Week 32: Turtles All the Way Down [Score +2]
Ask a reader for a list of their favorite books, and they’ll happily share as many as you care to hear.
Ask a reader for their favorite authors, though, and the two lists will likely look like a Venn diagram with overlap in the middle: they’re not one and the same.
I consider a favorite author to be one whose books consistently draw me in and lead me to seek out more and more of their work. And if I find that author interesting or inspiring as a public figure, they move even closer toward the top of the list.
John Green is one who fits this bill. I consistently like his books and have read five of them, with a sixth waiting by the couch for me to finish the third book in the Outlander series, Voyager (my second time reading that series).
Green’s public persona only adds to my enjoyment of his work, which is a high bar to meet (and often works in the reverse). His YouTube channel with his brother, Vlogbrothers, and their twice-weekly videos inspire me, make me think, educate me, and make me laugh (bubbles!).
In a moment of serendipity in mid-September, I opened Instagram while I was at work—an action that takes place on very rare occasions, but something motivated me that day. One of the first posts I saw was from John Green announcing his tour for his latest book, Turtles All the Way Down. I immediately jumped online and bought two tickets for the Indianapolis stop before I even thought about who I’d want to invite—but I knew the event would sell out quickly.
Six weeks later, my friend, Ashley, and I met for an early dinner then arrived at the Pike Performing Arts Center just as the doors were opening. A 100-yard-long line of people had already formed at the door ahead of us—see why I knew I needed to get tickets quickly?
This latest book draws from Green’s personal struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder. The main character is a 16-year-old girl named Aza who inadvertently becomes a detective, but unlike Sherlock Holmes, whose mental irregularities were a boost for him, Aza’s are a hindrance.
Green has been increasingly open about his challenges managing OCD and anxiety, and this book has made his personal mental health a topic for interviews. I feel for him in that, because I would imagine that someone who already tends to be anxious doesn’t particularly enjoy having the spotlight shone on their hardest struggles. But I admire him for being brave enough to talk about it.
Knowing that a sizable portion of his audience is comprised of teenagers in the midst of their own angsts, I think his candor, success, and message of acceptance make him the exact definition of who should get the title of Role Model.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book-tour show itself, which was touching, funny, silly, and entertaining. Ashley and I both loved it and were sorry to have it end.
Green shared a brief story in his latest Vlogbrothers video that really stuck with me from the event, and I hope you’ll watch it and think about it, too.
- Did something outside my routine: +1
- Left the house: +1