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Publisher's Summary

Parks and Recreation actor Nick Offerman shares his humorous fulminations on life, manliness, meat, and much more in his first book.

Growing a perfect moustache, grilling red meat, wooing a woman - who better to deliver this tutelage than the always charming, always manly Nick Offerman, best known as Parks and Recreation's Ron Swanson? Combining his trademark comic voice and very real expertise in woodworking - he runs his own woodshop - Paddle Your Own Canoe features tales from Offerman's childhood in small-town Minooka, Illinois - "I grew up literally in the middle of a cornfield" - to his theater days in Chicago, beginnings as a carpenter/actor and the hilarious and magnificent seduction of his now-wife Megan Mullally. It also offers hard-bitten battle strategies in the arenas of manliness, love, style, religion, woodworking, and outdoor recreation, among many other savory entrees.

A mix of amusing anecdotes, opinionated lessons and rants, sprinkled with offbeat gaiety, Paddle Your Own Canoe will not only tickle readers pink but may also rouse them to put down their smart phones, study a few sycamore leaves, and maybe even handcraft (and paddle) their own canoes.

©2013 Nick Offerman (P)2013 Penguin

Critic Reviews

“[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)

What listeners say about Paddle Your Own Canoe

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On the need to acknowledge the role luck plays

I don't think I've ever laughed so much listening to a book. Admittedly I'm in the ideal demographic for this book: a middle age male who enjoys living life with gusto, eating and drinking heartily, and working with wood. Still, I suspect that anyone who enjoys the TV show "Parks and Recreation" will enjoy this book. This is essentially an autobiography but with a lot of wit, wry humor and frequent acknowledgement that he's been lucky. It leaves no doubt that Nick is someone you'd be happy to call a friend.

Warning: If you're a fundamentalist christian you're likely to be offended by his observations regarding religion in the early part of the book. But if you're an atheist or at least religiously liberal you'll enjoy those parts as much as everything else he has to say.

107 people found this helpful

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Like bacon for your ears

Would you consider the audio edition of Paddle Your Own Canoe to be better than the print version?

Yes, I read through half of the printed edition until I found out the author read the audio version. Without hesitation I downloaded this book and let ten hours fly by as I listened to this gentle, bear-like man recite prose that made my chest hair grow

What does Nick Offerman bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Is this a question? Have you heard him talk? His man giggle? Phenomenal stuff, really.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I laughed much, but more importantly I could feel my twenty-something-year-old inner yuppie child quiver before a new mountain man like giant of self reliance and well roundedness

Any additional comments?

You'll love it more than Ron Swanson. I read this book going in with the idea that it'd be more of a book on life from the humorous outlook of Ron Swanson ( A character played by Offerman on Parks and Rec.) Instead, I was delightfully surprised to hear Nick's recounts of growing up with larger than life parental figures, his often humor infused humility, and his down to earth life lessons. I Will listen to it again.

83 people found this helpful

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Some funny parts

Nick Offerman can tell a funny story. This book is part memoir and part "life lessons." I enjoyed the first half of this book. Much of that consisted of funny stories about stupid things Offerman did while growing up. His comic schtick of telling crude stories in a high brow manner was funny and worked early on. And he wove in many wise life lessons, too. When he shifted to a more serious look at his professional life and even his marriage, his schtick just didn't work as well. It wasn't funny enough and wasn't serious enough, and I got bored in the second half. If you like Offerman's humor, you will get enough of it in the first half of the book.

22 people found this helpful

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No, it's not hilarious...

Any additional comments?

It's a really good book, but it's not hilarious. It's amusing, it's entertaining, it's motivating, but it's not laugh out loud funny. I liked this book. I liked it a lot. I love Ron Swanson, and I found it very interesting to see where Ron Swanson ends and Nick Offerman begins. I don't agree with all of Offerman's views, but it's damn close. He's a cool guy. He's lived a cool life. He's not a bad writer. I recommend this.

End review!

29 people found this helpful

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Readable - Not Recommendable

Never having seen his TV show but knowing of him through woodworking sources I think I expected more of a midwestern guy goes to Hollywood type of thing. He's really more of a Hollywood type at heart who has made a brand of his midwestern roots. That is, he's not a midwestern, down-home guy at all but can pull a few aphorisms and experiences from his youth to make a brand or schtick of the whole thing.

