Sometimes there’s a book that I pick up because I like the author. Sometimes there’s a book I pick up because I like the cover. Sometimes there’s a book I pick up because I’ve heard things about it.
And then there’s Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking. I looked at it first because the cover intrigued me. And then I thought it sounded pretty good. And then I thought, “Oh my goodness. She’s married to Neil Gaiman.”
So if you couldn’t tell, I’m a fan of NG. Like, I think he’s easily one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever heard of. Other than, like, Jesus, Pope John Paul II, Mother Theresa, and my parents. Duh. But he’s right up there.
Thus, finding out that his wife (who must be equally awesome because, NG) wrote this cool looking book about a meaningful concept meant that I was going to read it.
And let me tell you, it’s worth reading.
Palmer’s book is one of those books that, if you are female or a worrier or bad at asking or sensitive or artistic or a human being, you should read. Mainly because it’s deeply personal, full of experience, and full of beauty. The inclusion of her lyrics and photographs adds to her understanding of art and artists because she’s been there. I mean, if there’s anyone who can say “been there, done that,” it seems like she might be the one.
And this is something we should celebrate endlessly. I might not be someone willing to sacrifice everything for my art (because, frankly, I don’t know what my art is yet), but I have the utmost respect for those who do. Because there is a level of bravery that they possess to which I can only aspire.
I’m counting this as my “self improvement” book because it inspires me to do something I’m really bad at: asking. I think our culture generally does encourage us to be strong individuals and do things all by ourselves, which Palmer addresses, and I believe she is right to say that we all should be asking. For help, for clothes, for encouragement, for love, for attention, for everything we need as human beings.
Asking is one of the scariest things you can do. People can say no. People can laugh. People can make you feel insignificant. But you’ll never know if you never ask.
So my goal is that, now that I have read The Art of Asking, I’m going to try to ask more. Because I am human, and I need help. And if I need help, I need to accept that sometimes only another person can give me what I need.
Conclusion: read this book. It’s relatively short, incredibly good, and something from which we can all learn. All the love in the world to AP, who has truly inspired me.
Now available in paperback from your local independent bookstore.
P.S. This makes me 9/63 on my Reading Challenge. Whoo!