Hi, reddit. I've done an AMA around the launch of each of my books since 2012, and here I am again.

I've written several novels, including The Fault in Our Stars and Turtles All the Way Down. Last month, I published The Anthropocene Reviewed. It's my first book of nonfiction--a series of essays reviewing a wide range of topics (from Super Mario Kart to bubonic plague) that is also an attempt to reckon with our strange historical moment, and my personal battle against despair.

Library Journal called the book “essential to the human conversation," and the San Francisco Chronicle called it "a reminder of what it is to feel small and human, in the best possible way." It was also chosen by Amazon as a best book of the year so far, and debuted at #1 on the NYT bestseller list, all of which meant a lot to me because this book is so different from my previous work and I had no idea if people would like it.

What else? With my brother Hank, I co-created several popular YouTube series, including Crash Course and the very long-running vlogbrothers channel. Crash Course is used by more than 70 million students a year.

Other things I work on: The Life's Library Book Club, an online book club of over 9,000 members that reads together and raises money for charity; a multiyear project with Partners in Health to support the strengthening of the healthcare system in Sierra Leone; the long-running podcast Dear Hank and John; and the podcast The Anthropocene Reviewed, which is where the book got its start.

Lastly, I did sign all 250,000 copies of the first printing of The Anthropocene Reviewed book (which took around 480 hours), so if you get the hardcover U.S. edition, it will be signed--at least as long as supplies last.

Comments: 1994 • Responses: 74  • Date: 

EinePerson2050 karma

How does it feel to be the brother of TikTok sensation Hank Green?

thesoundandthefury1914 karma

It's weird and lovely. I am really happy to see Hank finding such a wide audience on tiktok, and I watch and love every single one of his tiktoks, but I think I would find that level of exposure on a fast-growing platform really stressful.

Hank is built differently from me, though, and he can handle it.

UnknownBinary902 karma

I think I sat next to you at Flix one night. The waiter asked if anyone ever told you that you looked like Hank Green.

thesoundandthefury1192 karma

You did, and that happened!

Slagathor911079 karma

If you could create a new Crash Course series on any one topic, purely for your own interest and with no concerns for deadlines, budget, or other minutiae, what is something you'd love to do a deep dive on?

thesoundandthefury1617 karma

This is a lovely thought experiment!

I think I would make it a history of infectious disease and our responses to it. I think disease is an underappreciated historical force (although maybe less so in the last fifteen months), and from the Black Death in Afroeurasia to the Great Dying in the Americas, it has profoundly shaped the world we ended up sharing. Infectious disease has long been an expression of injustice and inequality (I think of one chronicler writing of the Black Death that "virtually none of the lords and great men died in this pestilence"), and I think disease and our response to it tells us a lot about who we are, and who we might be.

I write about disease a lot in The Anthropocene Reviewed, partly because I've suffered from a number of infectious diseases (including meningitis) but mostly because I don't think we pay enough attention to illness, especially to illnesses that in the rich world we see as distant from us but that still have a huge impact on human life (like cholera and tuberculosis).

So yeah. I would make a series about the history of infectious disease. But I do not think it would be popular or especially useful to students, so in the real world it will probably never happen!

BisexWHALE20829 karma

Was there an essay you liked that didn’t make the final cut of the book?

thesoundandthefury2202 karma

I spent like six months trying to write a review of the movie Die Hard 4 for the book. I thought this was such a brilliant and hilarious idea, and I kept trying and trying and trying, and then one day I sort of had a blinding light spiritual awakening where I was like, "Um, maybe you can just not have an opinion on the movie Die Hard 4?"

So I scrapped it.

karatemanchan37451 karma

Why Die Hard 4 specifically and not, say, Die Hard 2, 3, or 5?

thesoundandthefury929 karma

I suppose because it is the best Die Hard movie.

yougotiton1512 karma

here’s John Green having an opinion on Die Hard 4

thesoundandthefury1412 karma


BackwardsSnake764 karma

You've talked about the transition to non-fiction, but how was it transitioning from novel-length work (back) to essays? Does something about approach and process change?

thesoundandthefury1162 karma

What I really love about writing is not typing but deleting. I love cutting away at something and seeing the shape of the thing emerge as I cut. In that sense, the process is quite similar for me between writing a novel and writing an essay; it's just the time scale is different.

