My Turtles Aren’t Your Turtles

**SPOILER ALERT: This article contains mild spoilers from the first chapter of Turtles All The Way Down by John Green. Please stop here if you haven’t read it!**

A take on reading the first chapter of Turtles All The Way Down by John Green, in which the author’s reading is compared with my personal reading.

If you haven’t yet grabbed your copy of John Green’s latest book, you’re truly missing out, and if you don’t follow the vlogbrothers (the collaborative Youtube channel between him and his brother, Hank), you may have missed his reading of the first chapter, uploaded around six weeks ago. The video has over 250,000 views and the comments section is filled with fans of John’s booked anticipating its arrival.

There’s something that seems very authentic about the author reading a piece of work to you. It feels raw, uncut and real, though we can say that this is definitely an edited chapter. In all honesty, I’d forgotten about this video by the time I picked up my pre-ordered copy.As I started reading, I began to remember these lines from a book hadn’t read yet, and it was an odd feeling. Not bad, just odd. But then I came across a name that was both familiar and unfamiliar at the same time: Mychael.

As I started reading, I began to remember these lines from a book hadn’t read yet, and it was an odd feeling. Not bad, just odd. But then I came across a name that was both familiar and unfamiliar at the same time: Mychael. This is a fairly unusual spelling of the name, but it doesn’t necessarily make the pronunciation any different, but I noticed. Because in my brain, when John was reading it, it was Michael, that was how it was spelt. Now, Mychael seemed like a different person to the Michael I had already met. I felt a divergence from what John had read to me and what I was reading. I think if I tried hard enough, they’d become one person but instead, I decided that John’s Michael and my Mychael were different. And that’s when it got interesting.

This surreal experience that sounds strange even when I’m typing it out got me thinking about the idea of “authenticity”. You’ve likely heard the word before in relation to so-called realness and sometimes even originality. Most things have a first or an original, which then becomes a catalyst for further things. The idea of authenticity is often very skewed in the music industry, for example, Amy Winehouse’s cover of ‘Valerie’ is exactly that, a cover so should be deemed something less original, yet it became more successful, more widely received and public, so just because it wasn’t the first you could say that it’s no less authentic than the original. Then we come to books. See, books are often “originals” just because they’re widely viewed as a “first” medium. Books provide spinoff films, TV shows, albums, merchandise that sometimes reach further but the book is still hailed as the original, the first and most authentic iteration of the text. Sounds pretty legit, right?

Maybe not. Something else exists before a book. The story itself overpowers its medium. The words you read were alive long before you read them, they existed in the brain of the writer, ideas that were honed and edited into a book. To John Green, the most authentic version of Turtles All The Way Down might well have been the one inside his head and that is what I felt I was experiencing watching that video of the first chapter. It felt more whole, more real and somehow different to reading it myself. I might never read the first chapter because I want to keep that alive.

Maybe it’s complete nonsense, but it felt nice and comforting to know that maybe for a second, I was seeing the story in a different way. Not better than how I would see it, but different. And that was pretty awesome.

What do you think? Do you feel different going to author’s readings and reading their book yourself? Do you think either is more authentic? Let me know in the comments below or on my Facebook page! Have a lovely day!

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The Five Books That Have Defined My Life

The written word is an important aspect of our culture as human beings and plays a huge part in shaping who we are as individuals. Here I will compile a list of books that have done so for me, in ways I can only begin to describe. 

1)Matilda – Roald Dahl

One of the first novels I ever read by an author who is a staple of most British childhoods, Roald Dahl’s ‘Matilda‘ is what I believe sparked my love of literature. The eponymous character was the first idea I ever associated myself with, this coupled with the notion that maybe the nerd can be triumphant makes for a captivating tale for the alienated child. That’s what ‘Matilda‘ was for me anyway. Seeing myself as something other than just a target for bullies really helped boost my self-confidence and from then on, it was okay to throw myself into the things I loved simply because I loved them.

matilda

2)Harry Potter – J.K. Rowling

Closely following Matilda came the Harry Potter series by her majesty J.K. Rowling. I’m classing this as one entry because it comes as a whole and you all know it! (For the record my favourite book is Prisoner of Azkaban because Sirius is amazing and if you disagree, you’re wrong). It’s really difficult to know where to begin with such a fundamental part of my life. I have such fond memories of reading over my older brothers shoulder and this one time he convinced me that there was one more sequel called  “Harry Potter and the Curse of Hagrid” in which Hagrid is evil. I was so sad I cried because Hagrid is one of my favourite characters. I grew up with Harry Potter and yes, even though I’m 18 now and for all intents and purposes an “adult”, it still makes me so excited. Because realistically, who doesn’t want to go to Hogwarts and learn magic?!

