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Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man's Fundamentals for Delicious Living Paperback – September 2, 2014
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Praise for Paddle Your Own Canoe
“[Offerman] not only explores his Paul Bunyan–like image with tongue-in-cheek lessons on manliness, complete with illustrations and advice, but also offers poignant memories of his childhood growing up in Illinois and hilarious anecdotes from his career.”—Entertainment Weekly
“Offerman touches on everything from his days as a break-dancing, football-playing farm boy in Minooka (about 50 miles southwest of the Loop) to his freewheeling, hedonistic 20s in Chicago to the inevitable Hollywood struggles that followed. But he doesn’t gloss over embarrassing moments, including his two trips to jail during college at the University of Illinois—one for shoplifting Ronnie Milsap cassettes from Kmart as a joke; the other, he says, a convoluted case of mistaken identity. Between anecdotes, he delivers impassioned pleas and rants…”—Chicago magazine
“Thought-provoking, profane, and frequently hilarious…getting to know Offerman through his stumbling courtship with Megan Mullally and Kabuki theater training is well worth the price of admission.”—Publishers Weekly
“Ron Swanson is a mustachioed, breakfast-food-loving, woodworking red-meat connoisseur. Nick Offerman is a mustachioed, breakfast-food-loving, woodworking red-meat connoisseur but, more important, also a real person—a grateful, gracious, bemused actor in love with his wife, Megan Mullally, and the earnest simplicity of his not-so-Hollywood existence. Not only does he recall his life, but he also offers chuckle-worthy anecdotes, diagrams, even a haiku (about—what else?—bratwurst) to help his readers find their own ways toward delicious living. Ron Swanson would be proud.”—Booklist
“Equal parts memoir and advice for grabbing life by the gonads. It’s funny, highly nostalgic, and will make you seriously contemplate taking up carpentry. It’s sort of like reading Garrison Keillor if he wrote for Playboy…it’s fun, it’s visceral, and I learned things. When I finished the tome I had to take a long walk to soak everything in. We should all be so lucky to one day drink with this man, or at least purchase a table from him.”—ManCave Daily
“Offerman’s funny advice book offers practical tips about living more successfully, with the sort of dry and laconic delivery that comes through in his role on Parks and Recreation.”—Time Out New York
“Uniquely honest and consistently hilarious…Fans of Offerman may not be surprised by his candor, however this book is not specifically written for the fans. [It] will be enjoyed by many, specifically those who have the capacity and the will to wonder, and to want more out of life, while maintaining a degree of simplicity and happiness; just like Nick Offerman.”—Rare
“A hilarious walkabout…teeming with tasteful vulgarity, self-deprecating hilarity and a most humble wisdom bordering on sage-like. It’s rare to find a memoir that is all at once touching, funny as sh*t, and capable of schooling you in basic modi operandi: like not being a total ass…”—Newcity Lit
“Offerman is a funny man…But what is special about Paddle Your Own Canoe is the ability it gives Offerman to reveal himself as more than just the character he plays. He believes, and has always believed, in nonconformity. He believes in humility, honesty, hard work, and loyalty — values he attributes to his parents and two favorite teachers. He believes those qualities are what truly define ‘manliness,’ but that any person, regardless of gender, should aspire to them. Paddle Your Own Canoe is a delight.”—TheManual.com
“You don’t have to be able to properly work a table saw (I can’t) or be in the market for a custom-made chair (I’m not) to buy what Parks and Recreation star/woodshop owner Nick Offerman is selling in his memoir…[a] modulated and admirable concept of what it means to live well and be a man. Offerman writes hilariously and honestly about boyhood chores and collegiate shenanigans, Chicago theater dues-paying and sobbing ‘for, like, 20 minutes’ when receiving the call about landing the Parks and Rec job…[he] offers a vivid look at how he charted the course for real happiness. It’s nothing if not inspiring.”—RedEyeChicago
About the Author
NICK OFFERMAN is an actor, humorist, and woodworker. He is married to the most beautiful and talented actress working today, Megan Mullally. They live in Los Angeles, California, with their poodles and an impressive collection of assorted wood clamps.
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If you like Ron Swanson. Don't get this book. This is not "Parks and Rec: The novel". This is an autobiography. I think 90% of the complaints are from people who expected this book to be an extension of Ron Swanson character - talking about eating lots of meat and complaining about Tammy 2. Instead, they got a book about an actors rather ideal life in middle America, his entry into the theater world and his struggle to finding acting jobs in LA.
