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Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man's Fundamentals for Delicious Living Hardcover – October 1, 2013

4.1 out of 5 stars 581 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In his first book, Offerman—best known for his popular character Ron Swanson on NBC&'s Parks and Recreation—opens up about his life and the values that he says have brought him prosperity and success. Each chapter of the memoir is accompanied with an essay outlining a relevant principle Offerman claims may lead the reader to a better life. The veracity of some of his statements may be called into question—vegans will bristle at his position on meat (eating red meat gives one character) and Millennials will not appreciate his dismissive attitude towards GPS devices and smartphones—but Offerman openly admits on the first page that what works for him may not be everyone&'s glass of scotch. Whether or not the reader considers his advice worth following, it is thought-provoking, profane, and frequently hilarious, although the book sometimes detours into recommendations of well-known movies and plays; Parks and Rec fans may be disappointed at the small amount of material about the show, but getting to know Offerman through his stumbling courtship with Megan Mullally and Kabuki theater training is well worth the price of admission. (Oct.)

From Booklist

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 Mullaly (best known as Karen in Will & Grace), and the earnest simplicity of his not-so-­Hollywood Hollywood existence. From his humble beginnings in Minooka, Illinois, to his meteoric rise portraying Ron Swanson on the much-loved TV show, Parks and Recreation, Offerman has lived a lot of life. He looks back as fondly on his upbringing in a small farming community with his hardworking parents and three siblings as on the time he spent at the University of Illinois and, later, in Chicago, where he received theater training. 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. --Courtney Jones
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton; 9.1.2013 edition (October 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 052595421X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525954217
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (581 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,252 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Here the situation.

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.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Imagine Ron Swanson wrote his autobiography.
Now, I love me some Ron Swanson - that work sounds really interesting and cool in theory.
In reality, it would probably be 40 pages, and read like bad Hemmingway with Ayn Randian philosophy (with an 18 page speech on why the government should not interfere with the producers of meat). Great for kitsch value, and the barbecue advice, but probably short of laughs.

Instead, we get Paddle Your Own Canoe - a hilarious memoir from the man who inspired some of the BEST facets of Ron's personality, but who is also a gifted performer and a (who knew?) skilled and genuinely funny writer.

It's not a straightforward chronology, but loosely follows his childhood and adolescence in rural Illinois, college years in Urbana, early career in Chicago and his move to LA, interspersed with funny, heartfelt and useful asides and advice.

Check it out. It's really, genuinely good and laugh-out loud funny in many places.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As soon as I saw this book was available I purchased it for my Kindle and read it that same evening. As a long time fan of Parks and Rec as well as Offerman's other work, I was really excited. I know that Ron Swanson is a fictional character, but one of the things that sets the charachter apart is how little Offerman has to "act" to be believed. As a trip to the Offerman Woodshop website will show you, he truly is passionate about some of the same things that Ron Swanson espouses. He also has a killer 'stache. That's sadly where the similarities end.

(SPOILER ALERT: I reflect on things I didn't like in the text, with minor specifics. Proceed with caution if you want to be suprised by the tale of his life)

I didn't expect a book "by Ron Swanson" but the only amusing parts of this work are written in the spirit of the character. I laughed out loud several times only to realize it was Mr. Offerman "taking his character's voice" briefly. He then promplty rebukes the sentiment that was amusing in the first place. Offerman takes great pains to point out that he is not the source for Ron Swanson, and is even somewhat self referential about why anyone would find his real story compelling. He's right there, as I struggled through several chapters that only served the purpose of recounting his experiences with high school girls. These stories are neither unique nor meaningful, in fact they're mostly boring. Awkward teenage romance has been mined pretty well, Offerman strikes nothing new here.

Perhaps the greatest dissapointment was the sheer amount of time spent on opinions. I'm inclined to accept Mr. Offerman's opinion on things he likely knows a great deal about, like growing a mustache or using a hand plane.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Nick Offerman is great. I was not sure what to expect out of this book, because I had mostly seen him in Parks and Rec but after watching his special American Ham I thought I'd give it a read. 10/10 would recommend. I also listened to the audio version of this book, and it is so good.

Nick Offerman is a god among men, and this book literally had me laughing out loud. He gives you an insight of how he started out (I could not believe that he was classically trained in theatre) and he talks about where he is today and his wife.

tybg
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