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3.46  ·  Rating Details ·  1,331 Ratings  ·  254 Reviews
A mousy librarian is called to a remote Canadian island to inventory the estate of a secretive Colonel whose most surprising secret is a bear who keeps the librarian company--shocking company.
Paperback, 141 pages
Published October 1st 2002 by David R. Godine Publisher (first published January 1st 1976)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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floating because the comments in this thread: are killing me. ded.

first of all, i want to thank bill thompson, for sending me this book from canada. i also want to thank him specifically for sending me this cover, because it is totally hot and i got to upload it onto myself.

i am now prepared for the customer/patron question: "do y'all have any books where a bear goes down on a lady??" yes. yes i do. but that's pretty reductive, even though the book i
Mar 20, 2012 knig rated it really liked it
Shelves: favourites, 2012
Is this a book where a Canadian woman called Lou smears honey on her labia minora and has a black bear lick it off? Yes.

Is this a book where Lou kneads the bear’s testicles and tries to mount the bear’s penis? Yes.

Is this a book where Lou falls in love with a bear? Yes.

Did Marian Engel win the Governor’s General Award for this book? Yes

Is this book about gratuitous bestiality? No.

Is this book about general bestiality, then? No. (Although clearly, ........).

So, what IS this book about, then?

Christina Marie
 photo 7WTInRF_zps890bca7d.png

After stumbling across this on imgur I feel like it's my duty to read this.

For research purposes.

I feel like I'm probably going to regret this decision.
Mar 13, 2013 TK421 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary
Marian Engel's Governor General's Award winning novel, BEAR, is a unique little masterpiece.

Unfortunately, this novel seems to have been forgotten.

It opens when Lou, the main character, a librarian, is commissioned to catalog and research the life of an eccentric nineteenth century colonel in the wilds of Ontario. At first, Lou is uncertain she wants to be in such an isolated environment. But once she reaches the remote island house, and begins her cataloging and research, a peace falls upon h
Jul 26, 2014 Jimmy rated it really liked it
Unlike most of the fiction titles in my bear-bear shelf (at least based on the blurbs), this one does not take the absurdist-magical-sur-realist route. Instead, it admirably goes the route of realism (or what we think of as realism), which is much harder considering the topic. How does a bookish woman end up falling in love and having sexual relations with a bear in any kind of believable fashion? And how do we end up falling for it, not even in a kitschy smirky superior way, but feeling for her ...more
Nate D
Aug 21, 2014 Nate D rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: wilderness vacation reading, sort of
Recommended to Nate D by: knig
Wherein a youngish but isolated-in-her-modern-life archivist leaps at a chance to move into a different sort of isolation (cataloguing an estate library on a remote island) and bonds somewhat surreally-yet-unanthroporphically-realistically with a certain member of the local semi-wildlife. The notes and asides delivered in slips of paper from the past, the setting, the hard deadpan "reality" of the delivery are all handled perfectly. Especially the latter. In another book this would slip into abs ...more
Libros Prohibidos
Jul 06, 2015 Libros Prohibidos rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Libro recomendable para todo aquel que busque una lectura transgresora y enteramente distinta a cualquier cosa leída y por leer. Oso no gustará a todo el mundo, pero en ningún caso les dejará indiferentes. Reseña completa:
Aug 23, 2012 Diana rated it it was amazing
Unconventional sex and sexuality interests me, as a general rule. What interests me most about novels that deal with taboo sex is not the taboo per se, although there is something to be said about reading descriptions of the forbidden that is erotic in and of itself. What I’m chiefly interested in is how taboo sex can answer questions about ourselves, and when we examine depictions of these forbidden encounters, strange intimacies, and abject eroticisms, there are things to be discovered that ca ...more
Robert Wechsler
Feb 29, 2016 Robert Wechsler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canada-lit
A true gem of a novella. Engel’s third-person limited narration and simple but elegant prose fit perfectly to this modern take on the fairy tale, complete with a woman, a bear, and a library in an octagonal house on an island in the deep woods of the north (Canada). The running commentary on the books and the notes in the library that the protagonist is archiving is wonderful. This novel has such a wonderful sense of balance, something its protagonist lacks. The narrator and the protagonist make ...more
Dec 22, 2014 Krista rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: can-con, 2014
It was the night of the falling stars. She took him to the riverbank. They swam in the still, black water. They did not play. They were serious that night. They swam in circles around each other, very solemnly. Then they went to the shore, and instead of shaking himself on her, he lay beside her and licked the water from her body while she, on her back, let the stars fall, one, two, fourteen, a million, it seemed, falling on her, ready to burn her. Once she reached up to one, it seemed so close
Jul 31, 2014 Rhonda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