And so instead of spending a year writing a first draft, with the essays I was able to spend, say, a week or two writing the first draft, and then I would get much more quickly to the part that I love--trimming away and trying to understand through revision what I actually want to say and how to say it well and efficiently.

jeems_2015134 karma

How much of this method carries over to responding in this AMA, which imo lies on the opposite end of the spectrum from writing a novel? Do you find yourself having to balance "crafting a response" and "being timely with the response", or are one of those two aspects not as high priority in this setting?

thesoundandthefury231 karma

Here I mostly want to be timely with the response, and so I'm typing as fast as I can without much thought about word choice etc. But if you see an edit asterisk, it's because I was unhappy with something and went back to rewrite it.

hixsongarren637 karma

Where did you learn / come up with the breathing method you mention in TATWD for dealing with anxiety? The Candle Method

my fiancé wanted to thank you for putting the breathing method in Turtles All the Way Down. She had never heard the try to breathe out without blowing out a candle method and that has been a hug help for her driving anxiety after a pretty bad accident a few months ago.

So thanks John Green!

thesoundandthefury638 karma

It's from my therapist, who I'm sure got it from somewhere else. I'm glad it has been useful to your fiancé. I also use it a lot!

Fenyan580 karma

Will there be more Crash Courses with you as a host? I really enjoyed learning about European and World History from you!

thesoundandthefury606 karma

I'm sure I will be back at some point, but I think the hosts we have now are frankly a lot better than I am.

nvcr_intern548 karma

Why were the seed potatoes of Leningrad omitted from the book? I was all set to cry my eyes out again. It was such a powerful story I was surprised it didn't make the cut.

thesoundandthefury601 karma

I just couldn't make it work! I tried for months and months, but it kept getting longer and less clear instead of tighter and more cohesive.

dander11459 karma

Did you get a chance to watch Bo Burnham's special Inside? What did you think of it?

thesoundandthefury1028 karma

Yeah, I loved it.

Burnham was one of the first people to become really internet famous as a teenager, and now he is speaking to the experiences of fame and making content* and living in these digitized (and corporatized) spaces with more clarity and sophistication than anyone else that I know of.

I have never understood the nature of the water that I'm swimming in, and so it's really fascinating to have people like Burnham describe and analyze it with such clarity.

I share a lot of Burnham's worries about the attention economy and the ways that attention (which is really our only resource in the end) is being so effectively commodified and captured by online experience. And yet I am also conflicted about it, because I love the Internet and I still believe in a lot of its early promises. I really, really loved the nuance and thoughtfulness Burnham brought to these questions.

*What a phrase that is, "making content." "Content" in general is such a weird and dystopic word for making stuff, because if you just change the emphasis from the first syllable to the second, the word itself implies the kind of content that the market incentivizes.

StonerPopeye458 karma

Who do you use in Mario Kart?

thesoundandthefury1220 karma

Luigi, not because of his acceleration or handling, but because of his spirit.

corosuske463 karma

and because he's green ?

thesoundandthefury798 karma

I have always felt an affinity for the kermits and luigis among us.

a_gallon_of_pcp432 karma

Who are your favorite current musicians/bands that aren’t The Mountain Goats?

thesoundandthefury888 karma

I quite like the Olivia Rodrigo album that my kids are obsessed with.

brutusthedinglefairy421 karma

Any fishing boat proceeds this year?

thesoundandthefury322 karma

Still waiting....

tinypellet414 karma

I accidentally received two copies of the book from PRH. They’ve told me I can do whatever I want with the second copy—so, what should I do with it?

thesoundandthefury984 karma

Donate it to your local library!

LoriTheOwl384 karma

I remember crying when I listened to your podcast episode about googling strangers and I cried again while reading that chapter. What made you want to be a chaplain in the first place and how did you stomach being around all of that pure, unadulterated sadness?

thesoundandthefury512 karma

  1. I didn't really want to be a chaplain; I wanted (or thought I wanted?) to be ordained as an Episcopal priest, and that involves training for 400 hours as a student chaplain. I ended up doing somewhat more than 400 hours, partly out of necessity (the hospital needed someone to cover on-calls and I did not have a family or any other obligations) and partly because I felt a strong sense of purpose and meaning in doing that work, which I did not really feel in other parts of my life when I was 21.
  2. I did not deal with it well. (I still don't deal with it well, actually.) I'm not sure what else there is to say about it, except that I really admire people who work in children's hospitals, because I was not able to handle it.

wouldeye98 karma

At the end of the book there’s a note about a podcast hooking you up with the child from that story. I searched their archives but I can’t find the episode

thesoundandthefury180 karma

The episode hasn't come out yet. (In fact I don't know if they'll ever make an episode about it, but regardless I am so so so so grateful for the chance to talk to that boy, who is now an adult.)

gutterslutzz337 karma

There’s a chapter where you talk about loving the world and how loving the world isn’t “to ignore or overlook suffering,” which is one of my favorite parts of the book. I’ve felt that was true for a long time, but was never able to put it into words or make it feel right. I work at a children’s hospital and (although not as a chaplain!) and see a lot of tragedy, I’m in nursing school during a pandemic, I have sometimes-debilitating mental health and health diagnoses. But I also have the greatest friends in the world. I have a dog I love more than anything. I have pretty hikes and sights just down the road.