The books is however, HILARIOUS. Nick talks about his life in a very open and honest manner, going over both mistakes and victories. He is middle of the line political person, but also has strong views and yes, a pretty libertarian stance. He pulls no punches making fun of folks who are dependant on technology - since ALOT of folks are depenant, I'm sure many of the complaints here are from folks who were likely irked by his constant ribbing of folks who can't line with Instagram, a GPS and would die with two hours if left alone in the wilderness.
If your an open-minded person (which most people are not) then this is a VERY helpful book. He has alot of earthy advice on everything from drug use, to dating, to sex, to eating right, work ethic, etc. NICK OFFERMAN IS NOT RON SWANSON. Nor does he claim to be. Ron Swanson is an over-the-top version of Nick Offerman, written by writers who knew Nick. Nick Offerman does enjoy fishing, immensely. He doesn't not perfer hunting, tho understands many do. Nick Offerman eat's salad and veggies, but won't turn away a nice steak. Nick Offerman likes to hit the bong and watch Twin Peaks, as opposed to Ron Swanson who would mostly be found carving 1/110th 18th Century Spanish Gallon from a fallen tree near his cabin with nothing but a pen knife. He does not even mention Ron Swanson until the very last chapter.
If you are a hardcore, totalitarian conservative, Nick will probably say something to irk you. If you are a hardcore, bleeding liberal Nick will probably say something to irk you. He's not doing it on purpose - he's just in the middle of the political spectrum and is making his views clear, usually with some humor attached.
IF you are Ron Swanson/Parks and Rec fan you need to do this: Before you buy this book, then scream to high heaven and post a nasty review of it because it doesn't have things like "Ron Swanson's chart of needs" - think for a second. Look up Nick Offerman. Yes. N-I-C-K O-F-F-E-R-M-AN. Watch an interview with him on Conan O'Brien or something on Youtube. Realize that this is a person's autobiography and not a joke book.
Then once you do that, then you can ease into the tranquil warmth of what is Nick Offerman's sage-like advice and story telling.
ou probably know Nick Offerman from his highly-popular role as the mustachioed Ron Swanson on NBC’s hit comedy: Parks and Recreation. Having never seen the show myself, I had no real idea who the man was. (I don’t watch a lot of television, but don’t worry: I’m working on that!) So, what am I doing reading the memoirs of a person I was nary aware of? I’m not sure: Someone mentioned it to me, the cover looked cool, and the summary sounded funny. I’m glad I read it, as now I count myself among Nick Offerman’s fans (and I started watching Parks and Rec).
At first I feared this book would be some sort of celebration of clichéd masculinity, a sort of literary representation of Tim “the Tool Man” Taylor’s signature grunt. My fears, however, were unwarranted. Paddle Your Own Canoe reveals the man behind the mustache, and exposes him as a man of sensitivity, passion, and a remarkable work ethic. Sure, there’s a bit of machismo sprinkled in, but oftentimes it’s ironic or, at least, sarcastic. The entire book is laced with comedy and self-deprecation. What stuck with me the most was Offerman’s humility: this is a man that doesn’t take his success for granted, nor does he allow it to transform him away from his roots as a hard-working boy from rural Illinois.
There were two things I admired most while reading this book:
First, Offerman has a lot to say about the virtue of hard work. He goes to great (and entertaining) lengths to imbue the importance of accomplishment, of fixing and creating. He recounts the time when he moved in with his now-wife and star from the popular sitcom Will and Grace, Megan Mullally. By the time he and Megan purchased a home together, she was already substantially successful. He found himself dumbstruck one day, with the fleeting realization that he “made it”. He was a “well-off dude living in the Hollywood Hills like a king!” He quickly realized that being lazy in the lap of luxury wasn't the life for him, and he got to work continuing to build a successful career for himself.
The second thing I admired about Offerman was the way he spoke of his wife and their relationship. They had been married a decade by the time Paddle Your Own Canoe was published, and yet he still speaks of her as if they were still on their honeymoon. Both working hard in a demanding industry, they made a pact to never accept a job that would have them apart for more than two weeks. His admiration for Megan melts the heart. Of course someone will go out of their way to paint a beautiful picture of their spouse and love-life when writing about it for a large audience, but it is clear to me that Offerman was very careful with his descriptions of their life and I’m confident that their love is as genuine as he portrays it in this book.
So, I guess I’ve become a bit smitten with Nick Offerman. I found his stories interesting, hilarious, and motivating. What I thought was going to be a quick comedy–a time-killer, really–turned out to be an inspiration: a book that has me re-thinking my own philosophies.
A fair warning: this book has some colorful language, some sexually-explicit scenes, and takes some swipes at organized religion.
My Rating: 4.5/5 – Inspiring, humorous, and surprising; an added benefit of providing a look into the world of professional acting and the path of a successful career.