John Green novels

John Green writes novels for today’s teens.

Though I had seen his books and knew some were made into movies, I hadn’t read one until recently. And now I’ve read two.

Recently, I read and marveled at Tara Westover’s memoir, Educated. After finishing the book, I browsed online to learn more about Westover. I found a post by Bill Gates, which let me learn that Gates often posts online about books he enjoys. (I’ve now subscribed.)

Wandering around Gates’ posts, I found one written about books he has read with his family. This led me to read Green’s Turtles All the Way Down and Paper Towns.

John Green focuses on modern teenage life

Many fabulous books for teens are fantasies, inspiring to read but not going to happen. Wizards, star-touched queens, vampires.

John Green writes about real, gritty, angst-filled modern teenage life. As I read his books, I tried to understand – at least a little – about life for teens today. And it was eye-opening.

Turtles All the Way Down

The cover of this book includes a spiral, moving from high to low and tightening with every turn. Aza Homes, the story’s central character, lives with obsessive-compulsive disorder and severe anxiety. Green’s writing offers the reader an opportunity to ‘spiral down’ with Aza, providing insight as to how it might feel, at least for one character, to live with these challenges. After reading the book, I read more about Green, and was not surprised to learn that he faces these challenges himself, every day.

John GreenI highlighted many parts of John Green’s story. Here are a few quotes, in the order in which they appear in his book.

The thing about a spiral is, if you follow it inward, it never actually ends. It just keeps tightening, infinitely.

Anybody can look at you. It’s quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see.

There were four minutes remaining in my lunch period, which was the perfect length for a Mom conversation.

Yes, well…American high schools do rather resemble prisons.

Sometimes I miss…being a little kid, but then I remember Chuck E. Cheese.

The whole problem with boys is that ninety-nine percent of them are, like, okay.

The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another (William James). I don’t know what superpower William James enjoyed, but I can no more choose my thoughts than choose my name.

Spirals grow infinitely small the farther you follow them inward, but they also grow infinitely large the farther you follow them out.


Paper Towns

Gates’ post referenced John Green’s Paper Towns as his favorite Green novel, so I read that one too.

John GreenThis coming-of-age story is about Quentin Jacobsen and his evolving relationship with Margo Roth Spiegelman, his neighbor and childhood crush. Margo lives life differently from many others, and Quentin struggles to make sense of her and of his relationship with her.

John Green’s novel includes situations of true peril, real life-and-death concerns, and lot of pranks. I’ll include one quote as an example of how Margo chooses her own path in life, and rejects convention:

Yeah. I’m a big believer in random capitalization. The rules of capitalization are so unfair to words in the middle.

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