A couple of weeks ago, my younger brother Justin and I packed up the car and drove down to Austin. We were on a mission: to find the Nerdfighteria van and see his favorite author, John Green, and singer, Hank Green. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
I have to frame this whole tale with the initial conversation regarding said event. A couple of months prior, I received some funny texts. He wrote:
“Do you like books?”
Ponder. Yes, I think I do.
“Do you like authors?”
Well, as you need them to get books, I don’t mind them.
“Will you go with me to Austin to see John Green?”
No idea who that is, but sure.
After a bit of research, I found that John Green is a popular Young Adult (YA) author with several hit titles under his belt. He wrote An Abundance of Katherines (Justin’s favorite), Paper Towns, Looking for Alaska, and his newest title The Faults in Our Stars. I didn’t know much about this man, but if he was inspiring so many teens to read, including my little brother, I had to attend.
John and Hank Green are brothers who, a handful of years ago, started a vlog. In 2007, they decided to quit texting each other and communicate with each other through videos on YouTube (truth is often stranger than fiction). They post three videos a week to vlogbrothers and have millions of regular viewers.
From this spawned an online community of nerdfighters. Before you think these nerdfighters are simply crazed fans, consider the good they’ve done. This community has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight poverty and in 2010 planted thousands of trees around the world. They may seem crazy sometimes, but they do a world of good.
There’s good reason why few authors, other than those like Stephen King and Clive Cussler, go on book tours. It’s expensive. Almost everyone loses money on those trips unless the person touring is a best-selling popular writer. Even those have to be the top-guns. Publicists need to know they can sell out an event.
That is exactly what happened with John and Hank Green. They sold out at every event: Birgmingham, New Orleans, Houston, Austin, Albuquerque, Pheonix, Santa Monica, Redwood City, Portland, Lake Forest Park, and even Vancouver, BC. Each stop, over one thousand people stood in line, filled auditoriums, and got their books and CDs signed by the Green brothers.
Justin and I were able to sit near the front. Behind us sat over a thousand (yes thousand) teenagers. When John Green took the stage, I felt as though I’d been teleported back to a Beatles concert. They all screamed, all thousand of them. Then, when John began to read, an eerie, reverent calm fell over the group. Some were listening, others were reading along. They all appeared to be mesmerized by the words. It was incredible to witness.
To fully appreciate the full scope of this event, here is a full video of the event from John Green’s website. (Don’t listen to it loudly. Screaming teenagers.)
To save you from an hour on YouTube, here’s a clip of my favorite part recorded from my phone. Over a thousand teenagers are singing along to a song about Quarks. Seriously, and we think kids today aren’t learning anything.
So many people have written off teenagers as lazy kids who play on videogames, social media sites, phones, and computers all day and who can’t seem to pick up a book to save their lives. I think that’s a misconception. We’re forgetting all about those nerdfighters who don’t just love books, they’re obsessed with every element of them. They read literary fiction like John Green’s novels (pick one up, and I’ll think you’ll agree on that designation), science fiction books, fantasy books, any book they can get their hands on.
Literature isn’t going to die with this and future generations. It’s getting even more love than ever.