I read this book because there was an article about it floating around Facebook. I believe the actual title of that article was something like 'What the actual fuck, Canada?' because this is a book wherein a woman gets licked by a bear. Bear sex. And not of the hairy dude variety. Bear sex with an actual real bear. And what's more, it's an award-winning book with bear sex in it.

But it's not a book about bear sex.

The writing is beautiful. The sensory detail is phenomenal. There's a scene whe
Mar 17, 2016 Roberto rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: narrativa
Evocación del beatus ille de Horacio. Regreso al paraíso perdido, ese anhelo común a los eremitas medievales y a los hippies, dosificado por el contraste entre la vida salvaje y la sofisticación civilizada representada por la biblioteca, con referencias a numerosos autores. Novela transgresora, con un perturbador enfoque sobre el bestialismo más allá de una zoofilia física. “La gente se vuelve un poco rara por aquí, si pasa demasiado tiempo a solas...” (pág. 156) y la protagonista no es ajena a ...more
Jeffrey Luscombe
A brilliant book and one of my favourites. When I was doing my MA at the University of Toronto, I went to McMaster University in Hamilton (who hold's Engel's personal letters) to do some research on her papers. Someone really should do a PhD on her correspondence.
Jan 30, 2016 Cristina rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: TOD@S
Una mujer sola en una isla remota al norte de Canadá. Una casa llena de libros. Whisky. Un oso.

Una novela sobre la soledad y la necesidad de establecer afectos, una novela feminista y no tanto, una novela sobre el amor por la naturaleza tan maltratada por la presencia humana.

La cita que se encuentra antes de comenzar el libro propiamente dicho: "Los hechos se vuelven arte mediante el amor, que los unifica y los encumbra a un plano más elevado de la realidad; en el paisaje, este amor que todo lo
Britt MacKenzie-Dale
Aug 09, 2016 Britt MacKenzie-Dale rated it it was amazing
Lou is one of the great feminist heroes of literature. At once daring, philosophical, and deeply insightful, "Bear" offers a gorgeously written rumination on sexuality, women, and what it means to be alone with oneself.
Libros Prestados
No hay que fijarse en la nota que le he puesto, puesto que lo he calificado así por poner algo, porque sinceramente no sé qué opinar del libro.

Dado que han pasado varios días desde que lo leí y aún no puedo formarme una opinión, eso debería inclinar la balanza a favor de aumentar la puntuación. Pero es que todavía estoy demasiado impactada. Y ni siquiera sé si es un impacto bueno o malo.

El viaje de la protagonista, su desarrollo personal, la descripción del paisaje del Norte canadiense, todo eso
Jul 12, 2014 Audrey marked it as not-for-me  ·  review of another edition

You guys.

Look at this cover.

Read the description.

Look at Christina's review here:

Then read this thing on tumblr:

THEN say it with me...

Jun 29, 2015 Kathy rated it liked it
I read this book because of this link:

I'm still thinking about my opinion on it. I'll write more when I decide what I think.
Jan 05, 2016 Jenna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub2
This is a hard book to rate. The writing itself was exquisite; the content uncomfortable.
In Engel’s novel, Lou and Bear’s relationship is not consensual; many of their encounters are sexually abusive, verging on rape. As Margret Grebowicz argues in “When Species Meat: Confronting Bestiality Pornography,” “[h]ow might we begin to distinguish between the sexual agency we anthropomorphically project onto animals (in the production of porn, for instance) and their real sexual agency, the very thing which render them rapeable (at least in human legal terms) in the first place?” Because a ...more
Aidan Darnell
Aug 01, 2014 Aidan Darnell rated it liked it
If, like me, you came across this book after an imgur or Reddit post that made you question what Canada even is (and I'm Canadian), know that it's actually a lot better than just your typical bear porn.

I mean, there's bear porn, don't get me wrong. A shwack of bear porn. The word "cunt" is used with aplomb. There's an incident with honey and the female body. S**t gets real.

