• Paddle Your Own Canoe

  • One Man's Fundamentals for Delicious Living
  • By: Nick Offerman
  • Narrated by: Nick Offerman
  • Length: 10 hrs and 50 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (12,474 ratings)

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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)

Featured Article: Tune into the Best Audiobooks and Podcasts by Sitcom Stars


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What listeners say about Paddle Your Own Canoe

Average Customer Ratings
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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.

113 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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The dude really doesn't like Christians.

Just a heads up. About 1/3 of the book feels like he bashes on people who don't believe like him. Other than that, a decent a read.

43 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.

33 people found this helpful

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Dissapointing

What disappointed you about Paddle Your Own Canoe?

I was really hoping for this to be comedic/inspirational but instead it was a pretty boring walk through of his life. Most of it was him talking about how great his family is, with no comedic value. Also, he rails Christians for being narrow minded and hurtful to society because of their judgments. His whole point was believe what you want but don't push it on others. All the while, he is insulting and making fun of sacred Christian practices. I'm not a crazy Christian but I was pretty offended. The hypocrisy was very disappointing. If you don't want me to push my beliefs on others why are you shoving your atheism down my throat and insulting my chosen belief system? Poor show.

Would you ever listen to anything by Nick Offerman again?

no

30 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!

30 people found this helpful

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Moderately interesting at time but way too preachy

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

OK, so the author isn't into religion or other people who openly profess their beliefs. I get it. But after the sixth time of going onto other topics and coming back to express his dislikes on this topic yet again? You don't see the hypocrisy and banging on and on about the same topic here?

As for the rest of the story? Moderately interesting and sometimes gave me the odd chuckle. Not great and not terrible.

24 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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Too Much Religion Talk

Any additional comments?

Just wasn't expecting all the anti-religious stuff so it pretty much turned me off. I guess I like Ron Swanson and not Nick Offerman.

20 people found this helpful

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Nick Offerman is no Ron Swanson

What could Nick Offerman have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

I expected more humor and got mostly very foul language.
He ether lied or remembers wrong about RoundUp in his bean field. That herbicide does not kill weeds in minutes, takes a week or 10 days depending on weather and growing conditions.
I stayed with the book long enough to be repulsed by his description of his sexual conquest as a 15 year old, just vulgar in my opinion.

17 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.

11 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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  • 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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  • 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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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Peter James Saunders
  • 12-31-14

The most amazing and joyous listen

As a massive Ron Swanson fan, I really thought that this audiobook would be completely different, but I'm so glad it surprised me! I truly enjoyed listening to his point of views and side with him on most, he is also a very funny dude but as you go on realise very intelligent. Thoroughly recommend this book!!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-10-22

I was hooked from beginning to end.

I was hooked from beginning to end.

Really great book and I kinda wanna listen to it again.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-25-22

Very entertaining!

Hilarious, insightful, filthy, eye opening and full of wisdom.
Can't wait to listen to his next book!

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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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Evan
  • 01-01-17

Love it

Gets a bit preachy about religion but is pretty kickass anyway. Yeah thats about it, now where to obtain a spokeshave.

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.

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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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  • RobGibson
  • 09-05-22

Fantastic Book ... Can't wait to read again

Honestly I have loved learning more about Nick Offerman!! As expected there were many laughs through out the book. But the biggest thing I got from this was about how his overall outlook on life and the subject matter of "paddling your own canoe" I really connected with and honestly I'm going to be making some changes because of this book it really got me thinking about how easy it is to be what others want you to be over who you are yourself as a person. Thankyou Nick , I look forward to reading and listing to the audio book again.

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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.