How were you able to be comfortable with loving the world despite the parts of it that make it hard to love? Do you have advice on how to fall in love with the world while recognizing its flaws and actively wanting to help make the world better for everyone?

thesoundandthefury461 karma

First, thank you for the work that you do. I have the kind of deep admiration for people who work at children's hospitals that people who played high school soccer have for professional soccer players: I have attempted some version of what you do, which taught me just enough to know how difficult and impressive your work is.

This is one of the weirdest things about being a human for me, how all these contradictory experiences have to find a way to coexist. The world is both lovely and horrifying. Human life is both wondrous and truly awful. (I mean, even the word awful kind of acknowledges these contradictions--it is awe-full and awful.)

For me, though, denying either strand of this reality is equally dishonest. And when I feel despair or hopelessness, I am not seeing the whole story, just as I am not seeing the whole story when I feel like life is all kittens and rainbows.

Odd_Response_10333 karma

Can I just say thank you? Youtube was always a much happier place to be while growing up, mostly due to you and Hank and nerdfighteria in general.

thesoundandthefury285 karma

Thank you, too! I am really grateful that we had a seat at the table in your life during those big and strange and difficult years of growing up.

svankatwyk303 karma

Do you have any thoughts about how Nerdfighteria has changed as the first fighters have aged up? How have you found the community has changed and how has that impacted your engagement with it?

thesoundandthefury408 karma

The average age of someone who watches vlogbrothers is definitely a lot higher than it was ten years ago. I'd say the median now is probably around 22-24, although there are still lots of young people and lots of older people as well.

I don't think it's made a huge difference in terms of how I think about making videos, but I do think it has expanded the kinds of stuff we can do together. Because more nerdfighters are adults and working, for example, it's a lot easier to raise money. Ten years ago, there's no way [we could have raised $25,000,000 to support the building and maintenance of a maternal care center and NICU at Koidu Government Hospital.](https://youtu.be/BXBFJ5JsWXM)

But I'd be interested to know what the changes feel like to you or to others, because I think the difference is probably felt more acutely on the other side of the screen than it is felt on my side of it.

jebbush1212260 karma

Since you're continuing the podcast will there ever be a second Anthropocene reviewed book or is this it?

thesoundandthefury459 karma

I don't know! I doubt there will be a second Anthropocene Reviewed book, but then again, I did not think there would be a first one.

I'm also not sure how much longer I'll keep writing the podcast. I love making it, and love the people I make it with, and I especially love writing advertisements for life insurance web portals, but I also may want to write other stuff in the future.

longlivethequeef254 karma

Is Grover Cleveland two presidents?

thesoundandthefury529 karma

Grover Cleveland is one man. One man cannot be two Presidents. Joe Biden is the 45th President of the United States, not the 46th.

Obviously this is not the biggest problem with the way American history is currently taught, but it is the easiest to solve.

jameoc236 karma

If you're famous for anything it's for being terrible at coming up with first drafts of book titles. Where there any examples for The Anthropocene Reviewed (either the pod or the book)?

thesoundandthefury542 karma

hahahahaha I am so so so bad at titles. I mean, The Anthropocene Reviewed is a fucking TERRIBLE title.

Like, it is very inadvisable to title a book something that people cannot pronounce or spell.

ehaine198 karma

Didn’t Hank help come up with the title? I don’t think you can completely blame yourself, John! :)

thesoundandthefury388 karma

Great point. Typical Hank.

philsthiccbooty198 karma

Are you back on Twitter for real now, or do you think you'll go back to only using Twitter as a sports account and/or a book promo account?

thesoundandthefury536 karma

The latter.

I am not interested in being on twitter for real. I think there are plenty of people who are properly on twitter, and I do not feel like that platform needs my opinions, Except for my sports opinions. Twitter definitely needs my piping hot sports takes.

GingerRampage13177 karma

What was the most interesting/shocking thing you learned during your research that didn’t make the final cut?

thesoundandthefury539 karma

All our thoughts are made out of chemicals.



trashpen401 karma

now whenever someone asks me what I’m doing when I’m staring off into space, I’ll answer: “Chemistry.”

obligatory edit: thank you, John(and redditsurfer### and Hound). I hope it was free, but please donate to charity otherwise

thesoundandthefury252 karma

That's gold.

thing-with-feathers152 karma

Can you review Reddit on a five star scale?

thesoundandthefury491 karma

In the book, I review the Internet, and when thinking about how I feel about the Internet, I kept returning to something my colleague and friend Stan Muller said to me: In the middle of history, you never know what it means. That's how I feel about the Internet in general, and about reddit in particular. I have no idea what it means. I give it three stars.

