John Green

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We don't suffer from a shortage of metaphors. But the one you choose matters because the metaphors have implications.

John Green (born 24 August 1977) is an American author of young adult fiction, who has appeared on the New York Times best sellers list several times. He also publishes a video blog with his brother Hank Green as "vlogbrothers". A massive community has popped up around the videos that the brothers call 'Nerdfighteria.' John lives with his wife and two kids in Indianapolis.



  • I may not have facts on my side, Hank, but I still think I'm right. That's the American way.
  • Saying 'I notice you're a nerd' is like saying, 'Hey, I notice that you'd rather be intelligent than be stupid, that you'd rather be thoughtful than be vapid, that you believe that there are things that matter more than the arrest record of Lindsay Lohan. Why is that?' In fact, it seems to me that most contemporary insults are pretty lame. Even 'lame' is kind of lame. Saying 'You're lame' is like saying 'You walk with a limp.' Yeah, whatever, so does 50 Cent, and he's done all right for himself.
  • I mean Hank, the movie was great, but the thirty minutes before the movie started was what I love about being a nerd. Because nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff. We don't have to be like, 'Oh yeah that purse is okay' or like, 'Yeah, I like that band's early stuff.' Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can't-control-yourself-love it. Hank, when people call people nerds, mostly what they are saying is, 'You like stuff', which is just not a good insult at all, like 'You are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness'.
  • Good morning Hank. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking: 'My older brother really needs a haircut!' Well, Hank, I've got one thing to say to that. Never!
  • Now, Hank, obviously you and I are living proof that sometimes a nerd meets another nerd and they fall in nerd-love.
  • Is health care a privilege, or is it a right? If it's a privilege, even if it's a really desirable privilege like indoor plumbing, we need to stop giving health care of any kind to uninsured people who can't pay for it in advance. But... ...I think the reason we continue to treat people who are uninsured is because we don't believe that health care is a privilege. We believe that it is a right. And if it is a right, like life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, it is the responsibility of a government to protect that right.
  • The fourth way to get a boy to like you is to be yourself. Now, I am contractually obligated as an adult to give that advice, even though it doesn't work. But yeah, be yourself, even though no one has any idea what it means to be yourself. Like whose self would I otherwise be being?
  • [Twilight] argues that true love will triumph in the end, which may or may not be true, but if it's a lie, it's the most beautiful lie we have.
  • So I guess the first thing I would say is: you need to write a story that, unlike my story, has a beginning, a middle and an end. Also the beginning shouldn't involve hating foxes and the end shouldn't involve no one liking you.
  • It is very sad to me that some people are so intent on leaving their mark on the world that they don't care if that mark is a scar.
  • The test will measure whether you are an informed, engaged and productive citizen of the world, and it will take place in schools and bars and hospitals and dorm-rooms and in places of worship. You will be tested on first dates, in job interviews, while watching football and while scrolling through your Twitter feed. The test will judge your ability to think about things other than celebrity marriages, whether you'll be easily persuaded by empty political rhetoric and whether you'll be able to place your life and your community in a broader context. The test will last your entire life, and it will be comprised of the millions of decisions that, when taken together, make your life yours. And everything - everything - will be on it.

Looking for Alaska (2005)[edit]

