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Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man's Fundamentals for Delicious Living

3.59  ·  Rating Details  ·  11,766 Ratings  ·  1,238 Reviews
Parks and Recreationactor 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 asParks and Recreation’s Ron Swanson? Combining his trademark comic voice and v
Hardcover, 340 pages
Published October 1st 2013 by Dutton
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Kevin Tibbs It's weird that you read this book and felt he was a jerk, but... *shrug*

Ron Swanson is a fictional character. Nick Offerman is a real human being and…more
It's weird that you read this book and felt he was a jerk, but... *shrug*

Ron Swanson is a fictional character. Nick Offerman is a real human being and as such, he might have aspects of his personality that aren't designed to appeal to as broad an audience as possible.

I'd recommend you look through the book again, as there are quite a few bits about living a life of kindness, being polite, taking your lumps as you earn them, embracing gratitude and standing by your friends in loyalty.

So, to answer your question, "Does Nick Offerman have to be a jerk?" He wasn't.(less)
Jenna No, it's not age appropriate. Probably best to save it for the years between high school and college. Although there is a lot of wonderful inspiration…moreNo, it's not age appropriate. Probably best to save it for the years between high school and college. Although there is a lot of wonderful inspiration and good advice in this book (wholesome hardworking farm-boy ethics and a great feminist perspective), he also advises which recreational illegal drugs are best and which are to be avoided, talks in great detail about sex and religion, and uses profanity regularly. I love it and agree with a great deal of it, but I probably wouldn't give it to a young teen to read.

That said, you might want to read it and decide for yourself. Kids are different. A 13 year old who enjoys Parks & Rec might actually be mature enough to have the ability to filter out what doesn't work for him while enjoying someone's life story. (less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Brandon Schafer
Dec 18, 2013 Brandon Schafer rated it it was amazing
After reading many of the one, two, and three star reviews on here, I felt I should write a short review to defend Nick and his book. The main complaints I've noticed: 1. Too dry 2. Too opinionated 3. Too profane 4. Degrades "Christians"

Too dry: I bought the audio version of this book, as I enjoy listening to book on my 7 hour drive from school to visit family. When I found out Ron Swanson himself narrated the book, I immediately grabbed a copy. I highly recommend doing the same. This alone redu
Dec 12, 2013 karen rated it liked it
come on, humor book, be funny!

i am both a parks and rec fan and a ron swanson fan. his character appeals to me with his gruff and deadpan mannerisms and his abiding love of meat. (although not his hatred of libraries - hhmph)

but reading this book was just kind of a slog - the speech patterns and stylized formality that delights me onscreen are just dead on the page when i am forced to read them for an extended period, even though i can "hear" his voice reading them. i just don't love artificial
Feb 10, 2015 Diane rated it liked it
Gosh darnit if I didn't like Nick Offerman even more after reading his book.

I was already a fan because of his excellent and hilarious work playing Ron Swanson on the NBC show "Parks and Recreation." His memoir, which he calls a guide for "delicious living," is a fun, fast read. He talks about growing up on a farm in Illinois, his wise and supportive parents, how he got his start in acting, how he met his (also hilarious) wife, Megan Mullally, and he offers advice on how to have a more fulfillin
Feb 17, 2014 Melki rated it really liked it
Here's a sometimes interesting, sometimes funny memoir of a minor celebrity with lots to say.

Offerman stars as Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreation.

My Burning God of Love, Ron Swanson

He also appeared in my favorite scene from HBO's Deadwood.

Yes, I saw it WITHOUT the dot!

The book offers up Offerman's, NOT Swanson's! philosophy of life, and it's an interesting, shoulder-shrugging, live-and-let-live philosophy. I truly enjoyed the chapter entitled Hail Mary, Full of Beans, as Offerman's views on org
Dec 11, 2014 Chip rated it really liked it
Sweet mother of mercy, the religious wackos have put a dent in the average reviews for this fine tome. If you've heard Offerman on the Nerdist podcast, then you know you'll find earthy goodness, sharp (and well-said) opinions against corporate farming & the ongoing erosion of church-state separation in this country, etc., within said literary product. If that offends you, I suggest you go read something for vegans or by Joel Osteen.

It's a bio/manifesto & it's full of fun stories: Kabuki
Joe Janca
Oct 31, 2013 Joe Janca rated it liked it
I feel strange assigning a star rating to this book, as I haven't finished reading it. The thing is, I'm not sure I'm going to finish it. I am a huge fan of Mr. Offerman as an actor and a human being, but apparently not as an author. Perhaps the problem is one of expectation. I went into this book hoping for insights and anecdotes from Nick's life--in other words, memoir. Instead, what we get is more manifesto. I only got through the first two chapters, but the rambling (and somewhat preachy) na ...more
Gavin Breeden
Nov 07, 2013 Gavin Breeden rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2013-books
I'm not sure what I was expecting from this (other than some good laughs, which it only occasionally delivered) but it turned out to be a bit of a baffling book. Part memoir and part manifesto, Offerman pulls his personal philosophy of life from his own biography while seeking to remind us that he is NOT Ron Swanson, but, yeah, he and Ron do have a lot in common like their mid-western sensibilities and shared love of woodworking, meats, and brunette women. But it's a pretty profane book and Offe ...more
Jul 02, 2013 Andy rated it it was amazing
Paddle Your Own Canoe was exactly what I wanted it to be, Nick's delicious recipe for living an outstanding life. Eat red meat, go outside, and find some good love. Repeat.
Claire Bear
Oct 19, 2013 Claire Bear rated it it was ok
I wanted to give this 1 star based on my impression of the book after chapter two, but the fact that I like Ron Swanson the character and did enjoy the book once it gots past the preachy, ultra-liberal parts.

