Book Review: Amanda Palmer's The Art of Asking

9:00 am


It's taken me a long time to put this book review up because I've only just been able to put into words quite how I feel about this book. I finished reading it towards the end of April and now we're approaching the end of June.

I feel like Amanda Palmer has always been a part of my life. I remember being introduced to The Dresden Dolls when I was in school, rediscovering her when she married my favourite fantasy writer (Neil Gaiman), and she's been pretty much permanently on my radar ever since, especially through Twitter. She's a social media and internet addict, always in contact with her fans, so I'd recommend you go and follow her on as many things as possible.

The Art of Asking is part-autobiography, part-self-help book, a combination that seems to be flourishing in the book market at the moment with another example being Amy Poehler's Yes Please. I haven't read Poehler's autobiography, but from reading Palmer's book, I can see how the combination can be inspiring, heart-breaking, and hilarious.

Amanda takes us through her life starting from her experience as a street performer, namely a human statue dressed as a bride. She brings all of her ideas and advice in this book back to her street performance and how that job requires you to be perpetually asking people for help or acceptance. She carries on with her life, talking about recording her music either with The Dresden Dolls or solo, her infamous Kickstarter campaign for her latest album, her tours, her marriage to Neil, illness, love, loss, friendship, journeys across the world, meeting new people, meeting fans, changing lives, and having her own life changed. The stories she tells are incredibly varied and at times massively shocking. I found myself amazing that somebody, and almost definitely more than just her, lives a life like this, where wonderful, heartfelt, and fairytale (good and bad) things happen to her on a regular basis. 

The self-help part of this book focuses on 'the art of asking', or removing the fear of asking for help or asking for things from your life. Aligned with her personal stories where asking for things has helped her hugely towards her happiness or her goals, I personally find this a very good concept and her advice has been stuck in my head ever since.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to read inspiring, almost fairytale-like, stories of a life that has gone up and down, down again, and back up, continually. Even though I was a fan of Palmer before reading, I don't think you have to have that mindset before reading. It's open for anybody to explore, with Palmer's warmth inviting you in for a hug, or a biscuit, or a song written about you. I'm certainly going to be rereading this whenever I feel I need to because the entire experience felt like sitting down for a cup of coffee with a best friend on a bad day.

M x

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