Walter Benjamin Jots in His Notebook Every Book He’s Read Since He Was 18

benjamin gallery 4

If you’re in Berlin, stop by the Galerie Max Het­zler, which is cur­rent­ly stag­ing an exhi­bi­tion where the Jew­ish mys­tic philoso­pher Wal­ter Ben­jamin plays a promi­nent role. Here’s how the gallery sets the scene:

[British artist British artist Edmund] De Waal first came to know the city of Berlin through the writ­ings of Wal­ter Ben­jamin, par­tic­u­lar­ly his auto­bi­o­graph­i­cal frag­ments in A Berlin Child­hood around 1900. The exhi­bi­tion title, Irrkun­st, has been tak­en from Benjamin’s con­cept of the art of get­ting lost, the art of notic­ing what has been dis­re­gard­ed.

In the Bleib­treustrasse gallery, offer­ing a room with a view on Wal­ter Ben­jam­in’s for­mer school, [De Waal] will show works that reflect Ben­jam­in’s child­hood, his pas­sion for gath­er­ing objects and the idea of col­lect­ing as mem­o­ry work. Here, amongst oth­ers, de Waal will present a major new series of vit­rines. Fur­ther­more, a selec­tion of orig­i­nal notes and man­u­scripts from the Wal­ter Ben­jamin archive in Berlin will be on view at Bleib­treustrasse and illus­trate Ben­jam­in’s own way of work­ing as well as de Waal’s deep fas­ci­na­tion with the œuvre of this thinker.

One such item on dis­play, we dis­cov­ered through Julia Michal­ska’s Twit­ter stream, is “Wal­ter Ben­jam­in’s note­book in which he not­ed all the books he read since he was 18”–a pic­ture of which you can find above. When I zoomed into the image, I could­n’t make out the books on the list. But I did get this detail: By 1931/32, the 40-year-old Ben­jamin had amassed 1200 books on his list, which means he was read­ing, on aver­age, 54 books per year. No doubt, they weren’t light ones. If any­one stops by Galerie Max Het­zler and iden­ti­fies actu­al titles in the note­book, we’d love it if you could note some in the com­ments sec­tion below.

Update: Some titles were added to the com­ments below–books by Cocteau, Hem­ing­way, Mal­raux and more. Check them out.

Look­ing for free, pro­fes­­sion­al­­ly-read audio books from Here’s a great, no-strings-attached deal. If you start a 30 day free tri­al with, you can down­load two free audio books of your choice. Get more details on the offer here.

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

Wal­ter Benjamin’s 13 Orac­u­lar Writ­ing Tips

Wal­ter Benjamin’s Radio Plays for Kids (1929–1932)

Wal­ter Benjamin’s Philo­soph­i­cal Thought Pre­sent­ed by Two Exper­i­men­tal Films

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Comments (4)
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  • Peter Hintz says:

    1155) Mar­tin Beradt: Der deutsche Richter
    1154) EC Bent­ley: Der Sprung durchs Fen­ster
    1155) Klaus Mann: Geschwis­ter
    1156) Lion Feucht­wanger: Erfolg
    1157) Shake­speare: Tim­on von Athen
    1158) Licht­en­berg: Tim­o­rus oder Vertei­di­gung zweier Juden
    1159) Hem­ing­way: In einem andern Land
    1160) L. Car­roll: Alice im Wun­der­land
    1161) Ernst Bloch: Spuren
    1162) Hof­mannsthal: Frag­mente eines Romans
    1163) Otto Roeld: Malen­s­ki auf der Tour
    1164) E. Podach: Niet­zsches Zusam­men­bruch
    1165) Mac Orlan: Alko­holschmug­gler
    1166) Karl Korsch: Marx­is­mus und Philoso­phie
    1167) Thomas Mann: Deutsche Ansprache
    1168) Mal­raux: Les con­quérants
    1169) Mans­field Scott: Der schwarze Kreis
    1170) Johannes von Gün­ther: Cagliostro
    1171) Friedrich Kro­ner: Der Kreisel
    1172) Mar­cel Jouhan­deau: Ximenès Man­lin­joude
    1173) Wil­helm Spey­er: Die goldne Horde
    1174) Jean Cocteau: La voix humaine
    1175) Hugh­es: Ein Sturmwind auf Jamai­ka
    1176) Antho­ny Berke­ley: Der Detek­tivk­lub
    1177) Pol­gar: Die Defrau­dan­ten
    1178) Das Prob­lem des Klas­sis­chen und die Antike
    1179) L’af­faire Redureau Doc­u­ments réu­nis par André Gide
    1180) Mat­jew Roes­mann: Fis­chbein streckt die Waf­fen

  • cees says:

    From 18 to 40 is 22 years, so 100 books a year would be 2200 books and not 1200. Thank God,he read in a more human pace !!

  • Cristina holm says:

    Where is this man­u­script now?

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