Uhmusername1234139 karma

How did you decide the order in which the essays were organized in the book?

thesoundandthefury345 karma

My editor Julie Strauss-Gabel and I wanted there to be two arcs to the book: first and more obviously, we wanted the book to chart a vague journey from childhood to adulthood, and from being a kid to being a parent of kids. So at the beginning, I'm seeing Halley's Comet with my dad in the 1980s, and then by the end, I am a father myself, standing beneath a sycamore tree with my son.

The second arc was from hope to despair and back to hope, which is kind of how my 2019-2021 went. So the book starts out with a hopeful and celebratory essay about "You'll Never Walk Alone," falls way down deep into worry and dread and fear, and then (if we did our job, anyway) makes a case that hope is the correct response to human consciousness.

LostCanadianGoose134 karma

Glad you rated sunsets 5 stars, but what is your favorite sunset you've experienced?

thesoundandthefury371 karma

In 2013, when my daughter was born, Sarah and I rented a cabin on the shore of Lake Michigan for a month. And while there, I saw a sunset that was really beautiful but for whatever reason I couldn't let the beauty IN, if that makes sense? I kept thinking, "This sunset looks photoshopped," or thinking that finding sunsets beautiful is so cliche.

I mean, a painting of a sunset over water is maybe the single most cliched thing to depict in a painting, right? And I just couldn't get out of my own way when it came to enjoying this sunset, even as the purples and pinks absolutely flooded the sky and the water beneath. That's where the essay began for me. I've spent the last eight years trying to understand why I couldn't just appreciate the beauty of that sunset, and trying to change my way of looking so that sunsets can be beautiful again despite being cliched and obvious in their beauty.

So that was my favorite sunset. I wasn't able to enjoy it at the time, but I've been able to fall in love with it since.

heartybeefsoup122 karma

Thank you for this book, John. It was so moving and timely. I'm a writer with a lot of anxiety, especially when it comes to showing people my work, and especially when that work is at all personal or vulnerable. How did you overcome the fear of "showing the world your belly", as you said (that paragraph is my favorite in the book, by the way) to write and publish TAR?

thesoundandthefury156 karma

First, I think it's hard for everyone to share what they write. So in that, please know that you are not alone.

It's been a long journey to earnestness for me in my writing. I long used the protective shields of irony and cynicism as a way to insulate myself from the reality of feeling, or from the threat of criticism or whatever.

I don't begrudge people who keep those shields up as a way to live in our strange historical moment, but for me, personally, I felt like at a certain point my ironic detachment/distance was keeping me from feeling intensely and directly what it's like to be alive. It was almost a form of deadening myself, or at least a part of myself. And I wanted to try to reckon earnestly and directly with beauty and suffering and life as I found it. And my experience so far anyway has been that it's scarier to write (and live!) with real vulnerability, but it's also way more fulfilling.

quanlord120 karma

Hi John, love your work. What is your best advice to give to another father?

thesoundandthefury381 karma

Here's what I wish I had known: Quality time matters, but quantity time matters more.

saddamfuki103 karma

Hello John, you and Hank kind of played the role of auxiliary parents to me and many young people at Nerdfighteria. Who would you attribute that role to in your life, if you had to?

thesoundandthefury101 karma

I've been lucky to have great parents. But there were certainly adults I looked up to, especially when I was in my teens and early 20s, who had a big impact on me. One is the writer Amy Krouse Rosenthal, who became a mentor and a friend to me, but independent of that I was just a big fan of hers. Another is Ilene Cooper, the children's book author and legendary Booklist editor who loved me through some of the hardest times of my life.

I don't know if there were people like that who I never knew in real life, but that is largely a function of the Internet today being so, so vastly different from the Internet of the 90s, when I was in my teens and twenties.

SlamsMcdunkin102 karma

How many stars does The Anthropocene Reviewed Book get?

thesoundandthefury289 karma

Books belong to their readers, so that's not for me to decide. However, it is (by far) my best-reviewed book on goodreads, with an average rating of 4.54.

It is absolutely surreal to have my book making fun of the five-star scale reviewed so often on a five-star scale, but I am deeply grateful that people have thus far responded so generously to the book.

The_Pirate_of_Oz67 karma

No real question, but I love the podcast and have been a listener for a long time. 4.7/5 stars from me.

Just wanted to say thanks.

thesoundandthefury142 karma

I hope you will not mind that I'm rounding your rating up in my mind. ;)

Thanks for listening.

dinkelberj90 karma

If you could receive a honest review about the book from any writer, live or dead, who would it be?

thesoundandthefury135 karma

Gosh. Tough question. Annie Dillard, I guess. The way she writes about humans and the natural world (and the way she understands us as participants in the natural world, not observers of it) had a huge impact on The Anthropocene Reviewed, and on me.

