Reader #2: Marilyn (Reading Is Even Sexier)

It’s all over the internet nowadays, of course, but here’s possibly one of the most famous images–taken by photographer Eve Arnold–ever of a person reading:

Marilyn Reading Ulysses

And a rather sexy person, at that.

That the woman in the photograph, who was born Norma Jean Baker and went on to become Marilyn Monroe, spent a great part of her time and energy, once her career was going strong, trying to convince the public that she wasn’t just a dumb blonde–it’s almost a cliche in popular celebrity mythology. So maybe the photograph and even the whole session with Arnold was contrived. Maybe. But, as this online cache of images from various sources testifies, Marilyn Monroe, especially when compared to other female celebrities of her era–the 1950s, when she flourished–seems to have spent an awful lot of time messing around with books, reading.

And moreover, if Truman Capote’s accounts of his friendship with Monroe are accurate, she had an above-average working vocabulary that was broad enough to make a longshoreman blush.

A dream girl.


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