VIDEO: John Green Discusses Romeo and Juliet

If you haven’t seen Crash Course, you are missing out. John Green–you know, the guy who wrote The Fault in Our Stars, Paper Towns, and Looking For Alaska–dishes out some great talks about the greatest literature in human history.

I’ve been teaching Shakespeare in school, so his talk on Romeo and Juliet really hit the spot:

VIDEO: John Green Discusses 25 Things You Might Not Know About Harry Potter

In this awesome video from Mental Floss, John Green will fill you in on 25 things you might not know about Harry Potter.

VIDEO: A Brief History of Young Adult Literature

EpicReads has posted this excellent video examining the roots of Young Adult (YA) literature and the influential titles that have popped up over the years.

The Outsiders by SE Hinton gets a special mention that it rightfully deserves: that book is just as meaningful to teens today as it was when it first came out.

Science-Fiction, Fantasy, and You

Written by Grant Goodman, 2/16/2015

Time travel. Rocket ships. Wizards. Dystopias.

You will meet many people in your life who look down on “those kinds of stories.” They are the serious types. They believe in their serious literature.

We can let them believe in that.

They can have their stories about sad people in sad cities. Because, honestly, we read those books, too. Every now and again, we need a palate cleanser, a waystone that lets us step back into our own world.

The deep truth is this: we like other worlds. We like worlds that don’t already exist.

Besides, the biggest milestones of human storytelling tend to be about magic and dystopias.

The Odyssey is full of witches and sea monsters and Cyclops. Beowulf fought a dragon. Shakespeare filled his plays with ghosts and wizards and prophecy. Mary Shelley brought the dead back to life. Jules Verne sent humanity to explore the moon long before John F. Kennedy was born.

Reading fantasy and science-fiction connects us to the roots of the world. The desires to explore and to escape and to imagine are built into us.

That’s why we need Suzanne Collins to send us into the arena. That’s why we need Darren Shan to show us the hidden world of vampires. That’s why Ray Bradbury once wrote, “I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room.”

So go ahead and dive into sci-fi and fantasy.

But don’t be afraid to dip your toes into realistic fiction, either. There’s excellence to be found there, too.

VIDEO: John Green on How to Write a Novel

John Green does an awesome video series in which he plays video games and talks about life at the same time.

In this episode, he discusses the many methods of writing a novel.

I absolutely love this quote:

“A huge part of my writing process is telling myself that it’s okay to suck…that it’s okay to make mistakes…”

I know that more than a few of you have made a stab at writing a novel, and if you have, you know what it’s like to spend an hour or two at the keyboard, followed by the realization that you’re going to have to delete everything you wrote.

He drops a lot more wisdom (and discusses how The Fault in Our Stars changed over time).