John Green (author)

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John Green
John Green by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Green at VidCon 2014
Born John Michael Green
(1977-08-24) August 24, 1977 (age 44)
Indianapolis, Indiana, US
Occupation Author, critic, web host
Nationality American
Citizenship American
Education B.A., English and Religious studies
Alma mater Kenyon College ( 2000)
Period 2005–present
Genre Young-adult fiction, bildungsroman, romance, radio, video
Notable works
Notable awards Michael L. Printz Award
2006 Looking for Alaska
Edgar Award
2009 Paper Towns
Spouse Sarah Urist Green (m. 2006)[1]
  • Henry Green
  • Alice Green
  • Mike Green (father)
  • Sydney Green (mother)
  • Hank Green (brother)

Signature File:Jscribble.svg

John Michael Green (born August 24, 1977) is an American author of young adult fiction, YouTube video blogger (vlogger) and educator. He won the 2006 Printz Award for his debut novel, Looking for Alaska,[2] and his sixth novel, The Fault in Our Stars, debuted at number 1 on The New York Times Best Seller list in January 2012.[3] The 2014 film adaptation opened at #1 at the box office.[4] In 2014, Green was included in Time magazine's list of the 100 most influential people in the world.[5] Another film based on a Green novel, Paper Towns, was released on July 24, 2015.

Aside from being a novelist, Green is also well known for his YouTube ventures. In 2007, he launched the VlogBrothers channel with his brother, Hank Green. Since then, John and Hank have launched events such as Project for Awesome and VidCon and created a total of 11 online series including Crash Course, an educational channel teaching literature, history, and science, later joined by courses in economics, US government, astronomy, and politics.[6]

Early life and career

Green was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, to Mike and Sydney Green.[7] Three weeks after he was born, his family moved to Michigan, then later Birmingham, Alabama, and finally to Orlando, Florida.[8][9] He attended Lake Highland Preparatory School in Orlando, and Indian Springs School outside of Birmingham, Alabama, the latter of which he later used as the inspiration for the main setting of his first book, Looking for Alaska.[10] Green graduated from Kenyon College in 2000 with a double major in English and Religious studies.[11] He has spoken about being bullied and how it had made life as a teenager miserable for him.[12]

After graduating from college, Green spent five months working as a student chaplain at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio while enrolled at the University of Chicago Divinity School (although he never actually attended the school).[13] He intended to become an Episcopal priest, but his experiences of working in a hospital with children suffering from life-threatening illnesses inspired him to become an author, and later to write The Fault in Our Stars.[14]

Green lived for several years in Chicago, where he worked for the book review journal Booklist as a publishing assistant and production editor while writing Looking for Alaska.[9] While there, he reviewed hundreds of books, particularly literary fiction and books about Islam or conjoined twins.[15] He has also critiqued books for The New York Times Book Review and created original radio essays for NPR's All Things Considered and WBEZ, Chicago's public radio station.[15] Green later lived in New York City for two years while his wife attended graduate school.


Green's first novel, Looking for Alaska, published by Dutton Children's Books in 2005, is a school story and teen romance inspired by his experiences at Indian Springs, fictionalized as Culver Creek Preparatory High School.[16] The novel was awarded the annual Michael L. Printz Award by the American Library Association, recognizing the year's "best book written for teens, based entirely on its literary merit".[2] It also appeared on the ALA's annual list Top 10 Best Books for Young Adults. The film rights were purchased in 2005 by Paramount, which hired Josh Schwartz as writer and director, but five years later, with no progress on the project, Green told fans that, while he "desperately loved" the screenplay, there seemed to be little interest at Paramount.[17] As sales of Looking for Alaska continued to increase in 2011, Green showed mixed feelings about a movie, which he felt would threaten readers' "intense and private connection to the story".[18] In 2012, the book reached The New York Times Best Seller list for children's paperbacks.[19] Green's second novel, An Abundance of Katherines (Dutton, 2006) was a runner-up for the Printz Award and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

With fellow young adult authors Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle, Green collaborated on Let It Snow: Three Holiday Romances (Speak, 2008), which consists of three interconnected short stories, including Green's "A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle", each set in the same small town on Christmas Eve, during a massive snowstorm. In November 2009, that book reached Number 10 on The New York Times Best Seller list for paperback children's books.[20]

In 2008, Green's third novel, Paper Towns, debuted at number five on The New York Times Best Seller list for children's books, and the novel was made into the 2015 film Paper Towns.[21][22] In 2009, Paper Towns was awarded the 2009 Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Novel[23] and the 2010 Corine Literature Prize.[24]

After this, Green and his friend, young-adult writer David Levithan, collaborated on the novel Will Grayson, Will Grayson, which was published by Dutton in 2010.[25][26] It was a runner-up (Honor Book) for two of the annual ALA awards, the Stonewall Book Award (for excellence in LGBT children's and young adult literature),[27] and the Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production.

