Sometimes, an event happens that causes you to re-evaluate everything you know about life and truth. Like when you learn there’s an actual romance novel depicting a relationship between a woman and a grizzly bear. Lest you think this is some kind of a joke, trust us when we say this is one hundred percent real. Originally uncovered by the heroes at Awful Library Books, Bear was written in 1976 by Marian Engel, who’s from Canada. (Could she be from anywhere else???) It follows a protagonist named “Lou,” a meek librarian who’s unsatisfied with her current love life, (is there any other type of romance novel heroine?) and embarks on a relationship with a real, actual bear.
You know bears. The animals that in caves and eat salmon.
Some think of Bear as a metaphor for the inter-connectedness of all living things. Others think it’s just a particularly unique romance novel. But the nation of Canada thinks it’s a literary classic. That’s right. In 1976, it won the Governor General’s Literary Award!!! That’s a real award that’s still presented today. Other winners of the award include The Handmaiden’s Tale and The English Patient.
Those two classics are officially equal with a book about a lady getting freaky with a bear.
The Governor General wasn’t alone in loving it, though. Look at the book’s back cover, full of glowing blurbs from some of the world’s best newspapers:
Why wasn’t I lucky enough to find out about this back when I was doing book reports for school?!
After learning Bear exists, my biggest question, (after “How did this get published?” “How anyone think this was an idea worth pursuing?” and “WHAAAAAAAA?”), was, just what sort of person would write a book like this? Who is Marian Engel? Let’s check out her bio.
That’s her resume?! She was all, “Normal book, normal book, normal book,” and then, “You know what? I think for my next one, I’ll write about a lady having sex with a bear!”
That happened in real life on the planet we all live on.
I will say this, though. If you think about it, dating a bear does makes sense. Since they hibernate half the year, you definitely wouldn’t be lacking your personal space.
“Yeah! The first photo, I’m the one making the ridiculous face. Those were for the church directory and the photographer kept saying: everyone smile now! And I kept making silly faces. My mom was so mad when she saw them! This one was the most normal of the bunch.”
(submitted by Rachel)
“My husband’s senior picture from 1992. I should have looked at this before agreeing to marry him, lol.”
(submitted by Cindi)
“This is my second cousin ‘Jessica’ who happens to be engaged to the man holding the heart. They both work at the library. The Cupid here is her brother. This is the engagement photo they used in their wedding invitation.”
(submitted by Liz)
“I’m the one in the horrible pink velvet dress. I grew up with a mother who was always dressed in the best while we wore fashions typical of these. Not only was it our best, but look how small this dress is on me (way too short and the cuffs are halfway up my arm). Thankfully I was thin so it wasn’t like it was too small (to her). My 2 older sisters were hidden in the back because their dresses were so short also. Of course, she is in the middle and looks like a million bucks.”
(submitted by Cecelia)
“This is a picture of my Dad, Mom, and brother the year before I was born. It says ‘1994’ right on the photo, but it definitely wasn’t necessary cause it’s so obvious it was the 90’s. I mean, my Mom and brother’s hair say it all. He had that mullet for 4 years. And I just love the look on my brother’s face, he had evil plans.”
(submitted by Jaimee)