  • At some point, you just pull off the Band-Aid and it hurts, but then it's over and you're relieved.
    • Miles "Pudge" Halter, p. 7
  • "And we'll call you...hmmm. Pudge."
    "Pudge," the Colonel said. "Because you're skinny. It's called irony, Pudge. Heard of it? Now, let's go get some cigarettes and start this year off right."
    • Chip "the Colonel" Martin and Miles "Pudge" Halter, p. 14
  • "Is the labyrinth living or dying? Which is he trying to escape—the world or the end of it?"
    • Alaska Young, p. 19
  • You can say a lot of things about Alabama, but you can't say that Alabamans as a people are unduly afraid of deep fryers.
    • Miles "Pudge" Halter, p. 22
  • "Y'all smoke to enjoy it. I smoke to die."
    • Alaska Young, p. 44
  • The Colonel ran ahead of me, gleeful at his ejection, and I jogged after him, trailing in his wake. I wanted to be one of those people who have streaks to maintain, who scorch the ground with their intensity. But for now, at least I knew such people, and they needed me, just like comets need tails.
    • Miles "Pudge" Halter, p. 49
  • I may die young, but at least I'll die smart.
    • Alaska Young, p. 52
  • "Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia."
    "Huh?" I asked.
    "You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you'll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present."
    • Alaska Young and Miles "Pudge" Halter, p. 54
  • "She has great breasts," the Colonel said without looking up from the whale.
    "DO NOT OBJECTIFY WOMEN'S BODIES!" Alaska shouted.
    Now he looked up. "Sorry. Perky breasts."
    "That's not any better!"
    • Chip "the Colonel" Martin and Alaska Young, pp. 59-60
  • "God will punish the wicked. And before He does, we will."
    • Chip "the Colonel" Martin, p. 71
  • "I'm just scared of ghosts, Pudge. And home is full of them."
    • Alaska Young, p. 80
  • "How do you get out of the labyrinth of suffering?"
    • Alaska Young, p. 82
  • I wanted so badly to lie down next to her on the couch, to wrap my arms around her and sleep. Not fuck, like in those movies. Not even have sex. Just sleep together, in the most innocent sense of the phrase. But I lacked the courage and she had a boyfriend and I was gawky and she was gorgeous and I was hopelessly boring and she was endlessly fascinating. So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.
    • Miles "Pudge" Halter about Alaska Young, p. 88
  • "Prick us, we bleed. Prick him, he pops."
    • Alaska Young, p. 110
  • "Luck is for suckers."
    • Alaska Young, p. 113
  • "'I am going to take this bucket of water and pour it on the flames of hell, and then I am going to use this torch to burn down the gates of paradise so that people will not love God for want of heaven or fear of hell, but because He is God.'"
    • Dr. Hyde explaining a quote by Rabe'a al-Adiwiyah, p. 174
  • [We] had to forgive to survive in the labyrinth.
    • Miles "Pudge" Halter, p. 218
  • I would always love Alaska Young, my crooked neighbor, with all my crooked heart.
    • Miles "Pudge" Halter, p. 218
  • When adults say, "Teenagers think they are invincible" with that sly, stupid smile on their faces, they don't know how right they are. We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are. We cannot be born, and we cannot die. Like all energy, we can only change shapes and sizes and manifestations. They forget that when they get old. They get scared of losing and failing. But that part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end, and so it cannot fail.
    • Miles "Pudge" Halter, pp. 220-221
  • Thomas Edison's last words were, "It's very beautiful over there." I don't know where there is, but I know it's somewhere, and I hope it's beautiful.
    • Miles "Pudge" Halter, p. 221

An Abundance of Katherines (2006)[edit]