In August 2009, Green announced he was writing a new book entitled The Sequel,[28] which was later scrapped. His sixth book, The Fault in Our Stars, was released in January 2012. He crafted the novel by collaborating with Dutton editor Julie Strauss-Gabel.[29] Green explained that several parts of The Sequel were reworked into The Fault in Our Stars.[30] Green signed all 150,000 copies of the first printing and his wife and his brother applied their own symbols, a Yeti and an Anglerfish (known as the "Hanklerfish"), respectively. The New York Times Best Seller list for children's books listed The Fault in Our Stars at number one for two weeks in January and February 2012.[3][31] The novel has been made into a major motion picture of the same name, released in the United States on June 6, 2014.[32]

In late 2013, Green stated that he is writing a new book with the working title The Racket.[33] He sold 5,000 words of a rough draft on IndieGoGo for $10 in order to raise money as part of the Project for Awesome charity event.[34] On November 16, 2014, Green wrote on his Tumblr page that he is not working on The Racket but is working on something else with a different title.[35]

Although his novels have earned mostly positive critical reception, Green has discussed what he believes to be flaws in his novels, when he looked at them in retrospect.[36] Additionally, in response to a fan's tweet, Green apologized for using the word retarded in Paper Towns, stating, "Yeah, I regret it. At the time, I thought an author's responsibility was to reflect language as I found it, but now ... eight years later, I don't feel like a book about humanizing the other benefited from dehumanizing language," adding, "it's not in the movie, and I won't use the word again in a book or elsewhere."[37]

In September 2015, Green announced that he would be taking a break from social media in order to focus on writing his next book. [38]

Public image

File:John Green (7492849834).jpg
John Green at VidCon 2012

Green's rapid rise to fame and idiosyncratic voice are credited with creating a major shift in the young adult fiction market. While reviewing the Andrew Smith young-adult novel, Winger, A. J. Jacobs of The New York Times used the term "GreenLit" to describe young adult books which contain "sharp dialogue, defective authority figures, occasional boozing, unrequited crushes and one or more heartbreaking twists."[39] According to the Wall Street Journal, "[s]ome credit him with ushering in a new golden era for contemporary, realistic, literary teen fiction, following more than a decade of dominance by books about young wizards, sparkly vampires and dystopia. A blurb or Twitter endorsement from Mr. Green can ricochet around the Internet and boost sales, an effect book bloggers call 'the John Green bump.'" Zareen Jaffery, executive editor of Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers said "What I really like about what people are calling 'the John Green effect' is that there's more of an interest in authentic, genuine, relatable characters."[6]

Young-adult readers and authors, including Green himself have been critical of the terms.[40] Green has voiced his disagreement with the idea that he is single-handedly responsible for launching or promoting any one individual's career.[40] Many women have argued against the concept, such as Kelly Jensen, a book blogger and librarian who stated: "Let there be no question: Green has earned his accolades and awards. He’s worked tirelessly to gain a following and fan base. But the fact that we as a reading and book culture—hell I’d even go further to say those who are casual readers—continue to uphold him as some Savior of YA and the success toward which to aspire is amazingly problematic. Because it follows in the same problematic gender norms that have plagued us since forever. The cis-gendered white male is the standard for best."[41] Green has commented on these arguments: "My concern is that popular work by women receives far more vitriolic criticism from the public (like, in terms of number of demeaning jokes...) than popular work created by men... Also, I would like to see equal attention given to the sexism in popular work by men, from Nicholas Sparks to for instance J. D. Salinger. Catcher in the Rye—although I like it very much—is profoundly and disturbingly misogynistic and yet seems to get a critical pass both online and off. This happens a lot, I think, with books by men, and I don't want male writers (including me!) to get that pass."[41] Relating to this issue, Green has stated that he identifies as a feminist.[42]

