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A polar bear walks into a bar and says “I’d like a rum… and coke.”

The bartender says “Sure, but what’s with the lacuna?”

The polar bear replies “I have always been a great fan of Greek poetic forms.” *


* Originally (as heard on CBC Radio): 

A polar bear walks into a bar and says “I’d like a rum… and coke.”

The bartender says “Sure, but what’s with the pause?”

The polar bear replies “I’ve had them all my life!”

Not your parents' courses...

Not your parents’ courses…

Metaphysical Geography

Disinformation Studies

Poli Pseudo Sci

Immaterial Engineering


Inhuman Biology


Industrious Relations

Lists are all the rage on social media like Facebook: how do you stack up against your friends or your peer group or complete strangers? About two years ago I started my own peculiar lists of books, with the idea to determine how much you and I might be alike, in our reading habits and history. I like to think that I have an eclectic taste in books; I also have a lot of gaps in the list of so-called “canon”–books that I’ve never read. For example, I’ve never read Wuthering Heights, or Gone With the Wind, or Huckleberry Finn. I’ve always gone my own way, and read what I wanted to read, rather than what I should have read. Have you read even a quarter of the books on this list? We might be soulmates.
1. Post Office – Charles Bukowski
2. Slaughterhouse Five – Kurt Vonnegut
3. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
4. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
5. The Foundation Trilogy – Isaac Asimov
6. Lord Foul’s Bane – Stephen R. Donaldson’
7. Blue Movie – Terry Southern
8. Shoeless Joe – W.P. Kinsella
9. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
10. Nostromo – Joseph Conrad
11. The Man in the High Tower – Philip K. Dick
12. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – Muriel Spark
13. Lanark – Alasdair Gray
14. Lucky Jim – Kingsley Amis
15. Confessions of an English Opium Eater – Thomas de Quincey
16. As I Lay Dying – William Faulkner
17. The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
18. This Can’t Be Happening at Macdonald Hall – Gordon Korman
19. The New ATom’s Bombshell – Robert Browne
20. any Encyclopedia Brown books – Donald J. Sobol
21. A Spell for Chameleon – Piers Anthony
22. The Breast – Phillip Roth
23. The Collected Works of Billy the Kid – Michael Ondaatje
24. The Possessed – Fiodr Dostoevskii
25. Never Cry Wolf – Farley Mowat
26. Watchmen – Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
27. Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth – Chris Ware
28. The Dead Zone – Stephen King
29. Myra Breckinridge – Gore Vidal
30. The Stranger – Albert Camus
31. Lord of the Flies – William Golding
32. The Tin Drum – Gunter Grass
33. Shikasta – Doris Lessing
34. The Razor’s Edge – W. Somerset Maugham
35. Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe
36. The Swing in the Garden – Hugh Hood
37. 1984 – George Orwell
38. We – Evgenii Zamiatin
39. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
40. A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
41. The Iron Dream – Norman Spinrad
42. On the Road – Jack Kerouac
43. Solomon Gursky Was Here – Mordecai Richler
44. Survivor – Chuck Palahniuk
45. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
46. Moby-Dick – Herman Melville
47. Trainspotting – Irvine Welsh
48. The Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham
49. The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver
50. 40 Stories – Donald Barthelme
51. A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters
52. Darkness at Noon – Arthur Koestler
53. The Mosquito Coast – Paul Theroux
54. The Pornographer’s Poem – Michael Turner
55. The White Hotel – D.M. Thomas
56. Confessions of a Mask – Yukio Mishima
57. The Island of the Blue Dolphins – Scott O’Dell
58. The Basketball Diaries – Jim Carroll
59. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey
60. Franny and Zooey – J.D. Salinger
61. Cancer Ward – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
62. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoi
63. The Abortion – Richard Brautigan
64. Exercises in Style – Raymond Queneau
65. Nazi Literature in the Americas – Roberto Bolano
66. Scott Pilgrim – Bryan Lee O’Malley
67. Important Artifacts and Personal Property… – Leanne Shapton
68. Harmony – Project Itoh
69. Three Men in a Boat – Jerome K. Jerome
70. The White Bone – Barbara Gowdy
71. Lady Chatterley’s Lover – D.H. Lawrence
72. You Know Me Al – Ring Lardner
73. Such a Long Journey – Rohinton Mistry
74. The Pussycat Transplant – Ted Mark
75. Uncle Shelby’s ABZ Book – Shel Silverstein
76. Harold and the Purple Crayon – Crockett Johnson
77. Birdland – Gilberto Hernandez
78. *
* You’ll notice that the list ends prematurely at 77 titles, when I had intended to get to 100. I don’t know if I can get back into the mindset of coming up with this list, without referring to notes.

I’ve gained a reputation for coming up with really bad puns at work. And since I work in a bookstore, naturally books and authors and titles provide a lot of my inspiration. Read these once, and then let’s never speak of this again, OK?


-Do you like Rowling?

-I don’t know, I’ve never Rowled.


Alain BadI.O.U. – don’t lend this guy money.


-How can you tell if your fruit is ripe?

-William shakes pear.


-Did you know Descartes was a fan of The Black Eyed Peas?

-I think, therefore Will.I.Am


A Great GameFor years the Canadian publishing and political worlds have been abuzz with anticipation for Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s book on Canada’s national sport [Sorry, lacrosse, but honestly–get real. -Ed.] but the wait seems to be coming to an end with Thursday’s announcement of the title and publication date. Harper’s publisher, Simon & Schuster Canada, revealed that A Great Game: The Forgotten Leafs and the Rise of Professional Hockey would hit bookstore shelves on November 5th, just in time for the busy holiday-shopping season, not to mention the not-so-busy pro-roguing season. The book promises an historical perspective with a fan’s passion for the game, and yes, you read that right–Stephen Harper is promising passion. And after all, when you think of passion, isn’t Stephen Harper what you imagine?

We at the Centre for Poor Karma & Pain have obtained an exclusive, behind-the-scenes peek at this sure-to-be publishing milestone and can, for the first time ever, reveal the chapter headings:

  • Introduction: When I’m Finished Writing About Hockey, You Won’t Recognize It
  • Why You Can Thank Canada’s Founding Party for the Game You Love
  • The Reckless and Dangerous Liberal Meddling in Canada’s Defining Sport
  • Ask Me Three Questions About Hockey. One at a Time. OK, This Chapter Is Over
  • The Royal Canadian Hockey League
  • Sidney Crosby: He’s In Way Over His Head
  • Abolishing Records: Why Keeping Statistics Should Be Voluntary
  • The Sad History of the Long-Stick Registry
  • Declaring the Montreal Canadiens a Nation within the National Hockey League
  • Don Cherry and the Evolution of the Temporary Foreign Player Program
  • It Is High Time for the Ottawa Senators to be Equal, Elected, and Effective

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