I'll admit it, I came late to the John Green party. The first book I read of his was An Abundance of Katherines (fitting for this post, as you'll soon see), a year or two after it came out. This was, of course, long after his Printz win for Looking for Alaska, and also after he started collaborating with his brother Hank on YouTube videos, which, according to his site, now number 650+ and have been viewed over 160 million times.
You would think such success might go to your head, but John Green is still a down-to-earth champion of reading, of great literature, and of nerdy kids everywhere. In fact, Green's fans are called Nerdfighters and they are an adoring and loyal bunch. Can you blame them?!
This year's release, The Fault in Our Stars, blew me away. I felt moved--changed even--by his characters and their story and immediately became a FIOS cheerleader. I'm still cheering for that book even as it sits on our Best of the Year So Far lists for both Teens (#1) and Top 20 Editors' Picks (#3) and really doesn't need me anymore (as if it ever did). I caught up with Green at Book Expo America where he was unveiling the winner of the cover design contest for An Abundance of Katherines, designed by a 17-year-old fan, Sarah Turbin. You can check out my brief interview with the two of them below to find out what made Turbin's cover the winning entry, what John Green is up to next, and what books he reads over and over again. As an added YA Wednesday bonus, John Green gave us a list of his picks for Summer Reading. There's still time to get a few more books in before school starts...
John Green's Summer Reading List:
Fat Kid Rules the World - K. L. Going
Recently adapted into an independent film directed by Matthew Lilard, K. L. Going's first novel is a blistering and funny punk rock novel, and I'll always remember it as my first favorite YA novel.
Amelia Anne Is Dead and Gone- Kat Rosenfield
This lyrical and haunting first novel is thematically rich but also a hell of a page turner. I was straight up scared while reading it
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks - E. Lockhart
This contemporary classic follows a young woman's infiltration of an old boys' club at a boarding school. Frankie is one of the great characters of contemporary American fiction, and as a boarding school graduate myself, I wish she'd been my classmate. (....and girlfriend.)
The Mysteries of Pittsburgh - Michael Chabon
I read The Mysteries of Pittsburgh for the first time as a sophomore in high school, and it helped me understand that great books were still out there being written. Chabon of course went on to become one of the greatest novelists of his generation, and while I love all his books, this one is still very special to me.
The Name of the Star - Maureen Johnson
A creepy, smart, and romantic ghost story/murder mystery, this book is the perfect summer read: It's as fun and eccentric as its celebrated author.
Hold Still - Nina LaCour
Hold Still is a novel about grief, but it isn't depressing. It's revelatory, passionate, and unapologetically hopeful.