  • But mothers lie. It's in the job description.
    • Colin Singleton, p. 4
  • It hurt like the worst ass-kicking he'd ever gotten. And he'd gotten plenty.
    • Colin Singleton, p. 7
  • And then he lay there in his fever of sorry and repeated the now memorized note in his head and wanted to cry, but instead he only felt this aching behind his solar plexus. Crying adds something: crying is you, plus tears. But the feeling Colin had was some horrible opposite of crying. It was you, minus something.
    • Colin Singleton, p. 7
  • Missing her kept him awake more than the coffee.
    • Colin Singleton, p. 15
  • Colin believed that the world contained exactly two kinds of people: Dumpers and Dumpees. A lot of people will claim to be both, but those people miss the point entirely: You are predisposed to either one fate or the other. Dumpers may not always be the heartbreakers, and the Dumpees may not always be the heartbroken. But everyone has a tendency.
    • Colin Singleton, pp. 15-16
  • He just wanted to play robot, for God's sake. Was that so wrong?
    • Colin Singleton, p. 20
  • That smile could end wars and cure cancer.
    • Colin Singleton, p. 32
  • Colin did not laugh. Instead he thought, Tampons have strings? Why? Of all the major human mysteries—God, the nature of the universe, etc.—he knew the least about tampons. To Colin, tampons were a little bit like grizzly bears: he was aware of their existence, but he'd never seen one in the wild, and didn't really care to.
    • Colin Singleton, p. 57
  • He'd never been all that good at math, but he was a goddamned world-famous expert in getting dumped.
    • Colin Singleton, p. 60
  • People just liked Hassan, the way people like fast food and celebrities.
    • Colin Singleton, p. 62
  • The moment Colin sat down, Hollis asked Hassan, "Would you like to say grace?"
    "Sure thing." Hassan cleared his throat. "Bismallah." Then he picked up his fork.
    "That's it?" Hollis wondered.
    "That's it. We are a terse people. Terse, and also hungry."
    • Hollis Wells and Hassan Harbish, p. 62
  • It was, he thought, just like how authors always wrote things in ways other than how they actually happened.
    • Colin Singleton, p. 70
  • He wanted to draw out the moment before the moment—because as good as kissing feels, nothing feels as good as the anticipation of it.
    • Colin Singleton, p. 79
  • I just want to do something that matters. Or be something that matters. I just want to matter.
    • Colin Singleton, p. 94
  • Books are the ultimate Dumpees: put them down and they'll wait for you forever; pay attention to them and they always love you back.
    • Colin Singleton, p. 111
  • "'Sup?" asked Hassan.
    "Sup is not a word," answered Colin withought looking up.
    "You're like sunshine on a cloudy day, Singleton. When it's cold outside, you're the month of May."
    • Hassan Harbish and Colin Singleton, p. 128
  • They'd just driven past the General Store when Hassan said, "We don't have to go to Hardee's really. We could go anywhere."
    "Oh good because I really don't want to go to Hardee's," Lindsey said. "It's sort of horrible. There's a Wendy's two exits down the interstate, in Milan. Wendy's is way better. They have, like, salads."
    • Hassan Harbish and Lindsey Wells, p. 214
  • Colin's skin was alive with the feeling of connection to everyone in that car and everyone not in it. And he was feeling not-unique in the very best possible way.
    • Colin Singleton, pg. 215 (closing words)

Paper Towns (2008)[edit]