FieldsingAround87 karma

Think you'll still be doing Vlogbrothers in another 10 years?

thesoundandthefury220 karma

I certainly did not think in 2011 that we would still be making videos in 2021. Vlogbrothers will end at some point, of course, and I'd like it to end in a way that makes sense for us and for the community of people who watch it. But I think it's a sign of how much I still enjoy making vlogbrothers videos that I do not think much about how or when it will end.

dancing_oreos83 karma

Favorite memory of 2021 so far? :D

thesoundandthefury272 karma

I write about this in The Anthropocene Reviewed audiobook, actually, and in [an episode of the podcast about the smallpox vaccine and how it contributed to Covid vaccine science.](https://www.npr.org/podcasts/735466018/the-anthropocene-reviewed) My favorite memory of 2021 so far was hugging my parents for the first time since 2019.

math_is_delicious78 karma

Your essays involve a lot of quotes from other people: poets, novelists, scientists, etc. I love the idea of pulling in humanity's words to swirl around with your own. Do these come up naturally when you're thinking about the essay or topic? Have any of the quotes been essay inspiration?

thesoundandthefury99 karma

A lot of the quotes come up naturally as I'm writing. I'll think, for instance, "Terry Tempest Williams said what I am trying to say faster and better than I can say it," and so I'll incorporate that into the essay.

Occasionally, a line in something I read will inspire an entire essay. Reading Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, I came across a couple paragraphs about sycamore trees and thought about how I could use the sycamore tree as a way in to writing about depression and despair and how it resolves (or at least how it resolved for me the last time I experienced a period of major depression). So if it hadn't been for that book, I wouldn't have written that essay.

math_is_delicious30 karma

Cool! I wonder if you would consider someone like Terry Tempest Williams or Annie Dillard people who loved you into your now. Even though you have no interaction personally, their words resonate with you deeply.

I sometimes feel like my personality is partially made of the things I read and watch.

thesoundandthefury84 karma

Yes, absolutely. I am made out of the stuff I pay attention to, which is why I have to be careful about what I pay attention to.

aickem73 karma

What was the longest part of writing TAR? What was the shortest?

thesoundandthefury163 karma

There's an essay on the book about this winter precipitation known as "wintry mix," and that was the hardest essay to write. I began a form of it in 2015, long before I ever imagined that I would write a book of essays, and did not complete it until just before the book went to print in April. I wanted to write not just about wintry mix itself but about the ways that we inevitably imbue the natural world with meaning, and how to deal with the human urge to metaphorize/symbolize/find patterns where none actually exist.

Also, I wanted to write about the goddamned groundhog that has haunted my life and my garden for the last six years, and so doing all those things at the same time was a fun challenge.

Not sure what the shortest time spent working on an essay was. Maybe the one about the Icelandic hot dog stand? I've told the story of my visit to Iceland a lot to friends over the years, and so that one was already half-written in my head.

lawnmower1133 karma

I moved from the south to Buffalo and I’m always trying to tell people what “graupel” is, so I very much appreciated this chapter. One of my favorites.

And the one bit about the sycamore tree made me cry at a red light, in a good way.

Excellent job with the audio book, I’ve recommended it to so many people!

thesoundandthefury76 karma

made me cry at a red light

Here's hoping you were reading the audiobook!!!! ;)

hattorikyojin72 karma

How do you decide when what you've created is "good enough" to share with the world?

thesoundandthefury175 karma

Well, I don't really know. Mostly I just run out of time. Like, even though I spent 10 years writing The Fault in Our Stars, I still pulled an all-nighter on the last night before the last revision was due.

VUXX607871 karma

how do you feel about tumblr ;)?

thesoundandthefury169 karma

I know this question is joking, but I will answer it sincerely anyway: It's a place that holds a lot of great memories for me, and also a lot of painful ones.

VincentStonecliff71 karma

Hey John, huge fan of yours over the past decade. Your book is a beautiful capstone to the past year we’ve all had. I didn’t think I could get emotional reading about The World’s Largest Ball of Paint, but you worked your literary magic again.

Was there anything you wanted to review that you had to scrap for the final version?

thesoundandthefury104 karma

Thanks for the kind words. I really appreciate it.

The whole time I was writing the book, I wanted to write a review of the five-star scale itself, but I could never quite make it work.

lock31953 karma

The “Auld Lang Syne” episode of the Anthropocene Reviewed is my favorite podcast of all. Thank you.

How do you mange to write, produce videos, and do everything else and be a dad?

Signed- a new dad.

thesoundandthefury87 karma

It seems like I do a lot of things, but that is often true for people who have a lot of help and support. The truth is, I do the public-facing parts of many things, which is not the same thing as doing lots of things. Here's where my 40 hours of weekly work go to. (Admittedly, I often work more than 40 hours a week, but I'm trying not to, so I built this schedule.)

