Book review on “The Art of Asking”

This is another book in the long list of “I had a succesful ted talk and subsequently got a book deal because this can be milked for more money“. I haven’t read a lot of books on that list, even though I bet many of them are good. But I saw this on some “recommend” list and it fit with things I’ve been thinking about lately, how we make money in an unconventional career path and how that making of money both comes from and creates our platform.

Although my main conclusion after reading this is that Amanda Palmer is a really cool person. Just, honestly, a really cool person. It’s not neccessarily the highest form of literature, it didn’t blow my mind with its language or structure, but it is what it’s supposed to be: her honestly sharing her story.

She starts by talking about the days when she worked as a living statue, how she bought a second hand wedding dress, painted her face white and with weird doll-like moves gave flowers to people who gave her a dollar. She talks about those brief exhanges when she got to look someone in the eye and give something to them, and how people cried, or laughed at her, or proposed.

It becomes the skeleton of the whole story. Those honest meetings, and the exhange that happened. And the flowers. When she started touring with her band she taped flowers to her piano stand to hide how ugly it was, and then she threw those flowers out at the audience towards the end, and they gave them back to her, or bought her big bouquets.

My favourite story is about when she finally got signed. Her label wanted to market her band, but there was conflict that happened when her fan base grew too fast. It was an echo system, she felt, that would be ruined if too many people were added all at once. It had grown organically, someone bringing a friend, someone hearing or reading about them, and then people one at a time being added into their culture.

She was inspired by some Irish band she like in her youth, where their whole fanbase was like a family. They didn’t have tons of fans everywhere, but they always had someone. When they visited her home town in America she let them stay in her house. And she started growing those relationships herself. Signings were not guarded by security waving people through as fast as possible. Instead people brought her food and medicine when she was sick. People met and fell in love while waiting in line. Their relationship with fans meant couchsurfing instead of hotels when they were touring.

And with the lable, there was suddenly a marketing team with a different approach. They always wanted to reach out to new people. Especially when she had a new album or tour. Instead of letting the music be a gift to the community she had, they focused on the people who didn’t yet know her.

It’s fascinating, because I think we do that a lot. Share things online to grow an audience, subconsciously addressing it to the followers we don’t have instead of serving our already existing community. But that’s not how you build a wave. You bring whatever you have to the audience you have and you bring people into that. Then you watch it grow and cascade, out to the rest.

And that led Amanda to crowdfunding, to twitter, to using and developing her connection to her audience, and paying attention to the people that care instead of screaming for attention from the people that don’t, anyway.



Amanda Palmer, with her weird eyebrows, that she says makes people look into her eyes.

“The Sad”

In the book The bell jar, by Sylvia Plath, she describes her depression as a glass bell jar, lowering itself upon her and making the air around her stale. I don’t know if I’ve ever been depressed, and I don’t think that I would describe it as a bell jar, but I do have a sadness that descends upon me every now and then. It doesn’t seem to ever leave me completely alone. Even during some of the best times of my life, it has creeped up on me. I’ts been okay though, because it’s been during moments when I’ve been able to handle it.

“The sad” is not the opposite of happiness, it’s just a the-world-is-turning-slower, I-notice-everything feeling of melancholy. It’s not necessary a bad thing, and I think I might even be okay with it following me for the rest of my life, because I think it’s linked to a lot of other parts of myself that I like and appreciate.

I’m just not handling it all too well right now. Which is why I’ve been trying to write something on this blog for days without being able to bring myself to do it. I’m not dealing with it in the right way. I know that, but I don’t really now how to change it, because of the sad. Or maybe that’s just an excuse.

Anyway. I hope you’re having a good day, and that you take time for all of those things that are more important than time. Bye.

A tale of two cities

There’s a lot of funny stories about people reading books that give them such emotional outbursts that they just throw them across the room. Frankly I think that’s a bit disrespectful to the books. But this one I threw, not across the room to break it, but down into the bed as hard as I could. This is how I dream to write. Books that effect people. It was not a bad book, it was a freakin amazing book. It is satisfying to read, in the way books are when they contain many paths leading in different directions, but form a single road towards the end. I’ve wanted to read it for so long, it being a huge classic and all that. I mean I’ve even read books in which they read this book. And yeah, I give it all the golden stars.




