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One Red Paperclip: Or How an Ordinary Man Achieved His Dream with the Help of a Simple Office Supply

3.47 of 5 stars 3.47  ·  rating details  ·  770 ratings  ·  148 reviews
Kyle MacDonald had a paperclip. One red paperclip, a dream, and a resume to write. And bills to pay. Oh, and a very patient girlfriend who was paying the rent while he was once again “between jobs.” Kyle wanted to be able to provide for himself and his girlfriend, Dominique. He wanted to own his own home. He wanted something bigger than a paperclip. So he put an ad on Crai ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published August 21st 2007 by Three Rivers Press (first published 2007)
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Community Reviews

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Harrison Farrugia
I first heard of this story years ago when reading the 2008 Guinness Book of World Records. A man who started with one red paperclip traded it for bigger and better things until he made his way to a house in Canada. Since I had heard a very brief version of the story, I was interested to learn more about the details. What I really liked about this book is that Kyle is completely honest about what he did, and acknowledges that a lot of it was pure luck. The way he formatted the story, going in or ...more
Tracey  Wilde
Enjoyed it but I could have found out the story from a long article. Very padded out. Very repetitive. He tells you something at least three times in three different ways just to make sure you've got it and that is in the same paragraph. The tips at he nd of the chapters don't mean anything and I didn't even bother reading them after the first couple. I'm sure that if I met Kyle Macdonald he would definitely say 'Dude' !
Canadian slacker decides he'd rather play Bigger and Better (a game where you start with a small object and trade for progressively better things) than look for a job. He starts with a paperclip, and over a dozen or so trades, winds up with a house, and becomes an internet celebrity along the way. I think the synopsis of the story is more interesting than the actual telling, but maybe that's just me. I could have completely done without the bogus, high-school-motivational-speaker-esque affirmati ...more
What a sweet little book! The writing style is a bit clumsy (which at first I attributed to that I started reading it from page 130, finished it and then started again at the beginning, but it's actually just awkward writing) but when I read it as a long, chatty email, I didn't really care. My tiny mind is warmed by how excited people get about each other doing cool things. I'm not going to say the story is "inspiring," but it's very affirming, and reminds you that people actually do like (and W ...more
Ce-i o agrafă? Agrafa e chestia aceea micuță, din metal sau din plastic, pe care o folosim cu toții pentru a ține laolaltă mai multe foi. Asta știm toți. Puțini cunosc faptul că aceste obiecte mărunte au și ele o istorie a lor și un simbolism aparte ce trădează spiritul inventiv al omului pe drumul parcurs în căutarea confortului. O astfel de mărturie o întâlnim în povestea tânărului canadian care, cu o simplă agrafă roșie, a ajuns să-și vadă visul împlinit.

Agrafa roșie este povestea adevărată a
I vaguely remembered Macdonald's story when it became a web trending topic probably about midway through. Like most internet stories, it showed up on all the major sites for a few days, then faded away, such that I'd largely forgotten about it until coming upon this book at a sale. Once I got to reading, I remembered the early steps of the trade, like the paperclip for the fish pen, and the fish pen for the doorknob, but definitely don't recall the celebrity involvement of Alice Cooper and Corbi ...more
Angie Fehl
This was more like a 3.5 star for me (can we get more sites that allow 1/2 stars please?!) I mainly picked this up because I remember seeing a documentary or something about this guy and was curious to know more about the story. It made for a cool project at first and I liked reading about MacDonald's experiences for the most part but after awhile the meet-ups seemed to have a sort of forced profoundness to them. Sometimes life ain't that deep.

It was a fast read... I couldn't quite identify what
Elaine Meszaros
I first became aware of the ORP project when I heard a mention of it on Alice Cooper's radio show (yes he has a show, yes he is quite funny). Unemployed dreamer Kyle MacDonald decides he is tired of sponging off his patient girlfriend Dom. Faced with the choice of finding full-time employment or providing for her in a creative way, MacDonald starts Over the course of a year, MacDonald plays the "Bigger and Better" trading game, eventually ending up with a hou ...more
What a great book! A funny, fast read just perfect for a long flight. There are plenty of lessons to learn, too. After all, it's all about the journey. Next time you're faced with a big decision, ask yourself: What would you do if you weren't afraid?

I'm afraid I may have to read this book again!
Oct 11, 2012 lisa rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to lisa by: Manel
I really loved this book.
It was exactly what I needed at the moment a light novel with some humor that was easy to read.
I read it in no time and would recommend it highly as a light book as it is very interesting.
Spencer Levin
In this book Kyle Macdonald has a dream to trade up from this one red paper clip to a house. He makes various trades throughout Canada and the USA. He meets new life long friends and goes on a wild trip to accomplish his one goal. It took him around a year to complete this goal but with the help of many people such as Television stations and many more close family friends he achieves his goal and makes the impossible, possible. I really enjoyed the book it showed his and the traders hardships bu ...more
This book was fabulous ... even if you pretty much know the outcome before you start, it's all about the journey! It's a fantastic idea, although I'm no where near positive enough to try it for myself (or to think it might work here in South Africa ... or to actually work a 2nd time around!) Check out the One Red Paperclip blog (mentioned regularly in the book) and read up for yourself if you're not gonna get the book. I think it's a fantastic uplifting story based in the here and now of the int ...more
What was the message the writer was trying to communicate?