But underneath there's also a pretty decent depiction of how crappy it must have been to be an intelligent, thoughtful, and
A month or so ago, someone posted on Imgur screenshot of the cover of Bear along with photos of the racier bits and titled it, "What the actual fuck, Canada?". Since the crux of the story concerned a Canadian librarian who goes into the woods to find herself, I knew I had to read it.

And so did everyone else.

Random House Canada recently wrote a blog piece that discussed not only the new spike in sales of the book based on the Imgur posting but also Bear was much more than a woman getting it on w
Britta ★ Nachteule ★
Sep 02, 2014 Britta ★ Nachteule ★ rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Britta ★ Nachteule ★ by: Weirs Shit Group
3.5 Stars

In our little Weird Shit Group we stumbled across this little treasure.

It was released first in the year 1976 and (like you can guess) there isn't a Kindle Edition or ebook of it.
I found a German edition for a low price and thought I'll try it.

At first you might think it's like all the other weird shit we read in the past when you read the blurb...
Then you read that it is or was a bestseller and ask yourself just why...

I have to admit that I'm still searching for words for this review b
Neal Adolph
This is a fascinating book. Phenomenally well written. The perfect story, an incredible polemic. A challenge to our conception of womanhood, of space, of the environment, of sex and danger. I read it and I was uncomfortable - how foolish this woman, Lou, must be! And the story starts out so idyllic. I want to spend a summer in the almost wild wilderness, living in a 19th Century maison, and cataloging the collection! (I suppose that is a bit unusual.)

But the way the book ends isn't idyllic, at l
Aug 13, 2013 dean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2013
Ok, let's be real. Symbolism and allegory aside, this book is about a lady who gets off with a bear. Needless to say, I won't ever look at bears and honey (and maybe even people in general) without feeling a little sickish from now on but I have to admit wonder and praise for this strange, elegant, unsettling beast.

Engel's economy with words is marvelous and her writing never sensationalizes or betrays respect for her characters. The story feels real and plausible, rooted as it is in the Canadia
Erin Cataldi
May 23, 2016 Erin Cataldi rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Thanks to this wonderful Buzzfeed article,, I found myself hopelessly intrigued by this Canadian bestselling bestiality erotica. So like a responsible librarian I placed it on hold and read it in one sitting. This book almost defies description. Only in Canada could a book about a lonely librarian taking on a bear as a lover become a bestseller and win major literary awards. I mean, to be fair, it was written well and there weren't too many bear on girl a ...more
Jul 12, 2014 Lara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh goodness. This book is erotic even before we meet the bear. Lou gets to go away for the summer to a remote Northern Ontario to live in a Fowler's Octagon and read and archive a 19th century library that contains a few first editions? Away from people? Excuse me for a minute... I've come over all woozy...

And a bear for a boyfriend?? Hel-lo!

But for serious, this is a book of love, not just about love (as per Aritha Van Herk's beautifully written afterword).

And the descriptions of the summer lan
Andrea Paterson
Aug 15, 2014 Andrea Paterson rated it liked it
Shelves: canadian
well I did it. After all the hype in the blogs recently, I read Bear. 3.5 stars. I have to say, I actually quite liked this book. I was debating giving it 4 stars. Definitely a strange topic, but handled well and with quite a lot of complexity. Also thought Aretha Van Herk's afterward was awesome. A piece of Canadian literature that is definitely worth reading.
Mariano Hortal
El tema se las trae: la mujer a la que le atrae un oso; si retiramos dicha polémica encontramos un subtexto feminista, donde la mujer subvierte su papel, decide lo que hace con su vida, empieza a detentar el poder. Me parece muy interesante el vehículo utilizado, también es cierto que se podría haber esperado un mayor cuidado de la forma que se limita a ser bastante directa y explícita.
Aug 07, 2014 Santiago rated it it was ok
I get it...I just don't get the need for bear sex.
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Canadian novelist, short-story and children's fiction writer, Marian Engel was a passionate activist for the national and international writer’s cause.

She was the first chair of the Writer’s Union of Canada (1973–74) and helped found the Public Lending Right Commission. From 1975-1977, she served on the City of Toronto Book Award Committee (an award she won in 1981 for Lunatic Villas) and the Can
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“So this was her kingdom: an octagonal house, a roomful of books, and a bear.” 5 likes
“She makes her little house to shine, she thought.” 2 likes
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