Newspaper article International New York Times

A Conversation with Nick Offerman

Newspaper article International New York Times

A Conversation with Nick Offerman

Article excerpt

Nick Offerman

The actor, woodworker, musician and author, most recently, of "Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom With America's Gutsiest Troublemakers" reads for solace during air turbulence.

Q. What books are on your night stand?

Always a mixed bag, depending upon which vocational hat is on my head. I am in the throes of writing a book about woodworking, so I'm leaning to nonfiction. "An Eames Primer," by Eames Demetrios -- an excellent portrait of the author's prolific artist/designer/ freethinker grandparents, Charles and Ray Eames; "Scratching the Woodchuck," by David Kline -- an Ohio farmer's delightful intimacy with the flora and fauna of his 120 acres; "The Nature and Art of Workmanship," by David Pye, an indispensable treatise on the importance of skill and workmanship in the manufacture of objects in this modern era of consumerism; "The Anarchist's Tool Chest," by Christopher Schwarz, an inspiring call to arms for the woodworker -- encouraging the proper selection and mentality in the healthy use of vintage hand tools; and also rereading Edward Abbey's "The Monkey Wrench Gang" in my constant search for just the right book to adapt that has a healthy agenda of environmentalism contained within a ripping good story.

Q. What's the one book right now you'd like to recommend to everyone?

A.Shucks. If I can only pick one, then it's "Our Only World," Wendell Berry's most recent collection of essays. At 81, Mr. Berry brings his venerable decades of eloquent thought and careful observation to the common-sense convictions presented in this book. If there is any path to treating our fellow humans, not to mention the rest of the planet, with decency, I think the trail signs are to be found within.

Q. Which writers -- novelists, playwrights, critics, journalists, poets -- working today do you admire most?

There resides a great passion for reading in our house, and my wife, Megan, consumes an astonishing amount of fiction, with a smattering of non, so she rather curates contemporary fiction for me. Given my disparate professional pursuits, I don't get to read nearly as much as I would prefer. That said, I am consistently thrilled by George Saunders, Sarah Vowell, Wendell Berry, Bill Bryson, Elizabeth Gilbert, Michael Pollan, Donna Tartt, Martin Amis; and we recently really enjoyed the audiobooks "Big Little Lies," by Liane Moriarty; "Guns, Germs and Steel," by Jared Diamond; and "The Girl on the Train," by Paula Hawkins. …

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