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Love Is a Canoe: A Novel
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Love Is a Canoe: A Novel

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2.92 of 5 stars 2.92  ·  rating details  ·  549 ratings  ·  115 reviews
Peter Herman is something of a folk hero. "Marriage Is a Canoe," his decades-old book on love and relationships, has won the hearts of hopeful romantics and desperate cynics alike. Peter and his wife lived a peaceful life until her death in 2010. Now he passes time with a woman he admires but doesn't love -- and he begins to question the advice he's famously doled out for ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published January 7th 2014 by Picador (first published January 8th 2013)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,573)
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Emily Crowe
Definitely another one of those cases where I kept expecting the book to get better, so I kept reading. There is almost nothing I can find to praise about this book. The characters were largely two dimensional, the dialogue was stilted, and other than the sections about infidelity or job anxiety, very little felt realistic to me.

I think I mostly kept reading because (1) the book was published by FSG, a publisher whom I usually respect, and (2) the author is involved with Razorbill.
wigwam
Boring and artless, there's no purpose to the structure of three identically-voiced/toned third-person storylines following bland cypher-characters, especially when only one has any tension or potential for surprise (don't worry, it ends in an obvious manner) and even when the expected resolutions occur they do so unimaginatively, probably counting on an investment in the characters that is never earned. The two-page snippets of the book-within-the-book are so purposefully trite that they lessen ...more
Charity
When I was 10 I had a plastic boat that had a clear bottom. I was out in Lake Champlain and lost both my oars, not a rower, and just kind of drifted about, ended up going out kind of far, not far enough that I couldn't swim back to shore, but far enough that very tall stalks of seaweed were growing. Nightmare for me then and for me now. I'd rather have to have those tall stalks of seaweed wrap around my legs and pull me under while I stared down Champ the Sea Monster then read this book again.

"
...more
Bonnie Brody
Several decades ago Peter Herman wrote a book about marriage and called it 'Love is a Canoe'. It is a folksy book about lessons he learned while spending summers with his grandparents while he was growing up. His parents were in a horrible relationship and his summers were the only happy time in his life, especially watching his grandparents interact. The book has been in print for fifty years and many people have used it to save their marriages. It contains advice like 'Good love is a quilt - l ...more
eb
I would love to give this book to a merciless editor. There's so much to love here, from the funny, crackling dialogue to the pleasure of watching a marriage dissolve—but there's also way too much of everything. The story drags, the excerpts from the advice book become monotonous, and it feels like every scene gets repeated twice.
Brianne Sperber
I haven't ever found a book whose dialogue felt so authentic and utterly real to me. This is a moving portrayal of the human condition, love, relationships, and ties in to contemporary society's dependency on self-help books for solace and guidance. Once we see that the creator of a self-help book is himself completely human, it changes our perception of the role of self-help books. In a city where so much is fleeting - emotions, jobs, situations, relationships - Ben Schrank takes us to a place ...more
Diana
A story of a shmaltzy self help book and how it connected several different people. Technically well written, but all the characters are sniveling and unlikable--not in an intentional way. The story can't decide between sentimental and cynical. It only found its middle ground in brief fleeting moments at the end. The characters we were supposed to side with I found totally self important.
Lindsay
I really liked it. This sounds terrible, but I was really impressed by how well the author captured the women characters' voices. Had I not known who wrote it, I would have guessed a woman.

I love the idea of an old-fashioned self-help book causing such a ripple in the publishing industry and to the people in the story.
Kate
With great relief, I'm giving up on this book. It's not terrible, but it's making me miserable, and I'm getting nothing out of it.
Larry Hoffer
If the course of love ran smoothly, we'd have far fewer books, movies, songs, magazines, and plays, don't you think? Ben Schrank's new novel, Love is a Canoe, looks at the chaos of love and how sometimes trying to help it isn't the best thing.

