Book Review: Up Late with The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

Up Late with The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

I’d been meaning to read Amanda Palmer’s book The Art of Asking for a while, since seeing her TED talk by the same name. I’d heard of her because of the Dresden Dolls, but I didn’t realize she’d made her living as a statue for a while in Boston until after watching the TED talk.  This year I discovered Brene Brown’s TED talk about vulnerability thanks to an intern who used it for The Kite Runner, and I found Amanda Palmer’s book essentially the living equivalent of what it means to be vulnerable.

Palmer talks about what it means to be an artist and she states it eloquently. It is about: “Collecting the dots. Then connecting them. And then sharing the connections with those around you. This is how a creative human works. Collecting, connecting, sharing.” Much of the book explores human connectivity and how we can connect with them once we accept ourselves and then ask for what we need.  I loved her point about relationships: “When you’re too afraid of someone’s judgement, you can’t connect with them. You’re too preoccupied with the task of impressing them.”

Her book is a fascinating exploration of an artist’s relationship with her audience as well as her relationship with family, friends, and significant others (she’s married to Neil Gaiman and talks about how that relationship blossomed). What I particularly enjoyed about this book was the raw honestly and the vulnerability in just the act of writing it. She has asked the readers to listen, and so we do. There’s such a richness to this book. I found myself thinking about it as I recently traveled to Washington DC and found myself asking complete strangers for help–and ALL of them were happy to do so. It really does create community, as Palmer notes.

As usual, enjoy some more favorite passages below:

  • “Honest communication engenders mutual respect, and that mutual respect makes askers out of beggars.”
  • “Through the art of asking, we created a community.”
  • “Effective crowdfunding is not about relying on the kindness of strangers, it’s about relying on the kindness of your crowd.”
  • “You can fix almost anything by authentically communicating.”
  • “I think human beings are fundamentally generous, but our instinct to be generous gets broken down.”
  • “Explaining how I use Twitter to those who’ve never used it is difficult. It’s a blurry Mobius strip of love, help, information, and social-art-life exchange.”


Posted by Kate, VP Secondary PCTELA

Book Review: Up Late with The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

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