  • The way I figure it, everyone gets a miracle. Like, I will probably never be struck by lightning, or win a Nobel Prize, or become the dictator of a small nation in the Pacific Islands, or contract terminal ear cancer, or spontaneously combust. But if you consider all the unlikely things together, at least one of them will probably happen to each of us. I could have seen it rain frogs. I could have stepped foot on Mars. I could have been eaten by a whale. I could have married the queen of England or survived months at sea. But my miracle was different. My miracle was this: out of all the houses in all the subdivisions in all of Florida, I ended up living next door to Margo Roth Spiegelman.
    • Quentin "Q" Jacobsen, p. 3
  • Maybe all the strings inside him broke.
    • Margo Roth Spiegelman, p. 4
  • Margo always loved mysteries. And in everything that came afterward, I could never stop thinking that maybe she loved mysteries so much that she became one.
    • Quentin "Q" Jacobsen, p. 8
  • "Getting you a date to prom is so hard that the hypothetical idea itself is actually used to cut diamonds," I added.
    • Quentin "Q" Jacobsen, p. 16
  • "That's always seemed so ridiculous to me, that people would want to be around someone because they're pretty. It's like picking your breakfast cereals based on color instead of taste."
    • Margo Roth Spiegelman, p. 37
  • "It's a penis," Margo said, "in the same sense that Rhode Island is a state: it may have an illustrious history, but it sure isn't big."
    • Margo Roth Spiegelman, p. 41
  • "Here's what's not beautiful about it: from here, you can't see the rust or the cracked paint or whatever, but you can tell what the place really is. You see how fake it all is. It's not even hard enough to be made out of plastic. It's a paper town. I mean look at it, Q: look at all those cul-de-sacs, those streets that turn in on themselves, all the houses that were built to fall apart. All those paper people living in their paper houses, burning the future to stay warm. All the paper kids drinking beer some bum bought for them at the paper convenience store. Everyone demented with the mania of owning things. All the things paper-thin and paper-frail. And all the people, too. I've lived here for eighteen years and I have never once in my life come across anyone who cares about anything that matters."
    • Margo Roth Spiegelman, pp. 57-58
  • Standing before this building, I learn something about fear. I learn that it is not the idle fantasies of someone who maybe wants something important to happen to him, even if the important thing is horrible. It is not the disgust of seeing a dead stranger, and not the breathlessness of hearing a shotgun pumped outside of Becca Arrington's house. This cannot be addressed by breathing exercises. This fear bears no analogy to any fear I knew before. This is the basest of all possible emotions, the feeling that was with us before we existed, before this building existed, before the earth existed. This is the fear that made fish crawl out onto dry land and evolve lungs, the fear that teaches us to run, the fear that makes us bury our dead.
    • Quentin "Q" Jacobsen, pp. 140-141
  • The fundamental mistake I had always made—and that she had, in fairness, always led me to make—was this: Margo was not a miracle. She was not an adventure. She was not a fine and precious thing. She was a girl.
    • Quentin "Q" Jacobsen, p. 199
  • You listen to people so that you can imagine them, and you hear all the terrible and wonderful things people do to themselves and to one another, but in the end the listening exposes you even more than it exposes the people you're trying to listen to.
    • Quentin "Q" Jacobsen, p. 216
  • It is so hard to leave—until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world.
    • Quentin "Q" Jacobsen, p. 229
  • Lacey takes the bar from me and reluctantly bites into it. She has to close her eyes to hide the orgasmic pleasure inherent in GoFast-tasting. "Oh. My. God. That tastes like hope feels."
    • Lacey Pemberton, pp. 255-256
  • It is easy to forget how full the world is of people, full to bursting, and each of them imaginable and consistently misimagined.
    • Quentin "Q" Jacobsen, p. 257
  • "The thing about That Guy Is a Gigolo," Radar says, "I mean, the thing about it as a game, is that in the end it reveals a lot more about the person doing the imagining than it does about the person being imagined."
    • Marcus "Radar" Lincoln, p. 258
  • What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person.
    • Quentin "Q" Jacobsen, p. 282
  • [M]aybe the strings break, or maybe our ships sink, or maybe we're grass—our roots so interdependent that no one is dead as long as someone is still alive. We don't suffer from a shortage of metaphors, is what I mean. But you have to be careful which metaphor you choose, because it matters. If you choose the strings, then you're imagining a world in which you can become irreparably broken. If you choose the grass, you're saying that we are all infinitely interconnected, that we can use these root systems not only to understand one another but to become one another. The metaphors have implications.
    • Quentin "Q" Jacobsen, p. 301
  • It is saying these things that keeps us from falling apart. And maybe by imagining these futures we can make them real, and maybe not, but either way we must imagine them. The light rushes out and floods in.
    • Quentin "Q" Jacobsen, p. 304
  • I stand in this parking lot, realizing that I've never been this far from home, and here is this girl I love and cannot follow. I hope this is the hero's errand, because not following her is the hardest thing I've ever done.
    • Quentin "Q" Jacobsen, p. 304

Will Grayson, Will Grayson (2010)[edit]

  • "When I was little, my dad used to tell me, "Will, you can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can't pick your friend's nose.""
    • Will Grayson, p. 1 (opening words)
  • "Tiny Cooper is not the world's gayest person, and he is not the world's largest person, but I believe he may be the world's largest person who is really, really gay, and also the world's gayest person who is really, really large."
    • Will Grayson, p. 3
  • "Love is the most common miracle"
    • Will Grayson, p. 192
  • "Being in a relationship, that's something you choose. Being friends, that's just something you are."
    • Will Grayson, p. 260
  • "This is why we call people exes, I guess -- because the paths that cross in the middle end up separating at the end. It's too easy to see an X as a cross-out. It's not, because there's no way to cross out something like that. The X is a diagram of two paths."
    • Will Grayson, p. 277

The Fault in Our Stars (2012)[edit]