In 2015, a Tumblr post from user virjn generated media controversy, as it claimed Green is "a creep who panders to teenage girls so that he can amass some weird cult-like following."[43][44] Other users commented on the post, criticizing his writing and tagging Green to bring the post to his attention.[43][44] Green responded to the post, defending himself, stating, "Throwing that kind of accusation around is sick and libelous and most importantly damages the discourse around the actual sexual abuse of children."[44] Green added that he would use the social media website less often, stating, "I'm not angry or anything like that. I just need some distance for my well-being."[37] Fellow young-adult authors, Rainbow Rowell and Maggie Stiefvater came to Green's defense. Stiefvater wrote on Tumblr, "You can have your own opinions on Green's books and Internet presence, but the fact remains that he is a very real positive influence on thousands of teens. You're not just making sure you can't have nice things. You're taking away other people's nice things." In a subsequent email to USA Today, Stiefvater stated, "I had to say something. Not because of the nature of the posts, although they were distasteful and borderline libel. But because the grotesquerie was being force-fed to the author."[44]

On July 14, 2015, Greg Ballard, the mayor of Indianapolis, proclaimed that that day would be "John Green Day" in his city.[45] That month, Teresa Jacobs, the mayor of Orange County, Florida, declared that July 17 would also be John Green Day.[46]

Other projects


CrashCourse is a project made by John Green and his brother, Hank Green, aimed to educate high school students, but it has diversified in to another channels specifically aimed at kids, called CrashCourse Kids.


File:Hank & John Green (7492865820).jpg
John (left) with his brother, Hank

In 2007, John and his brother Hank began a video blog project called Brotherhood 2.0 which ran from January 1 to December 31 of that year. The two agreed that they would forgo all text-based communication with each other for the duration of the project, instead maintaining their relationship by exchanging video blogs, each submitting one to the other on each alternate weekday. These videos were uploaded to a YouTube channel called "vlogbrothers" (as well as the brothers' own website) where they reached a wide audience.[47][48] In what would have been the project's final video, the brothers revealed that they would extend their video correspondence indefinitely,[49] and as of 2015 they have continued exchanging their unique vlogs.

Since the project's inception the duo have gained a wide reaching international fanbase whose members identify collectively as "Nerdfighters".[50] The group, in collaboration with the two brothers, promote and participate in a number of humanitarian efforts, including the Project for Awesome, an annual charity fundraiser, a Nerdfighter lending group on the microfinancing website Kiva which to date has loaned over $4 million to entrepreneurs in the developing world,[51] and the Foundation to Decrease World Suck, the brothers' own charity.[52]

In addition to the main VlogBrothers channel, the brothers have also created a number of side-projects. These include Truth or Fail, a YouTube game show hosted by Hank and a variety of guest hosts, HankGames (either "with..." or "without Hank"), which consists mostly of screen-capture footage of various videogames, and the Emmy award-winning The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a modernized serialization of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.[53]

In 2012, following a grant from Google, the brothers launched a pair of short-format educational video series entitled Crash Course, which presents series on World History, American History, and Literature (hosted by John) and Chemistry, Biology, Ecology and Psychology (hosted by Hank) and SciShow.[54]


John Green pictured smiling at VidCon 2012

VidCon is an annual conference for the online video community. The conference was created by the Greens in 2010 in response to the growing online video community. Hank states, "We wanted to get as much of the online video community together, in one place, in the real world for a weekend. It's a celebration of the community, with performances, concerts, and parties; but it's also a discussion of the explosion in community-based online video."[55] The event draws many popular YouTube users, as well as their fans, and provides room for the community to interact. The event also contains an industry conference for people and businesses working in the online video field.

Project for Awesome

In 2007, the Greens introduced the charity project entitled the Project for Awesome (P4A),[56] a project in which YouTube users take two days, traditionally December 17 and 18, to create videos promoting charities or non-profit organizations of their choosing. They raised a total of $483,446, surpassing their goal of $100,000.[57] The event has continued annually and in December 2013, the Project for Awesome raised $869,291. Money is raised through donations to an Indiegogo campaign where supporters can pledge money and receive donated perks like signed photographs, books, and art in return. The Green brothers also donate one cent for each comment made on a Project for Awesome video during the event. There is a livestream that lasts for the duration of the Project for Awesome, which is hosted by John Green, Hank Green, and other YouTube personalities.

Mental Floss

Green is the frontman for the YouTube channel for the magazine Mental Floss. He had previously been a contributing writer for the magazine for a period in the mid-2000s.[58] Alongside other presenters, like Craig Benzine and Elliott Morgan, John Green presents "The List Show" in which he lists off interesting facts centered on one particular subject matter, such as "26 amusing facts about amusement parks".[59] These episodes are directed by Mark Olsen and are produced by John and Hank Green and Stan Muller.

