‘Take my Book and Rip Out All the Pages…’


Today I went to a book reading by Nick Offerman in support of his latest book “Good Clean Fun: Misadventures in Sawdust at Offerman Woodshop.” Megan Fitzpatrick at Popular Woodworking Magazine bought us tickets, and the price of the ticket included a copy of his book.

I’m going to write a book report on “Good Clean Fun” as soon as I finish consuming it. If the readings Offerman gave today are any indication, I will need to invest in some adult diapers for the experience.

I do want to share one beautiful moment during the program.

Right after Offerman took the stage he told the following to the audience (I’m going to paraphrase because I wasn’t taking steno):

Take my book and rip out all the pages. Roll them into joints. Sell the joints. Take the money you earned from selling those joints and buy every book written by Wendell Berry.

For those of you who don’t know Mr. Berry, he is a literary giant who lives in Henry County, Ky. He’s a Faulkner-esque novelist, poet and agricultural activist who works through the Berry Center. (The book reading was also to support the work of the Berry Center.)

I first encountered Berry’s writing when we moved to Lexington, Ky., in 1993. The first real friends we made in town – Chris and Lee Poore – had graduated from Western Kentucky University and were huge fans of Berry’s work. I’ve been a fan ever since.

I do want to chastise Offerman for one aspect of his call to action. His new book is printed on coated paper, which won’t burn very well. And though I don’t smoke (anything), I suspect that the paper coating will also inhibit the flow of gases.

So if you are going to try this stunt, I recommend ripping up one of my black-and-white books, such as “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest,” which is printed on uncoated, acid-free paper. Also, my book has more pages, so you’ll make more money.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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17 Responses to ‘Take my Book and Rip Out All the Pages…’

  1. nrhiller says:

    “Every since”? (Just a helpful heads-up from the editing section, with due acknowledgement of how annoying such “helpful hints” may be. Your enthusiasm for Berry, in particular, is what matters here.) Wendell Berry. Now that is good stuff, and has been, for decades.

  2. I will concur, a coated paper will not burn nearly as well as an uncoated paper. Plus reading a coated paper book is obnoxious.

  3. The first book I had to read in seminary was Jayber Crow, and I heartily third (or fourth) Berry’s work

  4. Craig Aebli says:

    I first saw Mr. Offerman at Fine Woodworkings first live event as he was thwe guest speaker. He seemed to talk more about doing drugs than he did about woodworking

  5. Salko Safic says:

    Hilarious, thanks for the laugh. No really, I don’t who these people are it’s hard to keep up with you yanks but I am trying.

  6. Haven’t read Berry. What are his best novels?

    • Farmer Greg says:

      “Jayber Crow.” “Hannah Coulter” is a close second. For his poetry, have a look at “This Day.” For an introduction to his essays, try “The Art of the Commonplace.” In any case, you’re in for a treat!

  7. joefromoklahoma says:

    Try this for a taste:

    What We Need Is Here

    Geese appear high over us,
    pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
    as in love or sleep, holds
    them to their way, clear
    in the ancient faith: what we need
    is here. And we pray, not
    for new earth or heaven, but to be
    quiet in heart, and in eye,
    clear. What we need is here.

  8. liamrickerby says:

    Can anyone remember off the top of their head the community mentioned in The Anarchist book that experimented in time as currency? I would be very interested in learning more about it. Also if their are any recommended books regarding it?

    Many thanks

  9. Amen to the Wendell Berry endorsement. His essays are both consolation and conscience. His novels make me more human. His poetry wakes up the soul.

  10. Joshua Allen says:

    I saw his book event in Chicago. Good times! Got him to sign my Stanley #5. It promptly rubbed off next time I needed to shoot an end….

  11. richardmertens says:

    What a delight to see Wendell Berry mentioned here. He’s not only a superb writer but one of our greatest champions of small communities and local economies. He’s no anarchist, but his contrariness should serve as an inspiration to us all. Here’s another good poem of his that especially fits the spirit of Lost Art Press:

    Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front
    by Wendell Berry

    Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
    vacation with pay. Want more
    of everything ready-made. Be afraid
    to know your neighbors and to die.
    And you will have a window in your head.
    Not even your future will be a mystery
    any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
    and shut away in a little drawer.
    When they want you to buy something
    they will call you. When they want you
    to die for profit they will let you know.
    So, friends, every day do something
    that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
    Love the world. Work for nothing.
    Take all that you have and be poor.
    Love someone who does not deserve it.
    Denounce the government and embrace
    the flag. Hope to live in that free
    republic for which it stands.
    Give your approval to all you cannot
    understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
    has not encountered he has not destroyed.
    Ask the questions that have no answers.
    Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
    Say that your main crop is the forest
    that you did not plant,
    that you will not live to harvest.
    Say that the leaves are harvested
    when they have rotted into the mold.
    Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
    Put your faith in the two inches of humus
    that will build under the trees
    every thousand years.
    Listen to carrion — put your ear
    close, and hear the faint chattering
    of the songs that are to come.
    Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
    Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
    though you have considered all the facts.
    So long as women do not go cheap
    for power, please women more than men.
    Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
    a woman satisfied to bear a child?
    Will this disturb the sleep
    of a woman near to giving birth?
    Go with your love to the fields.
    Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head
    in her lap. Swear allegiance
    to what is nighest your thoughts.
    As soon as the generals and the politicos
    can predict the motions of your mind,
    lose it. Leave it as a sign
    to mark the false trail, the way
    you didn’t go. Be like the fox
    who makes more tracks than necessary,
    some in the wrong direction.
    Practice resurrection.

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