I believe the message in the book was to never give up. He was under a lot of pressure from friends and family, he wasn’t up to date with rent and did not particular contribute much in life. But he had a flashback to when he was playing a childhood game called bigger and better. It was simple, the aim of the game was to start of small and work your way up until you reached your goal. He failed the first time he attempted to play this gam
The official version of the story goes like this: Inspired by memories of playing "Bigger and Better" as a kid, and by urban legends of other kids trading up to such prizes as cars, Kyle MacDonald embarked on an adventure. Beginning with an ordinary red paperclip which happened to be lying on his desk, Kyle began trading with person after person, slowly acquiring larger and more valuable items until, finally, he reached his end goal: A house.

A moment, and we'll get to the fuller story.

One Red Pa
I read this book about a year ago. It's about a young guy from Canada who started with a red paperclip and traded his way up to a house. Kyle MacDonald was mostly unemployed and living with his girlfriend. He felt guilty about having his girlfriend pay most of the bills, but wasn't sure what he wanted to do with his life. He hatched the idea of trying to play the game "Bigger or Better," where you keep trading items with people, to get a house. He started a website on this topic. Using Craigslis ...more
Kyle MacDonald is an unemployed slacker. He realizes he is sponging off his girlfriend and decides to trade a red paper clip eventually for a house. The idea is to trade bigger and better. His first trade is a paper clip for a fish pen; his last a movie role for a house.

The writing in this book is atrocious with many repetitive sentences seemingly to fill up space. Also Kyle writes what he considers hilarious events which for this reader fell dead. Although the trades were interesting there was
Oh, how I thought I'd love this book. Twenty-something embarks upon a quest to trade for a house. A house! Starting with a paper clip. A paper clip! And the story is very interesting. But oh, the writing! Glib, ironic, oh-so-clever and witty! Way over the top. A lot like this paragraph. I seriously considered throwing in the towel about 1/3 of the way in.

Luckily, as the story improves with each bigger & better trade, so does the writing. To be fair, our author Kyle was, at the time, a mid-tw
That guy who traded up from a red paperclip to a house in Saskatchewan tells his story. Unfortunately, he doesn't tell it particularly well. It's a great story, don't get me wrong, but MacDonald's style...I don't want to call it too "bloggy," as there are a lot of well-written blogs out there. But I could understand someone leveling that criticism, because MacDonald's writing, whether the product of blogging or not, is unfocused, not terribly descriptive—none of the places he visits ever came al ...more
Aug 05, 2012 Justin rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: dull readers
Kyle Macdonald's concept of trading one red paperclip to eventually gain a house is an interesting topic per se yet the presentation was poor. Kyle's odd sense of humor is confusing at times (maybe because he's Canadian and I am American) and takes up unnecessary pages. Keeping up with who's who in Kyle's world is difficult and frustrating considering he does not introduce most of them as anything other than his friend. The motivational advice at the end of every chapter was also a confusing tim ...more
Grant Trevarthen
I looked at the cover of this book, and it had me immediately intrigued.
At first, it looked like the story of the creation of another trade website, but this story had a delightful twist.
Kyle Macdonald, a Vancouverite came up with the idea of starting of with a particular item, in this case a Red Paperclip,and trading it up for something 'bigger and better'.
With the help of his very understanding girlfriend Dominique, a native of French speaking Montreal, they with Kyle's father go on a road
Around 2006, a story made the rounds about a guy who started with a red paperclip and, through a series of internet trades, bartered his way to a house. The story served as a testament to the power of e-commerce, a rapidly developing but not yet fully realized concept back then. Nowadays, online trading is so ubiquitous that there's little reason to read about this guy's story. He seems likeable enough, but he's not much of a writer, and the little "if you dream it, you can do it" motivational n ...more
A bit of fun. One of those internet things that take on a life of their own, fed by obsessive folk, not least the author, who discovered another use for one red paperclip right at the end of the book.

Some philosophical observations at the end of each chapter, most of which I skipt, but overall, it's pretty much a textbook on how to become an internet sensation. Nowadays, he'd use Twitter and Facebook and Youtube and the process would probably take a month instead of a year.

The book was enjoyable
This was a good, light, quick read and a lesson on how resourcefulness can merge with motivation (or procrastination, depending on how you look at it). I felt more like I was reading emails from a funny twenty-or-thirty-something friend than a book. I think it will appeal most to those who either know what Craigslist is, have ever had to live on the cheap, or have ever wanted to skip out on their job to do something more interesting that they don't otherwise have time to do. The author gives you ...more
What a sweet idea and book! I enjoyed MacDonald's project and reading how he moved up from a paperclip to a house. I enjoy his perspective on life--he's very open and accepting. It was comforting to read about something so happy.
It is amazing that this is a true story, I am finding myself reading more and more non-fiction. As they say, truth is stranger than fiction, a man trades up from a paperclip to a house in about a year, an amazing journey.
Steven Williamson
The author tells his interesting story (in first person), but there were some difficult places to read through. The book could've been copy-edited much better and some of the narrative was a bit juvenile at times.
not only was he a Canadian, he was from tha 604!!! ... its hard not to peak forward if you don't know what he trades for what (obviously its paperclip to house, but I mean the in between stuff)... the chapters get longer and longer as the story goes, but that's because of the popularity he's gained and as he gets further into journey he tells the complete story... its written as if he's sitting in front of you telling you what's going on (and just to mention, he's not a writer if u didn't alread ...more
This is the story of a Canadian man who traded up from a paperclip to a house in one year. The idea is very cool, and story is a good one, but it's more of a 'follow-my-blog' type of story than a 'whole book' story - what I mean is, this is the lightest of reads, and even then the book has been padded with not-really-relevant information to make it longer. Plus, although I admired his character, I didn't love MacDonald's writing style, which was just trying way too hard to be funny: "then we fle ...more
I mean, don't read this expecting a literary masterpiece (what was WITH the chapter endings??), but if you're just reading it for a fun and uplifting story, go for it.
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