Book #9: Paddle Your Own Canoe, by Nick Offerman

Nine books in a month seems like a pretty good accomplishment to me.

I started reading Paddle Your Own Canoe at the same time as Robert Penn Warren’s Brother to Dragons because Warren’s book wasn’t one that was easy to stop and start, so I didn’t really expect to finish it so quickly. Then I went on to read On Chesil Beach as well, so Offerman’s book was spending some time unopened.

Unfortunately, this was partially on purpose. I had a hard time enjoying reading Paddle Your Own Canoe for very long periods of time; I often felt bored or a bit annoyed by the book and had to move on.

By the end of the book, I think I generally enjoyed it more than I didn’t, but here’s a quick breakdown of what I think worked and where I felt the book fell short.

Good things:

  • Offerman is a good writer and clearly an informed reader. I appreciated his discussion of theatre history and writers because it helped me realize that he’s a very intellectual person.
  • He clearly loves his wife. It takes a long time to get to any real chapters about Megan Mullally, but Offerman is obviously in awe of her, and it’s very sweet.
  • His growing up is quite interesting, and I appreciate that Offerman still has a lot of the sentiment of a farm boy from Illinois.
  • There were several mentions of Kentucky, so that made me feel special.
  • He loves Friday Night Lights! But really, who wouldn’t?
  • Of course, I loved all mention of anything Parks and Rec-related. I wish there had been more of it.

Not-so-good things:

  • I felt like Offerman hit a lot of the same notes over and over again, but I kind of think this is more his editor’s fault than his own. When the same anecdotes and language is used repetitively, someone should fix it.
  • On that same note, there was a LOT of time in the first half of the book devoted to Offerman’s denunciation of religion. I’m not very easily offended, but I felt like the repeated annoyances with religion were unnecessary (and again, this could have been handled better with a more scrutinizing editor). Offerman’s continuous preaching that religious people are too closed-minded and ignorant sounded a bit hypocritical, if you ask me. Thankfully, he backed off this topic later in the book.
  • Generally, though he is a good writer, some of his language felt superfluous to me. He’s got a great vocabulary, but I’d much rather read a straight-forward, simple sentence than one that is bogged down with elevated language. It just felt like overkill sometimes.

So overall, a fairly enjoyable experience, but not exactly the experience I was expecting. I’m now down to my final days of freedom before school recommences, so I’m doing my best to enjoy these last moments of guilt-free entertainment while I can.

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