hp

3)The Animals of Farthing Wood – Colin Dann

So this one is a little different from the rest. Most of the books I read nowadays are part of a trend of popular young adult novels I find on offer at Waterstones (books are expensive, don’t judge me!) and I admit, I don’t use the library for fiction books anymore. But The Animals of Farthing Wood is a book that I happened upon by chance at a book sale at my school; 20p for a story that has stayed with me for over a decade. Happening upon books just doesn’t happen enough to me anymore, if at all. If there’s something I wish I did more, it’s picking up a random book to read. Second hand books at car boot sales are some of the best reads I have ever had, it’s such a special thing to read and love something that has had a profound effect on someone else too.

animals

4) The Last Dragon Chronicles – Chris D’Lacey

I was going to write about a different book series but then I remembered a project I did in high school about my favourite books and I thought about The Last Dragon Chronicles, which I haven’t thought about in years but I just did a quick Wikipedia search and I have now remembered the sheer awesomeness and how much I loved reading it. Naturally, I’ve gone straight to Amazon to order all eight books… The great thing about these books is that it was just so different to anything I’d ever read. Yeah, it’s fantasy and we’ve established that I’m a huge dork for fantasy but The Fire Within (the first book) just blew my tiny mind. It’s one of those series’ that you have to read all at once because you SIMPLY MUST KNOW WHAT HAPPENS. (Don’t you just love it when that happens?)

fire

5)Paper Towns – John Green

This one was also really important to me, because I read it at a time when it was applicable to my life and I felt like the mysterious character of Margo just mirrored everything I felt about education and life in general. Some of the people I recommended the book to thought that the ending was unsatisfactory but personally, I feel like the ending is perfect and exactly what Margo would do. Paper Towns is by far my favourite John Green novel, another one you just can’t put down. I think everyone going through major transitions/existential crises (namely moving on from high school to college or university) should read it, it is the perfect coming of age book.

paper towns

I hope this gets you thinking about stories that have helped to shape your life and just how important books and ideas can be! Let me know what your top five books are in the comments below or on my Facebook page!

 

The Facts In Our Stars

Box office hit “The Fault in Our Stars” based on the New York Times bestseller novel by John Green, fuelled by internet community: Nerdfighteria.

Many of you will have heard of, if not seen, the tragic love story of two teens suffering from cancer, Hazel and Gus. “The Fault in Our Stars” has gained $237 million in less than two months which would seem surprising as, at a glance, it seems to be more suited to a niche audience. However, this niche has been propelled to extraordinary heights by the vast internet community called Nerdfighteria.

This community was founded upon a YouTube channel run by John Green and his brother, Hank, the Vlogbrothers. This started out as the two brothers sending each other videos via YouTube in a fun attempt to keep visual contact instead of written. Little did they know that their mixture of humour and breaching topics that are normally never explained in day-to-day life would bring in such a huge and varied audience. Soon after realising this, the Green brothers began to tailor their topics to include subjects such as explaining politics and overseas situations in a simplified manner in order to educate as well as entertain. Now the channel has over two million subscribers and counting.

Some people may be turned off by the fact that Nerdfighteria sounds like a cult following, but John and Hank’s aims have been purely good. Nerdfighters work to decrease “worldsuck” or bad things that happen in the world and their slogan is “Don’t Forget To Be Awesome!” (DFTBA) which portrays just how tight and loving this community really is.

Nerdfighter Motto

This group of fans have helped to spread John’s literature and now the film; it can only be compared to a self-made viral campaign. Many fans of “The Fault in Our Stars” were apprehensive about the film, as with such a delicate storyline, readers were afraid it may become too commercialised and lose it’s essence as a book. On the contrary, the film has been dubbed “the most faithful book-to-film adaptation”, proving that director, Josh Boone, stayed true to John’s vision as a writer.

So while it seems that pop culture has a seemingly large negative influence on young people, it’s nice to know that communities like Nerdfighteria still exist and play a large part in our society and surely will for ages to come.

Watch an introductory Vlogbrothers video right here: