Saturday, April 7, 2018

The Art of Asking

The Art of Asking
Amanda Palmer

This may be the most important book I've read all year, if ever. I think it's also the only book I've  read that I whole-heartedly recommend to everyone I know and will continue to recommend to every person I meet. The Art of Asking is a nonfiction memoir type book written by the amazing Amanda Palmer. I picked it up because one of my friends had recommended it and because I had picked up some tickets to see Amanda in Brighton in May (so excited for this, by the way). My audible credit came right on time and, honestly, I recommend listening to the book (at least the first time you read it; definitely a book worth reading more than once) because she narrates it herself and it drives home a lot of the points in really emotional ways. I can already tell this is going to be less of a review and more of a post where I try to convince you to read this book. Let's get started:

I first became aware of Amanda Palmer because of Neil Gaiman, her husband. I've been a Gaiman fan for just about four years now, and after I devoured American Gods I fell headfirst down the hole that is his amazing collection of everything he does. You've probably noticed. But you can't follow Neil on social media and not hear about his wife because they interact and talk about each other quite frequently. Honestly, they're #couplegoals and I think that even more after listening to this book. But like I said, this was how I first became aware of Amanda and this is what drew me towards her social media presence. I quickly followed her on all platforms and then kinda forgot about her unless she popped up.

I've listened to some of her music on and off, but never really dedicated myself until recently. I made a new friend here in London and she waxed on and on about how amazing Amanda Fucking Palmer is and I agreed to go to the concert at Brighton with her. But I didn't really know that much about Amanda and I didn't know where to start. My friend, being amazing, had been talking up this book quite a bit as well and so I decided this would be my leaping off point. Most of my listening was done on the Tube and walking around the city, but the last fourth or so I think I just laid in bed and watched the clouds while I listened. It's that good.

Twenty minutes into the book and I was so emotionally struck that I was actually crying. There's a major theme in this book-- asking for help, and, specifically, Amanda having a hard time asking for help in the form of money from her husband-- that has struck such a chord with me. I'm not married but I do have people close to me that, if I asked, would lend a hand. But like many people I have such a hard time asking. Yet the worry at not asking leads to even more stress. Let me just say: this book convinced me to ask for help... and it wasn't bad. I got help. Things are bright again.

There's also just a lot in this book about street performing and being a creative in general and that spoke to me. I've never lived in a city until recently so street performers and access to so much energy and art all around me is rather new. I've looked at these people-- I've never seen these people before. It's definitely changed my perspective a bit on certain things and 100% I can say it changed my perspective for the better.
TL;DR If you only read one book in your life I recommend this one. In the least add it to your TBR immediately and make it a priority. You won't regret this.

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.
Amanda Palmer is a performer, director, composer and musician who is best known for her role as front woman and keyboardist for internationally acclaimed punk cabaret band The Dresden Dolls. In 2008, Amanda released Who Killed Amanda Palmer, her debut solo album which was produced by Ben Folds. Current projects include a fine art photography book on which she is collaborating with esteemed author Neil Gaiman and a WKAP companion songbook, as well as a WKAP DVD (out 6/16/09). Amanda recently wrapped up a year-long tour that took her through sold out performances in Europe, the US, Australia, & New Zealand and most recently her epic set at Coachella. Live highlights of the last year include two epic performances with the Boston Pops at Symphony Hall, residency at the Famous Spiegeltent at Edinburgh, and a critically acclaimed performance at the 2009 Coachella Valley Arts and Music Festival.

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