2 hours - Dear Hank and John

8 hours - weekly vlogbrothers video

8 hours - admin / doing things I agreed to do that I probably shouldn't have agreed to do / worrying about phrasing in emails

6 hours - meetings of various kinds

20 hours - writing

If I can hold to that schedule, I have enough time for work and enough time to be truly here when my kids get home from school.

anto68752 karma

How happy are you to see AFC Wimbledon back to Plough Lane?

EDIT I’d also like to say how much I enjoy The Anthropocene Reviewed, and the episode on the decline of the Kaua’i ‘ō’ō made me stop walking and just listen. I listen to every episode as soon as they drop, thank you.

thesoundandthefury74 karma

  1. Thanks for the kind words. That was one of the hardest and most fulfilling writing experiences I've had.
  2. I am so, so, so, so happy and relieved that AFC Wimbledon are back home after 30,000 days in exile. It's an extraordinary story of what a unified community can accomplish. I really hope I'm able to attend the first league game with fans back at Plough Lane, and if not, that I'll at least be able to see a couple games this season.

GeorgeEBHastings52 karma

Hi John. I don't have a question, I just want to apologize for enthusiastically mobbing you in the Kenyon College Bookstore when you were visiting Kenyon (our shared Alma Mater) sometime in 2012-2013, shortly after The Fault in Our Stars had been released.

To my recollection you were very sweet, very patient, but visibly uncomfortable. As I've gotten older, I somewhat wish I had just let you be.

I don't know if you can relate, but returning to a place like Kenyon (or any discrete place possessing a titanic volume of one's formative memories) is a jarring and vaguely melancholy experience. I can't imagine how that, combined with exposure related to Kenyon's administration using your success as a marketing tool, would have felt in the moment.

Regardless, you ended up making a really lovely video about the school as a result of that visit. Thank you for everything you've done, and the next time I see you, I'll be sure to keep our interaction, at most, to a smile and a nod from across the room. DFTBA.

EDIT: I lied, I do have one question.

Did you take a class with Royal Rhodes during your time at Kenyon? If so, do you ever keep in touch?

thesoundandthefury80 karma

  1. Please do not feel bad about that interaction. It is nice to hear from people who like my work, and if I seemed nervous or overwhelmed, that is because I always seem nervous and overwhelmed in real life. At any rate, I am glad that you didn't just let me be, so please mark that off your list of things to worry about!
  2. It is certainly a melancholy and jarring experience to return to the site of one's younger and more vulnerable years. But actually being there and meeting students who liked my work made me feel vastly better about the whole surreal situation.
  3. I took one class with Professor Rhodes, but his influence on my life and my work extended far, far beyond the classroom. He was a true mentor to me and I still think about stuff I learned from him all the time.

xayde9450 karma

Hi, do you know there still are people on the Internet repeating "some infinities are larger than others" in contexts in which it's wrong?

thesoundandthefury113 karma

Well, Hazel repeats it in a context in which it's wrong, so I definitely get why it happens. In the novel, I really fell in love with this idea that Van Houten would tell them something that is true that Hazel would then repeat in a way that was untrue but helpful.

This idea of beliefs that are untrue but helpful was a big deal to me when I was writing The Fault in Our Stars.

But of course what actually happened, and what I probably should've seen coming, is that most people do not have a background in set theory and so just assumed that Hazel was right.

languagemerry49 karma

Thoughts on EURO 2021? Any predictions on the winner? Please keep tweeting your takes with the sports twitter, I greatly enjoy watching along with you.

thesoundandthefury125 karma

It's coming home.

nancxpants48 karma

Would you and Chris ever consider revisiting 100 Days and/or doing some kind of reunion challenge? I love that series — it’s great seeing you guys progress and being a fly on the wall for such a wonderful friendship :)

thesoundandthefury49 karma

We've talked about doing occasional update/reunion videos, but for now I am happy to leave that series where we left it. The really cool things are that 1. Chris and Marina and Sarah and I are closer than ever having podded together through a pandemic, and 2. Chris and I both still exercise regularly. In fact, I'm working out with Laura, our trainer from 100 Days, this afternoon! I'm really glad you enjoyed the show, and I do hope there will be a new video or two up there someday.

summinspicy47 karma

Hey John, I know you like to try and answer every question on your AMAs, even if it takes ages and I'm very late to the party, so my question to you is; what was your favourite moment of the 2020 Olympics?

thesoundandthefury96 karma

But they...


wait, are you in an alternate timeline? What's it like there? Who did well in the Olympics? Can you shake hands with strangers????

