Recent Book Reviews

Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man's Principles for Delicious LivingPaddle Your Own Canoe: One Man’s Principles for Delicious Living by Nick Offerman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Nick Offerman, the ineffable Ron Swanson offers musings on his life as an actor, and not as the Ron Swanson character. This is important because as this book shows, and Mr. Offerman points out Swanson is a character on a show, and not Nick Offerman himself.

Paddle Your Own Canoe does not offer the wisdom of a woodworker (something that Offerman himself is also renown for) nor that of the swarmy character on Parks and Recreation, but that of an actor and an actor’s life. Not unlike television itself, the actual process and day to day doings of getting acting work is, unfortunately, not as interesting as the people and the characters themselves. With that in mind, I would argue that Nick Offerman is more interesting as a person than he is as an author or actor.

There is no doubt that Offerman is a wordsmith, and there is no doubt that he is talented as an actor and woodworker. However, these talents and the interesting characteristics of Offerman seem to get lost in the detailed presentations of theatrical work, auditions, and daily grinds of trying to make a living as an actor. His use of language is theatre-bound rather than literarily interesting. Furthermore, towards the end of the book, Offerman plugs his wife’s, Megan Mullaly, talents as an actress/singer unabashedly which seems out of place in a book titled “Paddle Your Own Canoe”.

That being said, the book does offer some splashes of laugh out loud humor if one likes the dry and witty and is an easy read offering insight into the day-to-day doings of Nick Offerman. If you are looking to have more Ron Swanson in your life, you might do better just watching the show. If you are interested in the acting and theatre business and Nick Offerman’s take on those endeavors, then this book does offer insight into those forays.

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Extra Nutty! Even More Letters from a Nut!Extra Nutty! Even More Letters from a Nut! by Ted L. Nancy

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

As the title makes explicit: this book is a collection of letters. The format of the book divides the letters into subject-matter, and the letters are presented from written to reply. The idea of these books (there are more) is interesting: write letters complaining or pointing out non-existent issues and see what happens; there is a bit of chance, and it is this chance that makes the book interesting.

However, Barry Marder (Ted. L. Nancy) seems to lack some imagination. The letters are short as are most of the replies, and the issues range from interesting to lack-luster. The book reads like a reality show about nothing (Seinfeld) on paper, but unlike Mr. Seinfeld, Marder did not seem to pull off the stunt.

There are a few moments of interesting comedy in a few of the letters, but they seem to come at the cost of frustration and even anger of those being abused; Marder seems to find joy in causing others frustration. Perhaps if this is your cup of tea, this collection will be up your alley. However, I think that there is enough frustration and irritation in the world, and this book does nothing but fuel the fire.

Low-brough humor done at the expense of others.

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In Fifty Years We'll All Be Chicks . . . And Other Complaints from an Angry Middle-Aged White GuyIn Fifty Years We’ll All Be Chicks . . . And Other Complaints from an Angry Middle-Aged White Guy by Adam Carolla

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Adam Carolla is not an author, he is not a writer, and nor is he very funny. Taking a chance, and needing something other than my usual fare of reading, I picked this book up on a whim; the title amused and intrigued me. However, Carolla’s style became apparent early on: unplanned with no thread of inference or story line and with no apparent roadmap to follow. Carolla’s vitriol seems canned and preplanned. This takes the possible humor (which I was looking for) away from the book.

The chapters seem improvised, but shoddily thrown together. The “humor” soon becomes boorish and boring as does the endless tirades about (fill in the blank). Perhaps Carolla’s humor is more attuned to the comic’s stage or perhaps to the television, but one thing this reader found is that Carolla seems to have missed a chance to make a valid point through humor, not because of the potential, but because of a seeming lack of talent for writing a substantial book.

There is plenty of fodder given the subject matter for both making a valid point and for presenting a humor-filled oddessey, but instead Carolla fills the pages with personal anecdotes and peeves, his un-amusing life story, and Howard Stern-like rants and raves about nothing.

The use of language is limited, the subject-matter splattered across the pages with no apparent purpose, and the humor comes in very small doses, and rarely at that. Perhaps this was Carolla’s intent? However, the possibility of recognizing the intent is difficult given the style of writing presented.

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Horsemen of the Trumpocalypse: The Dirty Dealers and Defenders of the Indefensible Who Are Horsemen of the Trumpocalypse: The Dirty Dealers and Defenders of the Indefensible Who Are “Making America Great Again” by John Nichols

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

For those who want to get a more precise picture of the people that are currently holding positions of power in the USA, this is a good start. Each chapter represents a particular person that is holding, or has held office under Donald Trump. The book is straight forward and to the point, offering historical and documented presentations of each person’s list of accomplishments, and stated purposes concerning the direction that they believe this country should go.

As stated, the book is straightforward and to the point, but it is not an easy read if you accept the reality of what Trump actually stands for (defined by his statements and his actions as well as the people he adds to his cabinet). Like so many of these sorts of books one’s political leaning will bias reviews of the book. However, Nichols seems to try to avert this inevitable problem by presenting factual aspects of each person’s life. However, make no mistake about it, Nichols is not impressed.

This is a necessary read for anyone wanting to get some insight into where we are, politically speaking, as a nation. This is not an easy picture to look at, but someone has to do it, and Nichols has done a respectable job.

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