Friday, January 18, 2013

John Green Is Better Than Me At Everything

Back when I worked at the bookstore, I would read magazines on my lunch break.  I often found myself reading the book reviews in Entertainment Weekly and I came across a review of a book with an interesting looking cover and a more interesting title.  The book was called "Looking for Alaska" and it was getting a lot of attention.  I made a quick mental note to check out a copy, and then promptly forgot all about it for roughly 8 years.  Then Youtube happened.  And Vlogbrothers happened and I realized that this guy I had read about years ago is starting to be just about everywhere.  So I read the books.  I won't lie, I don't love all of them.  In fact, I might not even love most of them, but what I do love is John Green.

I've been following the Vlogbrothers videos for a while now, and I've been following the many side projects that John and his brother Hank have been working on over the years that Vlogbrothers has evolved and gathered such a huge following that this week they managed to pack Carnegie Hall with fans.  I want to point out this is a sold out event, at Carnegie Hall, for an author.  What the what?!  And not an author who has been around for ages like Neil Gaiman or Terry Pratchett.  No, this is a guy who is relatively new on the scene, and writes books for young adults.  He packed a theater with kids who like to read.  And, unlike his fellow young adult author Stephenie Meyer, he writes books with substance.  They mean something.  And that was just the start.  After creating literature for young people that teaches love, compassion, understanding, while at the same time respecting grief and the fragility of life, he decided to change the world.  He and Hank either head up or support several charitable organizations, and they encourage their fans to follow their lead in the quest to decrease world suck.  They are creating an army of young people who are focused on compassion and selflessness. 

Beyond that, they're both entertaining as hell, and when I watch John's videos I want to be a better person.  He is painfully introspective, and his thoughts on the vast variety of topics he covers are insightful and intelligent.  He talks about literature in a way I've never experienced, and I was a stinking literature major.  He's a better English teacher than I am, and I went to school for teaching.  He takes books I hate and presents them in a way that makes me actually feel guilty for not loving them as much as he does.  Most days, I just sort of wish I was able to do that with a fraction of the effectiveness he does.

I think what impresses me the most about John is that he inspires me.  I'm a pretty cynical and often negative individual.  I am not one to give the world the benefit of the doubt, but somehow when I see all of the good that has come to this world through something as simple as a video blog on youtube, I want to find a way to bring good into the world too.  I want to be a better person, but I want to help create a world of good people.  I want to find something I love and am passionate about and run with it.  I want to create something bigger than myself, and then watch what happens as it takes off.  He makes me want to go back to writing.  He makes me want to create instead of just exist.  And, on some level, this inspiration also makes me less afraid of failing, because failure is part of learning. 

So thanks John, for being so awesome.  Please leave some awesomeness in the world for the rest of us.

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