If you're an aspiring actor or entertainer this might serve as mild inspiration but otherwise I think the book has mostly been purchased by those who thought it was funny that Ron Swanson would write a book. And curious woodworkers of course.

Otherwise it's a collection of marginally interesting stories from his early years and a surprising amount of space given to his animosity towards Christianity. In context to the rest of the book, a few paragraphs would have sufficed but it's a recurrent theme woven throughout the book and thus something of an anomaly.

6 people found this helpful

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A Wendell Berry-esque Manifesto (With Giggles)

In between the sounds of Nick Offerman's giggles, Paddle Your Own Canoe offers up a Wendell Berry-esque manifesto of living with character and integrity (even if it's just being true to your inner smartass.) Nick refined the art of the deadpan in the laboratory of Illinois' 1980s rural Catholic churches, and here his unique voice and chewy prose chronicle hilarious hijinks involving bratwurst haikus, facial hair, woodworking, love, and, of course, the legend of Tick-Tock & Flip-Flop, lords of the 80′s Midwestern Breakdance. Surprisingly political and philosophical, Nick Offerman mixes it up with plenty of Ron Swanson-esque smartassery. And giggles. Don't forget the giggles.

5 people found this helpful

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Scotch in one hand and a thesaurus in the other.

As big of an Offerman fan that I am, I struggled through this one. The writing was 'festoon with multifarious verdicts and befuddling patios'. It came across as forced and trying.

The flow and structure was all over the place. Jumping forward and backward in time without a coherent arch, and done so without much reason or purpose.

Lastly, while it did draw out a few chuckles, I would not be remotely tempted to place this in the humorous section.

I did enjoy the overall behind the scenes look at Nick's journey from high school theater to Parks and Recreation. Though the journey could have been a lot smoother.

Nick's dictation was pleasant when not being awkwardly forced over the needlessly antiquated prose.

Overall, it is a difficult audio book to recommend and I would steer clear of the written format as I fear it would be doubly difficult to finish.

32 people found this helpful

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A Man's Man

I am a huge fan of Nick Offerman and the character of Ron Swanson, whom I consider the love of my life. As mentioned in other reviews, there are times when the book comes off as a bit preachy, there were times when I was agitated by this and didn’t really want to listen. That doesn’t come until much later in the book. What saved this book, and makes it far superior to the print version, is getting the chance to hear him sing; this is an experience I would have missed out on had I just read the book. It’s a good listen if you can ignore the preaching parts.

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Putting this on repeat

Best book ever. Restarting and listening again. I dont think I've laughed so hard in my life. Very glad Nick read the book himself.

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Entertaining listen

I listened to this in one sitting. I couldn't stop. Partly because Nick Offerman has a hypnotic voice, and partly because I was simply curious about what he had to say. He is a fascinating man that legitamately loves his life.

I reccomend it highly. It seems many people wanted a book written by Ron Swanson, but I prefer this. There is a depth of charm and wisdom that wouldn't be there had this book been on meat and scotch.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Craig Scott
  • 07-10-17

great use of a spoke shave

Very good.

This app requires the review to be at least fifteen words in length.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Leo
  • 02-17-15

He is better than his father .

Listen to the book. You will find out what that means, why it's true, and why this is possibly the best autobiography on audible. And his awesome voice doesn't hurt either .

4 people found this helpful

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  • orsoghu
  • 01-22-21

great listen

I loved Nick's voice and the way he narrated his life. The giggles when describing something fun were awesome too. I found this a very relaxing read, great especially if you're walking outdoors, or doing any sort of activity outside. The only downside I found with the book is that before listening to it I was considering starting woodworking as a hobby, now I am aching to, and yet I can't, for another few months.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Greg
  • 07-05-19

Brilliant book for overall "how to live your life"

I liked Nick before, and now I love and want to read more books from him. I especially like how he recorded the book himself and it is a completely separate experience from reading "just the book". Highly recommended, not just for a casual listen!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-28-18

If you like P&R this is similarly funny

great audio book the narration was fantastic coming from nick. I would highly reccomend it

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-13-14

Nick Offerman isn't Ron Swanson

Would you consider the audio edition of Paddle Your Own Canoe to be better than the print version?