Personal life

Green lives in Indianapolis, Indiana with his wife, Sarah Urist Green, whom he married on May 21, 2006.[60] She worked as the Curator of Contemporary Art at Indianapolis Museum of Art before leaving to start The Art Assignment, a web series with PBS.[61] In videos on the VlogBrothers channel, Sarah Green is referred to as "the Yeti" due to her not appearing visibly on camera.[1] She made an appearance on YouTube in a Google Hangout video chat with President Obama, during which she and her husband asked the President whether they should name their unborn daughter Eleanor or Alice.[62] They have two children, Henry and Alice, as well as a West Highland Terrier named "Willy".[63] Green has stated that he is an Episcopalian Christian,[64] but mentioned in the tenth episode of his podcast, Dear Hank and John, that he was married in a Catholic church.[65] John is an avid fan of Liverpool F.C. of the Premier League and has publicly discussed English football.[66] As of 2015, John is also a shorts and stand sponsor of English League Two club AFC Wimbledon, of whom he is also a keen admirer.[67]

Green has obsessive-compulsive disorder,[68] and has discussed his struggles with mental illness extensively on YouTube.[69][70][71][72]



Short stories

  • "The Approximate Cost of Loving Caroline", Twice Told: Original Stories Inspired by Original Artwork by Scott Hunt (2006)
  • "The Great American Morp", 21 Proms, eds. David Levithan and Daniel Ehrenhaft (2007)
  • "Freak the Geek", Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd (2009)
  • "Reasons", What You Wish For (2011)
  • Double on Call and Other Short Stories (2012)


  • (2006) Looking for Alaska, awarded with the Michael L. Printz Winners and Honor Books [2]
  • (2009) Thisisnottom, an interactive novel hidden behind riddles.[73][74]
  • (2010) Zombicorns, an online Creative Commons licensed zombie novella.[75]
  • (2012) The War for Banks Island, a sequel to Zombicorns released via email to people who donated to P4A.[76][77]
  • The Sequel, an unfinished novel, much of which was reworked into The Fault in Our Stars. The first 6,000 words are available via email to P4A donors.
  • (2013) The Space & The Cat and the Mouse, a P4A book collating an extract from an early draft of his new novel and a short story from childhood.
  • (2014) An Imperial Affliction, extracts used as a prop in The Fault in Our Stars film and later released to P4A donors.
  • "Crash Course", an educational YouTube channel which was started by brothers John and Hank Green. He is responsible for courses on World History, English Literature, and US History.[78][54]

Awards and nominations

Year Award
Work Category Result Ref
2006 Michael L. Printz Award Looking For Alaska N/A Won [79]
2007 An Abundance of Katherines N/A Nominated (Honor) [80]
2009 Edgar Allan Poe Award Paper Towns Best Young Adult Novel Won [23]
2010 Corine Literature Prize Paper Towns Young Adult Novel Won [81]
2012 Indiana Authors Award N/A National Author Award Won [82]
2013 Children's Choice Book Awards The Fault in Our Stars Teen Book of the Year Won [83]
2013 Los Angeles Times Book Prize N/A Innovator's Award Won [84]
2014 mtvU Fandom Awards N/A Visionary Award Won [85]

See also


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  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Michael L. Printz Winners and Honor Books". YALSA. American Library Association. Retrieved March 8, 2013.
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  35. Green, John (November 16, 2014). "No. I'm trying to write. The thing I am trying to write has no title and will not come out next year". Tumblr. Retrieved June 22, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  36. Bruno, Audrey (May 25, 2015). "John Green on What He Would Change About His Novels If He Had the Chance". Vulture. Retrieved June 22, 2015. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  37. 37.0 37.1 "Author John Green Lashes Out Against 'Accusations of Pedophilia'; Apologizes for Using the 'R' Word". People. June 12, 2015. Retrieved June 22, 2015. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  55. Hank Green (December 31, 2009). VidCon Questions Answered. VidCon. YouTube.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  56. Green, John; Hank Green (2011). "Project For Awesome". Project4Awesome 2011. Retrieved May 24, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  64. "Interview: John Green". Marc McEvoy. The Sydney Morning Herald. July 12, 2009. I was enrolled in divinity school and thought I was going to become a minister - I'm Episcopalian - but I was disavowed of that notion pretty quickly while working at the hospital.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  84. Kellogg, Carolyn (April 11, 2014). "Jacket Copy: The winners of the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes are ..." LA Times. Retrieved April 14, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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