The Art of Asking; or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help
Amanda Palmer, 2014
Amanda Palmer – musician and blogger – has written a book on the subject of her TED talk, about how it’s okay to ask for help. Half memoir, half self-help book, The Art of Asking covers topics ranging from the controversies over crowdfunding, trust, love, and what it’s like to be a human statue.
I’ve been a fan of Amanda Palmer since the first Dresden Dolls album. Quirky, loud, seemingly unafraid of anything, she seemed like one of the most interesting people I had ever encountered. I’ve followed her music up to this point, but have never really looked very deeply into her personal life. I knew she was big on Twitter, but not being on Twitter myself, I didn’t follow her. (I didn’t even know until about a year ago that she was married to my favorite author, Neil Gaiman!). But I am a fan, so when I saw that she had written a book, I knew that I would read it, no matter what the subject matter.
To my surprise and absolute joy, this book was amazing. It was a memoir, but it was also so much more. On the memoir subject, I found it fascinating to hear about her job as a living statue in Harvard Square. While I wasn’t in the Boston area during her time there, I have often seen the living statues working in Boston and hearing what that’s like from her perspective was fascinating to me. I’ll never look at a living statue the same way again, and I can pretty much guarantee you that the next time I see one, I’ll give him or her a dollar.
The biggest thing I got out of this book, however, was on the subject of trust and asking for help. When I watched Amanda up on stage, or saw nude pictures of her on her website, I always imagined that she was fearless. And I know some critics look at her Kickstarter campaign and think that she has no trouble asking for things. But it amazed me to read about how she has some of the same fears that I do when it comes to asking for help. She just trusts her friends and her fans to look out for her. Because of this, I found her memoir to be enlightening for me. I’ve always been someone who has a hard time asking for help from people I don’t know (or don’t know well), but I’m now determined to not be so scared of it. Because most people are willing to help people who really need the help. And being afraid how others will view you if you ask isn’t a good reason for not asking.
After finishing this book, I’m no longer just a fan of Amanda. I still watch her on stage and am fascinated by her talent and attitude. But now I’ll also look at her with admiration – both for what she’s gone through and endured, and for what she’s done for others.
I highly recommend this book. And not only for fans of Amanda’s music. For anyone who has trouble asking for help when they need it.
Much thanks to Amanda and the publisher for an advanced copy through NetGalley.