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Offerman's first book looks to his roots

Published: Monday, Sept. 16, 2013 10:25 p.m. CDT

MINOOKA — While Minooka native Nick Offerman has made a name for himself in the world of comedy, his hometown was one place he wasn’t going to skip during his book signing tour.

“It just made sense, when this came to pass, a stop would have to be in Minooka,” said Offerman, who is know for his role as Ron Swanson on NBC's "Parks and Recreation" and for his "American Ham" comedy tour).

Offerman will be at Minooka Elementary School on Coady Drive at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24, reading selections from his book “Paddle Your Own Canoe,” and signing copies of the book for fans.

Offerman’s first book starts out about his life growing up among the corn and soybean fields of Minooka.

It chronicles his life in a small, rural town to where he is now — making people laugh and madly in love with actor Megan Mullally, who is best known for her role on the TV show "Will and Grace".

In a family that loved to read, Offerman credits his Aunt Michelle “Micki” (Roberts) Houchens with getting him interested in fiction.

“My Aunt Micki was very influential, always the librarian,” he said. “She was the first to give me really good fantasy fiction. I owe her a great debt of gratitude.”

Houchens has been the local historian at Three Rivers Public Library for 21 years. While her library career started after Offerman was on his own, she’s always had a penchant for reading.

“I have been a book nut my whole life,” Houchens said. “I always got all these kids to read.”

“All these kids” includes Houchens’ nieces and nephews, including Three Rivers Public Library Assistant

Director Laurie Offerman, who is Nick’s sister, and their other siblings, Matt and Carrie Offerman.

“Mom would always yell at me for having my nose in a book,” said Laurie.

Laurie’s love of literature was much different than her brother Nick’s. While he devoured fantasy like Lord of the Rings and Chronicles of Nardia, that was the last thing Laurie was interested in.

“He was a typical little nerd,” Laurie said. “I wouldn’t read what he liked. I was very specific in my tastes.”

Years later, Laurie finds it ironic that Nick became the first published author in the family.

“I am so proud of him, I am super excited,” she said. “He’s very funny, obviously. He’s my brother, and I find it funny people want life advice from him.”

Houchens is proud of her nephew and pleased with the book.

“I am just thrilled he wrote this book,” she said. “He said some really nice things about the family and brought up memories I had forgotten about.”

Due to the overwhelming popularity of the signing event, a ticket system has been devised. With an advance order of Offerman’s book through Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville, a ticket will be issued for entry and to have the copy signed.

Those who want to purchase a book at the event or just come to hear Offerman read can contact the Minooka branch of Three Rivers Public Library in advance to reserve a ticket. Contact Laurie Offerman at (815) 467-1600, ext. 5, or send an email to laureno@trpld.org.

Nick Offerman said he is so much a product of the town he grew up in and his family.

“If I accomplished anything good, it’s largely because I come from such good people in a good community,” he said. “I certainly never dreamed I would sit in Minooka and read from a book I have written.”

He is also sure he’ll get an opportunity to see some of his friends from his younger days in Minooka at the event.

“I just ask my old, late night reconnaissance buddies to let me finish my performance in the auditorium before they cause the doo to hit,” he said.

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