KetieSaner45 karma

Not really a question but f.a.z. the newspaper where you first found Reinhard pabst’s research about the “three farmers” published a review about your book! https://www.faz.net/-gr0-achxx?GEPC=s33

thesoundandthefury55 karma

That's so cool! That essay would've been absolutely impossible without your help, Ketie, so I know I say it in the book but I'll say it here again: Thank you thank you thank you.

FartherEastOfEden43 karma

Which subjects do you generally find uninteresting? I’m sure with crash course you’ve had to go over topics that aren’t your cup of tea, but you do a great job being informative regardless.

thesoundandthefury91 karma

I tend to believe that everything can be interesting if the right kind of attention is paid to it. That's basically the thesis I wanted to test through The Anthropocene Reviewed.

Of course, there are some things that are easier to find interesting. (There's a reason the most viewed CC History videos are about wars and the least viewed ones are about the slow and broad historical processes that shaped the world we now share.) But working on Crash Course helped me understand that it's not the subject that matters as much as the way of looking.

yityit2343 karma

Hi John! Longtime nerdfighter here :) Do you have a favorite fan written goodreads review of TAR? Also, what was the hardest event in the 2021 Quadragacon?

thesoundandthefury102 karma

  1. My all-time favorite goodreads review is of The Anthropocene Reviewed and it begins something like, "Hank Green certainly knows his science, but he doesn't know anything about people." That whole sentence reviewing a book by John Green is just *chef's kiss*.
  2. The hardest event in the [2021 Quadragacon](https://youtu.be/0WwaOuvH3gA) was definitely the kayaking.

zygro9841 karma

Hi John! My favorite feature of the book was how you used footnotes to inject personal details into a more fact-oriented section and vice versa. I thought it was a such a clever use of the tools of the non-fiction genre, and it really expanded my reading experience. I was wondering how you handled the footnotes in the audiobook? Are they read aloud, and if so, is there any indication that this is a footnote? Do you read the footnote exactly where it's marked in the main text or wait until the end of the sentence/paragraph/page? I'm thinking especially of the footnote regarding the lack of a period in Dr Pepper. Thanks so much!

thesoundandthefury54 karma

Thanks for the kind words. My editor Julie Strauss-Gabel and I worked very hard on the footnotes with the hope of them being exactly what you've described them as being, so that's lovely to hear!

With the audiobook, we incorporated most of them into the text. Once or twice, I actually said, "footnote," and then in a couple cases I left them out because they were too disruptive. We were able to include almost all of them, though.

Pelirrojita40 karma

How's the Maternal Center of Excellence coming along? Any updates?

thesoundandthefury73 karma

They broke ground a few months ago. It will take almost two years for everything to be fully operational, but in the meantime, there are already big improvements happening at Koidu Government Hospital. A new infant care center partly supported by our community has led to a fifty percent reduction in infant deaths just in the last year.

There is a very (very very) long way to go when it comes to strengthening the healthcare system in Sierra Leone. But the partnership between the government and PIH is really encouraging to see, and the progress is real, even if it is utterly insufficient.

If you're interested in learning more, I highly recommend [PIH Sierra Leone's annual report,](https://www.pihsierraleone.com/2020) which sounds boring but isn't!

megan13141540 karma

How’s the garden?

thesoundandthefury120 karma

It's really good, but it's really good for a terrible reason.

I write about this in the book, but for the last five years, I've had a nemesis: a groundhog who lives beneath a shed about fifty feet from my garden. She has been eating a diet of fresh organic fruits and vegetables for years now, muching to her heart's content with absolutely no fear of me.

And this spring, when I planted the garden, I waited for my old enemy to waddle out from beneath the shed--and she never did. So now I am enjoying my largest ever crop of strawberries, but my heart is heavy, because I know that at least a third of these strawberries ought to be hers.

Interesting_Wolf31833 karma

have you read any of the reviews to your kids?

thesoundandthefury115 karma

Yes, I read them all the reviews in which they are mentioned, to make sure they were comfortable with my depictions of them.

Priyome32 karma

Do you anticipate The Anthropocene Reviewed will ever be back? I loved your narrative style and miss the thoughtful and reflective reviews.

thesoundandthefury83 karma

I have good news! We are making a new season now, and there's a new episode forthcoming in a couple weeks.

As for the long-term future of TAR, I don't know. I like writing it a lot--it is probably the most personally fulfilling writing I've ever done--but I also want to write other stuff, and TAR takes a lot of time.

magbot31032 karma

How long did it take you to sign all of the pages? Follow up - how many sharpies did you go through?

thesoundandthefury55 karma

It took around 500 hours. Maybe 450?