Peter Herman watched his parents' marriage disintegrate and saw how that affected his mother. As a 12-year-old, he spent a summer with his grandparents, a couple truly in love, and he shared the lessons he learned in a self-help book of sorts, Marriage is a
...more
Diane
I have read a few books lately whose topic is that marriage is not what it seems. Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl shows us the remnants of a bad marriage through the unreliable eyes of both spouses. Chris Pavone's The Expats uses the spy game as a metaphor for how little we really know how our own spouse.

Ben Schrank's novel Love Is a Canoe has a different take. Peter Herman wrote a hugely successful self-help book titled Love Is a Canoe, filled with the wisdom his loving grandparents shared with him a
...more
Roxane
This is a good book and I do recommend it. The writing is really strong, the overall premise clever and I really enjoyed the sly publishing insider stuff which is absolutely hilarious if you catch it. There is some really brilliant characterization going on in this book. Schrank absolutely knows the people he means to write about. Toward the end of the book, my attention started to wane but the first half is absolutely 4/5 stars. Unfortunately, by the end of the novel, Schrank looses his grip on ...more
Simone Sinna

This book follows author Peter Herman who published one, one hit wonder a half century earlier. It’s a cutesy book called Marriage is a canoe and talks about a summer he spent with his grandparents and the lessons he learnt from them about love and marriage. Excerpts of this are throughout the book and break the present time story nicely.
The publishers decide to do a new edition and run a competition. The winners, Eli and Emily get to spend the weekend with Peter who is now widowed and ambivale
...more
Tracy
I fell in love with this book immediately. Alternating viewpoints, Schrank tells the story of a young married couple who is matched, via an editor's contest idea, with the author of a classic book on love and marriage. I so wanted this young couple to succeed, and from the snippets the reader is given from that classic book, I felt certain its author was the right person to do it. I enjoyed the writing, the language was sharp and to-the-point. The question of why each of the involved parties wan ...more
Kate
How much did I hate this book? Lots. I'm surprised that I kept listening to it, but it apparently did not annoy me enough to shut it off. I can only surmise the author REALLY hates publishers, agents, publicists etc. I found most of the characters unsympathetic and annoying. The message of the book also seems pretty cynical and negative. It's not exactly a feel good read or even a decent message about marriage. Between the "Peter Pan" in his sixties how-can-you-resist-my-boyish-charm author of c ...more
Shelley
Peter Herman is just a regular joe, who is thrown into fame and fortune after writing a novel that puts him on the map. Peter and his wife live a peaceful and quiet existence in New York until his wife passes away suddenly.
He tries to console himself with another woman, but questions himself about happiness after all that has happened. Then one day out of the blue he receives a call from an editor who wants to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of his book and a contest for married couples. This
...more
Gerrybergstein
This satire of romance, "how to" books and the publishing world is a terrific read. The satire is simultaneously biting and kind. The characters are exquisitely drawn- "types" but not "stereotypes." It is cutting and very smart without being cynical. I wish I could give 4.5 stars. It didn't get 5 because the very last page is just a tad too sweet and pat. But the reading experience is near perfection- especially in the second half of the book. If you can't get into it give it 50 pages. It grows ...more
Manuela Santos
O Amor é uma Canoa de Ben Schrank ASA

Este livro cativou-me pela sua sinopse e pela apelativa capa a qual demonstrava paz, calma e serenidade. Pensei com os meus botões vai ser uma leitura suave.
Li-o muito rápido pois estava a participar numa maratona literária. Não que estivesse a gostar mas porque precisava de páginas de leitura.
Uma escrita simples, fluida, mas muito confusa pois as quebras na história tornava esta aborrecida, e assim um pouco complicada.
Peter Hermann o autor do livro “O casame
...more
Carol Moore
Love is a Canoe *** ½ Ben Schrank
The main character wrote a self-help book 50 years ago; the editor comes up with an idea to revive sales by having a contest. The lucky winner would be a couple whose marriage needs help, and they will spend the weekend with the author. Peter, the author, is sham for the most part. He did idolize his grandparents’ marriage as a 12 year old, and his advice book for married couple was thrown together when he wasn’t even married.
The people in the book are not terri
...more
Lauri Hornik
I loved the unique mix of characters in this novel, which is so fresh and real. And in fact, the novel leaves you with a belief in the real -- honest love, that is -- and the need to keep searching until you find it. Ben Schrank has written a book that is romantic without being schmaltzy - a thinking person's pleasure read.
Gail Cooke

Intelligent, sophisticated and spot-on Love Is A Canoe is not only an irresistible read but a close-up of the publishing world and that universal emotion - love. Ben Schrank has created a delicious dish blending the two while exploring the delusions with which people sometimes live simply to avoid what may be a painful truths.