I really had high hopes for this book, but was left disappointed. Obviously, I expected the book to pepper in profanity, but there were times when profanity seemed to be added just for the sake of it. It was like that person you know who always says fucking before everything. Like "Oh man so
Amy Sheridan
Dec 19, 2013 Amy Sheridan rated it really liked it
It seems like people were expecting this to be a comedy book of personal anecdotes like Tina Fey's Bossypants, Jim Gaffigan's Dad is Fat, or anything by George Carlin and while Nick Offerman is great in comedy roles, he's not a comedian - he's a theater actor and a woodworker and a reader of maps and a guy who is almost nauseatingly in love with his wife. And that's what this book is about. I don't think I'd even call it a memoir since he's not a thousand years old nor does he have any salacious ...more
Nov 25, 2013 Cheree rated it did not like it
I didn't finish this book, but wanted to share my thoughts...

I am a pretty curious person and read a wide variety of material. I think it is important to shape my beliefs by reading and then discussing opinions different from my own (typically in person).

The book in question is Paddle Your Own Canoe, a memoir by comedian Nick Offerman (of Parks and Recreation fame). My problem with this book came in the second or so chapter. Offerman is very clear in his disdain for religion. I get that not ev
Paul Capps
Jan 27, 2016 Paul Capps rated it really liked it
When I saw Tom Waits quoted at the beginning of Paddle Your Own Canoe, I knew that I was in for a treat.

Like many, I became familiar with Nick Offerman through Parks and Recreation and his portrayal Ron Swanson, the walking epitome of American machismo. If you think this is going to be Ron Swanson: The Autobiography, think again, you’re probably going to be disappointed. There are a lot of parallels between Offerman and the fictional character he portrays, but this book is all Offerman.

Nov 06, 2013 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nick Offerman is best known for playing Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreation. This is his first memoir where he muses about life, manliness, wood work and how to best grill meat. Find out about Offerman’s childhood in small town Minooka, Illinois, his love of the theatre, his love of wood work, his wife Megan Mullally and the deadpan comedic style that made him a star.

If you are a Parks and Recreation fan, and in particular a Ron Swanson fan, then this is the book for you. Just to be clear my fav
Kevin Baker
Oct 23, 2013 Kevin Baker rated it really liked it
I think everyone's complaints are asinine. They either did not know what Nick was about, what the book was about, or just suck at life.
Feb 09, 2014 Kaci rated it it was ok
Better title would be "Nick Offerman Hates Religion, Loves Intoxicants"
Nov 25, 2013 Anthony rated it did not like it
Shelves: autobio
Boring. Nick is a one trick pony who is smart to strike while the iron is hot. I have seen clips of Parks & Rec and understand the Ron Swanson character. Why not use that character's voice to write your memoir? But it doesn't work. Another reviewer stated earlier (and correctly) that a few lines of "Ron" a week is good enough. A whole book of Nick dragging "Ron" along for the ride does not work. Nick likes to cuss throughout the book but it doesn't add anything to his attempts of humor. It i ...more
Nov 15, 2013 Jessica rated it liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
You'll be hard-pressed to find a more enthusiastic fan of Parks and Rec than this girl, but Nick Offerman's memoir/how-to-live guide was a little underwhelming. Occasionally quite funny, there was a little too much emphasis on his political leanings (though I tend to agree with his stances, I just didn't think it was necessary). The strongest parts of the book were when Offerman expressed his gratitude for his parents and theater teachers, and shared stories of his formative years. I think I'd h ...more
May 31, 2014 Katy rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014-reads
This was more of a 3.5 for me, and usually I round down, but the number of asinine 1&2 star ratings compelled me to round up.

Let me first address those who were filled with such disgust and offense that they couldn't read more than two chapters of the book, and then I'll commence with the review. First, you realize that what you're doing, i.e. decrying him as a terribad person simply because of his personal beliefs and opinions, is exactly the thing of which you are accusing him. Which, at b
If you're like me, you're probably familiar with Nick Offerman from his role as Ron Swanson from the hilarious series Parks and Recreation. And having had some good luck with reading books from other funny people closely associated with other comedies (Jerry Seinfeld, Tina Fey, Ray Romano), I picked up Paddle Your Own Canoe with a couple of expectations.

