REVIEW: The Art of Asking

BOOK: The Art of Askingtumblr_np4uesdr3d1r06e19o1_400
AUTHOR: Amanda Palmer
PAGES: 339
PUBLISHER: Grand Central Publishing
MY RATING: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★  (5/5)

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.

So over the Christmas break I had some time off work and went to visit my family for the holidays. I had just picked up Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking and started my read through during my road trip. By the time I got home I had finished the book, I was touched and feeling all the feels.

Just before Christmas I had been hit with an outstanding bill of nearly $1000 that I had no idea I owed, and had not been informed of as I had moved. Collections had tracked me down and basically told me I had 30 days to pay off the balance or this was going to hit my credit hard. Christmas was in less than a week and there was no way I was gonna pull this money out of my ass and pay it off. I had mentioned the problem to a friend that night out of frustration, and tried to leave it at that. I had solemnly accepted my credit score was going to take a hit, I’d just have to work to make it better.

If I hadn’t just read Amanda Palmer’s book, I definitely would have been too proud to accept the gift I was offered when I came back from the holidays. An electronic transfer to my bank account in the amount I owed, from the friend I had vented to two weeks earlier. I confronted her. She told me to calm down. “I have the means to borrow you the money, you can pay me back as you can. I know you’re good for it. You don’t need the stress of this problem.”

Bless her heart.

I was touched by this exchange. I mentioned the book and the story of what had happened in an email I wrote recently to my grandmother. We’ve always been very close. I explained about “accepting the flower” and how I wouldn’t have been able to accept the gift if I hadn’t read the book a week before. I am proud to the point that I’m stubborn.

It is now three days before my birthday, and this evening I received a birthday card from my grandmother. Inside, a cheque to buy myself something nice, but also something better. A 5 page letter about how hearing about my story of the book made her feel close to me and how she wished we could’ve been together for this exchange. She went on to tell me about times in her life where she had declined the flower when it was offered, and how there were times she regretted it. She told me of a friend in her small town community who had passed away recently, and how everything was effecting his young wife. His wife was having a hard time accepting all the generosity of their community. She told his wife of my story, of her stories, she explained about “accepting the flower”. His wife smiled and told her what a beautiful thing it was, and how she would like to read this book.

My grandmother purchased two copies of the book online that evening.

I’m feeling really inspired by peoples’ generosity and love for each other right now. I’m so happy that I picked up this book.

Asking for help and accepting people’s gifts can be incredibly difficult. There’s a vulnerability to it, the exposing of yourself to someone else. But there are good people out there, and there is so much kindness that we can find within ourselves.

Take the flower.

Pass it on when you can.


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