Review | The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

Title: The Art of Asking: How I learned to stop worrying and let people help (2014)
Author: Amanda Palmer
Read: 20th – 23rd July 2017
Genre: non-fiction; memoir
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

“Rock star, crowdfunding pioneer, and TED speaker Amanda Palmer knows all about asking. Performing as a living statue in a wedding dress, she wordlessly asked thousands of passersby for their dollars. When she became a singer, songwriter, and musician, she was not afraid to ask her audience to support her as she surfed the crowd (and slept on their couches while touring). And when she left her record label to strike out on her own, she asked her fans to support her in making an album, leading to the world’s most successful music Kickstarter. Even while Amanda is both celebrated and attacked for her fearlessness in asking for help, she finds that there are important things she cannot ask for-as a musician, as a friend, and as a wife. She learns that she isn’t alone in this, that so many people are afraid to ask for help, and it paralyzes their lives and relationships. In this groundbreaking book, she explores these barriers in her own life and in the lives of those around her, and discovers the emotional, philosophical, and practical aspects of THE ART OF ASKING. Part manifesto, part revelation, this is the story of an artist struggling with the new rules of exchange in the twenty-first century, both on and off the Internet. THE ART OF ASKING will inspire readers to rethink their own ideas about asking, giving, art, and love.” (Synopsis taken from the publisher’s website.)

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Discussion | What Do You Use Audiobooks For?

Hi folks! Today I bring you a somewhat rare post about audiobooks. This isn’t so much a discussion about which audiobooks I chose or when I listen to them; rather, this is more of a word vomit discussion of a tendency I’ve noticed I have regarding audiobooks. You see, I’ve noticed that I predominantly use them to “re-read” books I’ve already read which may seem pointless but let me explain…

handmaidaudiobookRecently I decided that I needed to re-read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood in preparation for watching the TV adaptation which finally started airing in the UK on Sunday nights on Channel 4 recently. I decided this on the preceding Friday morning, when I was already in work, so I didn’t have a copy of The Handmaid’s Tale with me, much less the reading time to get through it by Sunday night. It’s not a particularly long book, but it’s also not that quick of a read, so I was very conscious that I probably didn’t have enough hours to physically read the book at the weekend.

However, a quick search of my library’s Overdrive offerings revealed that they had the audiobook, as read by Joanna David, available to borrow. And I was having a slow day in work, where I needed to input fairly monotonous data onto a spreadsheet and do some research via Google to find out some author details. So, I could listen to something. I had tried listening to a new audiobook and I had tried listening to a podcast (I’m currently making my way through Witch Please, why had I not listened to that sooner?!?), but I just wasn’t feeling it. So I popped on The Handmaid’s Tale audiobook and was very quickly swept up in a re-read of the dystopian classic. Not only that, I listened to the majority of the audiobook in the space of my day at work. There’s something quite satisfying about accomplishing that at the same time as being in work.

ravenboysaudiobookMy go-to, prevailing example to explain my relationship with audiobooks is The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. There is just something about this story that lends itself to a slow-burning drawling audiobook that you can sink into, and the narrator Will Patton’s voice has that in spades. I adore Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle (I still haven’t read the final book because I can’t let go yet) and I’m more than sure that I will continue to re-read this series for many years to come. In an effort to not completely wreck my paperbacks, I purchased the series’ audiobooks via Audible and, in the midst of doing a series re-read late last year, I eagerly started to listen to Blue Lily, Lily Blue. That was the beginning of the end, my friends, I’m now hooked on these audiobooks. There’s just something about its narration style that is strangely comforting and familiar and makes re-reads feel so cosy.

By using audiobooks for re-reading past favourites I also feel like I’m not wasting time reading which might not sound entirely logical but stay with me on this one. If I re-read a book (as I am wont to do) I feel as though I’m not reading something new and therefore wasting time. After all, we only have a finite amount of time to read ALL THE THINGS and so many books so little time. My tendency to want to re-read and re-experience my favourite things (it’s a comfort thing, ultimately) clashes with my TBR ambitions. So re-reading via listening to the audiobook makes me feel less guilty, because the only time I listen to an audiobook is when I physically can’t read a book because I’m travelling or doing laundry. It’s all about maximising your free (otherwise dead) time and squeezing reading in with minimal guilt experienced about what you happen to be “reading”.

So that’s what I primarily use audiobooks for but what do you use audiobooks for? Do you use them to “re-read” books like I do? Or do you prefer to listen to only new books you’ve never read before? Please comment below, I’d love to hear your opinions on all things audiobooks.


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WWW Wednesday #1 | 22nd February 2017

Well I thought I’d mix things up a little here on The Terror of Knowing by bringing you a mid-week reading update (of sorts) in the form of WWW Wednesday, hosted by Sam at Taking On A World Of Words. This isn’t a new meme by any means but it is a meme that’s new to me and, having seen it a couple of times over at Cátia’s wonderful blog, I thought I’d join in since it’s simplicity greatly appeals to me!

The Three Ws are:
1. What are you currently reading?
2. What did you recently finish reading?
3. What do you think you’ll read next?


1. What are you currently reading?

I’m currently doing a re-read of V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic to try to prepare myself for reading the third (and final) book in the trilogy (disclaimer: I will never be prepared). Likewise I’m re-reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix via listening to the audiobook as narrated by Stephen Fry on my train journeys to/from work every day. I’m allegedly also still reading War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy but as I’ve not actively read any of it (not a single word) for close to a month, I’m not sure how accurate it is to say I’m currently reading it.

2. What did you recently finish reading?

I recently finished reading Erika Johansen’s The Fate of the Tearling to round off my read of the Tearling trilogy. I adored the first book, loved the second, and had… mixed feelings about the third (whispers I kind of hated the ending), but I’m really glad I finally finished off this trilogy because on the whole I loved the concept and the characters Johansen created. Similarly, in terms of trilogies, I also recently finished re-reading the Old Kingdom trilogy by Garth Nix (though I hear that’s a series now?) with Abhorsen, as narrated by Tim Curry. I would definitely recommend the Tim Curry audiobooks, they’re amazing, and he has a spot-on voice for Mogget! I’m planning to do trilogy reviews for both of these trilogies so, if you’re interested, definitely do keep an eye out for those coming soon on this blog.

3. What do you think you’ll read next?

As I’m currently re-reading A Darker Shade of Magic, it’s highly likely I will read (read: it’s nigh-on impossible I won’t read) the second book, A Gathering of Shadows next, and then move on to the new release – A Conjuring of Light. I’m not emotionally prepared for it to be over, but I also need to know what happens, it’s a difficult bind. Ha, bookworm problems, am I right?

Do you have a WWW Wednesday post? Please link it below if so (or just answer in the comments below), I’d love to hear your responses.
Have you read any of the books I mentioned – how did you like (or not like) them?
Until next time – happy reading!


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Friday Reads | 23rd December

As you might have seen from the last time I did a Currently Reading sort of post back on 10th/11th December, I was reading J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See and I’m happy to report that I have finally finished both those books! I’m especially pleased that I’ve finally completed All the Light We Cannot See as it’s a book that I’d spent way longer reading than I ordinarily would. However, given the content of the narrative and how beautiful the storytelling is, I am quite glad I took my time with it, especially since I went into the book with such high expectations and being told by practically everyone that it’s amazing. I’m glad that I can now say that I agree – All the Light We Cannot See is indeed beautiful and it has made me rethink my Best of 2016 list which I’d already compiled before I had finished it.

Now, enough of the past, let’s move on to the present and the future, namely what I’ll be reading today/this weekend. I’m sure it’s impossible to escape the knowledge that this weekend happens to contain Christmas Eve/Day. So, reading might be a little intermittent because Christmas and because Christmas films. Likewise, I’m at home visiting my parents so I don’t have any of my books with me (believe me, realising I should probably not pick out a book to bring home was torture) but I do have an Overdrive account, my phone, and my Kindle. So, really, I’m not at all bookless. With that in mind, I have a couple of books lined up…

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Friday Reads | 7th October

Well, it’s that time of the week again – Friday Reads! The time when I realise I haven’t done quite as much reading as I would like in these past few days and so I foolishly try to claim I’m going to make up for it by reading, reading, reading this weekend. I inevitably won’t but, hey, good intentions are the best kind of intentions. Or so I hear.

This weekend will mostly be filled with furniture… by which I mean my IKEA order finally arrives today (hopefully anyway) so tonight/tomorrow could well be spent trying to dutifully follow along flat pack instructions before throwing them away, trying in vain to freestyle it, before realising confusing instructions are actually the best way forward. So, there’s some reading comprehension happening there. But aside from that? Well, audiobooks might well be the way to go.

I realised this week, whilst standing uncomfortably on a train, wedged against the person stood next to me, that I wasted a lot of potential reading time every single day. My walk to the train station is about 10 minutes, my standing journey on the train is about 20 minutes, and I then walk a further 20 minutes to work. That’s 50 minutes each way, 1 hour 40 minutes each day, Monday to Friday – easily enough time to shift through audiobooks, especially if I listen to them at faster than 1x speed. (Although I do tend to only go for 1.5x speed though, otherwise I get way too on edge because the sped up narration makes me feel like every book is a high octane thriller!) So I’ve finally reopened the abandoned Audible app on my phone and started listening to some books I’ve really been meaning to get to, mainly:

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Friday Reads | 11th December

As you might have been able to tell from the utter lack of posts since last week, the weekend and start of the week was… interesting, to say the least. The weather was what they euphemistically call “inclement”. For me that meant a mildly sleepless Saturday and Sunday night whilst the wind howled outside, for elsewhere in the North, however, it meant flooding. Lancaster flooded a little, it turns out, the electricity substation was under water and so electricity was off. The University campus was evacuated, with students told to go home a week early with all lectures/coursework cancelled for the upcoming/final week of term. Being in Teesside, this didn’t directly affect me, but I did know people still studying/living in Lancaster so there was naturally a bit of concern going on.

Also my postgraduate graduation ceremony was allegedly taking place on Wednesday and, as it stood on the Sunday night, it was still scheduled to go ahead even though I couldn’t see how considering the students still left on campus were having to sleep on the floor in the LICA building. However, somehow, with a lot of people working relentlessly behind the scenes, it did go ahead successfully, with the only sign of any problems being the huge generators which buzzed away in the car park. I’m still astounded at how much Lancaster managed to rally, to be honest, since it seemed business as usual by the time Thursday rolled around. But anyhow this was my long-winded way of saying that blogging wasn’t my top priority this week, with the uncertainty of my plans involving Lancaster. Anyhow, I’m back, and all graduated, so I’m officially and ceremoniously now a Master of Arts, for what it’s worth (worth the opportunity to yet again don a slightly ridiculous robe and cap, for one)!

But, just like Lancaster, it is business as usual so now we return to the entire point of this post – a little Friday Reads for 11th December!

fr 11-12I’ve been taking full advantage of the library lately in order to try out some fantasy reads which I wasn’t sure about whether I would enjoy or not. It was a bit of a swing and miss with Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind last month but I’m getting along with Brandon Sanderon’s Mistborn trilogy quite nicely. As intended, I finished the first book, The Final Empire, at the start of this week and now I’ve had a chance to pop to the library I intend to delve into the second, The Well of Ascensionas soon as I’ve finished writing this post, in fact!

(One vague spoiler which sums up my thoughts about the previous book: I’m not over Kelsier, I’m not, don’t talk to me about Kelsier.)

Likewise, I’d been hearing a lot of things about Marie Lu’s dystopian trilogy, the first book being Legend. As yet another on a long list of YA dystopians I had to get around to reading there was nothing particularly pushing me to pick up this book over any others, until I heard it was a retelling of Les Misérables. I have to say, I’m about 60 pages in and I’m not at all convinced about the alleged retelling aspect; it seems to be inspired by the plot of Les Misérables rather than at all a retelling, but I suppose marketing it as such was the publisher’s decision so I shouldn’t hold it against the book itself.

Not pictured, I’m also reliving the joy that is Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone on audiobook via Stephen Fry’s wonderful narration. It’s a great way to re-read an old favourite; it brings a whole new perspective to a story you already know so well, as does the new illustrated edition which I might swap in at some points during this re-read – who knows! I’m also leisurely reading Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret because it’s a half-novel, half-graphic novel so I’m enjoying taking my time with it to properly and appropriately appreciate the art within it.


So that’s what my reading will hopefully look like this weekend and into next week. I will undoubtedly start to look back over my 2015 reading goals and various reading challenges, realise I’m about to fail them and only have a few short weeks to correct this, and start blogging like crazy about TBRs and reading intentions… so expect that at some point soon. In the meantime – what are you reading this weekend? Any seasonal or festive reads? Let’s chat in the comments below!

T5W (sort of) | Experiences with Audiobooks

Courtesy of the ever-wonderful Lainey, this week’s Top 5 Wednesday topic is Top 5 Favourite Audiobooks. Enter the problem – I don’t think I’ve even listened to more than five full audiobooks, let alone have five favourites out of those. However, I’ve been wanting to discuss audiobooks for a while so now seemed like the perfect opportunity and I have refashioned this week’s topic into my Top 5 Experiences With Audiobooks.


 

1) The Harry Potter series audiobooks, as read by Stephen Fry, are wonderful for serial HP re-readers, like myself, as it allows you to experience the book in a different format than you normally would, breaking up any sense of monotony from reading. Although I’m aware Jim Dale’s audiobooks exist for me it will always be Stephen Fry who wins out and I believe Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone audiobook is potentially the very first audiobook I ever listened to.

2) I got an Audible trial purely to use the free credit to buy JG Ballard’s High Rise, as read by Tom Hiddleston, who will play the titular character Robert Laing in the upcoming film directed by Ben Wheatley (a film I am highly anticipating, no surprises there). I had already read the book a couple of times because it was on a syllabus at university but I wanted to hear the oh so dramatic and disgusting story play out as read in that beautifully precise voice. (I will never apologise for working in reasons to listen to a bit of Hiddleston.) High Rise retains the top spot for one of the most intriguing and disturbing opening lines I have ever read/heard: “As he sat on his balcony eating the dog, Dr Robert Laing reflected on the unusual events that had taken place within this huge apartment building during the previous three months.”

3) Neil Gaiman audiobooks. Neil Gaiman audiobooks are a godsend because his voice is wonderful, truly. What is better than an author reading their own stories aloud? Nothing, that’s what. It’s a well-established fact that the likes of Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? and Amy Poehler’s Yes Please are fun reads, but they become downright hilarious when you hear the same lovely ladies doing what they do best by reading their audiobooks – it’s like they are telling you the anecdotes themselves, it adds a level of intimacy between “reader” and author which enriches the whole experience. So to hear Neil Gaiman read aloud his beautifully-crafted, whimsical prose style is a wonderful experience.

4) I decided I wanted to re-read A Series of Unfortunate Events, a series from childhood that I only have sporadic volumes of, not the full series. Naturally, I wanted to start with the first book, The Bad Beginning, and when I didn’t have it to hand I searched hopefully for it on YouTube. Who would’ve thought that the entire audiobook would be there? Read wonderfully by Tim Curry, no less, and it is an engaging audiobook which I highly recommend, along with the others which are read no less brilliantly by a certain Daniel Handler… (he does a great Count Olaf voice)

5) This year I read and loved The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. When I decided I wanted to re-read it to keep me sane during the final stretch of my dissertation writing, I couldn’t get to a library to get a physical copy of it. The audiobook once again came to the rescue, and whilst the narrator’s voice grated on me at first, largely due to my own unfamiliarity with Will Patton’s accent, I had to admit it vaguely fit with the location of the narrative. The Raven Boys takes place in Henrietta, Virginia, whilst Patton is apparently from South Carolina, so it’s in the vicinity…kind of. (I say this in only the ignorant way a non-American could ever consider two states to be neighbours in the same way as English counties are!) I assume this was perhaps partly why the choice was made to cast him as the narrator, but I could be entirely wrong, and indeed all that matters is that the tone of this audiobook is perfect for this bizarre urban fantasy novel – I highly recommend it!


So those were my Top 5 Experiences With Audiobooks! Like I said, a tad of a tweak of this week’s theme but, as someone who isn’t a big audiobook listener, it was a necessary tweak for me and one which I wanted to discuss.

So, does anyone else not really listen to audiobooks much? Or are you a big audiobook fan? What are your favourites? Do you have any recommendations specifically geared towards only occasional listeners like me? Let’s talk audiobooks!