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Audiobook Review / The Art of Asking; or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help

I listened to the audiobook version of The Art of Asking; or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help and so I think my enjoyment would have been lower if it was the paperback. Likely because hearing the actual author reading out their own story is much more personal than me reading their words in my head.

I love Amanda Palmer’s music, she’s a riot live, and her passion and enthusiasm are clear. I’ve met her a couple of times, and she was pleasant and accommodating enough to satisfy my lack of demand (a hug, a signed book, pretty much it).

Whatever you think of her ways of funding her work doesn’t take away the fact her story is pretty fascinating – it’s so far from my experience growing up it has to be. There are great moments, sweet moments, and heartbreaking moments, and she brings it across in a deeply honest way which is commendable.

It’s also written in the correct autobiographical way, in the first-person (I state it because many opinion/life story pieces aren’t, and should be – opinions should be owned not distanced), and so moments when she gives her opinion about how others react to helping (or not helping) her that seem ‘weird’ or dismissive (to her), are actually more cultural differences (usually parts talking about British reactions compared to American ones) and so the perspective is a little stunted. Frankly it’s a tad rude, considering she doesn’t actually look into her own reactions and say, well, maybe it’s me and not them. What’s going on with them that’s makes them react that way. But like I said, it’s a personal perspective, and as such should not be taken as a self-help book or a way to make you feel like you’re not living your life to the full because it’s not a carbon copy of AFPs. If it does help you achieve a higher perspective, or more self-respect, great! But don’t feel inadequate if it doesn’t; you might just be an introvert instead.

I don’t gravitate towards autobiographies because they don’t interest me so much, but Amanda Palmer varies quite a bit from your average ‘celebrity’ (if you can call her that) in ways that are obvious. The other reason is because they are usually littered with those statements which are meant to be profound, life-affirming realisations and severely pushed as such, which takes away their power. Unfortunately this book has them in droves. I didn’t find it so irritating when listening to the words being said (though a bit cringeworthy), but I think I might have rolled my eyes more if I’d had to process it on paper with my own voice in my head, and probably tucked it away under a superior text for a while, or forever.

Overall it The Art of Asking; or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help is a good listen. I doubt I’ll ever listen again or read it, I didn’t get that much personally from it, but it does give a feel-good factor that people genuinely are willing to help when you make the effort and build up a relationship with them – this is true for most things in life. Many people want to feel part of something big, and help with something creative, even if it’s only a few coins they can give, and it shows it is possible to create a community willing to support it, which is always a good thing.


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