If You Could Bottle Awesome…

….brothers John and Hank Green would find a way.

These two brothers initially rose to fame through their Youtube channel, VLOG brothers, a video project they undertook in 2007; they ceased all textual communication for a year, communicating only through phone calls, face-to-face reunions, and through their Youtube videos, which cover all kinds of topics, ranging from books, to growing up, to romance, to college, to Harry Potter. John is a prize winning, best selling novelist of books such as the Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns, an Abundance of Katherines and this year’s TIME fiction book of the year, The Fault in Our Stars. Hank runs the web site Eco Geek, the DFTBA record label, and has released several solo albums. Together they started the charity Project For Awesome,  which raised $450,000 in 2012. Their video project was so popular they continued after the initial year, and there’s now thousands of videos, but here’s two awesome examples. (Note: John and Hank’s catchphrase is “Don’t forget to be awesome” so you’ll be seeing that word tossed around a lot in this post.)

The Green brothers grew so prolific that they just recently performed together at Carnegie Hall in New York; Hank performed songs, John spoke on the first anniversary of The Fault in Our Stars and read excerpts from his books. Novelist Neil Gaiman made a guest appearance as well as the band The Mountain Goats (check out their music, the lyrics are especially spectacular, it’s like poetry put to song), and the event was absolutely sold out and live-streamed out to Nerdfighters (the name for the followers of the Green brothers) all over the world, my roommate and I included, and it was AWESOME.

(Here’s a shout out to her for introducing me to them in the first place. Thanks Katy!)

But why are the Green brothers so loved?

What’s at the core of their popularity?

It’s their whole-hearted embrace of what it means to be a nerd. Of what it means to really, really love something, whether it’s a book, a movie, a song, a video game, a TV show, writing, reading, singing, etc. Whatever you love, it’s cool. Be passionate about anything that inspires you.

They embrace what it means to be yourself, no matter what anyone else thinks.

They embrace new talent and education and living your life to it’s fullest.

They embrace open-mindedness.

They embrace humor and wit and connecting with other people and creating wonderful, irreplaceable friendships.

They’ve brought together groups of people who might never have met otherwise, and now Nerdfighters  gather all across the country and the world to hang out and build relationships with each other.

To use their terminology, they’ve certainly made huge strides in decreasing “world suck.”

I’ve already read three of John Green’s novels (The Fault in Our Stars, Paper Towns, and An Abundance of Katherines) and his first novel, Looking for Alaska, currently sits on my nightstand, ready to get read as soon as I finish the Neil Gaiman novel a friend gave me for Christmas.

Technically speaking, John Green is a young adult author, but his books?

They can appeal to absolutely everyone. He confronts issues that we’re afraid to face ourselves, and through his prose we can do just that; confront them and emerge better people from diving into the pages.  They are touching, poignant, real,  and have the capability to make you laugh so hard your sides hurt and then within a matter of moments make you cry. His characters feel like three-dimensional, flawed-but-loveable flesh and blood human beings, and by the time you put one of his books down you won’t want to say goodbye.

If I had to focus on one book (although that’s tough), I’d pick the much lauded The Fault in Our Stars; I quite literally read it in a space of just a little more than 24 hours, and when I was done I closed the book and laid there, heart still racing from what I’d just experienced. I’d originally been sitting in the living room, but because of my emotional reaction banished myself to my bedroom so I could contemplate the overwhelming power of that story.

On the simplest level, The Fault in Our Stars is the story of Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters, two teenage cancer patients who fall in love.

But it’s so much more than that.

Not only does the book explore the beautiful relationship between the two protagonists, but it explores and confronts death in an utterly unabashed way; it explores the emotions and thoughts of those who are dying, of those who love the dying, as well as grief itself. One line that particularly struck me, a line that I starred, underlined and highlighted was:

“Grief does not change you, Hazel, it reveals you.”

What a line! Simple and yet so very profound. It’s amazing how one line of text could transform my thoughts on a topic in which I thought myself so well-versed.

Because of my own experiences with grief and death, that is one line that spoke to me and will resound in my heart forever.

John Green also spends a great deal of time in the novel discussing Hazel and Augustus’ favorite books, and in turn discusses the power of stories during the hardest times of our lives.

In short?

You should really read this book. You should read any of his books.

And watch the VLOG Brothers Youtube channel.

And listen to Hank’s music.

For those looking to learn, Hank and John also have another channel called “Crash Course” in which John makes awesome videos about Literature and World History, while Hank tackles Biology and other epic science things.

And here’s a link!

Signing off, and as the Green brothers might say, don’t forget to be awesome!

credit to cjacquelinebouvier on tumblr

credit to cjacquelinebouvier on tumblr


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