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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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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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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.

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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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A great book and very interesting to listen to

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

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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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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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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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Sublime in every way

Nick Offerman is a wordsmith and performer, those things combined create a wonderful story full of life lessons and hilarious memories. A great example of a contemporary man keeping old trades alive while learning and growing as a human.

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A good book

Sage life advice and top notch narration from a master of class. Worthy of your time if you are so inclined.

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The man behind Swanson

Amazing audiobook if you like Mr Offerman’s work. The description of The entertainment industry and his journey through it all was funny and enlightening. His simple and straight forward way of thinking and living should be the guide for many people.

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  • OpenMindedNotCredulous
  • 17-11-2013

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.

105 people found this helpful

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  • Kyle
  • 03-01-2014

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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  • Mark
  • 16-02-2018

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.

21 people found this helpful

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  • Joshua Kring
  • 30-03-2015

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!

28 people found this helpful

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  • Rachel - Audible
  • 17-10-2017

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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  • Devin
  • 26-08-2015

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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  • Claudia H
  • 21-07-2015

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.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Eric Murphy
  • 03-11-2013

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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  • Landon
  • 07-04-2015

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.

11 people found this helpful

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  • William A. Moskal Jr.
  • 03-03-2014

It's Nick Offerman, yo.

Where does Paddle Your Own Canoe rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This was a fine audiobook. Not as funny or touching as Tina Fey's Bossypants, but nice company while I was working around the house.

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

It was a pleasure to hear the author tell his own tales - it definitely adds atmosphere to hear it in his own voice, like sitting at a bar listening to stories of his youth.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Nick Offerman is not Ron Swanson.

Any additional comments?

The book includes stories of Offerman's childhood on a farm in Illinois which were sweet and charming to hear. He also talks about his time in drama school and early days on stage, as well as moving to LA.

Offerman is primarily an actor who performs works written by others, so his book isn't as polished or tight as one written by someone who is primarily a writer. I'm not sure, for example, why a chapter about his thoughts on religion and politics was included. It wasn't very groundbreaking or particularly insightful, nor was it what I was wanting. This book is only tangentially "a guide to delicious living." It's mostly "a guide to how Nick Offerman has spent his delicious life."

Offerman seems to have a positive and grateful outlook on life, which colors all of the memories and anecdotes he shares and makes listening to the book a good experience. When I started listening, Offerman and his Parks and Recreation character, Ron Swanson, was linked firmly in my mind, but by the end I heard him as an artist who is currently on TV.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Craig Scott
  • 10-07-2017

great use of a spoke shave

Very good.

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

9 people found this helpful

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  • Leo
  • 17-02-2015

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 .

2 people found this helpful

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  • orsoghu
  • 22-01-2021

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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  • Amazon Customer
  • 28-08-2018

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
  • 13-07-2014

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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  • sheree monks
  • 07-07-2021

Decent listen not enough Ron Swanson

I get that this book is about his life but I was expecting a lot more about parks and rec considering it’s the show that has made him a household name..

You get quite the insight on the man himself but it does ramble on quite a lot in the middle

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  • Dave
  • 30-03-2021

Funny, endearing and wise

Especially good for aspiring actors to hear Nick's story. When he giggles at his own story is just so sweet too

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 21-02-2021

Great

There is so much more to Nick Offerman than Ron Swanson. Great insights. Amazing metaphors. Simple truths.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 20-12-2020

A true guide to delicious living

Mr. Offerman wasn’t lying when he described this audiobook as a guide to delicious living. In and amongst his personal history, career and anecdotes, there are many sprinklings of sage advice in how to live deliciously.

As true in 2020 as it was in 2013.

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  • A. Palmer
  • 17-12-2020

Nick Offerman is an international treasure

Nick Offerman has written a book I have read seven times, beginning to end. His voice, as any parks and rec fan might guess, lends itself well to audiobooks, and the calm autobiographical story of his early years to his marriage and his simultaneous navigation of "the business" is insightful, funny and often times downright inspirational. This is a surprisingly prescient book to me that I bought because Nick Offerman plays my favourite TV character, but frankly I've taken more wisdom lessons about life from this than I'd care to admit, despite the light approach. This is a good, relaxing read/listen generally, but may be of particular interest to aspiring creatives - writers, actors, producers etc as it pulls back the curtain and looks at the struggles of breaking into acting and the breaks, both lucky and otherwise, that led him there. I would definitely recommend this book.

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