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

Paddle Your Own Canoe by Nick Offerman
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bookshelves: for-laughter, nonfictions

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 pomposity. i can't even get through goodreads reviews that read like this:

As is only proper, my years in college saw me undergo a drastic personal transformation, as well as participate in a larger group consummation with those several champions who were to form the Defiant Theatre. Our sage Robin McFarquhar has since asserted that, in the twenty years since our matriculation, he has never seen another band of students with such an unquenchable work ethic, willing to stay up all night regularly to fulfill our artistic missions of mischief and beauty. I am very grateful to hear that I, once again, was in the right place and time to be valued by these peers, despite my relative inexperience onstage. Joe Foust and Christopher Johnson, destined to become Defiant's first artistic director, spearheaded production teams to create pageants of theater both challenging and hilarious.

A ragtag team of puckish miscreants coalesced, membership in which required only an adherence to our collective taste and the willingness to work one's fingers to the bone…We capering fools were drawn inexorably together to weave shows of intelligence and silliness in a way that thrilled us and fed us completely. Joe's was my favorite brain, wickedly clever and funny for days. A naturally magnanimous leader, he had such a great sensibility for utilizing old-school theatrical conventions in a completely fresh way to incite mirth in any audience. He also wielded a fresh perspective that made him a wonderful and sensitive leader, which I have since learned is exactly the type of person in whose service i thrive.


and while some might say it is not valid to dislike a book because it is turgid or overwritten (which of course it is - "overwritten" is generally employed as a pejorative), i am also disliking it because it is not very funny. and as subjective as humor is, a book in the humor section should make me at least want to laugh.

and it did not.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
December 8, 2013 – Shelved
December 8, 2013 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-31 of 31 (31 new)

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message 1: by Jason (new)

Jason I felt this way about Mindy Kaling's book, too. I like her fine on The Office and think she's reasonably funny but the humor seemed very...forced...in her book. Which leads it to be not funny.


karen yeah! and then people like russell brand who aren't funny manage to write a book that is also not funny. doesn't seem fair.


message 3: by Greg (new)

Greg Jason wrote: "I felt this way about Mindy Kaling's book, too. I like her fine on The Office and think she's reasonably funny but the humor seemed very...forced...in her book. Which leads it to be not funny."

I'm reading the short story collection by the guy who played Ryan on The Office and it's actually quite funny.

Isn't it funny how some books are funny and some aren't?


message 4: by Jason (new)

Jason I don't know what the magic formula is but it's best when the author doesn't seem as though he/she is tryingto be funny. Like, it just comes naturally or something.

Although I suppose that could have more to do with the art of making something appear effortless and less to do with actual humor, I don't know.


Melki Ah, what a shame. Swanson is my burning god of love. Guess I'll just stick to ogling Google images.


karen yeah, ogle that google, girrrrl


message 7: by Paquita Maria (new)

Paquita Maria Sanchez Greg wrote: "I'm reading the short story collection by the guy who played Ryan on The Office and it's actually quite funny."

Dude, B.J. Novak is hilarious. He wrote a bunch of the very bestest ever episodes of The Office.


message 8: by Jason (new)

Jason Koivu I haven't read this yet, but I did just hear Offerman on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me and he kind of came off as a Ron Swanson-lite. If this book is written in a way that sounds like Ron, it may be because Offerman is that character to an extent, so he talks/writes like that. But he doesn't seem half as interesting in real life though, which would maybe explain why this isn't so good. Again, I haven't read the book, so there's a good chance I'm talking through my butt.


karen no, it's definitely what you are saying. whether the character absorbed the man or the man the character, who knows, but reading that tone for too long loses its novelty and becomes irritating.


message 10: by Erica (new)

Erica To be fair, Ron Swanson does not dislike libraries because they are libraries. He probably dislikes them because they are government entities, but mostly, it's Tammy's fault.

I don't think I've read any of the TV-Show-Characters-Write-A-Book books, let alone Actor-Who-Portrays-Beloved-TV-Show-Character-Writes-A-Book-Because-It-Will-Sell-Based-On-Belovedness-Of-Character-Even-If-The-Actual-Book-Is-Crap, that turned out well.
It's just too hard to go from one medium to the other, perhaps. It's not like these people are writers. They're actors or maybe even just the characters portrayed by actors and not exactly triple-threats, apparently. Not even double threats.

Unrelated but still in the ballpark: The thing I love most about Ron Swanson are his evil dimples, the ones that show up only when he's doing/thinking something evil.


Brandon karen wrote: "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 had the audiobook of this and while it was great at first hearing him read it aloud, it seemed to go on forever and I eventually lost interest.


message 12: by L. (new) - rated it 5 stars

L. Lawson I can't stop laughing while reading this book. Each their own, though.


karen exactly


Michaelangelo Ngo Try the audio book... it'll change your mind.


karen that's a really good point - i'm sure that would be a whole different experience. i wish i could do audio books - my mind tends to wander when i am listening in a way it doesn't when i read, oddly. but thank you for your comment - i hadn't even considered that


Mercedes Quinn Men are very welcome and new at times like this.


karen mercedes Quinn wrote: "Men are very welcome and new at times like this."

puzzling, indeed.


message 18: by Jason (new)

Jason hhahah I love this new & improved Goodreasd.


message 19: by Greg (new)

Greg We should make poetry out of bizarre comments made by new users.


message 20: by Jason (new)

Jason BUT WHO WILL BE YOUR LITERARY AGENT GREGGLY


message 21: by Greg (new)

Greg Her Literary Agent is a few blocks from where I work, I'll just bug the shit out of them everyday until they will make me a star, too.


message 22: by Jason (new)

Jason Fuck that, man. You're already a star.




message 23: by Greg (new)

Greg Awwww, thanks!


Steven The stand-up special (American Ham) is a much better, and much shorter version of this book.


Bryan Gruneberg I can totally see how reading this would be a bit tedious. I listened to the audio book narrated by Offerman and it's quite fun.


karen i know - i am kicking myself


Christian As a side note, listen to the audiobook. It's read by Offerman and is fantastic.


karen that seems to be the consensus! i'll try, although i have had a lousy track record with audio books. my mind, she wanders...


message 29: by Laura (new)

Laura Gil Thank you Karen, you have exactly captured my feelings after setting this book down. It wasn't what I hoped it would be and couldn't put my finger on why, but you have captured it. I think I'll just watch his stand-up instead.


Keith Long I'm listening to the audiobook, read by the author. I highly recommend it.


karen everyone loves the audio! i was a fool to read this with my eyes! a FOOL!


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