  • "Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death."
    • Hazel Grace Lancaster, p. 3 (opening words)
  • "But, in fact, depression is not a side effect of cancer. Depression is a side effect of dying. (Cancer is also a side effect of dying. Almost everything is, really.)"
    • Hazel Grace Lancaster, p. 3
  • "Sometimes you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read that book."
    • Hazel Grace Lancaster, p. 33
  • "That's the thing about pain," Augustus said, and then glanced back at me. "It demands to be felt."
    • Augustus "Gus" Waters, p. 63
  • "As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep; Slowly, and then all at once."
    • Hazel Grace Lancaster, p. 125
    • Compare Ernest Hemingway, speaking about the process of going bankrupt: "'Gradually and then suddenly.'"
  • "The weird thing about houses is that they almost always look like nothing is happening inside of them, even though they contain most of our lives. I wondered if that was sort of the point of architecture."
    • Hazel Grace Lancaster, p. 139
  • "I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn't trade it for the world. You gave me forever within the numbered days, and I'm grateful."
    • Hazel Grace Lancaster, p. 260
  • I’m a good person but a shitty writer. You’re a shitty person but a good writer. We’d make a good team. I don’t want to ask you any favors, but if you have time – and from what I saw, you have plenty – I was wondering if you could write a eulogy for Hazel. I’ve got notes and everything, but if you could just make it into a coherent whole or whatever? Or even just tell me what I should say differently. Here’s the thing about Hazel: Almost everyone is obsessed with leaving a mark upon the world. Bequeathing a legacy. Outlasting death. We all want to be remembered. I do, too. That’s what bothers me most, is being another unremembered casualty in the ancient and inglorious war against disease. I want to leave a mark. But Van Houten: The marks humans leave are too often scars. You build a hideous minimall or start a coup or try to become a rock star and you think, “They’ll remember me now,” but (a) they don’t remember you, and (b) all you leave behind are more scars. Your coup becomes a dictatorship. Your minimall becomes a lesion. (Okay, maybe I’m not such a shitty writer. But I can’t pull my ideas together, Van Houten. My thoughts are stars I can’t fathom into constellations.) We are like a bunch of dogs squirting on fire hydrants. We poison the groundwater with our toxic piss, marking everything MINE in a ridiculous attempt to survive our deaths. I can’t stop pissing on fire hydrants. I know it’s silly and useless – epically useless in my current state – but I am an animal like any other. Hazel is different. She walks lightly, old man. She walks lightly upon the earth. Hazel knows the truth: We’re as likely to hurt the universe as we are to help it, and we’re not likely to do either. People will say it’s sad that she leaves a lesser scar, that fewer remember her, that she was loved deeply but not widely. But it’s not sad, Van Houten. It’s triumphant. It’s heroic. Isn’t that the real heroism? Like the doctors say: First, do no harm. The real heroes anyway aren’t the people doing things; the real heroes are the people NOTICING things, paying attention. The guy who invented the smallpox vaccine didn’t actually invent anything. He just noticed that people with cowpox didn’t get smallpox. After my PET scan lit up, I snuck into the ICU and saw her while she was unconscious. I just walked in behind a nurse with a badge and I got to sit next to her for like ten minutes before I got caught. I really thought she was going to die, too. It was brutal: the incessant mechanized haranguing of intensive care. She had this dark cancer water dripping out of her chest. Eyes closed. Intubated. But her hand was still her hand, still warm and the nails painted this almost black dark almost blue color, and I just held her hand and tried to imagine the world without us and for about one second I was a good enough person to hope she died so she would never know that I was going, too. But then I wanted more time so we could fall in love. I got my wish, I suppose. I left my scar. A nurse guy came in and told me I had to leave, that visitors weren’t allowed, and I asked if she was doing okay, and the guy said, “She’s still taking on water.” A desert blessing, an ocean curse. What else? She is so beautiful. You don’t get tired of looking at her. You never worry if she is smarter than you: You know she is. She is funny without ever being mean. I love her. I am so lucky to love her, Van Houten. You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices. I hope she likes hers."
    • Augustus "Gus" Waters, p. 310-313
  • “I believe the universe wants to be noticed. I think the universe is inprobably biased toward the consciousness, that it rewards intelligence in part because the universe enjoys its elegance being observed. And who am I, living in the middle of history, to tell the universe that it-or my observation of it-is temporary?”"
    • Hazel's Dad, p. 213-214

Dear Hank and John[edit]

  • Hank: "If you just say enough things, some of them will end up on those quote websites." // John: "Which, of course, is the point of being a person."


  • I'm in love with cities I've never been to and people I've never met.
    • Incorrectly attributed to John Green on various quotation sites and on social media. Actual author is Melody Truong.

Quotes about[edit]

  • (fills me with hope:) The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green. I love the way John Green’s mind works. This book of essays traverses so many parts of our world—both elusive and quotidian—and demonstrates, ultimately, how remarkable it is to be human.


External links[edit]

Wikipedia has an article about: