The day I found out that John and Hank Green were coming to St. Louis on tour, I bought a ticket. I had never been to any kind of book-related thing before, didn’t know what to expect, and I live two hours away, but none of that mattered. I had to see them.
John Green is a peculiar person in that he is famous for two relatively unrelated things. He’s a bestselling YA author. He and his brother are famous Youtubers. His popularity kind of skyrocketed with the release of The Fault in Our Stars. And while I like his books, I like him for his Youtube channel/podcast/etc. a little bit more.
And Hank Green is pretty much my idol.
I’m so glad I got to see them.
Mini Book Review: Turtles All the Way Down
Before talking about the show, I think I should do a mini review of John’s new book. I finished reading it the day before the tour and was not disappointed at all.
Short Synopsis: Teenage girl suffering from OCD reconnects with childhood friend while searching for his billionaire father.
(okay normally I’m pretty good at writing short synopses but this one was hard. I’m not sure it fully captures the book.)
Format: hardback (signed copy!)
Overall Feeling: impressed.
Every John Green book is kind of similar. I love Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, not a huge fan of Paper Towns and An Abundance of Katherines, and I’m currently in the middle of Will Grayson, Will Grayson so I can’t say much about that one…but they all kind of have the same vibe. Witty kids, budding romance, road trips. And this book still has a bit of that, but it’s toned way down (for the betterment of all). The kids were a little witty, and there was a little bit of romance, but none of it was unbearable or necessarily the focus. And no road trips in this one.
This book was much more internal than Green’s other books. It’s mostly about Aza living through OCD and the thought spirals it brings. This is a kind of OCD that is different from what is normally portrayed in the media, and I can’t say from personal experience, but it felt like a more genuine portrayal. It was so enlightening to get a glimpse at what it’s actually like to suffer from this kind of mental illness. Reading Aza’s thoughts was often overwhelming and heartbreaking.
Rating: 4/5 stars
Live Book Tour in St. Louis
Okay so John and Hank Green came to St. Louis on Friday, October 20 (they hadn’t been to St. Louis in nine years!). I took off a half day at work because even though St. Louis is only two hours away and the show started at 7:00, Deacon and I had to take Rex’s to my mom’s house, which is two hours away, and then from there drive another hour to St. Louis. Doors opened at 6:00 but seating was first come, first serve, so I knew I wanted to be there early.
We stopped to get lunch before leaving Rolla, even though Deacon originally wanted to go to Sugarfire, a barbecue place in St. Louis. We decided not to go in order to get a good spot in line. Once we got in line, I pulled out my phone and went to Hank’s Instagram…where I saw that he was at Sugarfire. We would have been there at the same time! I sulked for a while and spent the rest of time in line imagining what it would have been like to have walked into the restaurant and seen Hank Green there. (note: never turn down husband’s barbecue suggestions from now on)
Our seats were great, though, so I couldn’t complain too much. I didn’t realize until we got to the front door and could see the line behind us, but it wrapped all the way around the building. There were over a thousand people there. We got to sit in the middle about six rows back, even with the stage.
There was no meet and greet, but honestly, I was totally okay with that. Just being in the same room with John and Hank, seeing them in person, was amazing. The moment that John walked out, it felt so surreal. (He has legs?!) People cheered. He read from his book and told us a bit about it. I was smiling the entire time.
Hank Dr. Lawrence Turtleman came out and gave us a PowerPoint presentation about phylogeny and taxonomy…which sounds utterly boring but it was maybe the funniest thing I have ever experienced in my life. I was hysterical the entire time.
So then John came back out and answered questions about the book (and gave answers that I had suspected to questions I’ve seen on the book’s reddit page), Hank came out and they did a Dear Hank & John segment where they answered questions from the audience (and we all learned that Hank will pretty much eat anything from a gas station), and then it kind of turned into a concert because John left the stage and Hank picked up his guitar and started singing some of his songs (including We’re all Gonna Die and A Song about Anglerfish and All Star by Smash Mouth). (I tried to film some of it but it didn’t really work. so. sorry)
At the end, we all sang “we’re here because we’re here,” which is actually something that Aza’s mom sings to her in the book, and then Hank and John came back out on stage to have us all sing Sweet Caroline but with a twist: to know that we were all truly experiencing a moment of togetherness, they had us all sing the chorus with no bah bah bahh-ing or so good, so good. And the whole time I was thinking, if any city fails this it will be St. Louis, and I was on the edge of my seat, and then the moment came AND IT WAS COMPLETELY SILENT and I think all of our hearts grew three sizes and John pranced around ecstatically on stage like it was the best moment of his life.
In short, it was the weirdest book event ever (though the only one I’ve ever experienced) and it was absolutely amazing and I adored every moment of it. I hope they come back more often because I will buy tickets every time.
currently listening to // Bad Romance by Lady Gaga
Have you read Turtles All the Way Down?
Have you ever been to a Nerdfighter gathering?
What are book events normally like?