Sometimes a book sneaks up on you—one that wasn’t on your radar, but sprinkles a thousand juicy gumdrops of pure delight into your unsuspecting consciousness, renewing your faith in humanity. This is how I felt about The Art of Asking or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help by Amanda Palmer. Yes, Amanda Palmer of The Dresden Dolls…Amanda Palmer of the million dollar Kickstarter…Amanda Palmer of the notorious eyebrows…Amanda Palmer whom I’d like to spoon with.
I was never an Amanda Palmer fan. I thought her band, The Dresden Dolls, was cool, but I never bought an album. I was curious about those eyebrows and thought she was super rad to snag Neil Gaiman, but that’s about it. Then I listened to an interview with her on Tim Ferriss’ podcast, and as soon as she started talking, I was in love. I felt giddy with joie de vivre. She was so wonderfully open and honest and filled with joy. She made me want to play the ukulele! She made me want to make art! She made me want to spread her message across the land!
I immediately watched her TED Talk and then downloaded The Art of Asking on Audible. I highly recommend the unabridged audio version of the book. It is read by Amanda and also includes music—a delightful surprise, which sets the tone and makes the experience even more personal. Her reading style is relaxed and conversational. I didn’t feel like I was listening to a book at all. I felt that someone was talking to me, entertaining me, confessing to me.
Don’t be fooled by the title, this is not your typical self-help book. It’s mainly a memoir filled with outrageous and delicious stories of Amanda’s life. She recounts the early days when she performed as a living statue, known as “The Eight Foot Bride.” She talks about The Dresden Dolls and how she amassed an armada of loyal fans by creating a symbiotic relationship of trust and reciprocation. She tells the sweet story of how she met the author Neil Gaiman and, yes, she explains the eyebrows.
She also gets into the whole Kickstarter controversy (Amanda was the first artist who crowd funded a million dollar campaign and a lot of critics accused her of ripping off her fans). She is not afraid to ask for money for her art, but in return she will come to your house, eat food with your aunt Fran, hang out with your friends, and play a show in your backyard. It’s a pretty refreshing concept. The Art of Asking is a simple formula: Give and the world will give back. Hug and the world will hug back. Love and the world….well, you get the picture.
In a world that so often feels disconnected, selfish and unfriendly, it’s reassuring to know Amanda’s out there, reminding us of the importance of creative expression and human connection. I would say yes to anything she asked.
Stuff Worthy Of Our Notice™ in this post:
The Art of Asking
The Art of Asking is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The audio version can be downloaded from Audible. For book-related extras, including a playlist of songs from the book, visit Amanda Palmer’s website.
Note from Kirsten: Kirsti was so moved by this book that she bought me the Audible download and included a note saying that she really wanted me to listen, but I didn’t have to and shouldn’t feel pressured or obligated. Despite these assurances, I knew she was anxiously waiting to find out if I would listen and enjoy it. When I finally told her that I was loving the audiobook, she said, “Ohhhhh, so glad you are listening! I wasn’t going to ask!” We are both now fully aboard the Amandatrak train and excited to see where it will take us next.
Like Kirsti, I believe this book is best enjoyed on audio due to Amanda’s engaging narration and the inclusion of music, which sets the stage for key moments in her story. On a scale of yawn to swoon, this audiobook gets five out of five smelling salts. Listen to it!!