I’ve written a little bit (okay a lot) about John Green and how the vlogbrothers Youtube series is an important part of my life. I love John’s books, but more I love listening to him and his brother talk about writing, about mental illness, about family and life and everything from llamas to angler fish (more on angler fish in a moment). I don’t want to be too mushy gushy, but I think watching their conversation has helped me tremendously in the weird process of figuring out how to adult and how to deal with hard things instead of avoiding them. It’s not as big a part of my life right now as it always has been, but this is all to say I was VERY EXCITED about John’s new book and the fact I’d get to see John and Hank live at Town Hall in Manhattan last week.
The event started off normally enough. There were more teens than usual at YA book event (a kind of sad fact of most NYC book launches), but I thought that was cool. Then John walked out and you would have thought he was Elvis Presley back from the dead and One Direction back together all rolled into one. The way people were screaming was borderline terrifying.
The phones went up while John started reading from his new book, Turtles All the Way Down. The books is about a character with OCD and the passage he read was beautiful but also painful to listen to. He talked a little bit about his process in writing the book and how this one was more personal than his previous stories.
So far pretty normal, right? And then John left the stage and this happened…
Hank … I mean Dr. Turtleman came on stage and gave a straight-up power point presentation on phylogeny vs taxonomy. If you need a refresher, here you go! And the youths around us started cheering for words I’ve long forgotten from my 11th grade biology days.
After that it was pretty bananas. John answered some normal book questions, but the pair also answered relationship advice questions for their podcast Dear Hank and John. Hank sang songs about Quarks and the inevitability of death and the mating habits of angler fish. And pretty much everyone in the audience knew the words to all of this long.
Then John and Hank got us to sing Sweet Caroline without going “Bum Bum Bum” (which is kind of the best part). I love nerds so much.Which is probably why I love John and Hank and the nerdfighters. It was a beautiful thing to see all these other fans and have a new John Green book and get to talk about mental health issues in a way that feels all to rare these days. Now, I just need to brace myself for reading what I think will be a charming but emotionally brutal book.