I do not own the printed book, but it appears there is an abundance of visual matierial included within.

What did you like best about this story?

Autobiographies read by the author, have those little flourishes that they experienced at the time. Hearing Nick giggle as he repeated events from his past, if it's good enough for the author to laugh at it's fine in my book.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The whole section on belief, in relation to others. The fact people will always confuse a character for an actor and having differing opinions is an almost constant

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

NOT RON SWANSON, the story of woodworker turned actor.

Any additional comments?

I highly recommend this to anyone who has enjoyed Nick Offerman's acting.

3 people found this helpful

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  • David Connor
  • 05-26-22

Puts the MAN in Offerman

Offerman continues to expand my vocabulary with every chapter of his autobiographical / advice column stylings.

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  • saul
  • 05-18-22

non conformist

the story of nick offerman also none as Ron Swanson, what a guy! I love his attitude to life and the way he reps loving a full life. a must listen for fans of parks and rec aswell as meat eating, wood working, performance arts and last but not least boobs

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  • stonecoldantemery
  • 05-17-22

Offerman in Fine form

As a occasional fan, this was a great insight into Nick and his life. Hilarious in many areas, it teaches us all a lesson on how we could live a better life

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  • Thomas B.
  • 04-16-22

Great listen

great honest book, with wise words spoken with a right amount of humour intertwined.

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  • Johnpocalypse
  • 07-28-15

Bacon

Bacon is mentioned several times. This pleases me.
Additional positive references: woodworking, cunnilingus, moustache, to wit.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Lisa
  • 04-28-15

Didn't want it to end!

Listening to Nick Offerman read his book aloud was like having him sitting in my car with me telling stories for my ears and edification alone. I'll miss his company! Gee he made me laugh, and also reflect on the things that mean something in life.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 07-07-18

Delightful autobiographical guide to being a man

It really was a treat to listen to Nick relating his life story up to the date of publication; I'd recommend it highly to anyone that is looking for a signpost on the road through life

1 person found this helpful

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  • Rach...
  • 09-07-16

A great book and very interesting to listen to

interesting. talks a lot about getting high and the theatre as well as life advice

1 person found this helpful

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  • Nicole Howard
  • 06-11-16

A Fun Few Hours

There was quite a lot of thanking people and name dropping, but it was funny and delicious anyway. Offerman has a wonderful voice and occasionally breaks into giggles mid sentence which is adorable.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Phoebe
  • 04-20-16

Good fun

Another opportunity to enjoy Offerman's unique voice and unique take on life. Lots of laughs.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Mark
  • 05-23-15

The perfect antidote to modern living

Nick Offerman is a somewhat humorous pile of flesh and bone. Not only that, he is thoughtful and has many truth nuggets to fling. This book is not only inspiring but also very funny, whilst simultaneously feeling like sitting down to a scotch or two with a good friend. I am inspired to go out and build a canoe, or at least go for a nice walk. Please and thank you Nick.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Matt Dennison
  • 04-26-22

Full on Nick Offerman!

Nick’s onscreen performances and wicked sense of humour has always appealed to me, so I bought this audio book in anticipation of being gifted just a little bit more Nick. Now I eat my steak medium rare with a glass of Balvenie, take good care of my facial hair, and enjoy woodwork in my spare time. I did all those things before listening to this book, but now I know I’m a man. Nick Offerman said so.
Note: If you’re the type of person that prefers to read a book over listening to a book, do yourself a favour and buy the audio version of this book. Nick’s voice makes this book 10/10.

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  • Chris
  • 04-22-22

Great read!

I had my doubts with this one as I don’t know much about this actor. I friend of mine gifted it to me and I haven’t stopped listening to it. I might get the book now. If you are reading this Nick thank you for this knowledge you have given me. I am off to buy a canoe and drink some scotch. Possibly at the same time…

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  • Tash
  • 04-10-22

Such a delightful listen!

Who doesn't love Nick Offerman!? This is such a delightful. Everyone should listen to this.