Peter Herman, an author, found success some decades ago with a self-help book titled Marriage Is A Canoe, a tome filled with aphorisms to help folks navigate the sometime
...more
Alainna
I can't put this book down. In fact, I only put it down just now to make sure other people in the world are also reading it (if they can this early). I keep flagging the trenchant one-liners about how love is indeed like a canoe so that I don't mess things up with my current boyfriend - like, ever.
Carl
I took this book on a trip with me and I regretted that it was the only thing I had to read. The story lines are trite and the writing is stilted and awkward. I fully agree with Goodreads review by hirtho—go look at it.
Tracyj
This book was a disappointment. Dialogue implausible. Characters weakly developed. Reading this book became a bit of a chore.
Jim Leffert
Here’s a small scale, light, contemporary novel about the messiness of human relations. Stella Petrovsky, a young, ambitious editor at a big publishing house, comes up with the idea of boosting sales of the classic, sappy, celebrated self-help book, Love is a Canoe, by holding a contest in which the winning couple gets to spend a day with the legendary author, Peter Herman, by the shores of scenic Lake Okebye in upstate New York. Emily Babson, whose marriage to handsome artisanal bicycle maker E ...more
Dale Harcombe
Love is a canoe
To begin with this book was not floating my boat. I wasn’t adverse to it but neither was I itching to get back to it and pick it up. I actually stopped and read another book in the middle. I admit I like books that totally involve me and demand that I keep reading. This was certainly not the case here. So it took me a while to warm to it. When I did go back to it I found it interesting enough to keep reading.
Peter has written a marriage book when he was young based not so much on
...more
Paul Lunger
Ben Schrank's "Love is a Canoe" is a self help book for love that at times isn't the easiest of books to get through, but if you stick with it you'll be glad you did. The framework for the story is the fictitious book "Marriage is a Canoe" by Peter Herman who writes a tale using a summer spent with his grandparents & the lessons he learned to simplify love that way. So for the 50th anniversary of the events of that book editor Stella Petrovic decides to have a contest whereby he will host a ...more
4ZZZ Book Club
Ben Shrank is a Brooklyn-based author and publisher whose new novel, Love Is a Canoe, is a book about a book. Marriage Is a Canoe was a self-help publishing phenomenon in the 1970s; a collection of marriage advice, full of saccharine anecdotes about the grandparents of the book's author, Peter Herman. Forty years on, Peter is now an old man himself, who just wants to be left alone. Stella, an ambitious young editor, comes up with the idea of a contest for the book's anniversary. One lucky couple ...more
Joey
I think Schrank is a good writer. He's good with the intricacies of dialogue, but he's not good at writing likable characters. Dean Bakopoulos wrote in his NYT review that Emily Babson was the most endearing character in the novel. I found her and almost everyone else more unbearable than endearing. At one point I thought maybe that was Schrank's intention, but after reading what other people thought about this book, I'm not sure that's the case.

The only character I felt any empathy for was Ste
...more
Joanne Guidoccio
A self-help junkie, I have often wondered what it would be like to spend face-to-face time with one of my favorite gurus.

What insights could I gain from Louise Hay, Martha Beck or Wayne Dyer?

In Love is a Canoe, author Ben Schrank plays with this deep-seated desire among fans of self help/motivational literature.

Stella Petrovic, an ambitious young editor at a prestigious New York publishing house, spearheads a contest to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of a best-selling relationship book—Love
...more
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