Wednesday, December 5, 2012

I Want to Be John Green When I Grow Up

I'm pretty open about the fact that I love John Green and think he's a genius. I saw him at the National Book Festival back in September, and it was the highlight of the festival for me. He was very humble despite his extreme popularity. As soon as he realized that he had been announced a little prematurely and everyone was waiting for him, he jogged up onto the stage. My mother, who is a librarian, was not prepared for the amount of screaming that accompanied his arrival. It's very rare for authors - YA or otherwise - to get that kind of reception, and it's because John Green engages so intensely with his audience, cares so deeply about world issues, and treats his teenage readers as intellectual equals that he  is met by screaming fans everywhere he goes. It also doesn't hurt that he's not afraid to make a fool out of himself for our entertainment on occasion.

He is just as well spoken in person as he is in his videos. He spoke beautifully about his belief in the intelligence of teenagers and how thankful he is to have the opportunity to make communities and effect change through the platform he has as both a bestselling YA author and a Youtube sensation. When there was a question and answer section, a teenage girl asked him a question about whether he subscribes to the postmodernist belief that "the author is dead." As soon as she said "postmodernist," a lot of people in the crowd sort of snickered and I could tell they thought this girl was trying too hard to ask a question that was really pretentious. I knew exactly what she was talking about, but I guess a lot of people were confused by the question. John was a completely amazing human being, as per usual, and he showed his usual belief in the intelligence of teenagers and their questions and answered it as if it was the most important question he'd ever been asked. He clarified the question for the audience and launched into a thought-provoking answer about how his Internet presence has affected his books and career in ways he never could have predicted when he first started writing, before he was famous. I could go on and on about how much I love John Green, and how he's a beautiful human being, but maybe I'll save that for another post.

Anyway, that was all to preface this interview with John Green that I wanted to share. The whole interview is worth reading, but I think this bit underscores the point I made above, that John Green truly values the input of teenagers and is interested in making them feel like they can make a difference in the world:

SH: If you could handpick the ideal reader for your book, how would you describe that reader?
JG: Thoughtful, intellectually curious, self-conscious 17-year-old. (That is to say: all 17-year-olds.)

Now go forth and read something by John Green (if you haven't already. But really, what are you really waiting for?).

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