I can sign about 700 sheets per Sharpie. I'm bad at math but that means I went through about 350 sharpies I think? (It's possible to get more signatures out of a Sharpie; I just have strong feelings about how narrow and consistent the line needs to be to look "good" in my mind, even though I know no one who actually gets the book cares about the cleanness of the line.)

highneuroticism31 karma

How has the pandemic been for you in relation to OCD? For me it has been hard even with meds/therapy

thesoundandthefury60 karma

Yeah it hasn't ben great for me. I am really grateful to have excellent medical care and a good medication regimen, but ... yeah, it has been a challenging year for sure. I'm sorry it's been hard for you as well.

Uhmusername123428 karma

If you could, would you change any of the ratings you gave in the book?

thesoundandthefury82 karma

I should've given our capacity for wonder four and a half stars. I don't know what the hell I was thinking three months ago giving it three and a half stars.

m2thek19 karma

Hi, John! I'm a big fan of the video you did with Lindsay Ellis on "death of the author." It's fascinating to hear an author be so reflective of their own work and how their own views have changed over time. How did you come to be involved in that video, and have your views that you shared then since changed yet again?

Thanks, and good luck with the new book :)

thesoundandthefury33 karma

As for how it happened: Lindsay asked me, and I said yes.

I suppose I wanted to do it because I've wrestled so much in my career with my presence in my novels, and with the relationship between author and reader and how that relationship is changing in the internet era. You can see this even ten years ago, when I wrote a very stern (and in retrospect sorta patronizing) author's note in the fault in our stars that was like, "DO NOT LOOK FOR FACTS INSIDE THIS STORY."

But then at the same time, I knew that readers would inevitably read me into the story, and so I created a character who is like me a novelist and is like me asked a lot about what happened to certain characters after the end of the book.

And then in Turtles All the Way Down, I wrestled with the question in a different way--knowing that some readers would be aware that the author has OCD just as the protagonist does, and that the author has a bunch of money and lives in Indianapolis just like the absent father of Davis Pickett does.

But in the end, I found it kind of exhausting to navigate this complex phenomenon where the author becomes a character in the novel even against their will. And so I wrote a book of nonfiction. :)

responsiblefornothin18 karma

Just wanted to let you know I used your quote about quotes as my senior quote because I felt it had the effect of dodging the question all together, and it was just the amount of angst I needed to express. Also, how's Hank doing?

thesoundandthefury22 karma

hahahaha I love that. Thanks for making me part of your senior quote, even if only to deny the importance of quotes.

I think Hank's doing okay. He just texted me and I need to write him back!

corduroybuccle17 karma

What is one of your favorite tastes?

thesoundandthefury33 karma

I know people want me to respond to this with some joke about the joke, but I just don't feel like it. For me this reference just calls to mind a miserable period of my life where I could not figure out how to navigate my relationship with the internet and with my audience. I hope I've gotten a little better at that stuff in the last six years, and I'm sorry I wasn't better at it back then.

arthursaurus_lentils15 karma

How do you feel about people copying your writing format and style used in this book? I've personally found it very useful in getting my thoughts written down.

thesoundandthefury41 karma

In my opinion, that's one of the most wonderful things to have come out of the book and the podcast. It's so lovely to see other people's reviews, and to see people using little pieces that they've taken from my work to make stuff of their own. That is one of my very favorite things about making art.

JustCallMeBen15 karma

Hey John,

Just wanted to say I loved the anthropocene reviewed! I personally think it's your best book yet.

As to my question: since this book is probably the closest thing to a memoir you'll write, I was a bit surprised nerdfighters was only mentioned briefly in the chapter on mortification. I expected a bit more on it since I was under the impression it had a big impact on your life. Was this a deliberate choice of yours to not dwell on that part of your life, or do I, as a part of that particular audience, have a skewed view on how important that period was for you?

Also, Jonneke sends her regards.

Hope you are well!

thesoundandthefury35 karma

Hey, Ben! Say hi to Jonneke for me! (Ben and Jonneke met through nerdfighteria and got married!)

Thanks for the kind words about the book. I am really interested by your question and don't have a great answer for it. Nerdfighteria is a hugely important part of my professional life (and really my life in general), and so it should have a big presence in the book. But I think it may be that when I was writing, I did not want to focus on my celebrity or the having-an-audience or being-a-public-figure part of my life, perhaps because that is the part of my life I understand the least and feel the least comfortable talking about? So I don't think it's that it isn't important to me; I think it's that I don't understand it or know how to talk about it in writing.

Fakename99813 karma

What's your favorite American city?

thesoundandthefury37 karma

Indianapolis, by a very wide margin.

CaptinCookie1006 karma

Which book was harder To write turtles all the way down? Or the fault in our stars? Ps Turtles all the way down is my favorite book of all time

thesoundandthefury12 karma

Turtles was much harder to write, not least because I was writing in the shadow of the other one. I'm so, so grateful to you for reading that book and for responding to it so deeply. Thanks.