This article is the second in a new series we’ll be running on The Daily Quirk called What’s the big deal about…where we highlight a topic that is on the tip of everyone’s tongues and clue you in on why it’s such a big deal right now. For our second feature, blogger Abbie Reetz will be telling you all about why author John Green is such a big deal…
If you spend a lot of time on the internet or hanging around bookstores, you have probably heard the name John Green at some point. Whether or not you can put a face to the name or list any of his accomplishments, chances are you at least vaguely know of the New York Times bestselling author-turned-internet celebrity. And if you don’t, you should.
So, who exactly is John Green? He’s an amazing writer with a superhuman ability to write in a way that gives you goose bumps (the happy kind) and a genuine love for his fans. But that’s just my opinion. Here are a few facts about the lovely YA author. He was born on Aug. 24, 1977, and grew up in the sunshine of Orlando, Florida, before eventually heading off to Indian Springs School in Birmingham, Alabama. After graduating from Indian Springs, Green went on to study English and Religious Studies at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio.
Since publishing Looking for Alaska in 2005 (he wrote the novel post-college while working for Booklist magazine in Chicago), Green has come out with three solo novels An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, and The Fault in Our Stars (which is currently being adapted for film), collaborated on two others (Let It Snow: Three Holiday Romances with authors Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle, and Will Grayson with author David Levithan), and has received no shortage of honors having won the Michael L. Printz Award in 2006, the Edgar Award in 2009, and having been named as a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize twice.
Green has a seemingly magical ability to craft characters and situations that all readers can relate to in some way. His primary genre is Young Adult fiction, but you don’t have to be a teenager to enjoy Green’s books. They aren’t filled with the light, fluffy fiction that many expect to find in YA novels. They focus on serious, real-life situations while still maintaining a very appealing brand of humor and charm. His characters genuinely seem like real people and it’s impossible not to form bonds with them.
In The Fault in Our Stars, the majority of the main characters have cancer. In fact, Hazel (the narrator) and Augustus (a key player in the story) meet at a support group for kids with cancer. And while it’s easy to forget that they’re sick (because they don’t act like they are, and they are both so goofy and fun and interesting that you don’t want them to be sick because it’s so unfair), when their weaknesses show, your heart aches for them. Even if you can’t relate directly, you still feel their pain and empathize with what they’re going through. Green’s books are definitely the type that you regret finishing, because you just want to stay within the story forever.
Although his books are certainly enough to warrant his popularity and success, they aren’t the only thing Green is famous for. In 2007, John and his brother Hank decided to give up textual communication for an entire year. They created a YouTube channel where they each posted a weekly video for the other to watch as a new way of communicating. This was the beginning of the Brotherhood 2.0 project which eventually morphed into their hugely successful VlogBrothers YouTube channel.
The VlogBrothers channel not only created two new internet celebrities, but also created a community lovingly referred to as Nerdfighters. Basically, a Nerdfighter is a person who is extremely passionate about something (and, therefore, by John Green’s definition, a nerd) who does awesome things to help make the world a better, nicer, more fun place.
Throughout the years, John and Hank Green have encouraged Nerdfighters to contribute to charities and volunteer projects. The response is typically huge. In their first year on YouTube, John and Hank created The Project for Awesome (P4A), an annual fund drive for charities selected by YouTube users and Nerdfighters. The goal of this project is to motivate YouTube users to create videos that raise awareness for the charities of their choice. All profits an individual vlogger earns are contributed to their chosen charity. They are also the founders of the Foundation to Decrease Worldsuck, an entirely volunteer run nonprofit organization thats sole purpose is to raise money for other nonprofits and charities.
The sense of community that began with a few YouTube videos is one of the biggest things that sets Green apart from other authors. When most people pick up a book, they have little to no sense of who the author is (or was) as a person. They turn their merry way through the pages and eventually set the book down and leave. To these readers, the book is just a book and the author is just an author. The experience is very different for Green’s readers.
Green makes himself incredibly accessible to his readers giving them a real sense of the man behind the words. He frequently addresses viewer questions in his YouTube videos, and his @realjohngreen Twitter handle currently has upwards of 1 million followers, with whom he frequently interacts. This accessibility allows his readers to form a real connection with him. Green cares about what his readers think, shares inside jokes with them, and lets them into his life in a way the world hasn’t previously seen from other authors.
Green isn’t just an amazing writer or a guy who makes funny videos for the internet. He’s a man who is helping make the world a less sucky place, one nerd at a time.
- The Fault in Our Stars Movie has cast its Hazel, Actress Shailene Woodley!
- Young Adult Book to Film and Television Adaptations in 2013
- POLL: Which YA Book to Movie or TV Adaptation are you most excited to see?
Hi! I’m Abbie. I’m a Wisconsin girl who just completed a degree in journalism, which I hope will help me achieve my goal of reading books and writing about them for a living. In my free time, I enjoy reading, watching Doctor Who and hanging out with my boyfriend and his two cats.
Check out more from Abbie Reetz on TDQ…