Category Archives: Books

Why Amanda Palmer Is Like a Farmer

Via Creative Commons. If you read the book you’ll get it.

 

I just finished The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer last night. I’ll try to tell you about it without spoilers. You should read this book, especially if you are someone working in the creative economy right now. If you don’t know who Amanda Palmer is, read her wiki. I’ll wait. Also, watch her TED talk.

Her  book is part autobiography, part expansion on her TED talk. She explains in depth  how she’s made a living as a musician making some pretty bold choices, like: ditching her label, not charging for music, creating a Kickstarter to fund making a record. She’s gotten a lot of flack from these choices from other artists and just the general public. A lot of people seem to have a big problem with crowdfunding, and I have mixed feelings about it, in certain cases. However, the way Palmer, and many reputable Kickstarters set-up their ‘asks’ is not unlike the CSA I join each year for vegetables. I prepay a certain amount of money in the spring, and then throughout the summer I get vegetables. The prepayment allows for the farmers to have money when they need it to buy seeds, equipment etc. This is exactly how Palmer’s Kickstarter worked. She needed money to make a record. People prepaid for the record and other goodies (some even bought private concerts) when the record was done, she sent it to them. That said, she already had a really good fanbase and was vetted as a known and reputable artist. She made sure to give some examples in her book of Kickstarters that have failed, what went wrong, and how it could have gone better.

This book is not entirely about Kickstarter, it touches a lot on her personal life, more than I was expecting actually, and I learned a lot about her life and her marriage to Neil Gaiman (who is an amazing writer). But she also speaks volumes about trust and how in her experience people are willing to help, if they are simply asked.

Finally, another thing that stuck with me from this book is that there are, as you know, lots of haters out there. People who were just generally shitty and said horrible thing to her and about her in the press and directly via her website, on many various topics. Palmer is very frank about this. People say mean shit and it hurts. She hears it, she sees it. What I want to know is, what do people gain from it? In this lovely book about trust and empathy, the trolls sneak in. Just as they do in real life. Of course not everyone likes Palmer’s music or how she dresses or how she looks or how she makes her living. That’s OK. We don’t all have to like each other. However, what is gained by being mean to her, just for the sake of being mean? Does it make people feel better when they write shitty things? One of my final thoughts, and I had many while reading this book, is that we all need to do better to just keep our mouths shut. If you don’t like something and it’s not hurting you or anyone else – especially if it’s art or music or writing, just shut up about it. Nothing good is coming from personally attacking the creator.

In conclusion, no matter what you think about Amanda Palmer personally, or about her music, this is a great book. Highly recommend.

 

2015 Reading List

Via Creative Commons

I haven’t done this before, though I LOVE lists, so I’m surprised I haven’t. Here’s a list of books I am definitely going to read in 2015. A lot of these just showed up on ‘Best of 2014’ book lists (which I can’t get enough of) but some of these are books that have been on my to-read list on Goodreads for a long time.  I set a goal of 12 books this year, which seems really low compared to the enormous goal lists I’m seeing out there. I don’t really care. I’m finishing my last semester of college. I have two kids. If I can read a book a month, I consider myself a smashing success. I may bust through this list with lightning speed, who knows. Anyhow, here it is:

1. The Art of Asking, Amanda Palmer – disclaimer ( I am already cheating. I got this book for Christmas but am only about 1/2 way through. I’m counting it for this year. It’s pretty good.)

2.  Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson

3. Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One with the Universe, Yumi Sakugawa

4. Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith, Anne Lamott

5.Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel

6. Father of the Rain, Lily King

7. We Are Water, Wally Lamb

8. White Teeth, Zadie Smith

9. Yes Please, Amy Poehler

10. Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry

11. Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls, David Sedaris

12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte

What an odd list, eh? If you know me you’re probably like, “Where’s all the horror and murder?” Truth be told, I’ve kind of lost my taste for it lately. I’ve been super into biographies and memoir. Novels. Less violence. Also, as you can see by my last entry, I have a renewed interest in reading the classics. True confession, I am woefully, woefully lacking in classical reading. Thanks to a set of ‘Read The Classics Comic Books’ my grandmother gave me when I was about 10, I at least have a pretty good idea of the major plot points of all the greatest hits. I have never read the Brontes, either one. No Dickens. No Tolstoy. Moby Dick? Nope. I know. I’m a horrible creature. Luckily I can get most of them for free on my Kindle.  Well, that’s the list. I have no idea what order I will read them in. Oh, well actually I take that back. I am currently reading The Art of Asking, and next will read Traveling Mercies because I just got it at the library. Other than THAT I have no idea what’s next. Probably I’ll work my way through depending on what’s at the library – aka free.