It’s a lie that to create something beautiful, some part in you has to be broken. But I don’t know that. Because I have a twisted perception of what beauty is.

That’s easier, that’s smaller, and sadness fits. It fills my heart up from the inside instead of existing around it the way my happiness does. It’s small enough for me to hold its definition in my hands even though I don’t know what it is.


(I just finished reading Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira and it was small but quite deep and I fell down)

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath


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I kind of give it like five stars out of five.

You know, it’s hard for me to give a book five stars out of five because I am afraid that the perfect book will show up, the book of all books, and I will have nothing left to give it. (Like in The fault in our stars when Hazel saves the 10 on her pain scale for when.. you know..) I suppose it’s really about the fact that feelings and opinions (and most things really) rarely can be translated into numbers. But we’re all humans here (I suppose) (gosh, I really need to stop with all of these parenthesis) and as humans we like to sort things out, categorise them and place them in their correct compartments. Except that – spoiler alert – life doesn’t work like that. Which is why, apart from just giving The bell jar almost five stars out of five, I am going to write down my completely subjective opinions and feelings and other things that have no scientific importance and a value of nothing whatsoever, except for, you know, everything. And also, actual spoiler alert for a few paragraphs down, but you’ll see that. For now you can read on without fear.

So the writer of The bell jar is Sylvia Plath. The bell jar is a book by the way. This is a book review. Haven’t really done any of those, not on the internet at least, but I like to read and I like to write so it seemed like a good idea.
First of all I love the way Sylvia Plath writes. She has a very defined voice and I felt extremely close to the main character. Sometimes she would write something that I would agree with wholeheartedly, looking at the world the way I feel I do too, yet I had to stop reading and just breathe for a few seconds because of the brilliant way she expressed it. And I would think Yes. Yes, exactly.
     She also has a way of including the important parts of the story. Every part serves a purpose, even when it’s not loaded with tension. It is though, a story about depression. I suppose you should know that before reading it. I personally love reading this kind of stories and actually find them relaxing somehow, but if you don’t work like that then perhaps you should skip it. On the other hand I wish for everyone to read it because I feel like it’s something more people should understand. While reading the book I also felt such a strong urge to help the main character. I love trying to solve my friends’ problems and I guess it’s in our human nature to try to fix things. Which is why it’s so frustrating when you can’t. In this situation partly because it’s a fictional character, but even in my head I didn’t know what I could have actually done. This is, I suppose, the part we should understand, that it’s not always as easy as fixing.

Le paragraph of spoilers

Sylvia Plath killed herself about a month after the book was released. And the book is called something of a self-biography. It doesn’t actually end with her killing herself though, she goes on to improve slightly from her depression even though she writes that she fears the glass bell jar one day will descend upon her once again, making it impossible for her to breathe. If the book is as self-biographic as it’s said it tells the story of her youth, and when she actually wrote the book several years must have passed. And I suppose it did happen, that she couldn’t escape it. She knew, which is one of the most horrible things to know, that there were some things in herself against which she could not fight back.
     I can’t help but wonder if she could have written herself a happier ending. Not to belittle her depression, because I know that your awareness sometimes shrinks down, like moving into a tunnel where you can no longer see the light. The glass bell jar descends and there’s nothing you can do. But especially before I knew of the books self-biographic nature, I asked myself if she could have saved herself by completely saving the person in it. Then again, if there was a way to fix it, I suppose she would apply it to herself instead of writing a book about it.

So finally… read it? Read it. Definitely. If you, like me, find it intriguing that it’s depressing. I think it’s the type of book that helps me see clearer, and so it actually calms me. And even though towards the ending you won’t be able to put it down, there is no rush in the beginning. I did put it down, many times. To breathe and to think. It was exquisite and I will carry it with me for a long time.