rocks by Consuelo De Saint-Exupery
376) The Heart Of India by Alexander Campbell
377) Man-Eaters Of India by Jim Corbett
378) Jungle Lore by Jim Corbett
379) My India by Jim Corbett
380) A Time In Rome by Elizabeth Bowen
381) London by Jacques Boussard
382) New York State Vacationlands
383) Russian Journey by William O. Douglas
384) The Golden Bough by James G. Frazer



Women Authors
385) The Portable Dorothy Parker
386) My Antonia by Willa Cather
387) Lucy Gayheart by Willa Cather
388) The Ballad Of The Sad Cafe by Carson McCullers
389) The Short Novels Of Colette (A second copy)
390) The Little Disturbances Of Man by Grace Paley

There are other books which weren’t included in the auction that Monroe was reported either to have read or owned.

391) The Autobiography Of Lincoln Steffens
392-403) Abraham Lincoln (multiple volumes) by Carl Sandburg
404) The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery
405) Poems Of W.B. Yeats
406) Mister Johnson by Joyce Cary
407) The Thinking Body by Mabel Elsworth Todd
408) The Actor Prepares by Konstantin Stanislavsky
409) The Bible
410) The Biography Of Eleanora Duse by William Weaver
411) De Humani Corporis Fabrica by Andreas Vesalius
412) Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson
413) Gertrude Lawrence As Mrs A by Richard Aldrich
414) Goodnight Sweet Prince by Gene Fowler
415) Mythology by Edith Hamilton
416) Stanislavsky Directs by Nikolai Mikhailovich Gorchakov
417) I Married Adventure by Osa Johnson
418) The Importance Of Living by Lin Yutang
419) Letters To A Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
420) Psychopathology Of Everyday Life by Sigmund Freud
421) The Rains Came by Louis Broomfield
422) The Rights Of Man by Thomas Paine
423) Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust
424) To The Actor by Michael Chekhov
425) Captain Newman, M.D. by Leo Calvin Rosten
426) Songs For Patricia by Norman Rosten
427) A Lost Lady by Willa Cather
428) Lust For Life by Irving Stone
429) The Deer Park by Norman Mailer
430) The Rebel by Albert Camus

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