One is that the novel would be funny. And the other is that while it said Nick Offerman on the cover, the book would really be written by my fav
Feb 17, 2014 Jennifer rated it liked it
This book really had its ups and downs. I enjoyed reading about Nick Offerman's life philosophies (a major reason I wanted to read the book) - following your passion in life rather than money, spending your time outdoors or on productive hobbies rather than staring at screens, finding happiness outside of work, etc. I also loved the chapters where he described his immense love for his wife. However, there were also just as many more unenjoyable parts of this book. I didn't like when his philosop ...more
Oct 15, 2014 Christa rated it it was amazing
I was expecting to laugh, and wasn't disappointed. If you can, listen to the audiobook of this because Offerman reads it himself and it added a whole other beautiful dimension to his stories -- AND HE SINGS.

I wasn't expecting to cry, but there were a lot f heartwarming moments, like when he waxed-poetic about his parents (I especially enjoyed his dad-mutation) and the entire chapter on his love for his wife Megan Mullaly (RON IS ACTUALLY MARRIED TO TAMNY IRL) and I cried because love is beautifu
Feb 05, 2015 Bill rated it it was amazing
This was an altogether enjoyable read, really flaunting Nick Offerman's way with words and tone. You can hear his voice clear as a bell throughout every page of the book, which is a definite plus. I wasn't expecting the book to be quite so biographic, which is the only reason I considered knocking it down from five stars; but it was still a fascinating read, and Offerman does a good job of subtly imbuing his lessons into the stories of his life, but I'd hoped for a couple fewer life stories and ...more
Sep 29, 2015 April rated it it was ok
I saw Nick Offerman interviewed by Larry King, and found him charming and modest, a progressive version of his alter-ego, Ron Swanson (he was these things on Wait! Wait! Don't Tell Me as well). So I was excited to read this book. However, I found that those qualities I admired did not translate to print. Part of the problem is that this book cannot decide if it is a memoir or a manifesto. The memoir part is okay if meandering, a nothing special, pleasantly bland Midwest upbringing. But the manif ...more
Apr 18, 2016 Ryan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed, 2016, audiobooks
No seriously - Offerman reading his own clever observations aloud is absolutely, positively WHY the audiobook format exists
Dec 29, 2015 Siria rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this more than I did. Paddle Your Own Canoe is not without its charms, and I even agreed with some of what he had to say about his approach to life (this is not a traditional memoir; it's what Offerman terms a "guide to delicious living"). Offerman clearly adores his wife, and has some fun anecdotes and some amusing turns of phrase. I listened to this in audiobook, and that's probably the best medium for it.

Yet the book could easily have been edited down by a third and been the
Oct 30, 2014 Don rated it really liked it
I received this book from my wife and daughter on my birthday. I can’t get through an episode of Parks and Recreation without welling up and Nick Offerman is often guilty of delivering those well crafted lines with his impishly sardonic that zing my emotion bone. I had been truly amazed at his wood-working skills and amused by his unapologetically midwestern sensibility. I am also touched by the gratification he displays at the mixture of luck as it collies with all his hard work; I look at my l ...more
Tom Meitner
Nov 14, 2013 Tom Meitner rated it liked it
I am familiar with Nick Offerman via interviews and such, so I never expected this to be a "Ron Swanson" book. That being said, he has revealed a lot of himself elsewhere that coincides with a lot of Swanson and certain "manly virtues" that are definitely good advice and definitely in this book.

I am also not easily offended or upset by liberal viewpoints - and in most books of public figures, I expect it. So that's not really an issue either.

My reading and enthusiasm for this book lost a lot of
Phil Cornelius
Dec 29, 2013 Phil Cornelius rated it did not like it
Note: I have not read the whole book, only a little over 100 pages. Also, in regards to #1, I have been raised as a Catholic.

I have many problems with this book, all of which I will tell in more detail. 1. Offerman's take on religion
2. The profanity
3. The style of the book in general

1. I was not surprised at Offerman's views on religion; the idea that religion has beneficial parts, but shouldn't dictate one's social and political beliefs is becoming more and more common. I don't disagree, neces
Jamie-leigh Haughn
If you are a fan of Parks and Recreation and Ron Swanson, this is a MUST read!

I listened to this on audiobook which I think is the best way to go for these types of books! Nick Offerman's outlook on life is so incredibly fantastic, I loved this book! He does jump around quite a bit through different times in his life which got a little bit confusing at times, however he is still an awesome person and a great story teller!
Feb 04, 2016 Nate rated it really liked it
If I were to describe this book in one word it would be: colorful. If you didn’t already know, Nick Offerman is an actor who plays Ron Swanson on the TV series, Parks and Recreation. His character is absolutely hilarious and I’m a big fan. I’d call this book colorful because literally everything about it is just that: colorful. The stories, the lessons, and of course the language.It glows with Nick’s colorful personality.
This particular memoir caught my attention because I love Nick’s acting, a
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Nick Offerman is an American actor, writer, and carpenter who is best known for his breakout role as Ron Swanson in the acclaimed NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation. For his work on Parks and Recreation, he received the Television Critics Award for Individual Achievement in Comedy.
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“Instead of playing Draw Something, fucking draw something” 28 likes
“Damn it all, you have been given a life on this beautiful planet! Get off your ass and do something!” 26 likes
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