Rock star, crowdfunding pioneer, and TED speaker Amanda Palmer knows all about asking. Performing as a living statue in a wedding dress, she wordlessly asked thousands of passersby for their dollars. When she became a singer, songwriter, and musician, she was not afraid to ask her audience to support her as she surfed the crowd (and slept on their couches while touring). And when she left her record label to strike out on her own, she asked her fans to support her in making an album, leading to the world’s most successful music Kickstarter.
Even while Amanda is both celebrated and attacked for her fearlessness in asking for help, she finds that there are important things she cannot ask for-as a musician, as a friend, and as a wife. She learns that she isn’t alone in this, that so many people are afraid to ask for help, and it paralyzes their lives and relationships. In this groundbreaking book, she explores these barriers in her own life and in the lives of those around her, and discovers the emotional, philosophical, and practical aspects of THE ART OF ASKING.
Part manifesto, part revelation, this is the story of an artist struggling with the new rules of exchange in the twenty-first century, both on and off the Internet. THE ART OF ASKING will inspire readers to rethink their own ideas about asking, giving, art, and love.
Gah, I’m not even sure how to review this book. My love for it, and for Amanda Palmer, is so strong and so big that it’s really super hard to put into words. I know this book and its message will stick with me through life and help guide me. Yes, it sounds a bit cheesy and over the top, but that’s how much The Art of Asking resonated with me. And for this point in my life it was the exact book I needed.
I listed this as self-help, memoir, but those categories don’t 100% fit the book. It was more like sitting in a pub with Amanda and just having a chat with her about everything: her life, life in general, art, crowdfunding, love. These are all things that she weaves into the general topic of being open and asking for help when you need it. And she talks about art, and how as artists, as creative people, we have to accept that what we do has value, something that I know a lot of creative people struggle with. That whole “How the hell can I ask for money for my picture/jewellery/book/play/song etc.?” thing.
The telling isn’t really linear. She bounces back and force to different points in her life. But instead of feeling disconnected and confusing it works and it was really easy to follow the different threads.
This book was beyond uplifting and enlightening for me. It really felt like being enveloped in a big hug and being told “It’s okay, you matter, your art and your work matter, your LIFE matters.” I had several moments where I was so overcome with emotion that I had to stop listening for a bit.
Since this is an audiobook I have to talk a bit about the narrator. Amanda narrates the book herself, which is PERFECT. Her voice is soothing and her narration really added to the feeling of intimacy. She also interspersed the book with various songs, most by her and The Dresden Dolls. I didn’t really know Amanda’s music that much but in the last few days I have been listening to pretty much nothing else.
I love that she included music in the audiobook, songs that fit in with what she was talking about. I was listening to it in my car when one of the songs came on. “In My Mind” felt like a hit to my core. I actually had to pull the car over once I realized I was crying my eyes out. I’m an emotional person anyway and feel strong connections to certain songs, but holy shit this one. It was like Amanda looked into my head and my heart and wrote the song that I needed to hear right now, at this moment in my life.
And that’s kind of what the whole book felt like. Like it was exactly what I needed right now. But I have a feeling that if I were to go back and listen to it again in a year, five years, ten years, I may get something different from it, but it will still be exactly what I need.
My husband also listened to and loved The Art of Asking. He’s started drawing again and we’re starting up a business to sell the amazing chainmaille jewellery that he makes. All because of Amanda and her words.
If I could buy every single creative person this book, I would.