Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Reading with Marilyn

The other day I found myself stumbling through the internet, as I am wont to do on occasion, and I came across an interesting article about the 390 titles found in Marilyn Monroe's library following her death. The article referred to it as Marilyn's reading list. And that got me thinking.

I love to read, always have. Its why I first chose and earned a degree in English.

"Why are you majoring in English," they always asked.

I'd shrug as my eyes and interest would drift to a spot just above their head.
I knew where this was going.

"I like to read."

"So, you want to be a teacher?"

This is an irrelevant but inevitable question that plagues me still to this day.


Then, it was their turn to shrug.

Look, I get it. I got it about 3/4 of the way through college. English degrees usually result in one of two occupations: teacher or lawyer, which are wonderful professions--just not for me. Or, in something else entirely: unemployment. Or, better yet: more school.

That's why I decided to take on Historic Preservation my Junior year. Best decision of my life.

Anyways. Back to Marilyn.

So, I ran across this list and immediately thought that I should make Marilyn's library my library, because, why not? I am currently getting my reading-fix by scouring Twitter for interesting articles posted by the likes of: The Washington Post, The New Yorker, NY Mag, Vogue, NY Times, various blogs and newsie publications, etc.

Its getting exhausting and is rather unfulfilling.

Why don't I just pick up a book?

I don't know. I have a hard time branching out. I don't keep up with current authors, and I usually stray away from best sellers. I'm not a rebel or anything. Just stubborn. I don't like to be told what to do, or read, in this case. I also have a bad habit of re-reading old favorites. I recently re-read Harry Potter. It was awesome.

I also have a great appreciation for 100+ year old literature. Although, admittedly, I tend to dislike most American writers besides Hawthorne and Alcott. I don't have any positive feelings for Twain, except nap time. I know. I hate me, too.

So, here is the complete list of titles from Marilyn's library. It also includes an additional 46 titles that were not in the library but that Marilyn was known to have read or owned.

I printed the list out for ease of reviewing--13 pages, total!

I decided that 436 was a bit overwhelming, so I have decided to take on 20 titles to read in the next year (or so). So, how to narrow down a list of 436 into 20.

I was very analytical and scientific in how I went about it. Natch.

B's Very Thorough Book Selection Process:

Step 1 - choose one title from each of the 13 pages

Step 2 - choose 7 remaining titles at will

Brilliant, I know. A lot of the works are from the early to mid 20th century, which means that I have read none of them and actually have heard of very few of them. This should be interesting. Blindly choosing titles based on, well, the title.

Here goes (in no particular order):

1. To the One I Love Best by Ludwig Bemelmans
2. Marilyn Monroe by George Carpozi
3. From Russia with Love by Ian Fleming
4. Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
5. Close to Colette by Maurice Goudeket
6. Within a Budding Grove by Marcel Proust
7. The Mermaids by Boros
8. The un-Americans by Alvah Bessie
9. The Dubliners by James Joyce
10. The Wall Between by Anne Braden
11. The Miracles of Your Mind by Joseph Murphy
12. The House of the Dead by Fyodor Dostoevsky
13. A Time in Rome by Elizabeth Bowen
14. The Ballad of the Sad Cafe by Carson McCullers
15. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
16. Dr. Newman, M.D. by Leo Rosten (Marilyn was said to be reading this book the week of her death.)
17. A Lost Lady by Willa Cather
18. Focus by Arthur Miller
19. The Rain's Came by Louis Broomfeld
20. The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone by Tennessee Williams

Now, for The Reading with Marilyn Title Awards (just for fun).

Most Intriguing goes to The Ballad of the Sad Cafe
Most Dramatic goes to The un-Americans
Most Loveable goes to To the One I Love Best
Most Optimistic goes to The Miracles of Your Mind
Most Pessimistic goes to The Wall Between

As I come to the end of this post, I realize that something that started out as a reason to read has turned into books to read because Marilyn chose them. And now, I'm intrigued to know more about Marilyn. I feel like that is the only way to understand her library. So, tomorrow, I will be going to the library to pick up a biography on her, Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates, to properly kick-off this reading escapade.

I don't know exactly how to handle updates on this little project. I think no more than 1 post a week but no less than 2 posts a month. There. Parameters. I like it. We will figure it out as we go.

I guess I need to go get my library card!

Have you read any of these books? Want to read with Marilyn, also? Let us know what your list is and keep us updated!


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